Shivah means seven in Hebrew. When someone is mourning the loss of a parent, child, spouse, or sibling, they generally stay at home for a period of seven days to mourn their loss.
Traditionally, when a family loses a loved one, after the funeral, the family is encouraged to stay home and mourn for a period of seven days. Others within the community that stop in, and help prepare meals for the mourners so they don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning.
When we go to a house of mourning, we are encouraged to arrive with a humble heart. We sit quietly and wait for the mourner to talk first. It may seem uncomfortable to sit in silence, but it is a perfect time to silently pray for the family, and to just be with the mourner. Many times, the mourner is comforted with the knowledge that someone is just there. We don’t have to talk to show we care. It is the act of showing up and just being there that may be important for mourners.