Recently, the father of one of my brothers-in-law (the husband of my wife's sister) passed away.
He had been sick for some time, having suffered from Type 2 Diabetes, which resulted in the loss of both of his legs below the knee. Although he had been in the hospital for several weeks prior to his passing, he succumbed rather quickly at the end. The hospital called family members to return to his bedside as quickly as possible, but not everyone was able to make it before his death.
Thinking about his death led me to ask several questions and make an observation:
-- Was the father able to recite the shahadah before his death? Even if he was not able to do so, perhaps one of his family could have recited it in his presence so that, if his state of mind was clear enough, he could have followed along and recited the shahadah mentally.
-- Did anyone recite Surah Ya Sin for him? Even if one's Arabic isn't very good, this doesn't mean that we can't keep a recitation for this particular surah handy. On the memory chip of my hand phone and on a CD in our car, I have the recitations of over 30 surahs, including Surah Ya Sin. Should a Muslim family member or friend be dying, we can still play this surah for him or her to help ease their mind during that time.
-- What I came to realize at the time of this man's death is that Islam is not just a process. We spend all of our lives preparing for the end, but our state of mind at the time of our death is just as important. For those of us who spend time with the dying, whether as a family member, friend or professional care-giver, we should strive as best we can to provide them with as much comfort and assistance in remaining in a state of Islam up through their last breath.
Any other suggestions would be appreciated in the comments.