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Introduction
Source : Mary Oliver

When Death Comes by Mary Oliver

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Poetry
Source : Leonard Cohen

Inspired by Un'taneh Tokef, (ונתנה תוקף) (" Let us speak of the awesomeness "), a piyyut that has been a part of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur liturgy in rabbinical Judaism for centuries.

Poetry
by SIJCC
Source : East Side Jews / SIJCC
Poetry
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

The Longest Night (For Parents of a Child Who Has Died) by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
For Phyllis and Michael Sommer

We all tell ourselves stories
about grief to come.

Anticipating the dark
we think, how can I live

without the sun I turn toward?
We wrest what gifts we can

from the dying days.
One morning we wake

and the doorway we most dreaded
is behind us.

The ice may not recede
for months to come

but day by day
may there be more light.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase. 

Poetry
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

In Memory of a Hurtful Parent by Rabbi Robert Saks

O God: You know my heart. Indeed, You know me better than I know myself.

My emotions swirl as I say this prayer. The parent I remember was not kind to me. His/her death left me with a legacy of unhealed wounds, of anger, and of dismay that a parent could hurt a child as I was hurt.

Help me, O God, to subdue bitter emotions that do me no good, and to find that place in myself where happier memories may lie hidden and where grief for all that could have been, all that should have been, may be calmed by forgiveness, or at least soothed by the passage of time.

 I pray that You, who raise up slaves to freedom, will liberate me from the oppression of my hurt and anger, and that You will lead me from this desert to Your holy place.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase. 

Poetry
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Broken Open by Rabbi Jay Michaelson

When life is full of ease, spirituality is like cotton candy—fluffy, airy, and unserious.... 

And then something happens. Someone gets sick, or a relationship ends. Or a pet dies, or I lose my job. Or a friend dies unexpectedly.

And then we go searching for meaning. Not answers necessarily... but significance, meaning. Now the self-satisfied smirk of the critic melts into something less sure of itself. What can be understood in the midst of this tragedy, about the fragility of the human condition or the impossibility of holding onto it? And what are the forms which, over the years, people like me have created to contain this grief?

Thus pain becomes a gate to the recovery of the spiritual tones of living. I fail; I lose; and so I grow closer to the parts of myself which feel more authentic, more connected. Spiritual paths may not be as sophisticated or arch as other ways of being. They may be mocked in the pages of the Times. But at some point, most of us find ourselves broken—and hopefully broken open.

It’s easy to be cynical about this sudden return to religious, spiritual, philosophical, or artistic homes long abandoned. We seem to be spiritual equivalents of fair-weather fans, clinging to a tradition or practice in our moment of need, then discarding it once again, when the moment of crisis has passed. Really, though, we are just flawed humans. To admit our inconsistency is only another necessary surrender. Fine, we are inconsistent. What do we sense to be true when we are at our weakest, our most open?

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase. 

Poetry
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Unending Love by Rabbi Rami Shapiro

We are loved by unending love.

We are embraced by arms that find us 
even when we are hidden from ourselves. 
We are touched by fingers that soothe us 
even when we are too proud for soothing. 
We are counseled by voices that guide us 
even when we are too embittered to hear.

We are loved by unending love.

We are supported by hands that uplift us 
even in the midst of a fall. 
We are urged on by eyes that meet us 
even when we are too weak for meeting.

We are loved by unending love.

Embraced, touched, soothed, and counseled,
ours are the arms, the fingers, the voices; 
ours are the hands, the eyes, the smiles;

We are loved by unending love.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase. 

Poetry
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Lentil by Rodger Kamenetz

“For mourning is a sphere

Making a circuit in the world”

So do not be surprised when it appears

next door or even nearer.

And what shall we eat for mourning

but a lentil round as a mouth

that is closed

What shall we say to them on the morning of a day

when no words are good, only

the touch of a hand, an embrace?

See them there: one silent, one shuddering

making one body of two, a perfect round.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase

Poetry
Source : www.carolinerothstein.com

Caroline Rothstein performs Life Worth 
https://www.carolinerothstein.com/video/life-worth-by-caroline-rothstein-live/

Poetry
Source : Rachel Kann: https://realizeparadise.com/

Mekonenet / Mourning Woman
By Rachel Kann

There is an oceanic
pain-knowing,

a tide
no soul
should ever
be made to
swim against,

a depth
no person should
have to go below,

where no diving bell can spirit,
wherein no veiled escape is available,

where the wailing penetrates;
leaks in compulsive melodies
from behind every curtain’s
intended modesty.

The Gddss herself
can’t help but be
boggled
at the thought
of all that staggering loss,
the roiling sea
in need
of grieving.

