When my husband and I created Karama Jinaza Cover (KJC), we created KJC to restore dignity in the Islamic burial process by giving the community peace of mind that should a loved one pass, money would not be a factor in providing their loved ones with a dignified Jinaza.
Our vision entailed us providing our community with a trusted space, where they paid affordable premiums knowing that when the time arose, they would be able to claim the services of a full Jinaza without having any out of pocket expenses and offering our customers peace of mind to know that the full service would be covered with them being included, of course. From the first claim, our customers experienced this very vision and always commended us on the experience, we knew with pride, that our vision was a reality, but never did we think that vision would incorporate a family member, especially not one as close and dear as our mother(my mother in law and husbands mother), Berina Rasool-Momple. We knew we would eventually use it for our family, but not so soon.
Aunty B, as I fondly called her, was a wild, bold but full of heart individual, that was known for her humour, her beauty, her heart and her fighting spirit. So when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer, which, in a period of 6 months escalated to stage 4, we felt sorry for the Cancer, because we all knew, well thought we knew, that she was about to teach Cancer a lesson and kick its bum.
In a period of two months, Aunty B deteriorated daily before our eyes -some days up, and some days down. For us, who she didn't live with, and saw her after some period of time; when we saw her, we saw how much the Cancer was winning, but still, we remained positive and prayed.
On Friday that passed, we popped in to check up on Aunty B and take her to get some stuff she wished for, but Allah had a different plan in store for us. Jamaal's brother and his wife, who graciously and lovingly takes care of Aunty B, asked if she could spend some time with us as they had plans, and we very happily accepted as we all missed her, and they deserved a break (caring for a terminally ill person is not easy). Aunty B's health was looking up. She was eating healthily, laughing, engaging, walking and joking, she was her old self - Jamaal and I were even more convinced that Aunty B was going to beat her illness and that we would have her around for much longer than the Doctors projected. Jamaal and his mom even stayed up until the early hours of Saturday morning reminiscing, they had so much to talk about. I remember fighting with him because he was keeping his mom from her sleep, but they continued to chat, laugh and fill their space with the love they shared for each other.
Over the weekend, Aunty B's breathing worsened and she became less conscious. I remember opening up google, reading up the symptoms of someone that was about to pass from lung cancer - and each symptom was there - but you know google, it will tell you an itch is a sign of death if you search hard enough. However, if it was her last I needed to prepare her and that's what I did. I washed her and cut her nails, just in case - buuuut Aunty B was going to make it, "this fighter was going to beat cancer....right?", that small window of doubt started to grow.
As Jamaal and I got ready for bed and he went to check on his mom one last time before we slept. 10 minutes later, he came back to our bedroom and told me that he was going to stay by her side throughout the night - I was exhausted but I couldn't let my husband do this alone. I got up, cleaned myself, walked into the room Aunty B slept in and started to pray. At that moment, I was a bit angry with my creator, I couldn't bear to see Aunty B suffer for another moment, she was fighting to breathe and I just remember wanting to help her breathe. "This can't go on, you didn't bring Aunty B into this world to suffer, either heal her or take her, do what is best for her, but she is a human being that you created and this is not fair to her." That was my duah....
Jamaal started puffing up her pillows, to open up her chest and make it easier for her to breathe and started praying Aayat-e-Shifa - which is 6 Qur'anic verses for healing. In our selfishness, we weren't prepared to give her up, we wanted her better and wanted her with us, so Aayet - e-Shifa was our choice... and I remember thinking that her breathing just became worse. Very quickly I realised that Allah was answering my prayers, not the part that I wanted (her healing), but rather "what was best for her" and that was her passing - and after being optimistic about her recovery, in that very moment, I realised that our fighter, was destined to fight in another realm, that her earthly shell was tired and it was time to bid her farewell. I looked at her mouth, it was dry and her tongue swollen. I got some water and wet her lips and tongue - she was barely conscious and delirious and this was the best I could do. I started by reading my Khuls, then Ayatul Kursi and finally Shahadah - the first Kalimah, the one that is read when we are born or when we revert, and our last declaration when we die. The meaning of the Kalimah is "there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah".
I started my Shahadah with "La", Aunty B opened her eyes, and joined me "illaha illa la, Muhammed du Rasoolullah". She looked at me and tried to say something, she then looked to her son, and struggled to move her mouth, but gave him a faint smile, she then looked almost through me, and I sensed fear in her eyes. Being a born Muslim, who is quite educated on the process of passing, I knew why she looked fearful - she saw Malakul Maut, Arch Angel Asrael and I grabbed her close to me, hugging her, and telling her not to be scared and when I laid her down, her breathing slowed and in about 5 seconds, it stopped.
I panicked, Jamaal was calm, he made peace with her passing, but I couldn't accept it so I tried to perform CPR and started crying and shouting. I felt her last few breaths as I performed CPR and felt her heart slow down - she made death look beautiful and passed easily in our presence. Allah showed her complete mercy and in that, I felt my love for my creator grow to a capacity that I never felt before. The paramedics finally arrived and declared her deceased by about 4:10am
Then, finally, the moment arrived, where we got to experience the business we created, the service offering we provide our customers and our partners - and the mere memory fills my eyes with tears because I could never ever be prouder or happier.
Once we got the declaration of death, police report and Doctors note, we called our providers. They arrived under an hour to collect her body - (this was just before 5am in the morning).
They took her body to her family home to start the preparation process (this was Aunty B's wish). When we got to the home, the Toekamanie was already there. She just lost her second son a week before that, but was so strong and inspired by her purpose to prepare the deceased for the Jinaza and led us with patience. My daughter, sister in law and I helped her prepare Aunty B (washed and shrouded her). Her body was still warm as we washed her (I remember thinking are we sure Aunty B is gone, convincing myself that I seen her breath, I knew this was my heart playing tricks on me as her energy was still so present). The Toekamanie patiently guided us and taught us every step of the way. In the end, Aunty B looked like a beautiful angel, adorned in her white shroud, decorated with roses, she appeared to be asleep - finally at peace.
By the set time, Amien Schroeder, our business partner, showed up and led the Jinaza proceedings and the Salaah. He considered the diversity of the family and prayed in a manner that was inclusive and gave my mother in law the most beautiful send-off I have ever experienced.
Her male family members that were close to her, helped in burying her and by the end of it, I couldn't be more proud of the business we created, the people Allah sent us to partner with and the experience we designed - it was a magical moment for us at Karama Jinaza Cover and it reiterated our stance in ensuring that the deceased receives that dignified Jinaza and that the family has nothing to worry about when mourning. It not only gave those left behind the closure that we all needed but it left a beautiful memory of our mom's passing in our minds forever.
Small disclaimer: If you are a member of Karama Jinaza Cover, once your loved one passes and is declared deceased by a medical professional - please call us and follow the process detailed in your policy schedule. We cannot cover a claim in cash if you use a provider or a process outside of our network. Please call or email us if you need any further clarity.