Overcome with anger and sadness, some mourners struggle to leave the house, even to don an article of fresh clothing. But if someone expects you to get out of bed, if someone anticipates your presence, you might make that extra effort.
Jewish tradition mandates that those mourning a close relative recite the Kaddish prayer three times every day for the first 30 days. A bereaved child should continue for the first 11 months. What this means from a practical perspective is that the mourner stands up in a community of friends and acknowledges one's loss, quietly but publicly. A support group might serve a similar function.
"For a mourner who might otherwise sit home, alone, this social interaction is powerful and critical," says Rabbi Karen Medwed Reiss, who lost her first husband.
Sometimes the bereaved individual even finds a "mourning buddy," someone reciting Kaddish at the same time, confronting the same complex emotions. And Kaddish serves yet another purpose: diminishing guilt. The mandated prayers force bereaved children to play an active role in synagogue for almost a year on behalf of their parents — in effect, forcing them to honor their parents in death, as in life.