Monday, April 25, 2016

Modern Condolence Calls, Not F2F

My Mother, Shirley Spiegelman, Z"L, 1925-2013
A great beauty to the end...
My mother, and her younger sister were "shiva champs," both having sat shiva nine times for parents and siblings before their own deaths.
My mother,who suffered from senility in her final years, was not capable of a shiva for her younger sister a few months before her own death, which would have made her grand total for sitting shiva ten. As you can imagine, Jewish Mourning, the "shiva" was part of my earliest childhood, especially since both my maternal grandparents and my oldest uncle passed away in less than a year, before I had turned four. A couple of other of her siblings died before I got married and moved to Israel.

In those days, if you couldn't pay a shiva call in person, or like when my mother's mother died just hours before the Passover Seder, 1952, cancelling shiva*, which caused a terrible difficulty among the mourners as one of my older cousins remembers vividly to this day, you sent a condolence card. I remember seeing them around and even sending some when circumstances necessitated.

You must remember that even non-local phone calls were very expensive until a couple of decades ago, and email/internet/whatsapp could barely be thought of even as science fiction. Does anyone remember the telegram?

My father, Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L, 1920-2016
holding the invitation to the wedding of his grandson
which my parents couldn't attend. My mother actually
passed away just a couple of months before the wedding.
It's not even a week since my father died, and I've already sat shiva here in Shiloh, gotten up (before he was even buried,) celebrated the Passover Seder and even had my first "outing" with a cousin and our husbands.

Besides the surprising amount of people who managed to make the time to visit/comfort לנחם me here in Shiloh during my almost three day (Erev/Eve of Passover) shiva, dozens, or a hundred or more people either phoned or sent a wide variety of modern messages.

The beauty of the modern age, and easy communication is that not only family and friends can "comfort" the mourner and show respect, but even strangers who are inspired by the story, or as in my case those who only know me on the internet, facebook or read my blogs. And speaking of my blogs, last night dear friends, extended family (cousins of my father's cousins) called me up and told me that they had only heard of my father's passing from my Arutz 7 blog post. Unlike when my in-laws died, I didn't even think of putting ads/announcements in the Jerusalem Post and Torah Tidbits.  There were so many other things/logistics to think about.

According to Jewish Law, the mourning and comforting periods for a parent last a year, so no doubt I'll be blogging more about the topic and about my parents. And it's never too late to express one's condolences לנחם linachem.

Honestly, I have found comfort in the calls and notes. Thanks.

*When the burial is just before a Jewish Holiday, the shiva is reduced to barely an hour (maximum it could be a few hours until just after noon/half-day), and not continued/resumed afterwards.


Rickismom said...

I remember twice getting to a shiva call before Passover... once a good friend about five days before the holiday (even though she lived in a different town), and once on erev Pesach itself to visit a very close friend, but luckily her mother had lived near here.
I find much more needs to be said about what to say and what not. Once I was horrified by 2 ladies talking about buying school books in front of a woman who had just lost, suddenly, her husband.
I find the most healing to be NOT questions of how/from what did he die, but rather sharing/asking about the memories of the deceased.

When Rina died all the people who told me "you did all you could" were not a comfort. Comforting were the people who related her good deeds that I was unaware of / memories/ how she improved their lives

Netivotgirl said...

I am so glad the phone calls weren't a burden and DID comfort you. I sat shiva for my Mom, my best friend, who like yours had Alzheimer's in the States 16 years ago. I was in my family home with almost NOBODY there to pay a shiva call. I remember having a special notebook into which I lovingly noted each person who took the time and trouble to call me from Israel. I lay on my bed absolutely broken hearted. As you know, with Alzheimer's you lose your loved one before he/ she actually dies, but still it is shocking when it happens. I'm glad that that you appreciated the calls and emails because to some they can be a burden. Not having a car, and finding traveling exceedingly difficult prevents me from traveling distances so I'm glad to hear my calls were not troublesome. You are not only well known by your many blogs dear Batya. You are very loved and respected as well. May the good memories of both your parents be a comfort to you.

Batya said...

RM, I've found myself paying shiva calls so many times before chagim. I'm always amazed that the work gets finished on time. I only knew Rina from your blog, so I couldn't add much.

NG, I was grateful to be sitting shiva at home. I traveled home after my father's funeral, but this time I had to choose between being at the funeral meaning no shiva and being someone's guest for the double sdarim or stay home with family and friends, sit shiva, miss the funeral and have a nice Seder with my husband and kids. And the phone calls were so comforting.