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Sometimes I don’t go the extra mile to reflect out loud on the blog–the words & thoughts instead spill out on Facebook. Here are some reflections from 2015…. I don’t really expect you to read them all. I suppose I simply wanted to keep them somewhere safe… evidence of my journey for future reference.


In this New Year, heal the rifts that you can… the fractured relationships that can be repaired in safety, with love and forgiveness. Be brave and take the first step. It’s scary and hard, it’ll leave you feeling vulnerable. But I was blessed to share almost 3 and 1/2 more years with my father before he died. And he left this world ( I pray) knowing that I loved him and I know he loved me. And in the midst of all of this pain, I cling to that. Forgiveness isn’t always possible. It isn’t always safe or healthy. But where it is, embrace it. Because living with regret, words unspoken, faults & fights unforgiven, relationships unhealed and time not spent loving those who matter to us… Well, that would be the greatest loss of all.

2015–the last year I had a father…. I know, I know–some will say I still have a father, that he is with me always–but I’ll never again say “Happy New Year” to him or hear him say “I love you.” There will never be another hug, another kiss, another laugh–no new memories to be made, shared & treasured. So yeah, 2015–the last year I had a Dad. And it breaks my heart….

Watched “The Way We Were” with Fred and our girls tonight. One of my favorite movies of all time. Couldn’t help but to be struck by the line in the song “Memories”… “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget”… If only it were that easy… One day it’ll be “the laughter we will remember” instead of the pain… One day…

In this year to come… My most fervent prayer is that I can help inspire greater and more open dialog about mental illness & suicide. May 2016 be the year we stop whispering about it, relegating to the shadows those living with mental health struggles, those who’ve attempted suicide, those who are contemplating suicide and those of us living with suicide loss. It’s time my friends. May 2016 allow me to be a part of that effort and to make meaning of my father’s death

Some days the words roll off of my tongue and utter disbelief still follows, eight months later. My father killed himself. My father died by suicide. My father took his own life. I have sudden flashes of horrible imagery, I have flashbacks to the moment my life changed forever… and admittedly, for a brief moment I want to convince myself it’s just a bad dream. None of it reconciles with the smiling pictures I look through… 2015 unleashed a tsunami of pain, grief, trauma and loss. I pray 2016 will bring more joy, healing and light… day by precious day. And one day, I hope I’ll think of him and smile, maybe even laugh…even if it’s through tears.

Dear Dad,
Eight months ago today, despair, depression and anxiety took you from us. I still don’t know where to file how you died, the manner, the reason, the self-infliction of it all. I’m trying to learn simply to live with it.
But the missing… After eight months it feels more palpable, not less… more real, more final… And it simply breaks my heart and makes me so very sad. You were loved Dad… I pray you knew that even in the midst of such pain. And for the record, you were wrong… We are not better off without you here…
Eight months later… I hurt, I miss and I love you. I carry you with me. Always…

Today I found myself thinking about a certain moment with my Dad. It was a couple of weeks after Noa was born. We had already learned about her congenital heart defects, and we’d been trying to get her bigger, stronger, more physically ready for the major open heart surgery that would need to be performed. My parents were visiting our house in Connecticut. The phone rang. It was Noa’s cardiologist. We knew that despite our best efforts, Noa was losing weight and he called to tell us that the most recent tests revealed that Noa was in full blown congestive heart failure. The surgery needed to be scheduled as soon as possible. I remember so vividly, hanging up the phone with him and staring out of the picture window in our kitchen, tears just rolling down my cheeks. I was so scared, so worried, and so very heartbroken. My dad came into the kitchen and silently he stood next to me, put his arm around me and stared out of that window with me. Not a word was spoken, but so much was said. It was his presence that gave me comfort in that moment. Maybe I’ve been thinking about that particular moment because we are around the time the phone call would’ve come. The anniversary of the surgery, just nine days from now. And maybe because, in my sadness, it is his presence, his just being here, that I miss the most. And perhaps it’s the intermingling of memories of a precious life we almost lost and the stark reality of the one we did–whatever it is–I close my eyes and remember. And I feel him, if only for a moment–and I miss him….

