Friday, May 6, 2016


I expect to take my teenage son to a levayah (funeral) for the first time today; it's for the grandparent of a friend of his.

I have mixed feelings, of course, about his readiness and so forth. But it seems to me to be important that a person's first exposure to intense grief come 1) vicariously, and 2) with the possibility of helping to mitigate it for others.



  1. Just notice the post today. Israeli kids generally have more funeral experiences and cemetery visits at a young age. They see it as part of life. Funerals here are also much larger, especially on yishuvim. The younger children are exposed to funerals and how to לנחם comfort mourners the better, less traumatic.

  2. I've been pondering this since you first posted. I think the idea of "readiness" is an illusion. Once we're no longer talking about really small children who simply can't comprehend the finality of death and haven't yet developed the capacity for true empathy, none of us are ever really "ready" to experience intense grief, whether it's vicarious or our own. What I think you will have taught him by taking him to this funeral is that a good person puts comforting a friend ahead of his or her own unease, and that's a lesson that is probably best learned reasonably early.

  3. Batya-
    Good point, thanks.

    Thanks for your point about teaching to leave a personal comfort zone for comforting others; agreed.
    Re: "readiness" - I think that what you refer to as comprehending death and having the capacity for empathy is what I mean by readiness.