Walking the Jewish Mourner’s Path: Grief & Bereavement in the Time of Pandemic –– by Malka Young, LICSW, Director of Allies in Aging––JFS Elder Care Management 

Has there ever been a year in recent memory that was so full of loss? The death of a loved one is hard at any time, but during the past 18 months our losses have multiplied and we have been deprived of our mourning rituals and the in-person support of friends and family. There has been an unceasing toll of news stories about illness and loss that has overwhelmed all parts of our globe. The activities we might have engaged in to distract ourselves were either unavailable or changed in ways that were awkward and strange. 60 people on a virtual Shivah is not the same as 60 people visiting a house of mourning spread out over several days.  

It is disorganizing when we lose someone we love to death, whether expected or unexpected. Things become confusing and it is unclear what is supposed to happen, when, and how. The Jewish faith and tradition provides guidelines (whether it is your personal practice or not, the guidelines are there): Burying a loved one quickly, shoveling dirt on the open grave, saying the Mourner’s Kaddish for the first time at graveside, forming two lines for the mourners to walk through, traditional words of comfort, staying home and sitting Shivah; taking the time to focus on this momentous change, the end of a life, the death of someone we loved.

Even if we hadn’t suffered a personal loss, there was death and fear all around us this past year. We had anxiety for ourselves, our parents, and our children. The sense of safety and security that we once counted on to accompany us throughout our day vanished, seemingly overnight. We hunkered down at home and if we did venture out––it was done quickly, carefully, and behind masks––careful to keep our distance and return home as soon as possible. This past year has challenged us on every level: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. While things are slowly turning back to “normal”, they are not the same.

In response, JFS of Metrowest is partnering with local congregations to provide support to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one during the past year.

Working collaboratively with are synagogues, JFS will introduce a pilot Online Bereavement Support Group, which will include three separate online support groups in May, June, and October (following the holidays). Each group will include 5 or 6 sessions and will be led by a social worker and a Rabbi.

Malka Young, LICSW and Director of Allies in Aging, JFS Elder Care Management will co-lead each series with a different local Rabbi (including Rabbi Jordi Battis of Temple Shir Tikva in May/June, Rabbi Louis Polisson, Congregation Or Atid in July/August and Rabbi Tom Alpert, Temple Etz Chaim in October/November).

Each session will stand alone and while there is no charge, pre-registration is required.  

Click here for more information / Call 508-808-3263 to learn more.