Death and the BT

by Akiva of The Mystical Paths Blog

Often family events are a challenge for the BT. Whether dealing with the religious ramifications of attending family holiday events, which may involve non-kosher food, non-kosher attitudes or approaches, or dealing with the additional complications of family visits with less or non-observant family, it’s challenging. In many ways, this is one of the top challenges of becoming religiously observant. This especially true in the U.S., where there is no respect for religion anymore. I mean honestly, do you think it would be easier to arrive home and announce this is my same-sex-boyfriend Joseph or this is my Rabbi Yoseph?

But back on topic, though this is the month of Adar when we increase joy, joyful events don’t always occur (though how we deal with them is up to us).

While those family challenges are very difficult for the good events and the gathering events, what happens when the other end of events come?

Judaism is amazing with religious and communal structure around life events. Births and helping the mother and new family. Bris’s celebrated. Bar/Bat Mitzvot. Weddings. There’s a fixed structure and understanding around what we do, how we do it, who does it, and if family is not there to play that role, community, rabbi’s, friends, mentors, are there to step in (hopefully and usually).

This is true with the other end of life as well. And that system and structure and support, and knowing what to do and what to ask for, even what to expect, is key to coming through that traumatic part of life with ease, or perhaps rather with completeness (or dare I use that euphimism, closure)? It’s not an area that you study or prepare for in advance, but if you grow up with it, you go to visit people sitting shiva (mouring period), perhaps you attend funerals of the generation passing, perhaps you watch your parents sit shiva (or grandparents). And you hear them speak of it.

So what do you do as a BT when these life events come along?

I’ve got nothing pithy to write here, inspiring and helpful. Just wondering, as I’m writing this while sitting on a plane on my way to what may be a final visit with my beloved grandmother.

27 comments on “Death and the BT

  1. Tzivia Esther, I pray that you will find comfort in its due time. Grief is much like a physical wound. It takes time and patience to heal.

    You asked about ‘normative grief’. I think that’s an enigma. In any case, it is too soon to worry about such a thing. It’s only been a couple of months. Yes, the halacha posits a notion of ‘exaggerated mourning’; but that isn’t talking about our feelings. It only means that wallowing in our grief to the exclusion of recognizing that Hashem’s universe continues to function (with our grief a part of that) would be a distortion of our faith in God. But we DO feel our grief. Deeply, and sometimes for a long time.

    Consider the logic of this for a moment. We have never, ever known a universe without our parents. They were here already when we arrived. They directed our entry into this world, and our growing and maturing process. A universe without our parents makes no sense to us. So when a parent moves on to the next world, we grieve deeply and at first have no way to cope with it.

    Eventually the world starts to make some sense again. We, all around you, are witness to that. But it never again makes the same sense that it had before. It cannot. For you, the child, the universe has irrevocably changed. You had always understood it was supposed to be one way; now it never will be again. And here is where ‘mourning too much’ becomes an important notion in Judaism.

    In truth, it is still and always was God’s world. Nothing has really changed that way. We can still rely on that. The adjustments we need to slowly, eventually make come from our own frailty. But Hashem is as present and reliable as always. And so we say kaddish. In response to our own mourning.

    My father died almost ten years ago. There are times when I notice once again that I still miss him. I always will. There are even rare unpredictable moments when I will briefly weep over missing him. But I don’t really mourn anymore. My task now is to continue making him proud of me if I can, and to be a credit to him in this world.

    Normative grief? We have normative mourning in halacha; but grief is very individual and you will find your own accommodation with it in the coming months. Just as we have different faces and personalities; our response to the loss of our parent is unique to us and our life. I pray that Hashem will grant you a sense of much love and comfort in its time.