There is an edge,
beyond which,
it is enough
to do nothing,
except let
the bends
crack your chest,

relent into the bottomless vessel
life has forged,

all the salt
and water
poured,

expand
past every shore.

Poetry
Source : Rachel Kann: https://realizeparadise.com/

In the Time of our Sorrow
By Rachel Kann

My tongue wants to un-gate the flood, it is
an urgent compulsion to spill knotted guts,

in these weeks of banned melody,
my lips wants to rebel,
to howl,
to sing

of my suffering,
of all my shortcomings,
every rejection,
every threat to our collective existence,
the abandonment unabated,

of how my heart is a bitter almond,
spilling with cyanide,
splitting its endocarp,
longing only for the orchard,

of how my heart is a heavy stone,
flack-jacketed,
sallow and sinking in my chest,
how a glut of shrapnel is stuck in my throat,

of how I am blindfolded in love’s minefield,
frozen, unable to navigate the danger
lurking beneath the surface,
hurtful blossoms
lying in night-wait
only to explode,
detonate the light of day,

of the world’s unending
re-dedication to the re-destruction
of temples.

My heart wants to take flight,
transcend the gravity
of this misbegotten planet.

Before the unkindness of ravens and
murder of crows can escape the open moan,

I am circle-dancing,
hand in hand with so many wondrous
warrior women,
with Magda and Miriam,
who came through the dark tunnel of the Shoah,
who are here with me,
present and spilling light.

This is beyond awe,
beyond gratitude.

We weave a grapevine
up the trunk of the almond tree,

we are strengthened by our suffering.
We are indestructible.

This world crushes us,
we refuse to turn poisonous,
dancing and rooting and branching
despite this.

In glorious defiance,
we pour ourselves forward
in honeyed amaretto flooding,

we sweeten the darkness,
light the bitterness.

We kasher every unholy implement
used against us.
We ready them for service
in the holy temple of our most
miraculous dance:

our continued existence.

Blessings and Prayers
Source : BimBam (formerly G-dcast)

Learn to say the Jewish Mourning Prayer with this simple karaoke style video that combines the original Aramaic, a simple transliteration and the English translation. The Kaddish is in Aramaic, not Hebrew, except for the last sentence.

Subscribe to us on YouTube: http://bit.ly/2dFrxnn

Blessings and Prayers
Source : http://www.shiva.com/learning-center/resources/poems-of-comfort/

by Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Riemer

At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring; We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer; We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn; We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends; We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart; We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make; We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs; We remember them.
For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them.

Blessings and Prayers
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Secular-Friendly Mourners' Kaddish Translation by Rabbi David Cooper

There is an eternal essence that persists in time and space —
and this is our prayer to make it part of our awareness 
by affirming its persistence and pledging ourselves 
to act to advance the promise it holds of a better world; 
may it be soon and in our days. Amen.

Let the great essence be blessed through all our actions!

Whether it be blessed or praised or honored or exalted, 
we affirm that it is far beyond any expression which we use to describe it — 
prayer or song, prose or poem — and we say: Amen

We express our hopes for peace and for life upon us and upon all people. Amen.

May the harmony we experience as we gaze toward heaven 
be reflected in a harmony between all who dwell on the planet: 
Israelite, Ishmaelite, and all creatures upon this holy earth, and we say: Amen.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase.  

Blessings and Prayers
Source : https://www.trishaarlin.com/

Baruch atah Adonai

Brucha at Shechina

Blessed One-ness

Bringing connection when there is separation,

Remembering joy even when we cannot.

One-ness,

We are blessed to be part of this holy wholeness

Even if we understand so little of it.

We are blessed to have received so much love,

Even when it is lost. 

And we pray for the strength to perceive the blessings

Even when it hurts so much.
 

Amen. 

Blessings and Prayers
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Request (After a Miscarriage) by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

Source of all that is
source of mercy
planter of seeds
in rocky soil

You whose names
are womb
and breast
and giver of milk

protect everyone
who aims imperfectly
to emulate 
your loving care

guard everyone
who opens her body
and prays
for possibility 

grant us compassion
when our bodies fail us
and help us try
again, and again

remind us
that deep down
something new waits
always to grow.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase. 

Blessings and Prayers
Source : Many Winters: Poetry and Prose of the Pueblos, by Nancy C. Wood, Doubleday, 1974

Hold onto what is good
Even if it is a handful of earth.

Hold onto what you believe
Even if it is a tree that stands by itself.

Hold onto what you must do
Even if it is a long way from here.

Hold onto life
Even if it seems easier to let go.

