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We did our best to maintain an atmosphere of modesty and kept him covered as much as possible.

Conversation during the process was kept to an absolute minimum, mostly just instructions about what to do.

The date was perfect from my opinion, he even said he ‘couldn’t wait to see me again”. In fact, 78% of women assumed a man didn’t call back for reasons yet only 15% of men agreed with this assertion.

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I found my way, stuck my head in the doorway, and saw people I knew from shul around a draped body on a table. I was told to put on a gown and gloves, shown what blessings to make, and given my job of filling the laver for the person who did the initial washing.

No discussions, no opportunity to ask questions, and no chance to back out.

It wasn't until after we had dressed him in a shroud and placed him into the casket that it struck me that the four of us from the Hevra Kadisha (I guess I have to include myself now) were the last to see him in his current state -- a body without a soul.

Oddly enough, yesterday I learned in Talmud that the soul doesn't completely leave the body until the last shovelful of dirt is placed on the grave.

Having been one who focuses on the dead, and after escorting this man as he left the mortuary, I have a new perspective.

I will probably repeat this experience in the future.

It was not easy, and I'm sure it won't be next time, but I guess it's not supposed to be. It is mentally, emotionally, and to a lesser degree, physically challenging.

At the same time, it is a tremendous mitzvah and one of those things that falls into the category of 'You have to do it once.' I have more respect than ever for the people of the Hevra Kadisha and other similar organizations.

I believe that this is the reason we are so careful as we go through the process of preparing the body.

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