In Damascene tradition, condolences are accepted separately by the men and the women of the family. In the case of the former, the family of the deceased sit in a row near the door to see all those coming and going, and every time a mourner comes in they stand up and welcome him, shaking his hand and then leading him to sit alongside the rest of the mourners, while the sheikh reads from the Quran. Every time a group of mourners comes, another group leaves. Passing the parents on the way out, they shake their heads exclaiming, "May God compensate you for your loss" to which the family members respond "God thank you for what you have done." They must accept condolences on three consecutive evenings.
As for the women relatives, one of them volunteers to get in touch with the closest of the female relatives, calling them to the deceased person's house to stand in the room in which they accept condolences, the 'asriyya. Thus, all the aunts, parents-in-law, nieces, sisters-in-law, daughters-in-law, and all the closest female relatives come to the house as soon as possible. The older women, of course, are the ones who actually stand in the 'asriyya accepting condolences. This act is one of showing how the deceased person stood with the relatives and the respect they owe him. Sometimes about ten women stand in the 'asriyya and at other times maybe even forty-five women, naturally depending on the deceased person's place in the hearts and minds of his friends and relatives.
Adopted from Siham Tergeman: Daughter of Damascus, English version by Andrea Rugh, Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, 1994.