Tuesday, January 5, 2010

sitting shiva

There have been very few times in my short 21 years of life where I have felt like mourning. Indeed, there are only twice that I can count. The first was when my Grandma died. The second was yesterday. Due to confidentiality reasons I cannot explain myself, I can only state that it pertains to the little boy that I worked with.

Sometimes, when somthing horrible happens, you don't need people to try to make it all make sense. In fact, that's often the worst thing I think a person can do. I think God knew that.

There is a Jewish tradition that occurs when someone dies. It is called shiva. It is a mourning period of seven days. During those seven days the family who lost someone sits shiva. They do not cook. They do not go to work. They run no errands. Mirrors are covered. They sit low to the ground, or on the ground itself. Family stays in the home of the loved one who died, or, if that is not possible, someone else's home.

During those seven days of sitting shiva extended family members and friends come to comfort those who are grieving. Typical procedure is for the friend to knock softly on the door so as not to startle the family and then let themselves in. The visitor is not welcomed in, offered no food or drink, and not walked to the door. The family that is in mourning is there to simply mourn, not to play host or hostess. The visitor approaches the family quietly, and then takes a seat among them, saying nothing. If the grieving family feels like talking, they initiate conversation and the visitor can then respond. However, in Jewish custom, it is not ok to say things like, "God knew what He was doing", "at least they lived a long life", "I know how you feel", or "it will get better."

And I think that's a beautiful thing. Because when you are truely in mourning the best thing that someone can say to you is, "I'm so sorry, that really sucks."

I am grateful for my family and friends who understand these concepts. Who instead of trying to distract or comfort with common phrases will simply sit, and be still, and mourn with me.

1 comment:

  1. Well said.

    I'm sorry that you felt like that...sometimes things DO suck!