Periods of Mourning

While shiva is a very specific period of mourning, there are stages before and after shiva that have particular significance. In fact, shiva is merely one of many defined periods of grieving within Judaism. Below is a list of the others, each of which is a milestone for a mourner who is grieving the loss of a loved one.

The period between death and burial. The mourner during this period is called the ‘onen.’ Before commercial burials, the mourner was fulfilling the needs of the deceased in preparation for burial and therefore was exempt from other religious duties such as morning and evening prayers and putting on tefillin (scrolls containing verses from the Torah).

This is the Hebrew word for mourning, which consists of three periods: shiva, sheloshim, and the year of mourning.

The traditional seven-day period of mourning, following the burial, when mourners stay at home and receive guests to offer them comfort and participate in daily religious services.

The 30-day mourning period after the burial and including the first seven days of shiva. It is observed by the immediate family and is designed to allow the mourner to get over the shock of the death. The mourners return to work after the first seven days, but other restrictions remain, such as refraining from attending weddings, dances or parties.

Year of Mourning
When the mourner is mourning a parent, the observances held in sheloshim are extended for one year from the day of burial.

The yearly anniversary of a death, which is commemorated with the lighting of a candle that burns for 24 hours and the recitation of the Kaddish prayer.

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