  2. tzivia esther – i am also in aveilus for my father and many of your feelings sure hit home.

    what’s striking to me is how death removes the veil from the eyes of the survivors so we suddenly see who this person was in ways that somehow eluded us until now. although we know that the niftar has not simply ceased to exist but rather gone on to a more meaningful existence than the foolery we get dressed up in down here, there is often closure for those of us left behind. but i don’t think it is sudden, a one-step kind of thing. i think part of the grieving process we are going through involves summing up the relationship we had with the niftar, for better or for worse, and this in itself can be so painful.

    for me, i suddenly relaized in ways i could never had understood before how much my father and his choices formed the person i am today. he was a man of very few words and all my life itr bothered me that i had so scant a relationship with him. his parents were european immigrants who chucked most observance when they came to the US and he, on his own, chose to becoem shomer shabbos at the age of bar mitzva like his newly-arrived grandfather. my parents married and while my mother, who had grown up totally unafiliated, agreed to have a kosher home, she did not keep shabbos alongside him until almost twenty years after they wed. he allowed me the freedom to choose my path and paid for the real jewish education i craved including bais yaakov and seminary (when i might have otherwise not cost them much at all by going to PS etc). he passed away last winter just eleven days before my son’s wedding. we made an aufruf in the middle of his shiva. people told me sympathetically that it must surely be so hard – to have, on one hand, shiva going on this week, and, on the other hand, to get up friday afternoon in the middle, for shabbos, and make a simcha. but it wasn’t. it was all one seamless thing. it was my father’s simcha, because how else would i have merited to be marrying off such a child, a ben torah? and that shabbos we read in the parsha the words, v’shamru vnei yisroel es hashabbos…what more fitting thing could there have been but for me to make a simcha davka on that shabbos in the middle of remembering my father?

    but if you would have asked me before his final illness whether i even truly felt my father’s life was, well, even relevant to mine, i don’t think i would have answered with a resounding yes.

    hatzlacha to you in finding meaningful ways to grow through this period and come out more alive than you were before.

  3. Hi Judy,
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I appreciate it, especially at this time. Surprisingly, I attended a bereavement group that was sponsored by a trio of local hospitals.
    Much to my chagrin, the literature that they handed out wasn’t exactly “pareve”. In addition, there were no Jewish chaplains. My rebbitzen is also in aveilus, and she’s been great!

  4. To Tzivia Esther #21: My parents of blessed memory are both gone for quite a while. My dear father Joseph Kluger was niftar in 1985, and my dear mother Rhoda Kluger was niftar in 1994. I was pregnant with a son when my father died, and five months later gave birth to Yosef Chaim. Yosef Chaim, may he live and be well, carrying the name of his dear grandfather, has grown into an adult of kindness and learning. I think he truly is what my father Joseph perhaps could have been, if things had been different, if life had not had other plans.

    It is very, very hard to cope with parental loss. The only comfort is to understand, as you do, that death releases the suffering guf, the body, from pain and illness, and allows the neshama, the soul, to go to Gan Eden and receive its due, so to speak, for its good deeds upon the Earth. Know that your own good deeds will continue to rise up like “care packages” to the soul of your dear father of blessed memory, and that your performance of mitzvos is added to his own total and to his eternal joy in the afterlife.

    I think of my parents who are gone every day. In G-d’s kindness, the hurt and pain dim a little as the years pass, so life can go on for the needs of the living. There are of course children and grandchildren who need you. Each generation is a vital link in the chain of Jewish mesorah, and what your father handed down to you will not be forgotten, ad olam.

    For the sake of your dear mother, she should live and be well, stay strong. Know that her own biggest comfort at this time is you, your children, and the new great-grandchild. If you or your dear mother should need extra help in coping with this great loss, do not hesitate to seek out a bereavement support group, or even to go to a therapist to help work through the grief. Grief dissipates very slowly, and Jewish law recognizes that even throughout a full year the immediate relatives are suffering. You will not “get over it,” there is never any “getting over it,” but you will slowly climb out of the darkness and back into the sunlight, remembering the goodness that you were privileged to be a part of, and the good man that you were privileged to call “Father.”

  5. My father died on Rosh Chodesh Marcheshvan. It was a Friday, so there was no need for a eulogy. All that was said was that he was a fine upstanding man. I found this interesting, because he was very accomplished.

    Dad wasn’t just a father, he was a friend. He understood me better than I understood myself. He loved to discuss books and abstract ideas with me.

    Over the last few years, his hearing got so bad that I couldn’t converse with him over the phone. When that occurred, I felt a loss.

    The shiva is over, and the shloshim have passed. My new grandson bears his name. While it is a nechama, I often cry at night and go into a funk. In addition, I sleep more than usual. At times, I shut down completely.

    My dad’s death was sudden. It was good for him, but it was a shock to my system. That was only the tip of the iceberg, however, as my mom began to decline far more rapidly than she had before.
    More than anything, I wonder how other Jews cope with parental loss. The varied answers I hope I’ll receive will give me some insight as to what normative grief is, as well as ways in which to find nechama. Thanks in advance to all who respond.

