When death occurs, the bereaved family faces a very difficult time; but so does the deceased. According to the spiritual traditions of Judaism articulated in the Talmud and Kabbalah, the soul does not completely leave this world until after the burial. Thus, the period from death to interment is very bewildering for the soul, for it is in a vulnerable state of transition, disconnected from both the past and the future. The presence of others who, through their respect and prayers, show that they care, is very comforting to the soul, as the souls of the living provide a frame of reference for the soul of the newly departed.
Indeed, the fact that Jewish tradition treats the soul of the deceased as aware and as a real person, is in itself a comfort and help in this most difficult time for those who are close to him or her. To do things in a way comforting to the deceased is therefore comforting to those who care for him or her.
Unfortunately, many non-Jewish and even Jewish funeral home practices (Embalming, displaying the body, cremation) violate the Jewish traditions of respect for the dignity of the body. Shomrie Neshama of Greater Washington, P.A does not allow any of those practices.
Immediately following the moment of death, Gd forbid, a series of practical and religious issues take effect. The key principles of all of them are: a) respect for the dignity and holiness of the body, the vessel for the soul and self of the departed; b) the expeditious return of the body to the earth from which it was formed; c) aiding and fortifying the soul in its continuing spiritual journey.