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On the Death of a Grandchild

May 26, 2016 | by Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs

As my heart silently screamed watching my son say Kaddish for his son, I recited the following prayer.

I am mourning the loss of my beloved grandchild. The shiva house belongs to my son and daughter-in-law. The Kaddish they offer is their spiritual hanger to hang their tears on. The rabbi leads the service addresses them in their time of need

The wonderful, thoughtful sensitive visitors upon entering the house give the parents words of comfort first.

Yet –

My heart was also wrenched and shattered upon learning of the death of my beloved grandchild. My very being was overcome in anguish when I saw my son’s tortured face as the coffin was lowered. My heart silently screamed as I watched my son say Kaddish for his son and saw the pain in the faces of my other grandchildren.

I feel stranded in a sea of pain and sadness where there is no ritual, tradition, custom or even a prayer for grandparents to hang their tears on.

What bit of consolation can a grandparent find in a shiva house for which we are – understandably, and realistically – removed from most of the shiva rituals, and are perhaps more like onlookers, apart and looking in?

I share with you my own prayer at this unbearably difficult and agonizing time.

God, it was always our earnest prayer that our children be spared all pain and suffering. We yearned – May this be your will.

God, it was always our impassioned prayer that our children all warrant peace and serenity in their lives. We yearned – May this be your will.

God, it was always our fervent prayer that You see to it that our children are unhampered by illness or tragedy. We yearned – May this be your will.

But today we are devastated – all our hopes, dreams, and wishes for this grandchild feel as if they have evaporated into nothingness. Though I prayed with all my heart, my heart has been ripped apart.

Though I prayed with great intent that my grandchild be well and healthy, my very soul has been fractured.

Though I prayed with total emunah, faith, I am overwhelmed and totally brokenhearted that my beloved grandchild has left this life.

I am shattered and beside myself with grief four times over – once for having to witness my own child’s pain saying good bye to their child, and then for my own pain saying goodbye to my beloved grandchild. Once more, watching the parents searching to make sense of the loss of their child, and then once again, being faced with the siblings who just do not understand.

My heart is so very, very heavy. I stuff my tears down deep to appear strong for my child. I see my child suffering and in pain and there is nothing that I can do to ease his way.

Dear God, please help all of us to carry this intense heavy burden of loss without any additional hurdles. Please – without delay – – allow healing of our spirit and healing of our hearts as we begin to accept what we cannot change.

Dear God, we beseech you to allow us, the grandparents, to be strong for our children, to be stalwart for the sake of the other grandchildren and yet to be kind to ourselves in our own grief.

May we all find, in due time, the strength to move forward with kindness, patience and tolerance.

Dear God, please grant menuchah nechonah – a true rest, to my grandchild and may he soar on the wings of the Shechinah, of Your Divine presence.


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