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Monday, April 21, 2008

Sitting Shiva

Today’s reading in Meditations for Survivors of Suicide (by Joni Woelfel) said something to the effect that God doesn’t so much lift us out of our grief, as He sits with us until it passes. It made me think of the Jewish custom of “sitting shiva.”

“Sitting shiva” comes from the book of Job, where his friends sat with him without speaking for seven days.
Shiva, literally meaning seven, refers to the seven intensive days of
mourning following a funeral. Jewish tradition seeks to create an island
around the mourner. She is relieved of all forms of work, all social
engagements, the pleasures and comforts of life (such as bathing, shaving,
laundering one’s clothes, and engaging in sex), and she is surrounded by
community so that she need not be alone as she confronts her loss.
(Taken from

Of course I am well beyond a seven day period. I want, I long to feel “normal” again.

The truth is, of course, I will never feel “normal” again; or to put it another way, I need to redefine normal, one that incorporates the absence and loss of my daughter into my worldview.

The first week, someone told my mother that she lost a child to suicide three years ago—and she’s still not over it. When I first heard it, I was shocked at the callous-feeling lack of comfort in her words. I didn’t believe it, or thought the person who said it must not have faith in God.

Now I’m not so sure. It will never be okay that my daughter took her own life. I will always mourn the loss.

What I do expect to happen is that it will no longer consume me. Now, I escape, for brief periods, into work or sleep. Eventually, I will go days or even weeks without that sudden stab of pain.

Until that day comes, God sits shiva with me.


jaranfranklin said...

I think the idea of sitting shiva is wonderful. I think you're right that God sits shiva with us as we mourn. Its okay for what happened with Jolene to never be alright. I don't expect I'll ever make peace with it. I do, however, trust the LORD to bring it all together for good. Love you, and wish you a good day.

Darlene Franklin said...

Well said, Jaran. God will turn it into something beautiful and good. Good day to you as well!

Mary Connealy said...

My neice's son was injured and brain damaged when he was about six months old and he's very badly handicapped nowas a nearly 12 year old.
I rememeber her saying, once we all realized the damage was permanent, "We've had to redefine normal."

Lynette Sowell said...

That is really good, Darlene. Sitting shiva, and redefining normal. We'll pull up some cushions and sit down too.