How to sit Shiva

The thought of death always makes people uneasy and uncomfortable. In Judaism, sitting Shiva is a week long period of mourning done immediately after the funeral of a close relative. Close relative includes the father, mother, siblings, sons, daughters and spouse, they assume the role of “Halakhic” from the Hebrew word, which means mourner.

In Jewish laws and customs, certain traditions are being followed, common practices are, mourners may not bathe or shower, you may wash parts of the body using cool water, but not the whole body, moreover washing with warm water. Cleaning oneself just enough to become pleasurable and presentable to when friends and neighbors arrive. They do not wear leather shoes or jewelry and in many Jewish communities, mourners keep all mirrors covered. Some believe that mirrors attract spirits and keeping them uncloaked could trap a spirit inside. Modern beliefs say that the practice discourages vanity and encourages deeper reflection of one’s self. Traditions also require sitting on a very low chair, one that is very low to the ground. This symbolizes the grief being experienced by the person.

To sit Shiva seems a lot of hard work and sacrifice. That intense feeling of grief and sadness. To think that you lost a love one and yet, you have to suffer and sacrifice more while mourning. People have different views and opinions in this.  In one of the article I’ve read, one mourner said and I quote “her journey through the stages of mourning was like being in a cocoon, at first she felt numb and not perceptively alive, yet gradually she emerged as a butterfly ready to fly again.”

Everyone experiences a lost of a loved one. It’s tough to imagine how you will go through life without them. You are left wondering how in the world you will be able to make it through situations where you normally had them present. How will you handle birthdays or Christmas that are normally joyful? From my point of view, traditions like this, no matter from what religion emphasizes great love. Losing someone obviously bring major changes in one’s life. It will be difficult to live your life without that person. But I guess, that’s life. Living life doesn’t only mean the joys and the laughters, I guess part of living life is embracing the truth and the reality that there are also sufferings and pain.

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