Title: To Mourn a Child: Jewish Responses to Neonatal and Childhood Death
Editors: Jeffrey Saks and Joel B. Wolowelsky
Publisher: OU Press
Once you pick up To Mourn a Child, you will not be able to put it down, but not for the usual reasons. There is no suspense here, as we know from the outset the sad end of each story.
It is rather the searing emotional intensity of this book that will grab you and compel you to keep reading.
The book is about experiencing and mourning the death of a child, and the editors have assembled a series of personal accounts written by parents, grandparents, and siblings who suffered this most devastating of all losses. We live with the family members, get a sense of their emotions, during shiva and the mourning period, and share their profound grief in the aftermath of the tragedy when they try to put the pieces of their lives back together.
Ultimately, the book serves as an inspiration to the reader, as each family, in its effort to cope, finds a measure of closure and` solace. The parents of a child who died as infant attain a sense of peace when they locate the grave of their son which the cemetery had lost track of for years. The mother of a stillborn child strives to learn from her loss and becomes a better person – parent, friend, sibling, and child – because of it. For another parent, some comfort is attained by the recognition that the intellectual aspect of halacha helps the heart to heal by setting limits on the time of mourning, thereby, the Jew is trudged to return to his life.
In addition to the personal accounts, the book includes excerpts from traditional Jewish sources, as well as essays by practicing rabbis and healthcare professionals. Each essay contains important practical information and analysis directed to the family and well-meaning friends who may be involved in these tragic situations.
Written from the depths of broken hearts and shattered souls, the selections in To Mourn a Child are testimony to the strength of the human spirit and the redemptive power of Jewish tradition. The book is available at local Jewish bookstores and online at www.oupress.org.