Death & Mourning: Jewish Customs, Traditions and Practices 

When death occurs, there are many Jewish traditions, customs and rituals that individuals use as a guide and follow relating to the caring and preparation of the body pre-burial, the actual burial and service at the cemetery, along with the weeklong mourning period (or "shiva") that follows.  Most notably, Judaism's structured period of mourning, which contains various stages for grieving, is considered extremely helpful, because each stage focuses on honoring and commemorating those who are gone, yet it gives appropriate time and ways to grieve and cope with loss.  
 
Death is one of the most challenging and conflicting subjects encountered by anyone. Knowing what to say, how to act or what to do are common questions and concerns of both mourners and their supporting family and friends alike. The mention of the topic itself brings about sadness and a sense of loss. Understanding the treatment of death in Judaism according to the Jewish faith and following customs may help with the coping process. Regardless of whether a life is taken by natural causes, the death occurs early in life or even through unforeseen events, it is important to know that in Judaism, death is not treated or considered a tragedy but rather as part of the cycle of life. A traditional viewpoint is that every life event, including death, happens for a reason even though it may be difficult at the time. Judaism's process and steps for caring for a body and the honor and respect afforded to the departed leads towards a celebration of the life of loved ones no longer with us following the grieving period.
 

Based on Jewish laws, traditions and customs, a Jewish funeral usually takes place within one day following the date of death, and these are solemn and reflective services followed by a gathering at the mourner’s home, which marks the beginning of shiva. The first seven days following the funeral is known as shiva, and the mourners generally stay at home and receive guests to help them pray and reflect upon their loss.

This section provides information about Jewish Funeral and Graveside customs, aswell as information on the burial of deceased Jewish individuals with different circumstances:


Funerals and Burial

The funeral is a private time for the family and the religion provides that there is no public viewing of the...

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The Unveiling

After a person has passed away, the family typically holds a ceremony called the unveiling. At this event, a...

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Visiting the Cemetery

A very important part of the Jewish tradition is visiting the gravesite, after someone has passed away, which...

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Placing a Stone

Within the Jewish faith, it is customary to leave a small stone on the grave. The visitor positions the...

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