When someone in your family dies, there are a lot of things to take care of. One of the most important is making sure that the home is ready for shiva. Shiva is a Jewish mourning ritual that lasts for seven days. During shiva, the family of the deceased gathers in their home to mourn and remember their loved one. There are many things you can do to prepare your home for shiva. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most important things you need to know! We at Fox Monuments want to help you through this difficult time, and these tips will make the process a little easier.  

When and Where is Shiva Held

In the Jewish tradition, the funeral is held as soon as possible. This practice helps the soul to move into a peaceful place early on and allows the family to process their grief. Shiva is held immediately after the funeral, usually on the day of the burial. The mourners return to the home of the deceased, and shiva lasts for seven days. Shiva is the second stage of mourning.  

How to Prepare the Shiva Home

There are many Shiva preparations that the family must make before starting the 7-day mourning period.
  1. The family sits on cushions or low chairs. It is traditional to sit on low chairs or stools during shiva. This is because sitting low to the ground is a sign of humility and grief.
  2. Cover all mirrors and pictures. During shiva, all mirrors and pictures in the house are covered. This is because Jewish tradition teaches that during shiva, we should not be concerned with our own appearance. We are focusing on mourning our loved one, and we do not want to be distracted by our own reflection.
  3. Keep doors unlocked. During shiva, the doors to the house are kept unlocked. This is so that people can come and go as they please.
  4. Burn memorial candles. Memorial candles are burned during shiva. These candles represent the soul of the person who died.
  5. Set out food and drinks. Food and drinks are set out for visitors during shiva. This is so that visitors will have something to eat and drink while they are in the house.
  6. Prepare handwashing stations. As family and friends enter, they are expected to wash their hands. Some families will set up a wash basin outside or just inside the front door. Others will allow mourners to go right into the bathroom or kitchen. This ritual cleanses their hands and prepares them to comfort those who have suffered a loss.

Customs for the Mourning Family

Depending on the family’s preferences, customs will vary. Families will choose which of the mourning customs they are most comfortable with. Typically, the older generations will follow these customs more closely.

Excusal from Work

Throughout Shiva, the family is excused from work and household duties. Meals are prepared by friends or relatives. It is customary for the Shiva house to be left tidy each night so that the mourners can return to a clean space after their day of reflection.

Wear Torn Clothing

The bereaved wear torn clothing as a sign of grief. The clothes do not have to be ripped, but many people will wear an article of clothing that is torn or cut. This is usually done on the day of the funeral.

Stay within the Home

Mourners are not supposed to leave the house during shiva, except for necessary errands like buying food.

Grooming and Dress

Traditionally, mourners do not shave, cut their hair, or wear leather shoes during shiva. This is done as a way of showing respect for the deceased.


Children under the age of thirteen are exempt from shiva. They are considered too young to fully understand death. Pregnant women are also exempt because it is considered bad luck to mourn while you are carrying new life.  

The Meal of Consolation

Also known as the meal of condolence, the meal of consolation follows the family’s return from the cemetery. It is a opportunity for friends and neighbors to provide support and express their condolences. The food is brought in by friends or neighbors and left in the kitchen. The family does not have to prepare the meal themselves. The Meal of Consolation marks the beginning of Shiva. It is intended to help the family recover from stress.  


The death of a loved one is a difficult time. Following the Jewish tradition of Shiva can help to bring some structure and order during this chaotic time. By preparing your home and yourself, you can create a space for grief and support.