Death & Mourning

Before the Funeral

Inspiration

Scroll down to find resources for this lifecycle moment. 

Prayer

Jewish Blessing of the Mourners

Those who are worn out and crushed by this mourning, let your hearts consider this:
This is the path that has existed from the time of creation and will exist forever.
Many have drunk from it and many will yet drink.
As was the first meal, so shall be the last.
May the master of comfort comfort you. Blessed are those who comforts the mourners.

Text

Rava said to Rav Nachman: Master, appear to me in a dream after your death. And he appeared to him. Rava said to him: Master did you have pain in death? Rav Nachman said to him: Like the removal of hair from milk, which is a most gentle process. Moed Katan 28a.

The traditional words for consoling the mourner (nichum aveilim) is:

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
“May God comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

Poems

God Gives and God Takes

God gives opportunities for us to love but not forever.
God takes opportunities away after a while.
So don’t hesitate or delay or curse the darkness while remaining mired in sadness and hopelessness,
because God gives; and God takes away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.
But why bless the LORD when God takes away?
Because if the opportunities were always there, we would wait until the time was just right and never make the leap, and more of life would slip away.
So God gives and God takes; Blessed be God’s name.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

 

When All That’s Left Is Love

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.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

God Gives and God Takes
God gives opportunities for us to love but not forever.
God takes opportunities away after a while.
So don’t hesitate or delay or curse the darkness while remaining mired in sadness and hopelessness, because God gives; and God takes away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.
But why bless the LORD when God takes away?
Because if the opportunities were always there, we would wait until the time was just right and never make the leap, and more of life would slip away.
So God gives and God takes; Blessed be God’s name.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Krieh – Tearing the Cloth
Why rend the clothes?
So strange to a tradition
that admonishes
not to break or to destroy

It is for the sake of anger
against the unfairness of the world
anger against him or her, God or self?
Is tearing the cloth to give outer expression
to the tattered soul within?

Or is it a parallelism
the death of a person like the burning of a Sefer Torah
for which tearing the clothes is performed?

The burial of a human like the burial of a Torah
A human being is like a Sefer Torah
Studied, it has wisdom to impart
Lived, it has goodness to convey.
Rend the garments for the “Torah-mensch”

Each of us a letter in the Torah scroll
Together our lives are intertwined

Our common fate and faith
our common destiny
find us like the stitches of the parchment
when any of us is lost
The holy text is torn.
In memory we are mended.

Harold M. Schulweis

 

Song

Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqYdzCenWMg

Other Resources

Spiritual Lab