30 days of mourning 

Following a burial, there is a thirty-day mourning period. This mourning period, called Sheloshim, includes the first seven days, called shivah. We go more in depth of the Sheloshim traditions in the following text.

 

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What is the meaning of sheloshim

A sheloshim memorial service is a Jewish tradition that allows mourners to pay their respects. At this ceremony, various texts from the Hebrew Bible and other holy books are read in memory of someone who has passed away – typically after 30 days have passed since their passing with no one taking responsibility for organizing mourning rituals or overseeing them except God himself according to the Judaism belief system.

Sheloshim is a Jewish ceremony that commemorates the death of a loved one. Sheloshim is the Hebrew word for “thirty.” It is the name of the first stage of mourning following a death. During sheloshim, the bereaved observe a number of rituals and prohibitions, including not wearing new clothes, not shaving or cutting hair, and not attending social events. They may also visit the gravesite of the deceased every day for thirty days.

Sheloshim ceremony is a time for reflection and healing. The bereaved may find comfort in spending time with family and friends, in prayer, and in commemorating the life of their loved one. In some cases, they may also find relief in the beginning to rebuild their lives.

At the end of sheloshim, many people celebrate a “sheloshim shel tikkun” or “third sheloshim.” During this time, they observe the same mourning rituals that they did during sheloshim, but for a shorter period of time.

Sheloshim is an important part of Jewish bereavement rites. While not every culture observes this custom, where it exists, it provides strength and community to those who are mourning.

Is sheloshim affected by a Jewish festival?

Yes. Even as Pesach, Shavuot, Sukot, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur curtail shivah, so do they frequently end the sheloshim. As the rules are somewhat complicated, your Rabbi can best advise you as to your individual circumstance.

What are the traditional rules of sheloshim?

The seven-day period of mourning known as sheloshim begins immediately after the funeral. Sheloshim is observed for at least 30 days following the burial, with family and friends of the deceased being excluded from work until then.

According to Jewish law, all mourners are also required to stay home, observe certain dietary restrictions, avoid doing laundry or bathing during this period of time. “Shiva” is used in reference to both sheloshim and shiva which signify seven days following death based on biblical tradition. Sheloshim thus begins immediately after the burial has taken place and continues for a minimum of 30 days within Judaism.

Sheloshim helps followers express grief through mourning practices that remind them that their loved ones will not be coming home. It encourages reflection and brings about an ongoing awareness of the loss.

The origin for this period is found in the bible, with Genesis 50:10 stating that Jacob required his family to mourn “for a full week” following his death. This tradition has been continuously practiced by Jewish people worldwide ever since, based on this passage.

Sheloshim also applies to those mourning deaths resulting from suicides or accidents, as well as miscarriages or abortions. Furthermore, it’s known as a time of heightened sensitivity towards strangers who are suffering through bereavement due to death. Sheloshim requires others to set aside important tasks indefinitely out of respect for the mourner’s feelings and grieving process.

There are a few specific rules that are to be followed during sheloshim. First and foremost, mourners should not conduct any joyful activities during this time.

After Shivah ends, mourners may return to work. The rules for the balance of sheloshim, however, wisely prescribe that they not immediately resume a normal daily routine. Specifically:

1. Mourners continue to recite Kaddish in the presence of a minyan three times daily. This provision requires attendance at daily services and thus also ensures that the bereaved will be regularly in the midst of a sympathetic support group.

2. Mourners do not attend parties or other festive occasions, especially if there is to be music and/or dancing. If a previously planned extended-family Simchah falls within sheloshim, a Wedding or Bar/Bat Mitzvah, for example, some mourners may attend the religious service but not the party. If a religious Simchah in the immediate family occurs during sheloshim, it should not be postponed, but music might be curtailed. Consult with your Rabbi concerning your specific circumstance.

3. Traditionally, mourners do not go to the movies, concerts, or purely social gatherings. As these are forms of entertainment, they are prohibited during sheloshim.

Additionally, it’s important to give the bereaved plenty of space and time to mourn privately. Finally, those observing sheloshim should send condolences to the family and offer help in any way possible.

What happens after Sheloshim?

After the 30 days of mourning known as sheloshim are over, many people may feel a sense of relief. The intense sadness and shock that often accompanies a death may gradually dissipate, and daily life may resume its usual pace. However, for those who have lost a loved one, the grieving process is far from over.

There is no right or wrong way to mourn, and everyone grieves in their own unique way. Some people may find comfort in talking about their loved ones, while others may prefer to keep their memories private. Some people may want to be around friends and family members, while others may need some time alone.

Whatever coping mechanisms work best for you, it is important to give yourself time to mourn. There is no set time limit for grieving, and it can take months or even years to fully process a death.

There are several things you can do to help facilitate the grieving process:

  • Allow yourself to feel all of the emotions that come up, including sadness, anger, confusion, and loneliness.
  • Talk about your loved one with others who knew them, or write about your feelings in a journal.
  • Do something that reminds you of your loved one, such as listening to their favorite music or looking at photos.
  • Seek professional help if you are struggling to cope or if the grief is interfering with your day-to-day life.

 

Grief is a natural response to loss, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.

Sheloshim concludes the traditional mourning period for all loved ones, except for parents. Most mourners may return to a full business and social life.

What if we are mourning parents?

As we have seen, traditionally we formally mourn the loss of parents for twelve Hebrew months, reciting Kaddish for eleven of them, while the other mourning restrictions of the sheloshim continue for the twelve-month period.

 

We continue to preserve the memory of our loved ones even after the formal period of mourning has ended. We go to the synagogue to recite Kaddish on the anniversary of their death, the Yahrzeit, and at Yizkor memorial services during the year. We may contribute to worthy causes in their name. But, above all, we remember and, through our tender reminiscence, their memory remains a blessing. That is the Jewish way.

At Mount Sinai Memorial Chapels, we are here to help every member of the family cope with the loss of a loved one.

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