After the death of someone of our family, must we really wait 40 days before living normally, as they do in North African countries?
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.
The mourning in Islam is three days except for the wife who should stay in mourning situation for 4 months and ten days after the death of her husband as Allah Says (Interpretation of meaning): (And those of you who die and leave wives behind them, they (the wives) shall wait concerning themselves for four months and ten days).[2:234].
The Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) also said: " It is forbidden for any woman who believe in Allah and the Last Day to mourn a dead person for more than three days except for a husband she should wait concerning herself for four months and ten days". [al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Mourning in Islam - done by the woman - means avoiding adorning herself and putting perfumes or kohl and the like. It does not mean changing ones behaviour or life or eating or drinking or one's toilet. It simply means avoiding adornments.
As for waiting forty days and changing one's way of living, this is a bad (Bid'ah) innovation that has been introduced into the Muslim land. Its origin is that it is an old habit from the Pharaon era and known as "the forty". They pretend wrongly that the soul comes back to the corpse after 40 days. This is why, they put some properties such as food, drink, ornaments, clothes and the like with the corpse. So if the soul comes back it finds what it needs, as they claim.
Finally, Muslims should stick to the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and avoid all kinds of innovations in the religion.
Allah knows best.