  6. Miriam1 from Don’t discuss death anymore with your parents. Discuss life. Visit them more than once a year. Bring the great grand kids, not just pictures of them. Get closer. Make a deeper, better relationship with them. Love them. Enjoy them while you have them; hopefully, you will have many more years with them. Invite them to share notable events in the family’s lives: graduations, Bar Mitzvahs, engagements and weddings. Then,when the time finally comes when hard choices must be made, you will be able to make the right choice.

  7. I have been frum for 31 yrs. My parents are in their 70’s. They informed me when my grandmother passed away that they have prepaid for their cremation and that it is irrevocable. (By the way my grandmother who died at age 100 1/2 had prepaid for a real leviah with tahara and burial, even though she was not religious. ) My husband and I and my sister and niece were the attendants at the leviah and my husband the Rabbi. (my mother who has been unwell could not attend). I have broached the subject a few times with my parents, who are not open to seeing another view point. HELP! I need advice as to how to deal with this, wanting the end result to be a proper burial and not cremation when their time comes, after 120 yrs. Due to their young age at this time, I don’t want to be premature in bothering them about this as it could ruin our relationship. We are not really close but do have a respectful cordial relationship, I visit once a yr and send pictures of the great grand kids, which gives them nachas. Any strategies or suggestions mush appreciated.

  8. Abby (I have a cousin and a niece with that name):

    I pray that Hashem will help you find patience and strength, and that comfort will come in it’s due time.

    I think this is one of the hardest circumstances that we have to deal with in modern Jewish times.

    May Hashem comfort you together with all the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim…

  9. HOw ironic to come to your musing. I just returned to work, after having lost my mother and going through the shiva process. While I am not well versed in your history, or this site, Kressel reccommended that I seek support here.

    Honestly, you are right that death is one of the most heart-wrenching and complicated things to experience as a B’T.

    My family is angry, that I as next of kin, refused to sign for cremation. SOme things are halachic and also when the idea makes you physically ill how can anyone sway you otherwise.

    As my family was screaming and fighting and being outright abusive towards me, my father stepped in and put his foot down towards my mother’s family.(my parent’s divorce was final about a year ago)

    I think it took the rabbi who was officiating the funeral, who apparently read my family the riot act to at least give me some space.

    I realize that my family dislikes my choices, it’s never been a secret on their part, and my husband (of 7 months) knows I’ve gone out of my way and drained myself to attempt to respect them.

    However, I feel as though having lost my mother is the ultimate test for me at this point. After a loss such as this with such great pain, many people question their faith. I would be lying if I were to tell you I haven’t questioned my faith at all, however my faith is the only thing right now that is any comfort. As opposed to my family who doesn’t know what to do, to think or say.

  10. As Mordechai and Elin G mentioned, filling in the grave is an important part of the process. When my granfather died, my affiliated but not particularly observant family each took turns putting 1 or 2 scoops of dirt in, and passing the shovel. At the end of the “line”, my husband took a shovel and kept going, so a frum quasi-relative (other side of the other side of the family) pitched in.

    Everyone else thought they were a bit strange.

    A few years later, at my grandmother’s funeral, before we went to the cemetary, I explained to my (non-religious) brother that this was a last act of respect for the deceased, and reminded him about Grandpa, so he’d make the connection. He was very excited to get one last chance to honor Grandma, and spread the word. There were probably 6 men helping fill in the entire grave this time (and maybe my aunt as well?), in shifts (only 2 shovels).

    Explaining gently before you’re grave-side can garner lots of support.

  11. For those who question the appropriateness of these posts [this one, and the one about Tahara], let me remind you that yesterday was 7 Adar, the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu. This is considered a “holiday” for the Chevra Kadisha, since Hashem Himself buried Moshe, and most appropriate to think about some of these matters. Furthermore, see this excellent post by Toby Katz at Cross-Currents:

  12. Again, hope nobody minds an outsider’s perspective…

    As I mentioned before, while not Jewish, I have frum friends, and my closest frum friend’s mother died this January. At the graveside I had been struck by the filling in of the grave. In Xian tradition we do put earth on the coffin but usually just a symbolic handful and hearing the clay thudding down on the coffin seemed to me at first so harsh and stark. But because the Rabbi had mentioned that this was a service the mourners were to perform for the deceased, I was able to see it in a positive way. My friend’s mother had survived the Holocaust and it occured to me how wonderful it was that she lived to have a family and be buried by them instead of having been killed and having no grave at all. Suddenly the idea of burying her completely as an act of respect made so much sense.

