Death & Mourning



Scroll down to find resources for this lifecycle moment.


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


Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there.
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there.
I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye (d 2004)


When Will I Be Myself Again

“When will I be myself again?”
Some Tuesday, perhaps, In the late afternoon,
Sitting quietly with a cup of tea,
And a cookie;
Or Wednesday, same time or later,
You will stir from a nap and see her;
You will pick up the phone to call her;
You will hear her voice – unexpected advice –
And maybe argue.
And you will not be frightened,
And you will not be sad,
And you will not be alone,
Not alone at all,
And your tears will warm you.
But not today,
And not tomorrow,
And not tomorrow’s tomorrow,
But some day,
Some Tuesday, late in the afternoon,
Sitting quietly with a cup of tea,
And a cookie;
And you will be yourself again.

Rabbi Lewis John Eron


Filled to overflowing

The Holy one is my Guide;
my life is whole.
We journey together
over fertile hillsides
and rest
beside nourishing springs.
This is my spirit
ever renewed,
for my Guide leads me
down paths of fullness.
Even when my steps lead
into the kingdom of death
I do not fear
for I know you are with me.
Your presence
your shelter
is a comfort to me.
With you I can set myself aright
in the face of
deepest sorrow;
and soon my joy is filled to overflowing.
As I journey on,
nothing but kindness and love
shall follow
until the day I finally return.
To my Source,
my destination.

Rabbi Brant Rosen


Broken Hearted


Poem For My Mother

Not having her in the world
is the strangest thing. Right now,
a winter wind is blowing sunlight
against the treetops, smashing it
into a million atoms of joy.
She herself found joy in every
lucent leaf, each kiss of transient
breeze against the cheek of
the earth. She watched the short,
sweet month of February with its
red hearts, lace and lengthening
light, the promissory note
of spring, come due with
interest every year, never jaded,
always mailing a card with
Xs and Os to her middle-aged
daughters. When she died we said
it was time, at eighty-eight, no
broken hearts here, she had a full
life, she was ailing, she was failing.
But in this light, with the snow
dripping off the roof and the branches
tossing, this light like a voice calling to
the sleeping bulbs, the burrowing
roots, this breath of fresh wind with
its sting and its kiss, as much as I
honor the spirit, I ache to touch flesh.

—Nancy Brewka-Clark, from Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude


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


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


We Remember Them

At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring; We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer; We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn; We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends; We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart; We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make; We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs; We remember them.
For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them.

by Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Riemer