Shivah: A traditional seven-day period of mourning the dead that is observed in Jewish homes – often used in the phrase sit shivah. —- Merriam Webster
It’s snowing today. The first snow of the season.
Two days ago we buried our mother. We have been honouring the mourning period which in Judaism is known as “Shivah”. Thursday until 9pm, Friday until 5pm we get up because of the Sabbath there is no Shivah, and resumes Sunday 10am until 9pm. This is the shortened version that many choose to do instead of the traditional seven days.
During the Shivah period, friends and family come to pay their respects to the living immediate family mourning the loss of a loved one. We are sitting together at my brother’s house. In our religion, although my family is by no means religious, we have a system that seems to flow. We bury our dead the very next day (unless it’s the Sabbath day). Word spreads fast and during the Shiva, friends and family keep us company with their various comings and goings. It helps to ease up the sadness, but for me it’s a deterrent because trust me, when you get back home in your own quiet thoughts, it catches up with you. I am sure my emotions may be running amok for the next few weeks anyway; until I can find some resolution with myself and put things into the perspective that allows me to live comfortably.
Every time my husband drives us to and from my brother’s house, we pass the cemetery where my parents now rest together. It felt doubly hard to watch them fill the grave of my mother as the memories of doing that same thing almost 24 years ago with my father came flashing back.
The day before my mother passed and my brother called me to tell me my mother had hours left, maybe a day, I was beside myself. I felt the only thing that could comfort me at that time was to go to the cemetery and be with my father for awhile. I wanted to tell him that the love of his life would soon be coming. I told him that I prayed his eternity with her would be peaceful for him as it was not in his short life.
It was a sunny day, cool and crisp and no snow yet in sight. When I began telling my dad about my mom, the sky got dark and it started to rain. I got concerned that may have been a bad omen, but when I told my sister about it, she said they were his tears of joy. I drove home in the rain. As soon as I parked the car, the sun came back out.
I pray that from all the sadness my family has endured through the years and this past week that this closure may strengthen some of the broken ties between us that the years have tattered with so many hurts and resentments.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank so many of you for your support and condolences here and on social media and for your lovely comments in the guestbook link that was attached to the memorial notice I posted on facebook. It is truly comforting and an honour to call you all friends.