Mourning: Phases of Mourning

Phases of Mourning

Jewish law provides for graduated stages of mourning. Its initial activities are quite restrictive, and provide a tight frame to enclose the early intense feelings. The practices gradually become less restrictive and support the mourner’s reentry into the communal stream of activity.”– Rabbi Anne Brener, Mourning & Mitzvah (2nd Edition)

Once a person dies, immediate attention is paid to honoring and accompanying the deceased to their final resting place. After the burial, the focus shifts to the mourner, and then to the long process of reintegrating into the community. While for many, grieving the death of a loved one never truly ends, Jewish tradition provides special attention to mourners for the first year and continues to dedicate moments throughout the Hebrew calendar to remember our deceased loved ones and to acknowledge our loss. 

Below are the details about each mourning period for the first year after a loss. Each phase offers a container for holding grief and also has a defined end date, ushering the mourner into the next phase of re-entry into life without their loved one. We know that grief is not linear and does not necessarily follow these phases; it has its own time and rhythm. However, these defined stages can be a helpful tool for carrying grief alongside the responsibilities of daily life.