Judaism offers us a framework and a guide for coping with grief at the loss of a loved one. Rituals and traditions focus on treating the dead with respect (k’vod ha-met) and to comforting mourners (nichum aveilim). During this vulnerable time, we come together as a community to support one another and to provide comfort and solace. We understand the importance of honoring a loved one’s memory and creating a meaningful opportunity to celebrate their life.
Timeline of Jewish Mourning
Aninut: The period from death to burial.
Shiva: The first seven days of mourning.
Sheloshim: The first thirty days of mourning beginning with the day of burial; the complete mourning period for all, except for a parent.
Mourning a Parent for Eleven Months: The eleven Hebrew months following the day of death which is the traditional mourning period after the death of a parent.
Yahrzeit: The anniversary date of the death per the Jewish calendar.
Shiva is an essential part of the Jewish mourning practice. It is considered a great mitzvah, an act of loving-kindness and compassion to pay a home visit to the mourners. We at Beth Sholom are here as a community to support you and your family. As a congregation, we are committed to gathering a minyan for shiva each day of the mourning period.
Words To Say To Comfort Mourners
Sometimes, the best thing to say to someone who is grieving is nothing at all. An important part of the grieving process is to allow those in mourning to talk about their loved one. It is comforting to have a space to remember and to cry.
If the mourner does not feel like talking, that is ok. Your goal is to comfort them. Your presence alone is doing that. By sitting there silently, you are saying more than words can. You are saying: “I am here for you. I feel your pain. There are no words.”
If the mourner does want to talk, here are some words you can use:
- I’m so sorry for your loss.
- You are in our thoughts and prayers.
- They will be so missed.
- I’m very sorry to hear this tragic news.
- I’m shocked and saddened by this devastating news.
- I can’t imagine how you must feel right now.
- If you want to talk, I’m here at any time.
Another way to support those who are mourning is by sending a gift of food to the shiva house or donating to support a meaningful charity. A handwritten note of remembrance and care is always appropriate and appreciated.
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