Chesed Shel Emes Society of California
What is שמירה?
(Watching or Guarding)
Jewish tradition teaches that between the time of death until burial, the soul of a meyt/meyta is on a journey and needs the companionship of others during this momentous transition. Shmira, commonly translated “guarding.” is the name given to the practice of accompanying the deceased. People providing shmira stay in the building where a meyt/meyta rests until the time of the funeral, however, they do not typically see or come into contact with the meyt/meyta.
Done by a pious person who recites Psalms for the benefit of the soul. It is preferable that the deceased not be left alone until after interment.