My mother passed away just a month ago, and I'm finishing off an extended* shloshim, the thirty days from burial, a period of time in which the mourner is required to restrict oneself from pleasures, such as luxuriating in a bathtub, wearing new clothes, cutting hair, manicures/pedicures, listening to music, going to social events etc. For most mourners, that is those who are mourning a spouse, sibling or child, the official mourning ends with the shloshim, but for a parent it lasts a full twelve months (according to the Jewish Calendar.) The additional months are less restrictive; the hygienic acts of bathing/swimming, haircutting, manicures/pedicures are allowed.
Jewish Law requires a mourner to be comforted all during that mourning period, even after the seven day shiva has ended. My shiva for my mother was international. I began it immediately after the funeral in Long Island, NY, at my cousin's home, then I was in Westchester, NY at my sister-in-law's, then to JFK International Airport where people who realized I was in "shiva mode" with ripped shirt and slippers, said the traditional words of comfort and then I flew home to Shiloh where I completed the shiva. Obviously I didn't have too long a time in any one place.
I can probably list almost everyone who did manage to visit or call during the shiva. That's bad. It means that I have wondered why some people hadn't. Their absence wasn't lost on me. In some cases, I was (even am) very upset and surprised. But then one by one, I have gotten calls, or people have stopped me in the street apologizing effusively for missing the shiva. Last night one neighbor came over, not wanting to take a short-cut in comforting me. It's a good thing we haven't yet rehung the pictures nor put away all the photo albums.
Of that list of people, almost everyone has since spoken to me. There are still a couple whose absence really hurts. I was planning on letting it fester, but then inspired by a wonderful blog post by my friend Ruti, I realized that it would be a terrible mistake.
None of us are perfect. I'm sure I have unintentionally and inadvertently hurt or offended many. If I decide to forgive those who have hurt me, there's a chance that I, too, will be forgiven. It's never too late to forgive and comfort, but don't procrastinate any more.
* My shloshim for my mother is longer than thirty days, because the funeral was four days after her death, and we count it from the funeral, not the day of death.
|my mother with a great-granddaughter|