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Mourning on a Schedule
The schedule of Jewish mourning is logical and familiar: for a week, a month, and a year after the burial, there are expected mourning activities, which grow less intense as time passes.
For a week after the burial, in the period called shiva, meaning seven, there is intense mourning, during which mourners do almost nothing, not even leaving the house. They may choose to follow some of the Jewish symbols of mourning: covering the mirrors, sitting on low stools or benches, not wearing leather shoes and not shaving. In traditional Jewish communities, people outside the family visit to provide the mourners with food, participate in prayer services in honor of the person who has died, and comfort the mourners in a prescribed fashion. Some families find it difficult to reconcile this intensive mourning practice with their jobs, and choose to sit shiva for a shorter period than seven days. Whether they sit for three days or until the Jewish Sabbath (when mourning is forbidden) or the full seven days, the period of shiva is one in which mourners need the support of their families and friends.