Loss is Loss

 Loss is Loss: Lessons Learned

Yom Kippur Yizkor Serom 2018, Rabbi Deborah K. Bravo

"People often ask me, as a rabbi who meets many people at times of loss, if it is easier to lose someone suddenly, or is it easier to lose someone when you have a chance to say goodbye?"

When I look out around this room, I see the pain in so many of your eyes. So many have experienced loss this past year, and over these past few years, loss of a parent, a spouse, a best friend, a sibling, a child.   At times, the pain seems nearly unbearable.

Grief, as you all know as well as I, is a process. And our Jewish grieving rituals are meant to partner with our grief. The greatest level of intensity is the immediate, and so we sit shiva, and sheloshim, and the first year to say kaddish and to remember. Because the first of everything is so hard – the first birthday without them – their birthday AND yours. The first anniversary. The first of every holiday, when their seat is empty, their famous kugel or brisket or table decorations are no longer there. The first of the unofficial holidays, the days that were special just between you and them, just in their life.

In the second year, you know you can get through it, but it doesn’t mean there are not hiccups, bumps along the road, and they often hit us in the most inopportune times, in the most unexpected ways. And we must give ourselves permission to feel these moments, to experience the loss. We cannot be angry with ourselves for mourning our loved ones – it is precisely because of how special they were in our lives that we miss them, that we are sad that they are no longer with us.

People often ask me, as a rabbi who meets many people at times of loss, if it is easier to lose someone suddenly, or is it easier to lose someone when you have a chance to say goodbye?  People inquire – isn’t it easier to lose someone who has lived a good, long life, rather than someone who’s life was cut short.

Here is a lesson I learned many years ago when experiencing a loss of my own – loss is loss – we cannot quantify or qualify it. We just need to learn how to live with it, to manage it, and hopefully, to learn from it.

Our Jewish rituals give us multiple times throughout a year to allow ourselves to have concentrated moments of memory. Of course this does not mean that we don’t remember our loved ones always, but perhaps these handfuls of moments throughout the year, whether the Jewish ones or ones we have created, perhaps these moments give us permission to grieve deeply, but ultimately, our grief needs to turn to memory.

This past year, a dear friend died, she was Nana to our children since the time they were babies. It was rather sudden, and therefore there are many times I still go to pick up the phone and call her, and then suddenly remember that she is not there. But I haven’t taken her out of my contacts yet. She is still right there in my favorites. I just like seeing her face pop up on a regular basis. Usually, it brings me smile, though sometimes, it makes me sad.

But I know that eventually we are supposed to let the lessons of a loved one’s life guide us. They remain with us because their goodness, the blessings they gave us, live on with us forever.

So on this Yom Kippur, I want to ask you to do something. Through your sadness, can you think of five life lessons your loved one taught you? Share them with your family and friends, and keep repeating them. That is the best way to let our loved ones stay with us.
When I die
If you need to weep
Cry for someone
Walking the street beside you.
You can love me most by letting
Hands touch hands, and Souls touch souls.
You can love me most by
Sharing your Simchas (goodness) and
Multiplying your Mitzvot (acts of kindness).
You can love me most by
Letting me live in your eyes
And not on your mind.
And when you say Kaddish for me
Remember what our
Torah teaches,
Love doesn’t die People do.
So when all that’s left of me is love
Give me away.

May their memories always be for a blessing.
May the pain lessen, just a little bit, as time passes.
May the tears turn to smiles, and even laughter, as we remember them.
And then, they will be forever a blessing in our lives.

Loss is Loss Loss is Loss Reviewed by MakomNY on September 19, 2018 Rating: 5

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