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Jewish Death Practices:
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Visiting the Sick or Dying 
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Phases of Death Observance
    Approaching the Time of Death
    Between Death and Burial
    Shemira
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    Burial and Cremation 
    Mourning Practices

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Responsibilities of Friends and Other Relatives

 

Friends and relatives outside the immediate family play an important role in assisting the mourners. One of their most important tasks is to provide the se'udat havra'ah ("meal of consolation") [see below]. It is not intended that the mourning family serve as hosts to visitors. Quite the contrary  -  it is the visitors whose concern it is to console the mourners by helping them talk about the deceased, keeping the visits reasonably brief, and taking their cues from the feelings of the mourners.

Se'udat havra'ah

The se'udat havra'ah ("meal of consolation") is the meal eaten upon returning from the cemetery following the funeral. Certain foods are considered traditional for this meal, such as eggs and lentils, whose round shape suggests the ongoing continuity of life.  This meal is usually provided for the mourners by the community members.  Mourners are not expected to cook, let alone host the community as they go through the difficult time of mourning.