Time to Mourn

By :  JTS Alumni Posted On Jan 19, 2018 | Speaking of Text: The Jewish Bookshelf

By Rabbi Joseph H. Krakoff, JTS Alumnus (RS ’98) and Senior Director, Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network, West Bloomfield, MI

Never Long Enough: Finding Comfort and Hope Amidst Grief and Loss, Joseph H. Krakoff and Michelle Y. Sider (Front Edge Publishing, 2017)

Death can make us uneasy. We don’t always know what to say to the bereaved. We may attempt to bring comfort by offering words that, though well-meaning, often fall flat—or worse. The truth, though, is that there are no magical, healing words that have the power to bring instant comfort. Our Jewish tradition brilliantly instructs us to extend sincere wishes of comfort and then remain silent, allowing the mourner to shape the conversation as they see fit. The reality is that our presence and our hugs speak louder and truer than any words we could utter.

In my mind, there is one question that rings most painfully in the ears of a mourner: “When will you be back to normal?” We need to understand that there is no set period for mourning. Each person and each relationship is unique, and the length of the mourning process is a product of the strength of the loving bonds that death severs. Every person is on their own individualized journey toward finding comfort and peace after the death of a loved one. And the pathway of healing is rarely linear.

With this in mind, Never Long Enough encourages the mourner to fully embrace their authentic feelings of loss. Through thoughtful words and evocative illustrations, the book affirms that life is precious, irreplaceable, and seems to go by far too quickly. The loss of a loved one is painful, poignant, and significant. The relationships we form endure beyond the length of our days. When we lose a dear one to death, it does not have to be the end of our connection to them, for they leave behind a treasure of cherished memories that nothing can ever take away. Not even time.