Another thing I’ve learned, grieving a suicide loss… TV is ripe with casual references and jokes about “killing oneself” or blasé remarks about shooting or hanging oneself etc. it’s on dramas, comedies and reality shows alike… Here’s the thing… It’s not funny at all and it serves not only as a trigger, but an indication of the lack of seriousness we as a nation put towards suicide loss and prevention. Perhaps it was always there, perhaps I’m simply keenly aware of it now, on television, in books or in casual conversations. Whatever it is… we all need to learn to choose our words far more wisely when it comes to this topic. Because it is no laughing or casual matter…

Lessons I’ve learned on being a friend to someone in grief…you need to have a long, long attention span & keep showing up well beyond the initial loss. And if the loss is a traumatic one…buckle up and accompany your friend on the long, arduous journey ahead. Your ongoing presence may be the greatest gift you ever give them…..

I think it’s fair to say that a tsunami of grief snuck up on me and swallowed me whole today… Didn’t see it coming. Just trying to get ready for the holidays.. but I suppose that was all the opening that grief needed. A mug thrown across the kitchen and shattered everywhere, primal screams for my dad and a tearing open of the fragile scab that calmer waters, only days before, had allowed to begin forming, or so I thought. I miss my Dad. I miss the me that I was before his suicide. I miss the mom that I was, the wife that I was, the whole unwounded and strong version of myself. I want to outrun and outwit grief, but I keep ending up on the losing side of that game… My puffy eyes, hoarse voice and battered heart are what’s left today. I try to make the holidays celebratory, to fill them with life and meaning for my family. And then the pain reminds me..that I cannot simply will it away, in the midst of this year of firsts without my father. I want to remember him without so much sadness. I’m tired. It’s been a long hard journey. I want a “Get out of grief” card that lets me skip around the hard stuff and go straight back into the land of the living. He’s not coming back. There will never be another holiday together. I cannot rewrite his tragic ending. I’m learning to live with it. I have to. But some days the painful lessons of learning and of loss, can truly bring me to my knees…

It may seem like a small and minuscule accomplishment to some, but seven and a half months after my father’s suicide, I finally maintained the focus and attention span to read, remember, follow and finish a book. Sure it was a light read, a bit of fluff and predictable…but that’s what I needed. Sometimes it’s the little things…..


Today is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. A day I once never knew existed. A day I never thought would include me, my mother, my brother and our families. But it does… According to the CDC it is estimated there is a median of between 6 and 32 survivors directly impacted from a suicide death. Get to know us. Be open to our stories. Don’t claim to know how we feel if you are not a survivor, just give us the room to feel and express it all. Love us, be patient with us, understand that we are forever altered. Be present long after the initial loss, we will need that. I am grateful to my loving village. I’ve never once walked this journey alone. I am a survivor. I am surviving and one day I will again do more than that. Until then, one day, one breath, one minute at a time I face the grief and the trauma. The hardest journey I’ve ever been on…

Dear Dad,
It’s been seven months since you died. And I just want you to know how much I miss you and how much I love you. If love were enough to save you, you’d still be here. But it wasn’t… Still, I hope you knew it. I hope you felt it. Even in those dark final moments of despair.
And I hope and pray every day that you are at peace. That your soul is healed. And that you are held each day in God’s loving embrace.

My therapist said that sometimes it is okay to acknowledge my grief and feelings of trauma, and then to tell them that I’m too weary, too tired or just not up for engaging them at that moment. Instead, at times I must give myself permission to tend to and be kind to myself. To do something that is relaxing, calming or enjoyable just for me. That is how I can sustain myself through this complex, painful and multi-layered grief work. I’ve resisted this before, feeling I must always be ready to engage the grief and feelings of trauma, so I can move through and past them. But almost seven months in, I’m tired, I’m weary and I’m emotionally exhausted. If I’m to keep going through this muck and mud, if I’m to keep picking up the pieces, I must refuel myself along the way. It isn’t ignoring the grief, it isn’t getting stuck, it isn’t lazy… It is tending to my bruised and battered spirit. Allowing it to rest awhile. Allowing nothingness, calmness and quiet to prevail for just a moment in time … And so today, I colored and I read. An easy to follow book, with no trauma, violence or the triggers that are so abundant in the shows I once found easy to watch. I lost myself for a little while. I looked away from grief. I looked away from suicide, from loss, from my father and I gave myself peace and quiet. Being kind to myself isn’t always easy for me. But I’m learning and I’m trying.