    Mordechai, your image of “tucking the child in for the last time” was a beautiful way of expressing this action.

    I hope that non-observant relatives can have their eyes opened to the beauty and rightness of the halachic traditions, as I did. And I know from my own experience after my own father’s death that talk about the afterlife and the soul at the funeral can sometimes open up spaces for conversation with people who normally do not discuss “religious stuff”. My dad used to despair of being able to talk about spiritual things with his family – yet since he died they all renewed their religious convictions, started reading the Bible, attending worship, etc.

    My thoughts and prayers to all who are mourning the loss of a loved one. May G-d comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

    And, not to end on a sad note, I want to wish everyone a happy Purim. Truly, G-d has shown his love and faithfulness to His people Israel, and made known His righteousness among the nations!

  13. Shoshanna,

    It’s a good point. But for Akiva it’s something that he is dealing with right now with his grandmother ill, so I thought it was important to post so he could get some helpful feedback. And thank G-d there were many excellent comments (as usual).

    We’ll be getting back into the Adar spirit tomorrow.

  14. Mark,
    Is a post on death appropriate for Adar? We should be b’simcha! Save the death topic for another time, maybe Menachem Av.

  15. As Menachem pointed out, such an experience can inspire one to move upward in Torah Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. I also experienced such an upward trajectory towards a greater committtment which I know wasn’t always present prior to the petirah of my father ZL.My learning, davening and beginnings of some small scale-behind the scenes communal work all ticked upwards after that point.

  16. I have also “been there, done that.”When my father was niftar,at the age of 62, I had only been married for a little over three years. Some of my relatives wanted a full-blown autopsy. I suggested that a rabbi be contacted and R Fabian Schonfeld, whose shul I still belong to, came to the hospital and spoke to my relatives and the hospital staff.The taharah was jointly handled by the local taharah and some members of a local yeshiva who my father ZL had been active in raising funds for. They told me that everything re the aron was done al pi halacha.

    My father had been an active lay leader in our small town. I still recall that the aron was driven up to and stopped outside the shul. The shivah was calm, despite the fact that I was definitely moving in a different direction than my mother and siblings. The yeshiva even sent its avreichim and some ramim to our house for help with the minyan. Since part of the shivah included RC Elul, I still recall discussions about where else I should go in the house during Hallel and whether we would have a Sefer Torah in the house.

    Emotionally and psychologically, the entire experience seemed surreal-the kriyah and hespedim. The finality and shock of the ptirah of my father ZL, who was very sympathetic to my becoming frum,hit me like a ton of bricks at the Beis Olam. As of this date, the days prior to the Yahrtzeit of my father ZL are probably the toughest days in the calendar for me.

  17. My mother passed away when I was 29. I had been orthodox for about 13 years. My observance to that point had been very typically “modern”. I still went mixed swimming, didn’t always daven with a minyan, (didn’t always daven), kol isha wasn’t on the radar yet, you get the idea. Up to that point I was pretty comfortable with my mediocre level of observance.

    Being confronted with my mother’s illness and death fundamentally changed me religiously. (She was diagnosed with cancer just 5 weeks before she died at the age of 53.) For the first time since becoming frum I was faced with a real test of my beliefs. Obviously I wanted to believe that there was an afterlife and that my mother had a soul. In order to then be intellectually honest and consistent I knew that I had to really buy the whole package. I began doing many of the things that I knew I should have been doing all along. I then made a concerted effort to learn halacha with a mind open to trying to do what is right. (“Right” isn’t always necessarily what’s “done” which makes this somewhat challenging.) As an added boost I dedicated any growth that I experienced as a Z’chut for my mother’s neshama.

  18. My uncle passed away two years ago, and I found that my aunt appreciated my frum perspective on things, my prayers while he was sick, my talk of the Next World after he passed. You might be in a position to make a real difference to your non-religious relatives at these difficult times.

  19. First off, thanky you Akiva for including us in this…I pray that you and your family will find comfort in due time,and that in any case you be privileged to take good care of your grandmother.

    I have no deep insights, but I’ve been through this several times. I know this is a very long post, but maybe the incidents will somehow help others plan ahead.

    My first experience with death in the family as an adult came in ’89, when I was coming from Israel to begin work in Houston. My cousin’s baby died suddenly, and I detoured to attend the funeral and be with my family. I remember that the ‘ceremony’ or ‘service’ was pretty parve, and then everyone turned away to leave the open grave and go to the ‘shiva house’. In Israel we’d never left a grave like that; filling in the grave (basically ‘stimat hagolel’) has great importance. So I took a shovel and starting filling in the grave. Family members were scandalized. I tried to explain that this was a last act of love, tucking this child in one last time, not something to be left to strangers with a backhoe (waiting for me to get out of the way…). Anyway, causing a family fight would have been worse, so after the few shovel-fulls that I managed, I sadly walked away with my parents and the rest of the family. At my cousin’s house, they arranged a ‘minyan’ of men and women together, which I had to refuse to lead, of course. I quietly slipped off to the side without making a fuss, and let it go.

    The lesson learned was that along with my commitment to Torah and halacha, I can’t lose sight of the fact that people are *mourning*, in pain, grieving; this is not time to have a fight.

    When my aunt (my mother’s sister) died, we attended the funeral with my parents. This was really Reform, and the family had never had any particular sympathies for tradition. Again, I avoided causing any fuss; this wasn’t *my* mourning. I had to be there to show respect to my aunt, to my parents, etc. That was my role, not anything else. This time no one objected to me filling in the grave at least to cover the coffin, and my mother even joined in (which I allowed her to do, and even helped her say good by to her sister).

    The last incident, so far, was when my dear father died. This was more complicated, because this was indeed *my* affair, along with my mother, sister, and my father’s siblings. During the last months of his life, my wife and I would travel to my parents, and care for him ourselves as much as we could (she’s a physician, I’m a critical care paramedic). Moreso, although he wasn’t particularly observant, my father clearly stated that I was the rav for all issues involving his death and burial, just as in my own kehillah. While my father was still conscious and in control of himself in his hospital bed, I *offered* him to put on t’fillin and say Shma with me for what was the last time. He agreed as I expected, and I believe this was an important zchut for him. Later that day, there began a pretty intense disagreement between me, and my sister, uncle, and mother about what were necessarry measures to be continued, and what were not. Just as the argument was looking to get ugly, and I was struggling with how to not cause too much damage over these issues (they weren’t willing to have the local rav step into the issue; I would have passed the buck to him), we were called back to his bedside because his breathing became what appeared agonal (nearing death),and he became unconscious. Further argument avoided…

    I made Shabbat in my father’s room, alone with him. My mother and wife went home, with my mother planning on returning in the morning. Shabbat morning I davenned by his bedside. Just as I started Nishmat Kol Chai, he stopped breathing. After a few moments I verified that he was indeed not breathing, and asked the nurse to call a doctor to confirm. I wasn’t willing to call my mother, but she would never forgive me if I didn’t tell her. The hospital staff called her without my asking, so another argument avoided.

    The nurse and other staff were extraordinarily good about letting me see to the body’s initial care, before taking him down to the morgue. I wasn’t allowed to sit in the morgue by the ‘cooler’ where the bodies are put, so I sat shmira in the hallway just outside the door, until after Shabbat. When the chevra kadisha came, I accompanied my father to the tahara room, where I handed over the responsibility to the chevra kadisha.

    Funeral arrangements were no problem. My father’s wishes were strictly traditional, and I had final say on any questions.

    Shiva was hard. We started at my parents’ house, but people’s behaviour was really inappropriate (and my mother somehow thought it her responsibility to be hostess). I stayed there for a few days, with a minyan coming to the house. It was too difficult, because I was the only one sitting shiva, although my cousins tried to be sympathetic (my wife had returned to work after a few days). Finally, I called my wife and asked her to come bring me home for the last three or four days. Back home in Worcester, I sat shiva at home, and community members took care of everything, like we know. Some of my students even drove an hour from Boston.

