In the Jewish tradition, after the funeral, the 7-days of intensive mourning, called shiva begins. The following are the most important things to think about when preparing the shiva house:

  •     Have a water pitcher and bowl by the front door of the house for guests to wash their hands after returning from the cemetery.
  •     Leave the door to the house unlocked during shiva hours so that visitors can come in freely. This is done so as not to distract the mourners from their grief and cause them to act as hosts.
  •     Upon returning from the funeral, light a 7-day shiva memorial candle (yahrzeit candle). 
  •     Have a coat rack by the front door for guests, depending on the season.
  •     Put away any fragile or breakable items as there will be a lot of traffic coming through the house.
  •     Make sure to have an extra supply of paper towels, tissues, toilet paper and garbage bags.
  •     Alert neighbours that there will be cars parked on the street during the shiva period.
  •     If the shiva is held at an apartment or condo, notify the doorman or guard gate so that they can help visitors navigate their way to the shiva home.
  •     Cover the mirrors in the house. The material is not important. It is only important that someone is not able to see their reflection in the mirror, as the shiva period is about inner reflection and focusing internally.
  •     Have prayer books and kippahs on hand, if applicable. 
  •     The mourners sit low during the shiva period as a sign of mourning so have low chairs available or take pillows off the sofa for mourners.
  •     Regular chairs should be placed in front of the mourners so make sure you have ample chairs to accommodate visitors.
  •     Display photos of the deceased. It is a nice way to honour them and will naturally create a point of discussion for visitors. 

 

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