Yes, there were the more predictable moments that made me cry today at CU’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. The Sabbath Prayer & Sunrise, Sunset… But the moment that snuck up on me and quietly took my breath away & filled my eyes with tears was when Tevye is saying goodbye to Hodel at the train station. She embraces her father with so much emotion and says, “God only knows when we will see each other again Papa.” And Tevye tearfully replies, “Then we shall leave it in his hands.” I did not get to say goodbye, there was no final embrace. I sometimes worry and wonder if I told my father in that final phone call, that I loved him. I think I did. I hope I did… Yes, the story had moments that made me smile and remember, and moments that have always made me cry… But that moment today seemed somehow more painfully poignant… Because that one touched upon what I miss most..knowing that I’ll see my father again

Since my father’s suicide, I often liken myself to Humpty Dumpty after the fall. I am still in the process of picking up the pieces, fragments of my former self. My daughter reminded me that Humpty Dumpty is really a tragedy, as she is studying in her Lit class. He was never able to be repaired. Not with all the King’s horses and all the King’s men. Me? My army is stronger than the King’s. As I journey through this traumatic loss, as I piece together a new me, I am supported, cared for, loved and nurtured by an incredible family, a community of great compassion, and a village of women that I am blessed, truly blessed, to call my friends. Humpty Dumpty was a tragedy. I know tragedy. I am surviving one, day by day, sometimes minute by minute. But I know, even on my darkest day, that I will never be left in my brokenness. My wounds will never be left untended. If Humpty Dumpty had been as lucky as me in that regard, perhaps his story would have ended differently. So once again, I give thanks for the love, the unconditional and unwavering love that surrounds me. I give thanks for the daily texts and messages that light up my phone from the friends who just want to see how I am doing, to let me know that I am being thought of, that they are present and ready anytime that I need them. To discover friends like that, in the midst of darkness, in a new place, is a blessing. And today and every day, my breath, my strength, my hope… comes from my daughters and my husband. They sustain me, they hold me, they make me smile and they believe in my capacity to heal, even when I don’t. I still feel like Humpty Dumpty after the fall. But one day I won’t. I will gather the broken pieces and create a new mosaic.

Sometimes I wish those who love, know, care for or simply wish to be present for survivors of suicide loss, could be flies on the wall of a support group meeting. Because the shared stories of the things people say and do, in an attempt to convey compassion and caring in the aftermath of a suicide loss, so often miss the mark and hurt more than they heal. Suicide loss is loss plus trauma. It is a uniquely painful loss as our loved ones died at their own hands. I can only hope that as I’ve shared my journey through the aftermath of my father’s suicide, I’ve helped to sensitize people to what that loss looks and feels like and how to be with someone through every step of the complex and traumatic grief we, the survivors, face each and every day. Because in the course of a single moment, each of us in that room last night, had our worlds, hearts and souls shattered. Each acknowledged that we would never be the same. Each acknowledged that our kind of loss scares people and makes them uncomfortable. So many turn away… Making those who stay in it with us for the long haul, who don’t try to fix it with platitudes and encouragement to chin up and move on after some fixed amount of time, who stand in the silence, listen, hold us and tell us we are not alone, who love us in all of our brokenness, those people are a true blessing, gift and source of light in the darkness. Perhaps more than we can ever convey. And I wish every rabbi there today at the URJ biennial had a chance to be trained in mental health first aid and traumatic loss care… My own husband is getting real life training in this every day. And when we need our faith most, our faith leaders should know how to care for us…because every person in that room last night faced or is still facing, a crisis of faith. Who will help us through that?

Another painful first done. Today, another one comes. The first time Fred Greene is going away since my father’s suicide. “When you’ve been traumatically left, all leaving is hard.” The wise and insightful words of a dear friend. Deep breaths Deborah… It’ll be okay.

Sometimes the hardest part of traumatic grief is finding the words to name what you feel. Fred Greene will be going to Biennial next week, the day after my dad’s birthday. And I am struggling with lots of anxiety about it. Vivid disturbing dreams every night. In each I suddenly lose someone I love or am lost to them. My wise friend Barbara Gould helped me to name what I’ve been feeling today. She said, “When you’ve been traumatically left, all leavings are hard. ” I’ve been thinking about that all day. I felt overwhelmed with sadness and a sense of loss when my mom went home from her visit as well. I think it’s so very true. “When you’ve been traumatically left, all leavings are hard. ” Sometimes at least knowing and identifying the feelings allows me to feel that I’m not simply falling apart or coming undone. It helps me understand what is at the core of my struggle. What I do with that? Well, that is what therapy is for…

Confession. Sometimes I add to the burden of my own grief by worrying that people will tire of me, my sadness, my struggles and my stories. Another confession… Sometimes I find myself seeking forgiveness, asking for patience, asking people not to give up on me. One more confession, I wish I could just give myself the permission, trust in the relationships and live out my grief in the ways that most honor myself, my loss, and the life that I am trying to piece together in the aftermath of my father’s suicide. I wonder why doing that is so hard? I hope I can one day convince myself that my burden is heavy enough without the self imposed weight that I so readily add to it.

A little PSA from a suicide loss survivor… Please don’t use the term “political suicide” because no matter what happens in a campaign, if a candidate can wake up the next morning, draw in a breath, hug their loved ones, get dressed and start again… It’s not a suicide. Suicide ends a life. Aspirations and goals?! No. Those can be reborn and redefined. It’s that simple.

It’s been six months since I felt pure, unadulterated joy. But this weekend I felt and experienced it in full. I was reminded that it is still in me. I was reminded that a piece of my former self, is still there. I was reminded that healing is happening. I was reminded that to smile, laugh and be fully present in the moment feels more precious and meaningful because of where I’ve been and what I’ve been through. And I am grateful beyond words for that gift. It is truly the icing on the cake of a very sweet and celebratory weekend.

Sometimes the clouds of grief part for a while and allow a ray of sunshine to come in. And so it is today, the rains have stopped & the sun is shining. And I choose to believe that my father is looking down very proudly on his son-in-law as the installation Shabbat weekend gets ready to begin. He was so overjoyed that Fred got this position and that our family was moving to a place filled with such beauty and splendor. So even in the midst of my struggles, I will believe that he is with us in spirit, a proud father & father-in-law.

Okay Grief, you weren’t quite ready to step aside today. My heart remained heavy, the tears readily fell, the ache in my soul was palpable all day long. I didn’t smile much, I didn’t say much, maybe I didn’t even accomplish much. I got up, I exercised, I took a shower, I shopped for nutritious foods for my family, I snuggled with my doggies, talked & cried with my mommy and listened to my daughters tell me about their days. Dinner was at a restaurant, but it was a chance to grab some time with my husband. I wrote and now, I head to the couch to lose myself in the land of television shows. Maybe yesterday took me 15 steps back, maybe today I was stuck in place, maybe tomorrow I’ll inch forward again. I gave today all I had. I tried to simply be with you Grief, to feel you, acknowledge you and coexist peacefully. Goodnight Grief. Tomorrow, well, tomorrow I try again. I’m hopeful there will be some baby steps in me come the morning…

Dear Grief,
On this six month anniversary of my father’s death, I think it’s fair to say you kicked my ass. The gentle scab that had barely begun to form was torn away, the wound exposed and vulnerable, the pain, sadness and anguish seemed like a tsunami. And the anger, oh the horrible anger… But at day’s end, there is mostly the missing, the constant disbelief and the lonely feeling that comes with carrying this kind of loss. Suicide loss. Grief, today you win. The white flag is up, and I fully surrendered to it. But just so you know, battered & bruised, and with the wound fully open once again–I will get up, put one foot in front of the other and journey forward through your mucky, muddy & sucky path. I am strong… when I cry, when I laugh, when I hurt, when I heal, when I fall and when I get up… I am strong. It might not feel that way today. But tomorrow is another day…

A daughter with autism, a daughter with life threatening congenital heart defects, family estrangement… It’s not been a world or life without profound challenges. But grieving, surviving and learning to live with my father’s suicide is the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever had to do… So perhaps it’s time I give myself some credit for the strength I’ve shown every day that I get up, get dressed and put one foot in front of the other. And perhaps it’s time to be kinder to myself on this long, hard and profoundly painful journey.

My fingers lay on the keyboard, not sure in which direction to go. My eyes stare at the screen, searching for what to say. I have no poetic words, no eloquence to share. The strength it took to get through yesterday’s walk, has taken leave. And in it’s place, a profound and primal sadness has set in. I want my Daddy. I miss him so much.

I’m writing through tears. Such an emotional day. Our first Out of the Darkness walk, in loving memory of a precious father and grandfather lost to suicide. His picture placed on the Memory Tree, amidst leaf after leaf of beautiful smiling faces, all of whom took their own lives. Smiles stolen by pain, suffering and anguish. We could not have gotten through today, were it not for the friends who walked alongside of us. Thank you to our team, our friends… Lauren Edelstein Park Laurie Weiss Bernstein Barbara Gould Daniel Packman Rachel Pred Gehr Joy Pulitzer and Shari Blake Schnee I’ve been crying for a good half hour now, I cried much of the morning, and I held my girls through their tears. But we did it. Step by heartbroken step. We walked surrounded by love. Thank you.


