Archive for the 'anniversaries' Category

Lunar time tables

February 15, 2016

This happened to me before, but it still took me by enough surprise that I found myself trying to plumb it more thoroughly this time around.

I could not figure out why today I was feeling, shall we say, down.  I went off for a walk, and fairly early on in it, it came to me that I should check, when I returned home, an online yahrzeit calculator.  So when I got home, I found one and plugged into it the date of birth and death for the premature infant I delivered over thirty years ago, and sure enough, the yahrzeit is tomorrow (as well as in a month from now, because it’s a leap year and so the month of Adar occurs twice), according to the Jewish calendar.  On the solar calendar we use in secular American life, the anniversary is not until near the end of this month.

As I said, this has happened to me before, I could even probably figure out which year.

When it happened last time, I remember having some thoughts about why I was in sync with the Jewish calendar on this schedule of commemoration — I remember thinking, for instance, that it might have to do with picking up on other people’s practices.  I think with this year’s repetition of the experience of grief arising on the yahrzeit according to a lunar year, I am thinking more about whether my internal rhythm for marking a year might be on its own more in tune with a lunar calendar than with a solar one.

In any event, being able to name a point of reference for my mood has helped.  I found a candle and lit it, although, as I recall, the rules of Judaism don’t include mourning in this way for someone who lived less than 28 days.

My mourning on this occasion is fairly vague at this point in my life, but it’s certainly there, deep in my heart.  Like the original grief, it has a certain independence of existence, it exists and calls my attention to itself regardless of whether I am consciously thinking about it or wish to deal with it.  Something wants to rise up within me, such as I sometimes experience when I meditate.  It comes out, I let it express itself through me while I pull myself to the side, and then the moment passes.  I won’t say it’s cathartic, but something is released and a more peaceful state returns.  If one religious practice doesn’t want to support that need, I am not above finding others that do, just as I will go along with using the particular calendar that seems to suit my rhythm of mourning, even if it’s not the calendar I use every day.

 

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Yahrzeits

January 19, 2012

I use the term loosely, not just to include anniversaries of deaths but of other events, as well.  Even events I don’t know about.

For example, every January at about this time my older son goes through some sort of difficulty, and this year is no exception.  (I got the phone call last night.)  I honestly don’t know if anything ever happened to him in mid January, perhaps during his first two years of life and before he was our son, but this pattern reminds me of when people struggle around the time of year of the anniversary of a difficult event.

I know from my own experience and from the stories of others that this happens even if the event itself is not being consciously remembered — I will find myself struggling and then wonder why something doesn’t add up, why I feel far worse than whatever is currently going on would warrant, and then I remember the date and the event.  Going through those days almost feels like entering a pocket of turbulence or something.

Anyway, I’m going to visit Jonas tomorrow (as we had previously planned).   I doubt he could tell me what he might still be reacting to from his life back then at this time of year, so I don’t think I’m going to ask him what it might be.  At some point, he reported that he no longer remembered directly things from that period and only remembered what we could tell him he had previously told us.  I sometimes wonder if it would help to know such things, or whether we can remove those emotional splinters some other way, for example, from patterns in relationships, or in our reactions to events, that repeat in our lives.  For me, the lesson usually is to learn incrementally to handle such relationships and events with a little bit more (compassionate) detachment each time.