Monday, April 22, 2013

The eternal period of mourning

Last night I attended a shiva minyan. Between Mincha and Ma'ariv the Rabbi spoke about the three periods of mourning: Shiva, the first seven days, Shloshim, the first thirty days, and the year. (There is, of course, the 11 months of kaddish, which is a sub-category of the year). As he spoke I thought to myself: there is one more period. What is that period? It's the time after the Yahrtzeit. It's the long period of living without your loved one. It's the period of mourning that ends only with your own death. It's not an "official" period of mourning and maybe some would not even call it mourning. But whatever you call it, it's the the lasting period whose parameters in time and emotion are undefinable. While I am not a mourner in any halakhic sense any more, I still think about my mother, and, frankly, more now than when I was an official mourner. She's in my dreams and my heart and I still sometimes can't believe that she's not here.

Once you've mourned a parent, you never go back to the psychic space you occupied beforehand. Your mourning (except for saying Yizkor four times a year) is not defined by Jewish ritual. It is yours to live with, within you, forever.

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