My Life

One Month and Counting…

One Month and Counting…

It’s been one month since Lori, my sister, called me and then I later found out she had a massive stroke. That was April 9. My life and the lives of her two daughters, her fiance, my father and brother and everyone who knew her changed that day.

It was the worst month that I have ever experienced and now, she’s no longer with us.

After the funeral on Sunday, I had what felt like hundreds of people at my house. It was insane. Cookies, cakes, deli, flowers, baked goods all entered and then exited my house that day. I was up at 6 am that morning. I couldn’t sleep. But that had been the scenario for the last month. No sleep.  (I would actually get to sleep but then wake up thinking about my sister. Then, once I was up, I couldn’t get back to sleep.)

We had people at our home from 2 pm until 9:30 pm, when at that point I asked if the guests would leave. It was just too much.

I went to John’s house the next day to pay a shiva call there. John is Lori’s fiance and they bought a beautiful apartment about a year ago in Melville in a 55+ housing complex. They had a ton of friends there and every weekend – Friday and Saturday nights they were booked.

When I arrived at the Shiva, I spoke for a while with John’s mother and his work friends. Although my cousin came and some of my other family members, I felt isolated and alone, not what shiva is supposed to be.

What is Shiva?

Shiva is a Jewish observance. After a loved one passes, you sit Shiva for seven days. However, in the reformed movement, Shiva can last from one to three days and can take place in multiple locations. In a true Shiva, you are supposed to sit on a low stool or bench showing that you are in mourning. Mirrors should be covered and a candle is lit that lasts seven days. In addition, the mourner wears a black torn ribbon symbolizing the tear the mourner feels for his/her loved one. After the cemetery, all participants that enter the mourners’ home need to wash their hands to ward off the impurities from the cemetery. Kaddish is also supposed to be recited each night of Shiva to honor the deceased.

Feeling totally distraught and having flashbacks of my childhood and teenage years, I decided that I would sit shiva in my own home and mourn in silence. (Although my niece had wanted us all to be together, I realized that that wasn’t the case. We were all with our own friends and it made no sense to me especially since my friends wouldn’t be able to make any of the other Shiva houses.)

The next day, my cousins, Mindy and Dick, came by and we talked about our childhood days. The next day, my son, Derek and I took a nice walk around the neighborhood.

The quiet time helped me start to come to terms with something I’m not so sure, I’ll ever come to terms with. I still feel like it was something that was not supposed to happen.

I believe that things happen for a reason and maybe within the next few years, I’ll realize why this happened. But for now, I’m just baffled.

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2 thoughts on “One Month and Counting…

  1. First, let me offer the traditional Jewish message to a mourner: May the Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and may your sister’s memory be for a blessing.

    Shiva is supposed to be the first stage of the healing process after a loss. Of course, everyone experiences it differently. When my father passed three years ago, we sat with my sister, who is modern Orthodox, and her family at their home in Brooklyn for the full seven days. Even though we we’re relieved when it finally was over, it definitely was therapeutic, even if I had to get up at 6 am every day for the morning minyan.

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