Jewish bereavement
specific needs
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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, at www.myjewishlearning.com/lifecycle/Death.htm, 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 Bereavement page 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 jewishbereavement@hotmail.com. Perhaps it is an anecdote or suggestion. Consider posting it on the Ritual 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.

© 2006 The Jewish Bereavement Project. Designed by Karin Mueller. Supported by the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion.