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.