Judaism provides a structured period of mourning that, depending on your relationship to the deceased, may last up to one year, allowing a mourner to gradually heal by going through different stages of grief. These traditional mourning practices and defined periods of mourning are intended to ensure that in a year’s time, the mourner is able to cope with the loss and be prepared to re-engage in his or her normal routines. This section provides a basic overview and understanding of shiva and Jewish mourning.

The first structured period of Jewish mourning, the shiva, begins immediately following the burial and upon departing the cemetery and returning to the mourner’s home. Shiva is a complex period of Jewish mourning comprised of many traditions, customs and rituals that mourners may observe. Below are links to more sections and information about the rituals of shiva and Jewish mourning.

Shiva begins immediately following the burial and lasts for seven days, ending after the morning service on the seventh day. Shiva is not observed on the Sabbath (Friday at sundown through Saturday at sundown) or on holidays. While shiva is the seven-day period following burial – and many mourners do choose to observe shiva for the full seven days – it is common to find that some families may only sit shiva for one-to-three days, depending on many factors, including the family’s level of observance or the deceased’s instructions or wishes.

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For more information, please visit This website offers tremendous information about Jewish practices regarding death and dying, chock full of valuable resources.

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