Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sit Shiva

I just spent the last 2 weeks at my mother-in-law's, the first week providing support as her husband died, the second week being the funeral and shiva. The process from the moment of death was a unique way to deal with death in the family and community. Being there when someone passes naturally is also quite the experience. It is as peaceful as it is sad. Once death is confirmed, a special group from the Schule comes and cleans up the body and places it in a bag and transports it to the chapel. In most circumstances, the body is in the ground within a day. In this case, it was just coming up on shabbat, so the whole process is delayed a day. You would think that this would give people more time to get to the funeral, but of course, you can't travel on the sabbath as well.

The funeral was well-attended. The rabbi spoke, as did his son. My brother-in-law spoke and so did my daughter (representing all the grand-kids). The casket was a plain wooden box and it was placed in the ground and covered immediately by the pall-bearers. All in all, a very quick, efficient yet very personal process.

For the next 7 days, the family sits Shiva, as an amazing number of people drop into the house to pay their respects. This starts as early as 7:00 AM and goes as late as 10:00 PM. Lots of crying and story-telling. A very cathartic process.

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