Tisha B’av: Holding Space for Grief

Last year when I posted about Tisha B’av I was writing frequently and it felt weird to post about Tisha B’av, a Jewish national day of mourning, since it wasn’t in line with the rest of my topics, but it still felt relevant and real, so I did.

This year, after not blogging for a while, I am posting distinctly because it is Tisha B’av. Well, I’m posting about Tisha B’av, not literally on it, since the literal translation of “Tisha B’av” is the “9th of Av,” and today is the 10th of Av. Since Tisha B’av fell on the Sabbath, it gets pushed off to Sunday.

I will leave the intricacies of the Jewish calendar for another time (or another website).

Tisha B’av serves as a day to commemorate the destruction of both Jewish Temples and the impact that had on the Jewish people’s ability to serve Hashem, and the greater spiritual impact on the world. It is the most sad, somber day of the Jewish calendar, and applies practices from the laws of mourning a death in a Jewish family.

Without overlooking the heaviness of the day from the loss of the Temples, I would like to go back to the topic of personal mourning, from which it gleaned some of its practices.

When someone loses a loved one, it can be a very isolating experience. The gravity of such an event and the deep grieving are not quite in sync with the rhythms of the workaday world. One can suppress their grief to get through their daily tasks and then when they have the opportunity later in the day/week, they can sit with their grief, hopefully with the help of a support system and/or therapist. But the process is long and winding, and often isolating. Other experiences that can lead to grief and isolation are the loss of a long-term relationship, the struggle with infertility, or the processing of childhood trauma as an adult.

In this fast-paced, oft-impersonal society in which we live, oddly enough, Tisha B’av may be the only day of the year that actually jives with that internal state of pain and grief.

And I don’t think it’s meant to be the only day. Rather to highlight the importance of making space for grief.

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