The death of a friend, loved one or family member is truly a painful experience. The only way we can ease the pain that the bereaved ones are by expressing support and sympathy. In most religions, some of the best ways that you can comfort the bereaved is by expressing your condolences through sympathy flowers. Giving sympathy flowers to the bereaving family members is a common tradition that is practiced around the globe. However, there are certain moments that we cannot do so because we might convey an offensive message to the mourning family.
Every flower expresses various connotations and subtexts therefore it is a must to know the governing etiquette in conjunction to sympathy flowers. However, not all funerals can use flowers to ease the surviving family’s pain a little bit. One of these instances is a Jewish funeral. Jewish funerals are usually solemn and occur around 24 hours of the person’s time of death. The concept behind this is that the dead body must be returned to earth 24 hours up to 3 days at most after the person’s death. According to Jewish traditions, the surviving family must commit their time on prayers and solemnity. This is the reason why flowers are not welcome on the funeral service because the Jews consider giving flowers as a celebration of the life of the deceased.
Before you decide to send sympathy flowers to a Jewish family, here are the things that you need to know in order to avoid awkwardness and inconvenience.
Knowing the Jewish Funeral Practice and Mourning
The Jewish funeral practice usually happens right after the person’s death, although it can be postponed to give time for planning or to let the family of the deceased to travel. The deceased’s body is cleaned without embalming according to Jewish ritual tradition and then placed in a wooden casket. The deceased’s immediate family members which include parents, siblings and children observe a 7-day period of passionate mourning also known as shivah, in which they stay at home, chanting prayers, and then the mourning practices are followed. The deceased family continues the funeral practices for 30 days while other Jewish families do it for one whole year.
Other Funeral Traditions
While the funeral traditions concerning Christians and other religious denominations in the world include wreaths, flowers and other plants that can be used for the public viewing and other funeral service, a Jewish funeral is certainly plain and simple. There is no public viewing of the body, and the funeral service is short and somber, composed only of prayers, psalms and a eulogy. Moreover, a Jewish funeral service is normally held at the synagogue or funeral home or graveyard.
What You Should Do
If you would like to extend your sympathy and share the grief of Jewish friends in mourning, you can choose to give meals to visitors, visit the shivah or send a sympathy card. In most instances, the deceased’s family will mention their preferred charity in the obituary column of your city or state’s newspaper; however your donations to any charity and cause are also appreciated. You can also bring food to the mourning family; but always make sure that you fulfill the food requirements if the deceased’s family is Orthodox. Inform them about your intentions to make sure that you won’t clash with their traditions.
The Alternative Solution
While it is unacceptable to bring flowers to a Jewish funeral service or family home, you can always let the deceased’s family know that they are in your prayers and thoughts. After two or three months, if you still wish to send them flowers, you can do so with a simple note telling them that you are deeply grieving their loss.
No words can express the loss of a loved one. However, there are times that our religious beliefs and practices prevent us from sharing the same burden to alleviate the pain. Always bear in mind that a Jewish funeral tradition is not like the ones that we come to know. Although it is in our intentions to celebrate the life of our friend who died, we cannot always do so especially if he belongs to the Jewish faith. Inasmuch as we want our gift of flowers to express our pain, we cannot easily do so because we have to respect a tradition that is as old as any religious practices all over the world.