Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Year and A Day

In the Jewish tradition remembering the year anniversary of a death is yahrzeit. 
The yahrzeit is a time of remembering the dead by reciting the Kaddish, lighting a 24-hour candle, and remembering the person who has died.
Thanks to GrahamForeverinMyHeart for introducing me to that.  I found this interesting at My Jewish Learning:
When the year of mourning is over, mourners are expected to return to a fully normal life. "One should not grieve too much for the dead," the Shulhan Arukh, the 16th-century code of Jewish law, notes, "and whoever grieves excessively is really grieving for someone else."
I understand that and the importance of making a conscious decision to end the official period of griefdom even as I am not sure if every death is quite the same.   The one year rule does seem a bit wooden.   I will grieve differently over parents than I will my son, won't I?   At one level it seems that grief is really beginning for me now.   Yet there is a sense of needing not to "get over" or "get through" but to move consciously to a new level of relationship with Zach and with my grief.   Then again, I am not sure I have any idea what I am talking about!  

The yahrzeit for me is taking six weeks, the six week leave my congregation has given me through the end of August.  Nothing is planned really.  Just taking time. 

One of our favorite family vacations was to Maine in 1994.  Here are the two who would conquer the world.  Team Shuck.

 At his memorial service Katy wrote and read this:
Team Shuck by Katy Shuck

We battled monsters on the Montana farm
We conquered in volleyball matches against giants
We created plays, songs, and dances to entertain the masses
We devoured the communion bread after church to rejuvenate
We took our wake boards to the Atlantic to overcome sea creatures and live on the edge of danger.
We sled down steep NY mountains in the dead of winter to overcome fears
We created games to cease boredom
We joined forces with others to rake mountains of leaves
We made pizza and delivered to the Gods with a smile
We slept in the same bed for years to ward off the boogeyman
We invited others to join our force
We became flounder and little mermaid as soon as we hit the water to battle Ursula
We shared our deepest secrets
We performed the raptor for tips to supply us for our next adventure
We escaped evil doers and used our strengths to battle ignorance
We lived in six different states to create new memories and experience new tribes
We teased the parentals to show them we care
We drank potent drinks and got lost in laughter
We gravitated toward each other because we could only fight evil as one.
We were a team that could never be severed.

He called me machine for my speed at completing tasks
He gave me many nicknames to make me laugh
He called me his big sister when he needed me
He mollified my tantrums
He gave hugs that heal
He moved to Idaho for it had been the longest time  team shuck had been separated.
He defeated many bullies in my honor
He had admirable powers
He never judged
He made me laugh
He was genuine
He was kind
He was loved and he loved
He was my confidant, my protector, my buddy, my heart
He was my little brother Zach, who truly was,  too good for this world
He is on a new adventure now and I know he continues to use his powers for good.
On the anniversary, yahrzeit, of Zach's death, Katy rode the waves at Myrtle Beach "for and with Zach" she said.


  1. Heartbreaking and beautiful poem. Standing with you as you grieve.

  2. Katy reminds me of my daughter, who misses her confidante, protector, and buddy with all of her heart.
    I think that Yahrzeit is meant to refer to the death of a parent. Despite the sadness of losing a parent (my dad died when I was 22 and my mom died 4 years ago), it is nevertheless, within the natural order of the universe. It makes sense that official mourning for a parent can follow these guidelines. That doesn't mean that grief stops, but that official mourning ends.
    On the other hand, losing a child is completely different and I don't believe that there is a specified mourning period. And certainly the grief will be with us forever, though hopefully will eventually become less raw and painful.

  3. The siblings can be overlooked. Thanks for the clarification on Yahrzeit, especially the difference between official mourning and grief as well as the difference between the loss of parents and children. It is good to have a name and a ritual for the anniversary. I find myself looking for those kinds of things, some guiding light in the fog.