Dear Dad,
We did it. Yael Greene Leora Greene and I met our goals for the Out of the Darkness Walk. Our team total, $7,718 will go towards programs that support suicide prevention awareness, advocacy and research. Tomorrow, on the Jewish Sabbath, we pray with our feet, hand in hand with friends & members of our new community. Before the walk begins, your granddaughters and I have been invited to go up on the stage and release butterflies, along with some of our fellow survivors. I’ll think of you in this picture, an image of better & brighter days, and though I’m certain the tears will be flowing, with each butterfly I will be sending you my love. And on their wings, I hope that my love will reach you. I am devoted Dad. I have decided it is my mission now, to fight for a world without suicide. I want to take all that I have learned, and all I have yet to learn, to make meaning of your death. I want to spare another family the pain ours now carries. Tomorrow we walk Dad. We walk for you. We miss you so very much. We hope that we have made you proud. And we are beyond grateful to each and every person who has given along the way. Suicide can be prevented. I only wish, we could have prevented yours.

If ever you want to know why I write, why I share my journey so openly & honestly, why I will not stop writing about suicide loss and mental health-here is a response someone offered on my blog yesterday.
“I want you to know that you are helping me heal my grieving soul. My mother took her own life (also very violent). Its been over 10 years and I still think of her everyday and I still weep often. Your writings mirror my brokenness, but at the same time, I think it is helping me heal. Will it get better for you? I can only hope it will be less acute as time moves on. Thank you also for helping to bring mental illness out from the silence.”

It is Yom Kippur. A time to confess our sins….
40,000 Americans die by suicide each year.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15 – 24 year olds.
An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors
Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death for adults ages 18-65.
There is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes.
Colorado has the 7th highest suicide rate in the country.
Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment.
For the sin of complacency….
We dare not ask God for forgiveness….
Instead, we look within, we look around, we open our eyes and in this New Year, we dedicate ourselves to helping those struggling & lost in the darkness. When they believe they have no place in the Book of Life, we stand with them, we get them help, we offer our unconditional love & presence and we help them hold the pen, to inscribe themselves in that book. Because their story does not have to and should not end….. And asking for God’s forgiveness, as his children die, simply is not enough.

Some days I wish I could capture in a picture, in a word, in a story; what it looks like, feels like, hurts like to lose someone you love to suicide. Some days I wish the wounds were visible… Five months ago today my father took his own life. His pain wasn’t terminal, but he believed it was. His suffering wasn’t inevitable, but he believed it was. His storm was not without end, but he believed it was. His life was not without worth, but he believed it was. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Some days I wish I could capture the sadness in a poster, the guilt in a hashtag, the regret in a song. What would my billboard look like if I could make you see? Would I convince you that no one is immune? Would I convince you to start the conversations in your homes, your schools, your houses of worship. Would my rallying call be enough to shake you, to wake you, to implore you, to beg you to take away the demand better access to care, to not give up on someone who is suffering? To ask the hard questions, to not pretend you have the simple answers… If I could show you, would my struggle make more sense? A self-murderous act took my father from me. I can’t show you what that feels like. He died at his own hand. The wounds are only visible in my tears. The heaviness a palpable background to each and every day! I can’t show you… I can only tell you. I hope my words impart my truth. I hope my words enlighten, teach, touch and inspire. I hope you can receive them, honor them and hear them. I hope the words I speak, type, pray and share make a difference… Because I never thought it would happen to us. Never! But it did. And the wounds that can’t be seen, do not hurt any less.

Cried my way through services. Today will bring the same. The liturgy of these holy days so very hard. What do I do with my father’s suicide. He did not feel strong enough, worthy enough, brave enough, to inscribe himself in the Book of Life. Who shall live and who shall die? The words only wound me further… I am grateful though, profoundly grateful, for the friends who do not leave me alone in my pain and my tears… These holy days, these painful firsts, the imagery of his death alongside the imagery of the text, cause my knees to buckle and my soul to hurt… There are no words to encompass what I feel… The tears say what I can’t.

