Traditionally during shiva, the family gathers every day in a family home to mourn and pray. For seven days, family members often don't go to work or participate in the routine of their normal lives. Guests are received at the "shiva house" during this time.
What You Need To Know
When observing shiva, known as "sitting shiva," the shiva house should be appropriately prepared. During hours when guests are invited to drop by, the front door is left unlocked so that guests can enter and exit quietly. A pitcher of water is placed either outside the house or just within the house to allow guests to ritually cleanse their hands. The mirrors in the home may be covered to encourage self-refection and avoid superficial concerns. Often, guests will remove their shoes before entering the shiva house.
It is common to serve food and beverages at a shiva, which can be brought by guests or provided by the mourning family. Chairs and other seating are often made available to guests.
When mourning a death, the process of planning a shiva can feel overwhelming. There are a number of companies that will help you plan a shiva, manage the event for you, and coordinate with guests.
Shiva.com is a comprehensive shiva resource for people organizing or attending a shiva, offering information on the shiva process, how to cope with loss, what to do during a shiva, and how to comfort family and friends. The site also offers a shiva planning checklists, yartzeit (anniversary) reminders, and the ability to send food to a shiva.
Shiva Connect allows mourners to create a "shiva registry" that includes the times, dates, and locations of shiva. In addition, Shiva Connect allows guests to send food and meals to the mourning family.
Based in the Chicago area, The Shiva House offers packaged services for planning a shiva, including items for preparing the home, serving a meal, catering, and on-site event coordination.