Boston Chesed Shel Emes is not a Chevrah Kadisha
It's main purpose is to assist people in times of tradgedy רח"ל,
Part of life, ל"ע, is dealing with tragedy. At times people become so overcome by circumstance that they are unable to make the necessary decisions for themselves. Certainly, the custom of serving a mourner their first meal represents this very concept: That the Ovel needs assistance.
Even in hospitals in Israel, in certain wards, there is a piece of paper with its face to the wall which has directions with what to do and what should be recited, Chas V'Shalom, if a person is about to leave This World.
We all look forward to Simchas but we all also come across such challenging times. For those who reside outside of Israel as well as those who reside in Israel, your best option is to advise the family that they should be in contact with their local Rabbi who will direct them in America to the proper Chevra Kadisha or other similar organization.
In Israel, Americans find to their dismay that there is no structured procedure in place. Neither by the hospital, nor the Chevra Kadisha. Therefore, if the family does have a Rabbi that they are close to, they should be brought to the Rabbi's attention as soon as possible after the Petirah , so that he may advise them of what their best options are.
To the best of our knowledge, the family is more or less on their own, and the friends are unfamiliar with the steps and options that are available.
The first item to be decided is which Chevra Kadisha to use. If no plot has been purchased during the person's lifetime, even though, in Israel, every individual is entitled to a burial plot. Once a Chevra Kadisha has been designated the question sometimes arises as to a need for Shmirah . To the best of our knowledge, no Chevra Kadisha in Israel provides this service, since burial is usually immediate.
For those with family abroad, questions have to be decided as to whether to wait for members of the immediate family who might desire to be present at the funeral.
In Yerushalayim, the custom follow the Kabbalah that although family members participate in the burial of a mother, ל"ע, they do not participate in the burial of the father. This matter must be address and has different solutions. In our society, we live in times where people who were once the center of the community's life with many friends suffer senility in their last decade or decades, which causes the thread of friendship to be lost. This is especially true of survivors and those who are private in their making known of their medical difficulties.
All the Chevra Kadishas permit procession either to begin or to pass through the shul where the Niftar [deceased] was known to have attended services or studied Torah. Usually, having this done greatly enhances the Mitzvah of Kavod and Levias HaMes [Honoring and Escorting the deceased]. Families should have this brought to their attention even when the Chevra Kadisha has a designated location where eulogies may be delivered. Even when transportation is provided to these designated locations, it is difficult for many to spend more than an hour at a funeral, and when distances as well as waiting times exceed this amount of time people reluctantly cannot attend, especially for woman who have families to take care.
Once the funeral has been completed there are the basic needs of special chairs, Seferei Torah, Siddurim, Halachic material relating to the Laws of Mourning. In Har Nof, the local organization is Vaad Chesed Shel Emes, family Rosenbaum, 651-8978.
May we merit the coming of Mashiach and Techias HaMasim swiftly and in our lifetimes.
The Bostoner Chevrah Shel Emes requests that all who know of an instance of a Petirah of someone known in the community should please email BostonRebbe@gmail.com with the name, telephone and/or email of the family so that if they are in need of assistance for funeral arrangements etc they may be assisted as a last act of kindness to the Niftar