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Turkey – End of Life Issues

When a loved one is nearing the end of their life, it can be a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved. In Turkey, like many other countries, there are customs and practices that are followed to ensure that the person who is dying is treated with dignity and respect, and that their wishes are honored. In this article, we will discuss end-of-life care in Turkey, including an overview of hospices, local customs and practices, and what to do when someone passes away.

Hospices in Turkey

Hospice care is an important part of end-of-life care in Turkey. Hospices provide specialized care for individuals who are nearing the end of their life and focus on providing comfort and support to both the patient and their family. Hospice care can be provided in a hospice facility, in the patient’s home, or in a hospital.

In Turkey, hospice care is typically provided by non-governmental organizations and private institutions. These organizations provide a wide range of services, including pain management, symptom control, emotional and spiritual support, and counseling for patients and their families. Hospice care is also provided by the Turkish Ministry of Health, which has established palliative care units in several hospitals throughout the country.

Local Customs and Practices

In Turkey, death is seen as a natural part of life, and there are a number of customs and practices that are followed to honor the deceased and support their loved ones during the grieving process. Some common customs and practices include:

  1. Washing and preparing the body: In accordance with Islamic tradition, the body is washed and prepared for burial by family members. The body is wrapped in a white shroud and is not embalmed.

  2. Funeral rituals: Funerals in Turkey are typically held within 24 hours of the person’s death. The funeral may take place at a mosque or in the person’s home, and is attended by family, friends, and community members. Prayers are recited, and the body is taken to the cemetery for burial.

  3. Mourning period: After the funeral, there is a period of mourning that lasts for three days. During this time, family members and friends gather to offer condolences and support to the grieving family. It is also common for people to bring food and other gifts to the family during this time.

  4. Charity: Giving to charity is seen as an important way to honor the deceased in Turkey. It is common for people to make donations to a mosque, hospital, or other charitable organization in memory of the person who has passed away.

What to do When Someone Dies in Turkey

When someone passes away in Turkey, there are several steps that must be taken to ensure that the person is treated with respect and that their wishes are honored. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Notify the authorities: If the person passes away at home, you must notify the police or a doctor within two hours of the death. If the person dies in a hospital or hospice, the staff will take care of this for you.

  2. Obtain a death certificate: You must obtain a death certificate from the authorities. This can be obtained from the hospital or a local government office.

  3. Arrange for burial or cremation: In Turkey, burial is the most common way to dispose of a body. You must make arrangements with a funeral director to transport the body and arrange for the burial. If the person has requested cremation, this can also be arranged.

  4. Notify family and friends: It is important to notify family and friends of the person’s passing. This can be done by phone, email, or social media.

  5. Cremation or Burial

In Turkey, the decision of whether to cremate or bury the deceased is a personal one and can depend on cultural, religious, or personal beliefs. The deceased person may have expressed their wishes in their will or other written documents. If there are no specific instructions, the family will decide.

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  • Funeral Arrangements
  • Funeral arrangements are typically made by the family, either with the help of a funeral director or on their own. The family may choose to have a religious or non-religious service, and the service may take place at a mosque, church, or funeral home.

  • Notification and Registration
  • When someone dies in Turkey, the following people or organizations must be notified:

    • The police (if the death was sudden or unexplained)
    • The family doctor or medical examiner (if the death was expected)
    • The local civil registration office (Nufus Mudurlugu) within 24 hours of the death

    The civil registration office will issue a death certificate, which is required for many legal and administrative purposes. The family may also need to notify banks, insurance companies, and other organizations of the death.


    In conclusion, end-of-life care in Turkey involves a range of options, including home-based care, hospital-based care, and palliative care services. The customs and practices surrounding death and dying are deeply rooted in Turkish culture and religion. When someone dies, the family and community come together to support each other and honor the deceased person’s memory. It is important to understand the legal and administrative requirements for notifying authorities and registering the death. By having a plan in place and knowing what to expect, families can navigate this difficult time with greater ease and comfort.

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