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Visiting a Mourner

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  • A shiva home is not a place for socializing and certainly not a place where mourners or their family members are expected to play the role of host or hostess. Food and drink is not served for visitors. A shiva home is a safe, nurturing, and holy space where mourners are able to find comfort and slowly begin their journey back to daily life.

  •  It is very important for family, friends, neighbors and even acquaintances to visit mourners during the week of shiva. The sole purpose of the visit is to provide comfort to the mourner.

  • Generally, the mourner(s) are sitting on their low stools, and there are chairs arranged in front of them for visitors. Visitors enter the home quietly, sit down and, as a rule, do not speak until the mourner first speaks to them.

  • Visitors should be attuned to where the mourner wants the conversation to go. It’s best if the focus of conversation is on fond recollections of the deceased or of meaningful experiences that the guest and the mourner may have shared.

  • When a visitor is about to leave he extends the traditional comforting phrase: “May G-d comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

(click here for a printable hebrew-english text )