Hold onto my hand
Even if I have gone away from you.

Blessings and Prayers
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/ 

Short Vidui by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

I acknowledge before the Source of All 

that life and death are not in my hands.

Just as my soul chose to enter this world in life, 

so my soul chooses to depart this world in death.

May my life be a healing memory for those who knew me.

May my loved ones think well of me, 

and may my memory bring them joy.

From all those I may have hurt, I ask forgiveness.

To all who have hurt me, I grant forgiveness.

As a wave returns to the ocean, 

so I return to the Source from which I came.

שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל, יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יהוה אֶחָד

Sh’ma, Yisra·eil: יהוה Eloheinu, יהוה Echad!

Hear, O Israel: יהוה is our God; יהוה is One.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase

Blessings and Prayers
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Candles (For a Stillbirth) by Nancie Martin 

And there you are in my arms

in a dress with ruffles grinning with just two teeth

as everyone sings to you,and that’s you 

with handfuls of wrapping paper,

your face smeared with frosting,

and look at you there, showing your doll

how to cut the cake,

and it seems impossible that it’s been four years

of me lighting candles you’ll never see,

flickering dimly in their fireproof glass,

on the day you were born too soon,

on the day you should have been born,

on the day of remembering

all the birthdays I wanted you to have.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase. 

Blessings and Prayers
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Dinner Alone (After the Death of a Spouse) by Helene Armet

Sitting alone now
eating dinner:
tempted by the simplicity 
of an easy yogurt
the speed of a
bowl of cereal.

Fighting it alone now! 
Chop, slice, dice, sauté.
I learned to cook to please him, 
laying my culinary soul at his fork
sweetly blessed
by a clean plate and a kiss.

Moving ahead alone now 
through an odd, disorienting light,
a partial eclipse of my being,
towards an unknown destination.
Pieces of my broken life 
falling at my feet.

Repair this alone now.
Learn to use tools,
new tools, power tools —
any tool, really.
It would please him…
the repairs and a successful journey.


 

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase.  

Blessings and Prayers
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

When Will I Be Myself Again? By Rabbi Lewis Eron

“When will I be myself again?”

Some Tuesday, perhaps,

In the late afternoon,

Sitting quietly with a cup of tea

And a cookie;

Or Wednesday, same time or later,

You will stir from a nap and see her;

You will pick up the phone to call her;

You will hear her voice – unexpected advice –

And maybe argue.

And you will not be frightened,

And you will not be sad,

And you will not be alone,

Not alone at all,

And your tears will warm you.

But not today,

And not tomorrow,

And not tomorrow’s tomorrow,

But someday,

Some Tuesday, late in the afternoon,

Sitting quietly with a cup of tea

And a cookie

And you will be yourself again.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase. 

Blessings and Prayers
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Magnified and Sanctified by Rabbi Allen Maller

The process of dying is painful

Especially if it is prolonged

But death itself is a transition

A transfer from here to there

A recycling of the body and the soul.

Matter is never destroyed, only transformed

So too does the soul evolve,

Higher and higher

From instinct to inspiration,

From haughtiness to holiness

From selfishness to service,

From individualism to union,

Until it returns home to the Soul of Souls

The Ein Sof, the infinite one.

This is the Divine Source of Life,

Magnified and sanctified.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase

Blessings and Prayers
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

For One Who Did Not Want Ritual Mourning by Jacqui Shine

How do I mark a loss that leaves no ritual trace? You imagined for yourself no mourners crowded together over the earth becoming your body, no weeping against the rising murmur of grief that holds everyone, no rending of cloth, no resisting and difficult assent to God’s perfect judgment. My body struggles to keep from standing up into your memory, my tongue to keep from blessing your name in those strange syllables. In no moment and in every moment, the rising and weeping and struggling move nonetheless through my veins, fever dreams my spirit cannot forget.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase

Blessings and Prayers
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Aninut by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

The stalks were easy to snap
just above the root, brittle already
from flirting with first frost.
Still, they held clusters
of tiny gold flowers

until I broke them free and
laced each stem across the top
of our sukkah, merest hint
of roof holding back
the darkening sky.

By morning they blossomed
anew, each tight bud 
now a puffball of white fur spiced with seeds. 
In a week
we’ll fling the remnants

past the forest’s edge,
let these old husks fade.
Come spring they’ll sprout
somewhere, maybe here, though
I doubt they’ll remember

these days suspended in the sun,
air crisp like apples and sweet
with new-mown grass, bees
carrying the memory of summer
back to their hidden hives.

For Sandy Ryan, after the death of her father.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase