From the Rabbi

Rabbi Mark


There’s a Love that is Divine and it’s yours and it’s mine…

Have I told you lately that I love you?

— American Pop song lyrics

A few months ago, I performed two funerals a week apart.

Both people lived in different cities, had different life styles and did not know each other, yet, they shared one important fact. They both died suddenly. In one case the spouse had seen and spoken to her partner a minute before, and, in the other case, the daughter had spoken to her father an hour before. Both deceased had been in fine health. The sudden shock was overwhelming. Recently, a third death occurred also within a short period of time. These events left me thinking.

Which is better, to watch someone you love slowly leaving you and have plenty of time to say good-bye or to lose someone very dear before sitting with them and ex pressing your love ?

My mother suffered with cancer for two years before she finally succumbed. I remember sitting with her six weeks before her death and having a heart to heart with her. We both got to talk and cry and talk. These three families did not have the same opportunity. There is a large void for people who do not get to say good-bye! So, please let me try, and I do mean try, to fill the void.

Find a photo of the departed, place it in a quiet spot and when the need arises, speak to the photo as if the person was there as well. It even helped me relieve my stress after my mother died and even though I had said my good byes. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your feelings. You will not hurt theirs! They are in a state of Godliness and cannot feel physical pain. You are speaking to their souls.

Only the body has left us and the soul remains with us for a time. From the time my father passed away until we won the Soccer Championship, he was an old Soccer player himself, I could feel his presence with me.

 And if clearing the air with the soul of the departed is not enough to give you closure, dedicate an activity to the loved one who has left you.

Once again my father comes to mind. As I was walking off the field after we had won the championship, I told the reporter of the LA Times how proud my father would have been of my players. I told him he had only passed away a few weeks previously. Even though I had not openly expressed it, the reporter said that I had dedicated the gamer to my father. I guess I had without realizing it. 

All of us have unique gifts we can give to one another, making use of that gift to honor a loved one is the highest form of ‘mourning’ in Judaism. Judaism’s concept of mourning revolves around the word ‘lizkor’ (remember). The same root brings us the Yizkor service,

So create a project that you think your beloved would have liked you to do. Create with your head, your hands, your heart or your Herculean efforts something to share spiritually with your departed significant other. It does not have to be spectacular or even public, just something you want to do to honor your beloved to show how much you love them. .And, of course, while you are creating with your project you will be thinking of the person and how much they meant to you Saying aloud, I am proud to create and honor the  person who created the me I am today… Then, if physically possible, place a photo of the beloved near the project and at least once tell the photo (representing the soul) how proud you are to do this in their honor.

I hope for you this will help you through the mourning process as it did me!


Rabbi Mark