Amy’s Thoughts on Mourning

This is Amy, the Community Connections Coordinator, blogging for the first time ever – from Micah’s account (mine’s not set up yet). I just couldn’t wait until it was set up, because I had some thoughts about today, being that it’s the 5th anniversary of what I don’t think any of us will ever be able to look at the same, the date, 9/11. I was thinking about how in Judaism, we have this concept of a one year period of mourning, and then when it’s over, we recognize the anniversary of a death each by commemorating a “yahrzeit” – literally a remembrance of a person or an event. A yahrzeit can be a powerful thing; the wounds are no longer fresh, but each year, we never forget and publicly or privately express our own pain of loss and remembrance.

I started thinking about how on this anniversary, even thought it’s been 5 years later, how raw many of us still feel. I take comfort in Jewish death rituals, but I wonder how many others haven’t been able to rid themselves of their pain. I surround myself in community, and in family, and in friends, but today, I feel sad. If you are in an interfaith relationship, or you are part of an interfaith family, I wonder how (or if) your mourning changes. I share the same traditions and customs with my husband – but what if he practiced another religion than I did? Would each of our own mourning practices comfort each other? How does that get reconciled? Or does it?

When we lose someone or something, we often turn to comfort rituals, things that we know and understand. If you grew up in a Catholic houshold, you might expect to be having a wake. If you’re Jewish, your concept might be to expect 7 days of sitting shiva (a period of mourning where guests come to your home and as a comunity prayers are said). Sometimes we don’t know what we’re “supposed” to do when we have a loss. Our comfort rituals as a country 5 years ago brought many of us together, in churches, in synagogues, in mosques, in town halls, and more. Our mourning was felt as a country, and I wonder how our faith(s) have continued to help us heal – or has it?

I heard the djs on the radio on my ride in this morning talking about how numb they felt. They talked about the thousands of families who were still in mourning, even now 5 years later. It made me think about my own numbness, and my own mourning. No, I didn’t lose anyone personally during this atrocity. But, still I mourned. So I pulled into the parking lot and did my own moment of silence, and made a mental kaddish (the prayer we say when someone dies or on their yahrzeit). Then I thought about those families – and no doubt many of you, that did your own moments of silence today. I’d like to believe that our prayers were all mingled together.

Tomorrow is a new day, but as we exit our comfort ritual zones, I will think about how we are all in this together, and how our mourning is mixed with our different traditions.

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