Almost everyone (of a certain age!) has lost someone special in their life. The holidays remind us of those people. When my mom died, I was worried I would forget how it felt to hold her hand, touch her face and hear her voice. I vowed that would never happen. But it has. It’s been 22 years and I don’t remember her like I used to. My father, he died just before COVID. So, the holidays are especially difficult for me right now (we had a Chinese food/movie holiday tradition).
Some of you know that I’m ac/dc as it relates to religion. I can go to church and sing all the songs and I can go to synagogue and sing all the songs. I’ve done both for most of my life. But the Jews have a really great tradition after a parent dies.
Sheloshim is the first 30 days of mourning, starting with the funeral and including the shiva period. Sheloshim is a period of transition between being completely enveloped by sadness and beginning to emerge back into the world. The outward signs of sheloshim—which include not shaving or cutting one’s hair—are reminders to others that the grieving period is not over. During this period family members typically recite the Kaddish once a day at a synagogue. If the deceased is a parent, the morning period lasts 11 months following sheloshim. That’s called Shanah.
Shanah is a way for children to express gratitude for everything their father or mother did for them as they were growing up, and to reflect on the values and beliefs imparted by their parents. One experiences each holiday and season during the full 12 months. When my dad died, I went to services every night. Thought about him and my life. I actually took the time to shut down and reflect every single day.
I was talking with a friend recently about this process and she said that although it had been 7 years, she was still so sad about the death of her father. She asked me how I got over the death of my parents.
I haven’t “gotten over” the death of my parents. Does anyone? But what I did was went to spend time with people who were suffering and dying with no one to love and care for them. When you see someone who is truly suffering and you take care of those people, it causes you to stop looking at yourself and your own suffering seems so much smaller. It’s like that old saying, “I complained with a frown on my face that I had a good pair of shoes, until I met a man with a warm smile on his face who didn’t have a pair of feet.”
Anyway, I use the holidays to remember that there are people who really need us. Our love. Our time. Our resources. Yes, I miss my parents and remember them. But rather than feeling sad, I focus on others who are in need. I guess its my new Chinese/movie tradition.
Have a wonderful weekend with family and friends!