Readings

the shivah and other mourning observances

A selection of readings on shivah, mourning, and coping with the loss of a loved one.

What to Expect at a Shiva Home
For a week after a funeral, the close relatives of the deceased sit and mourn the loss of their relative. “Shiva” is Hebrew for “seven,” since this stage of mourning lasts for seven days.
What Happens to the World After the Loss of a Child
My 11-year-old cousin is gone, and everything is the same … or is it?
Entering the Shabbat
Koby died on Tuesday, and was buried on Wednesday night. There were two days of mourning before Shabbat
Remembrance as the Secret of Redemption
Healing the Pain of Loss Through Memory
"Remembrance" provides context to deal with the most painful of losses
The Calf's Mother
King Solomon was baffled; Moses turned pale. Indeed, only the most incomprehensible of Divine decrees—the law of the red heifer—can act as an antidote for the most incomprehensible of human experiences—the phenomenon of death.
Who Are
How is comparing the loss of a loved one to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans two thousand years ago supposed to make me feel any better?
How Jews Comfort the Bereaved
Nichum Aveilim
The visitor comes to the house of mourning, silently, to join the bereaved in his loneliness, sorrowfully to sit alongside him, to think his thoughts and to linger on his loss...
Psychological Symptoms of Grief During Shiva
For a clearer and deeper understanding of the dynamics of grief, the visitor should be familiar with the results of a psychological study of bereavement...
How Can I Go On Without Her?
When my sister died, my inspiration did, too. I wondered: Would I ever laugh again? Why did my life go on when hers had been cut short?
Comforting the Mourner--When and How
What should I say to someone who lost a loved one? When is the right time? How does one behave?
In the Mourning Light
Coping With the Loss of My Father
I don't have patience for the rivers of apple juice flowing across the dining room table, and when the lock on the front door finally breaks, locking me out of my apartment at dinnertime with three starving children, I feel like sitting down on the floor and crying with them. I don't, of course, because I'm the mom...
Lost But Found
Finding Daddy in Our Hearts
I wouldn't go. I didn't want to. I felt no connection with a wooden box being put into a hole in the ground. That was not my daddy, it couldn't be. I was not going to have that as my last memory of my daddy.
To Speak or Not To Speak
Why We Let the Mourner Start the Conversation
When we visit someone who has lost a loved one, we want them to know that we are there for them—to comfort them and to give them strength. The best way we can express that is by being silent in order to be guided by their needs...
Reconnecting with My Best Friend
After Thirty-Eight Years
She asked me what happened. Why did we lose track of each other? I said in those days, with no email, she moved to Israel and I stayed behind. It was harder to work at staying in touch and just easier to let things drop and occasionally hear about her from mutual friends. Life moves on, the everyday routines take over, and slowly the relationship faded away...
Why Sit Low During the Seven-Day Mourning Period?
I am in the seven-day mourning period for my sister. I am curious about some of the mourning customs.
Shivah Mourning on the Holiday of Purim
My neighbor’s father just passed away and Purim will fall within the shiva, seven day mourning period.
Mourning My Father
Healing the Loss of a Parent Through Jewish Ritual
Shiva Etiquette
A rabbi shares words you should never say to a mourner
Some things are obvious: Don't stride in and announce to all present the latest mazal tov in your family. Don't sit on the side, ignoring the mourner while chatting and giggling with a friend.
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