Many visitors to The Jewish Bereavement Project have
commented on how difficult it is to celebrate holidays and lifecycle
events without their loved ones.
Jewish tradition offers a structure of public and private remembrance.
Many mark shloshim, or the thirtieth day after the funeral, with
ritual or study. For all relatives other than a parent, mourning
ends with the conclusion of shloshim. Mourning rites exist for the
first year after the loss of a parent. Judaism marks yahrtzeit, or
the annual anniversary of death, with prayer and another opportunity
for communal and individual remembrance. Synagogue services include
a memorial service (called yizkor), during four holidays including
Yom Kippur, Shmini Atzeret, Pesach and Shavuot.
Several books and websites in this online guide teach
the structure and ritual within Jewish tradition. My Jewish Learning,
is a good place to start. Other sites and books help bring awareness
beyond the explicit nature of our tradition and focus on the special
dates that intensify feelings of loss. These sources offer rituals,
learning, opportunities for self-reflection and experiential exercises
that can ease or honor the feelings and needs around your loss. Some
encourage journaling in the days leading up to the event or meditation
on a special prayer or photograph. Others suggest creating your own
ritual for use on the day of the event or holiday.
You will find useful tools throughout the Jewish
and in the book lists provided. Two personal samples of creative
rituals were shared by users of this site and have been submitted
to Ritual Well. See them at: http://www.ritualwell.org/lifecycles/death/.
If you have a story about celebrating or honoring
lifecycle events and holidays without your loved one, write it
down and email it to
Perhaps it is an anecdote or suggestion. Consider posting it on
Well site. The bottom of the site’s
home page offers an opportunity to share your ritual. The writing
itself can be a healing step.