In light of the recent tragic murder of 11 people at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, I have once again turned to five practices that I use to get me through losses.
• Accept your situation for what it is and celebrate life.
The Pittsburgh community has shared the stories of the victims so that we can honor them, but it is so difficult to accept that these precious elders are not with us anymore. In this time of great sorrow, whatever brings us joy will help us to move on. This could include going to synagogue, praying, being with friends and sharing memories of our loved ones.
• Identify your fears and lean in to them.
Our fears can change, but the big ones can stay with us for a lifetime. Anti-Semitism is not new, but has risen greatly in the last year. We as Jews are not running from the fear of the future. We are working together. The nationwide vigils speak to this. In all this sorrow and fear, I felt uplifted when I lit my candle during the vigil at the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center, in Providence, and heard words of support and comfort from local leaders of all faiths.
• Leverage your support network
Tree of Life synagogue set an example of utilizing community, family and friends in this time of mourning. We can never do this alone. We always need others. A supportive community will help mourners through this dark period. Being with a supportive community helps us to stay in the light. They are our rocks and angels.
• Use daily rituals for self-care
Science shows that routines and rituals can be among the most important contributors to a joyful and connected life. Especially as we age and in times of deep mourning, routine provides a sense of structure, familiarity, ownership, order and organization in our lives.
• Be a lifelong learner
I think that being a lifelong learner is in our Jewish DNA. Learning helps to keep us aware, alert and alive. Several studies show that taking on the challenge of learning a new skill as we age can lead to improved memory function and brain health.
At Chabad.org, the article “Growing Old,” based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher rebbe, states, “The Torah considers old age a virtue and a blessing.” Throughout the Torah, “old” is synonymous with “wise.”
We lost 11 of our elders at Tree of Life synagogue, and are thankful for the wisdom they gave to the community.
In my own life, I’ve never given up hope. Even in my darkest hours, that ray of light still shone through.
This is summed up well in a recent article by Bradley Burston at Haaretz.com titled, “There Was a Pogrom This Week, Lord. In the United States of America.” Burston shares the legacy of those we lost and then closes the article with this prayer: “El Malei Rachamim, God who is made of mercy. El Malei Chemlah, God who is made of compassion. El Malei Or, God who is made of Light. God whose house has been defiled by a cruel and monstrous and godless darkness – bless us, the survivors.
“Good will come of this. The memories of the fallen are, even now, a blessing.”
PATRICIA RASKIN, president of Raskin Resources Productions Inc., is an award-winning radio producer and Rhode Island business owner. She is the host of “The Patricia Raskin” show, a radio and podcast coach, and a board member of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.