I’m reading a book by Lauren Winner called Mudhouse Sabbath. Winner is a Christian but grew up an Orthodox Jew, and this book talks about how she has incorporated some of her Jewish practices into her new faith. One of the disciplines is mourning. I’ve never lost anyone very close to me before and in all honesty, I’m afraid of death. I know that soon I will face older family members dying, my dog, or unexpected friends. When the time comes, I will not know how to mourn because I never have before. In our culture we’re encouraged to pick back up, move on, be strong. Winner discusses the different periods of mourning that Jews go through the year following a death. Immediately after death and before burial there is a period called aninut. She says, in the words of Rabbi Holub, ” The community is not obliged to visit or comfort or feed the mourners because until the burial the death is still happening so the work of comforting cannot yet begin.” In light of these things… an article posted last week on Townhall by Dennis Prager, raised an Orthodox Jew, is very interesting…
Learning How to Heal
Within hours of the massacre of more than 30 people at Virginia Tech University, the president of the university issued his first statement on the evil that had just engulfed the college campus and concluded with this:
“We’re making plans for a convocation tomorrow at noon in Cassell Coliseum for the university to come together to begin the healing process from this terrible tragedy.”
Other university officials also spoke about beginning the healing process and about bringing in counselors to help students heal. I believe that this early healing talk is both foolish and immoral. It is foolish because one does not speak about healing the same day (or week or perhaps even month) that one is traumatized — especially by evil. One must be allowed time for anger and grief. To speak of healing and “closure” before one goes through those other emotions is to speak not of healing but of suppression. Not to allow people time to experience their natural, and noble, instincts to feel rage and grief actually deprives them of the ability to heal in the long run. After all, if there is no rage and grief, what is there to heal from?
Prager goes on to talk about some of the Jewish customs and practices for mourning. What do you think about this in light of the Virginia Tech shootings?
To read the full article, click here