Death & Mourning Tools

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Jewish grave

It’s unlikely you spend a lot of time talking about death. As the world becomes “modern,” the immediate presence of death fades a little. It’s always there, we just spend more time trying to solve it than grapple with it.

Judaism loves grappling, especially grappling together. We bless together, eat together, celebrate together, pray together, dance together and mourn together. Even in your own death, you’re not alone. In the time between death and burial, your body is constantly attended. Let’s start talking about this together so when you are confronted with death, it’ll be a teeny tiny bit easier to negotiate as a couple, as a parent, as an individual and as a community.

Along with some of our partners, we’re giving you the outline – stuff to think about, topics to explore, rituals to enact. Death demands you bring your whole self to the conversation. Judaism is very specific on the mourning and very fuzzy on what happens next bit. Other faith backgrounds and cultures are the opposite. So bring on your jazz funerals and Chevra Kadisha, your green burials and cremation, your ethical wills and lawyer-stamped ones, your olam haba and heaven, your end and reincarnation. We hope you’ll let us know what you like here, what you want more of, and what did not resonate. You can reach us at editor@interfaithfamily.com.

Talking with childTalking with kids about death is one of the more challenging things we can find ourselves faced with. InterfaithFamily fellow, Rabbi Elyssa Cherney, has five tips for how to approach the subject with respect.

 

 

holding handsGot an ethical will? No? If you’re at a life stage when you’re thinking about your “regular” will, it’s a great time to think about the values and lessons you want to live in the world and pass on to the future. While we’ve written this specifically with interfaith couples in mind, it’s great for everyone.

 

Death over dinnerOur partners at Reboot have created one of the best resources we know of to help us start talking about death – Death Over Dinner: Jewish Edition. We worked with them and Honeymoon Israel to create a specifically interfaith set of discussion cards and easy to use facilitator’s guide that we have here. But we encourage you to check out their full resources, all of which can be used by anyone: Jewish, Jew-ish, Jewish-adjacent, Jewish-questioning, aka, you.

 

kaddishMourning can get very confusing when you’re mourning a family member who practiced a different religion than you. Paula shares what happened when her Christian mother died, but mourning Jewishly felt more authentic.

 

 

Sapling

Our partners at  Shiva.com shared this excellent guide with us about what to bring or send to a shiva (Jewish mourning custom). You can even order items through their service to send to loved ones around the country.

 

 

CandleWe have a popular explanation of how to pay a shiva call, in case you find yourself mourning the loss of someone Jewish for the first time. And this print-ready booklet goes into more depth on mourning the loss of someone Jewish and can be especially useful for someone who is not Jewish.

 

We hope you’ll let us know what you like here, what you want more of and what did not resonate. Email us at editor@interfaithfamily.com and we’ll try to help!

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About InterfaithFamily

InterfaithFamily is the premier resource supporting interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our new Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship will provide offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have suggestions, please contact network@interfaithfamily.com.