PENDING DEATH: GOSES
- When death is imminent, a Rabbi, Jewish Chaplain, or other Jewish Clergy should be notified. They will be available to give moral support to the family and to the dying person by praying with them and offering practical counsel and assistance.
- Prepare a list of persons to be notified after death occurs.
- A person in his or her final moments of life is known as a goses, which means "dying", or "moribund." This word is derived from the sound heard coming from the throat as the chest cavity narrows. The Talmud teaches that the Shechinah (Divine Presence) stands at the head of the goses. This special status means that the dying individual should be treated as a living person in all respects and not as an object or as one to be avoided.
- Everything possible to save a person's life is pursued even if it means transgressing Shabbat (Sabbath) or a Yom Tov (Jewish Holy Day). In the same vein, we do not take any action that would hasten a person's death.
The presence of loved ones brings necessary and important psychological comfort to the goses, as well as meeting the emotional needs of those who love him/her. This final demonstration of love and concern provides all involved the assurance that they did all they could up to the very end. It also allows one to deal with grief directly and without the sense of guilt of not having done enough for the one who died.
- If at all possible, the one who is dying should not be left alone. Try to limit conversations to those that meet the needs of the dying person.
- One should leave the room to eat, drink, or discuss extraneous matters with another visitor.
- Psalms and prayers may be recited to ease the loved-one's passing. Psalms 23, 91, 103, 121,130 and 139 are particularly appropriate. Singing, telling stories, background music may all be comforting.
- The dying person traditionally recites the Vidui, a confessional prayer. If the dying person is unable to recite this confessional, a person in attendance may recite the Vidui on that person's behalf. Care should be taken that this does not distress the dying person. It should be explained that saying the Vidui does not mean that death is imminent. In fact, it may happen that a person says the Vidui and then recovers. The Vidui, followed by the recitation of the Sh'ma, in the last moments before death, help to affirm one's faith in God precisely when it is most challenged.
WHAT TO DO, WHOM TO CALL AFTER DEATH
What to Do Immediately Upon Death:
It is traditional for all those present to recite the words, Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet (Praised is the True Judge) immediately upon death (or, if not present, upon learning of the death). Mourners (the son, daughter, sister, brother, mother, father, or spouse of the deceased) also perform kri'a ("tearing" of a piece of clothing), though this may be done before the funeral or the burial.
In addition, any of those present may assist with these steps:
* Close the eyes and mouth of the deceased and straighten the limbs.
* Cover the deceased with a sheet.
Some Jews may also want to:
* Open the windows in the room where the deceased is lying. (If weather is an issue, open a window, then close it as needed.)
* Place a lighted candle near the head of the deceased (not done on Shabbat; on Yom Tov, kindle from a pre-existing flame).
* Cover the mirrors in the room where the deceased is lying.
Before the body is picked up, give time to companions to say goodbye to the deceased, hopefully not rushed.
- The deceased should not be left unattended, so right after death, one begins sh'mira ("watching" of the body).
- If the deceased died in a hospital or other medical setting, medical personnel may remove tubes, needles, etc.
WHOM TO CALL:
* Contact the significant family members or companions of the deceased to inform them of the death.
* If the family is affiliated with a synagogue, contact the Rabbi.
* If the family is not affiliated, contact a community Rabbi, Jewish Chaplain, or the Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society), the sacred burial team who prepares the body for burial. Spiritual Care and Multi-faith Services will have many of these phone numbers.
For the situation of a Transgender/Transsexual Taharah and Burial, see http://www.najc.org/pdf/newsletters/dec2015.pdf
Note: If this is not a natural death (such as a violent death), or if the deceased is an organ or tissue donor, the pattern may differ in some respects.
Organ donation arrangements
It's important to plan ahead and make your wishes known if you wish to donate your organs. All branches of Judaism allow organ donation, though procedures may vary.
Adapted from: http://jewish-funerals.org/pending-just-and-after-death