Death & Mourning

Shiva

Inspiration

The Jewish practice of shiva demonstrates both psychological and theological brilliance. During traditional shiva, the mourner remains at home for up to seven days. The door to the home is unlocked and visitors enter without being greeted, relieving the mourner of obligations to care for guests. Mirrors are covered so as to defer any attention to personal appearance. Mourners set aside all work obligations. The community might provide meals or straighten up the home so that the mourner may be left to grieve.

The Jewish tradition offers ways of bringing comfort and compassion to the person in mourning. For the community, the most important consolation we offer is our presence. We engage with the mourners primarily by listening to their expressions of sorrow. At such times, having the right words is a challenge for family and friends. A familiarity with prayers, texts and psalms may provide the few words needed to demonstrate our concern and provide comfort.