June 15, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 15, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Mourning Alone, Together

The week before Passover brings a yearly anxiety about the preparations needed for the holiday. For my husband and me there is always an extra stress because our dear son Pesach will not be with us. He lived for only 12 hours and passed away on the fourth day of Passover. I am writing this article in memory of his 33rd Yahrzeit.

This year, most aspects of our lives have been upended, including the paying of our last respects to our loved ones. The rabbinic community has quickly embraced technology to create virtual funerals and shiva visits, and for this we are grateful. However, it is hard to fill the hole left by the absence of being able to say Kaddish or Yizkor, it is challenging to offer comfort long distance, and it is difficult to find a meaningful way to commemorate a yahrzeit without a minyan.

When our son died, my husband and I were forced to mourn alone because regular rules of mourning and shiva do not apply to children who die before they live 30 days. Other families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss have had similar experiences to ours. To support these families, I founded an organization, NechamaComfort, to guide them in finding a way through their grief, and to help them develop meaningful ways to commemorate their loss. We hope our experiences can inspire families and communities during these challenging times.

The main thing to remember is that every person experiences grief in their own way. When we are stripped of many of the usual rituals like shiva, minyan and community support systems, it is especially important for people to choose activities and rituals that are meaningful to them. It can be something you recite, something you read or learn or something you share with others. Without Kaddish, create your own expressions of grief or remembrance. Think about what you’ve done for the person who passed away and remember what they have done to change your life.

Friends and communities are encouraged to honor these individual choices. Be understanding about public and private time, virtual meetings and phone condolences. Distance conversations can be difficult but do reach out. Encourage mourners to share stories and remembrances if they so choose. Allow for silence if they prefer.

After shiva, or instead of Yizkor, think of the many different ways you can share stories, pictures and memories. Post special items on social media or create an email or WhatsApp group. Write your thoughts, a poem, or a song. Share meaningful passages of prayers or books. Be creative; make and wear a piece of jewelry, draw a picture, plant a garden.

You have choices. Make the choices that bring you comfort, that have meaning for you.

This year, I will not be able to recite Kaddish with a minyan on my son’s yahrzeit. My father, Rabbi Simcha Green, comforted me by reminding me that the Torah never mentions Kaddish when relating a death. Instead of Kaddish, I am writing this article to remember my son. I will light my candle and ask family members to acknowledge the day with us.

This crisis will end. In the meantime, we will do our best to find ways to grieve, mourn and support each other from afar until we can come together again.


Reva Judas is the founder of Nechama Comfort. NechamaComfort is an organization dedicated to helping families and communities dealing with pregnancy and infant loss. For information visit our website nechamacomfort.org or email [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles