Mourning and the power of healing

These photos were taken during my youngest son’s week day bar mitzvah.


jed's bar mitzvah 4

My father had died just six month before. I was going to morning minyan every day to say kaddish.  For my first moth of saying kaddish I overlapped with my husband who was saying kaddish for his mother.

A few weeks after my father died a middle aged couple came to shul with their adult, pregnant daughter. The couple’s son had been killed in Iraq. just a few months before. When the couple came to visit their daughter all three came to shul together to say kaddish. As the months and weeks went on, each time the trio came to shul, the daughter was more and more pregnant.

Most of us at Morning minyan is mourning a loss. Some of those losses are for elderly parents, and while sad are understandable. Some of those who came every morning were grieving truly tragic losses. My father died sooner than he ought to but he had lived a fairly long life.


The day of my son’s bar mitzvah. I was sad that my father wasn’t there to see his youngest grandchild reach that milestone.

My son was called for the first aliya. jed's bar mitzvah 3

My husband and I got called for the second aliya and I got weepy, missing my father.Jed's bar mitzvah

The third aliya was the family of the soldier killed in Iraq. The baby had been born the week before. The brit milah was the previous day. The day of my son’s bar mitzvah was the soldier’s first Yarhzeit. The baby had been named for his uncle killed in combat.

Most of us in the room wept during that family’s aliya, hearing the Misheberach made for the health of the mother and the health of the new baby  and the El Maleh Rachamim recited in memory of the dead soldier.


This past Shabbat the sister of that dead soldier was at services attending the bat mitzvah of a child of friends. I introduced myself. Her beautiful little boy is five years old, and delicious the way a five year old  can be.  We shared our memories of that day  that was so bittersweet for both of us.

jed's bar mitzvah2

She said that her grief  over the death of her brother felt like shards of glass in her heart. She said that while those shards of pain are still there, some of the edges have worn smooth.


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