    Lastly, we did a siyum masechet for my father’s shloshim. I prepared the g’mara, and my students (Maimonides HS in Boston) learned the mishnayot. I bought each of them an English Kahati of the masechet to learn. On the shloshim I gave a shiur on the gmara at the end of the masechet, attended by a large number of students, and some teachers. I can’t think of a better way to mark my father’s passing on to his olam haba than that siyum…

    May Hashem bless all Am Yisrael with an end of all mourning, a wiping away of all tears, and the clear knowledge of His presence like the water fills the oceans…

  20. My Grandmother’s (father’s mother) shiva was a disaster. (My Mom is FFB, my dad non observant — he follows shabbas and yom tov, but really has no capacity or desire beyond that). My aunt wanted to say kaddish while we were trying to have a Halachicly acceptable minyan in a dining room. Harsh words were said and My dad got into a fist fight with his brother-inlaw. There is only so much anti-religous fervour one can stomach. Needless to say, the shiva house lasted 1 day and we moved it to my parents house. The sad part is my father’s extended family (uncles/cousins) did not come to pay him any respects during that long week. To this day (6 months later), not one of them has said a word to him.

    I am dreadeding the day when my wife’s family has a shiva (anti-religous too!) and my wife is forced to choose between the BT lifestyle she is currently embracing or her family (again anti-religious with intermarried children).


  21. Jonathan (and friends):
    Your question on cremation is very tough. (A similar type of problematic will is one that calls for ‘pulling the plug’.) But there’s a great anti-cremation “success” story in one of the Maggid books by R’ Krohn, which might give some chizuk. I’ll try to point you to the right book, unless another reader can beat me to it.

  22. Akiva,

    Thanks for writing on this subject. I think handling the death of a loved one is even more challenging for a BT than handling other life events. At least with a wedding or Bar Mitzvah, the rest of the family is otherwise happy and their joy might overcome any negative feeling caused by your absence or what they view as your unusual practices.

    One of the most challenging problems arises when a parent or sibling of a BT has asked to be cremated in their will. Has anyone found a good way to approach a close relative who you know has these plans? Obviously, appeal to Halachah is not the answer for someone who has no interest in Halachah or even has negative feelings. Thanks.


  23. My father was 37 when I was born, so I was somewhat mentally prepared throughout my life that he would probably pass away when I would fairly young [he was niftar when I was 42]. I was fortunate to see Rav Nachman Bulman in Aveilus for his mother; it was the first time I had seen such an intense aveilus, and I really learned a lot. By the time my grandparents were niftar, I was in Yeshiva, which was not far from my parents’ home, so I was zoche to help make a minyan in my parents’ home for the Shiva.

    One of the hardest parts for us is that American assimilated Jews tend to take the Shiva period very differently; socially, they’re not “allowed” to show too much emotion, or cry. Their fear of the unknown, as to what happens to us after death, is apparent. I recall an non-religious older cousin, who, when her husband passed away, was absolutely devastated after the Shiva. Since the Shiva was more of “hosting” and “entertaining guests” than of mourning the deceased and reflecting on his/her life, she was only able to confront those emotions AFTER the Shiva had eneded. How sad!

    The religious Jew is strengthened by his Emuna in the afterlife and the eternity of the Jewish soul. This is a startling difference that can be a source of friction with non-religious relatives.But it is also a source of strength, and to the extent that our Emuna is strong, it can be conveyed to others & usually will be respected. I have found that the rites of mourning are usually respected even by non-religious people, and one can actually forge a STRONGER connection to his non-religious family at these times than otherwise. If this should occur to you, don’t miss the opportunity to open new channels of communication to your family.

    On the other hand, sometimes to avoid friction one needs to sit Shiva away from family. As difficult as that may be, it may be the only realistic choice for some people. Of course, in all of these matters, one should consult his/her Rav or Rebbe. The Jewish laws of mourning, while difficult, are the best way to go through the often very difficult period of losing a loved one.

    May Hashem wipe the tears from all of our faces!!!

  24. Akiva

    Been there. My best advice for those who have loved ones with terminal illness (particularly parents or siblings) is to review the halachot and minhagim concerning burial and mourning, study/discuss them with your rav as much as you can, and be prepared when G-d forbid someone you love dies. I cannot emphasize that enough. As a BT—if the rest of your family is secular, Reform or Conservative — then there is ALOT of potential for serious conflict during the funeral and shiva period–which are difficult enough. Not saying that its gonna happen, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and these conflicts can leave permanent scars.

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