Following the funeral and burial, the immediate family begins an official mourning period. The first seven days of this mourning period are referred to as Shiva, which in Hebrew means ‘seven’. During this period of intense grief, the family is instructed to withdraw from their day lives and routine obligations. The reference to sitting Shiva, directly refers to this family’s time spent at home during this time period. It is customary to have the community come to the family’s home to comfort and care for the mourners.
Observing Shiva or Sitting Shiva In Your Home
Shalom Memorial Park & Funeral Home partners with shiva.com™ to provide comprehensive information on the traditions associated with Shiva and Jewish mourning to bereaved family members, friends, and comforters.
Children, siblings, parents, and spouses of the deceased have a religious obligation to observe Shiva or to sit Shiva. The Shiva begins immediately after the burial and lasts for seven days.
What follows are traditional customs related to observing Shiva or sitting Shiva in the home:
Washing of hands
A Traditional Jewish Shiva Candle
A pitcher of water, a basin, and towel are placed outside the front door for use upon returning from the cemetery. Washing hands symbolize separating ourselves from the spiritual impurity of death.
The meal of condolence
The traditional meal following the burial is called the Seudat Havra’ah or “meal of consolation”. This meal usually includes hard-boiled eggs which serve to symbolize the cyclical nature of life. The meal is to be arranged by friends or family.
White observing Shiva or sitting Shiva, it is typical to hold services at the mourners’ home. A minyan (a quorum of ten) should be present at each service so the mourners can say Kaddish.
Mirrors often are covered in a Shiva house. Covering mirrors represents the mourners’ focus on spiritual rather than physical reflection.
A candle that is lit upon return from the cemetery and burns for the entire length of a traditional seven day Shiva.
For additional information about observing Shiva or sitting Shiva in your home, please contact one of the Shalom Memorial Park and Shalom Memorial Funeral Home directors or family service counselors at (847) 255-3520.