Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from chabad.org
All Departments
Jewish Holidays
TheRebbe.org
Jewish.TV - Video
Jewish Audio
News
Kabbalah Online
JewishWoman.org
Kids Zone
Contact Us
Visit us on Facebook

Consoling Mourners

Consoling Mourners

Being There

E-mail

"What am I supposed to say?"

Consoling a mourner is one of those challenging situations that we would all rather avoid. But it's an act of kindness and a great mitzvah, especially during the shiva week, the prescribed week of mourning that follows the funeral of a next of kin. And it's not really so difficult: What's really needed most is the fact that you are there.

How-to:

Visit as often as your company will be appreciated and beneficialVisit as often as your company will be appreciated and beneficial. A traditional shiva house has prayer services every morning and evening when kaddish is recited by the mourners—and a minyan [quorum of ten] is required. Your attendance at these services will certainly be appreciated.

Have a seat next to the mourners. Allow them to speak first. Allow them to steer the conversation in whatever direction they wish. If they feel like crying, cry along; if you perceive that they want a break from crying, talk about the weather. All the while, look out for cues that you've sat long enough.

When that happens, stand up and say: "May G‑d console you, together with all mourners of Zion and Jerusalem." Then quietly take your leave.

More Details:

  • Consider the somber atmosphere. Avoid greetings, welcomes and farewells.
  • There's no need to bring anything along; it's your presence that comforts and consoles. If you do wish to bring something, think useful: something like a kosher meal for the mourners.
  • We don't say to a mourner, "What can you do? You can't change the way the world works." Once a life has perished, it is time to accept the Divine decree with love.
  • Traditionally, we don't make shiva visits on Shabbat.
  • Sometimes consoling words aren't enough. Was the deceased the family's breadwinner? Start a fund for the family.
  • Can't make it for a personal visit? Make a telephone call or send your condolences in a card or email.

For more, see our Shivah & Mourning section.

Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
E-mail
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (2)
June 6, 2009
good shiva memory
When my very beloved father died, I had many shiva calls, plus the minyan for kaddish at our house. But one of the visits that brought long-lasting positive feelings was when a friend said "if you'd like, tell me about your father." Then, "are you more like him or your mother?" All she was doing was opening the door for memories and reflections and gave me a chance to talk about who my wonderful father was. I loved my friend visitor for that. If I had started to talk about my dad, I probably would have recounted his last few weeks on earth, as an elderly, sick man. but this gave me a different viewpoint and honored his unique being.
Shulamit
November 22, 2008
too true
my grandfather passed away the day before my 14th birthday this year. of course, by birthday wasn't all that great, but i was too worked up to mind. when we went back to my grandma's house, people kept stopping by. they would stay too long, laugh too much and generally brought donuts. We had one full kitchen table of donuts. yes, stop by, say a prayer, but don't ask the grandkids their opinion on the whole thing! it offsets what you're trying to do. offer comfort, but don't overstep your boundaries.
Sierra
Germany (KS)
FEATURED ON CHABAD.ORG