bereavement, Chabad, chaplaincy, death and dying, Jewish mourning period, lubavitcher rebbe, menachem mendel schneerson, mourning, pastoral care, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, religion, spiritual bonds, spiritual care, spirituality
On Death and Mourning from a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5738 
It is surely unnecessary to remind you that the soul is eternal, and, moreover, its survival after the death of the body is not something that has to be believed, but is plain common sense. For, obviously, physical illness that affects the body cannot affect the soul which is spiritual; it can only affect and terminate the union of body and soul, but not the soul itself.
The above would be superfluous to mention to you, except that it has a direct consequence and bearing on what should be your attitude and conduct. For, inasmuch as the soul is eternal and, indeed, is now in a state where it is not limited by the body’s limitations, it is fully aware of what is happening in the family. When it sees that it is the cause of grief over and beyond the bounds of mourning set by the Torah, Toras Chaim [the Torah of Life] – it is obviously distressed by it, and this is no way of contributing to the soul’s peace and blissfulness.
I have also had occasion to mention that even during the soul’s sojourn in this life when clothed in a physical body, the real bond between people and members of a family is not a physical one but a spiritual one, for what makes the real person is not his flesh and bones, but his character and spiritual qualities. Hence, this bond remains, and all those who loved the person dearly should try all the more to bring gratification to his eternal soul and continuous spiritual elevation [aliyas haneshomoh] through greater adherence to the Torah, Toras Emes [the Torah of Truth], in general, and particularly in the realm directly related to the soul’s passing – to observe what is prescribed for the period of Shiva [the seven days of mourning], but not extend it, and similarly in regard to the period of Shloshim [30 days of lessened mourning], but not beyond, and then, and always, serve G-d through the fulfillment of His Mitzvos [commandments] as such service should be – with joy and gladness of heart.