Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I went to a funeral this afternoon, for a baby. I was never any good at compartmentalizing my emotions about this sort of thing and moving on - witness this old post - and I haven't gotten any better at it since leaving the shul rabbinate.

I know many people who have the same problem. Some of this is simply the strength of the emotion, but I think one reason people don't lock away their funeral emotions afterward is that it would feel wrong. It would feel like forgetting the death, it would feel disrespectful... and maybe it would feel like the experience didn't hurt me as much as it should have, as though I'm not connected enough to the people who are still grieving, who can't turn away. If you were really upset, you wouldn't be able to listen to that song, to laugh at that joke, to dance at that simchah. If it really touched you, you wouldn't commit the "turning away" Floyd sang about.

We need permission to move past grief, and this includes a permission only we can grant. So I went to a meeting tonight and couldn't let myself forget where I had been a few hours earlier. And now I'm supposed to be working on a shiur and I'm still at the cemetery.

It's good, even beautiful, that human beings can be so connected to each other; I cannot imagine how life without those connections could have meaning. But wow, does it hurt.

Walked past the sign my children made for my birthday, which is tonight, Zayin Adar is finally here. I don't feel the birthday... but I do feel the 40.


  1. I think we need to keep a balance.

    Once I went to a funeral for the maintenance man at my yeshiva.

    An hour later the yeshiva celebrated sheva berachot for one of the bochurim.

    Two very different sets of emotions. We couldn't ignore the family of the niftar, nor could we ignore the chatan and kallah.

    They both deserved our full emotional involvement.

  2. Very true, Shlomo - but far easier for me to say than for me to do.