Start of Shiva – Not Attending Funeral

May 6, 2022 | by Rabbi Pinchas Waldman

If one of the deceased’s children will not be attending her parent’s funeral (due to travel difficulties), when does shiva begin? Does she wait until the burial has ended?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

I’m sorry to hear of the difficult situation. The rules are actually a bit complicated so it’s better to discuss this in person with a rabbi. The general rule for people who are not attending the burial is that their shiva begins when they are no longer involved in arranging the funeral. (For an older person or a relative uninvolved in the funeral this might be as soon as he hears about the person’s passing.)

A similar case is where the funeral begins in one city and the deceased is flown to another for burial (as occurs when the deceased is flown to Israel). If only part of the family is accompanying the deceased, generally the family members who are not accompanying the deceased will begin shiva as soon as they take their leave of the coffin. However, there are other factors to consider, so here too a rabbi should be consulted.

(Sources: Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 375:1-2, Igros Moshe Y.D. I 253 & II 170, Mourning in Halachah, p. 150 with footnote 11, p 153, Teshuvos V’Hanhagos IV Y.D. 274.)

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