Dear Dad,
There is now a stone in the ground that bears your name; your birth and your death. Four years ago on Rosh Hashanah Day, after a six year estrangement, you and mom received my letter. You told mom it was going to be “a blessed day.” The first steps in healing our broken family. How grateful I am that we reconciled that we had almost four years together to make new memories, share in simchas, and be present for one another in life. And how it breaks my heart and wounds my soul that you’re gone. Suicide. How can it be? I ask myself daily. I cried myself to sleep last night dad; thinking of our first embrace upon seeing each other after the letters, the phone calls, the reconciliation. We both wept as we held each other. I’d give anything to hug you again. I’d give anything to have you here with us, welcoming in a new year, watching you journey towards your own healing, renewing your sense of faith and hope. I don’t know how to pray to God on this holiday. You should’ve been inscribed in the book of life. It wasn’t “your time.” But you’re gone, a stone in the ground now bears your name. And we who loved you must continue to journey through the wilderness of this complicated and painful grief. We must continue to choose life through our pain. I cried myself to sleep last night, remembering that embrace, and my tears may be my greatest prayer on these High Holy days. The liturgy is hard to contemplate or to find comfort in. But I believe God will hear the silent prayers of my heart, my soul and my tears. I hope you will to. I cried myself to sleep. I want you here. It would’ve gotten better. I miss your voice. I miss you. I will love you always….

After a night of vivid nightmares and a day of crying… This morning, as we sat at the breakfast table, there was this sliver of a rainbow in the sky..amidst the morning clouds. And then I got in the car, turned it on and the words that came across the radio were, “ooh ooh child, things are gonna get easier…ooh ooh child things will get brighter.” Thank you Daddy. I think today these were your gifts to me. At least that’s what they felt like…

Dear Dad,
What breaks my heart most
What wakes me at night
What brings tears to my eyes
Are your final moments on earth
Your final act
The ending of your own life
It fills my mind with violent images
I see your tears
I know you suffered
Though I pray it ended quickly
I wish I knew the what the last straw was
The final burden you could no longer bear
The nail that drove you to the coffin
What happened?
What happened?
No answers come with the images
which only sharpens the pain
I miss you dad
Your death haunts me
I journey forward through the valley
I wade through the grief
And still I ask each and every day
Why did you go?
And why can’t I find the you I loved in my dreams
Why are the only images the you that I lost

Praying for the peaceful sleep that has eluded me. God, let not violent images of my father’s final moments enter my dreams. Grant me rest on this Sabbath eve. As we savor the sweetness of Shabbat, I am grateful for every smile my daughters came home with at the end of another school day. So much change, met with so much courage… And I am grateful for the man who stands steadfast by my side. The man who daily helps me pick up the pieces of my fractured soul. The man who carries every extra burden, so that my knees won’t buckle on this journey of grief. My love, my best friend, my heart… Fred Greene. May tonight be a sleep where my blessings quiet and quell my pain and fill my dreams with peace and quiet. This is my Sabbath prayer as I watch this beautiful sunset in this beautiful place… Amen.

4 months ago today. I stood in Whole Foods on a Monday morning. My cell rang. It was my brother. He was crying “Daddy’s dead. He killed himself.” I made him repeat it. It couldn’t be. He kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” How horrible it must have been to make that call. I asked, “When? How?” I fell to the floor…primal screams, crying… strangers gathered. One prayed for me, others called my husband, I remember these kind strangers discussing how they would get me home. I shouldn’t, I couldn’t drive… still others went in search of a friend who I said might be working at Whole Foods. She came and got me, she took me to the back and waited with me until Fred could come….four months ago today, a normal Monday morning became a nightmare. And, of the many, many challenges our family has faced, surviving my father’s suicide and working through the horrible, painful and complex layers of grief…has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do….

Dear Dad,
Everyone has left. The house is quiet. I am alone. It is Shabbat. And the permanance of your absence, your loss, is setting in. God I miss you. I miss your voice. So tonight, on this Sabbath eve-alone, I am going to watch some videos of you. Videos of happier days, family memories. I wanted to be alone with you. So I can weep out loud. I’m afraid to do it. I don’t know if I’m ready. But I need to see you in life… not simply think of you in death. I don’t know if I”m ready daddy–will the remembering make it hurt more? Will it ease some of the pain, even if only for a little? I haven’t even begun and the tears are flowing. I want so much for you to come back….but you can’t. So tonight, for the first time since your suicide, I’m going to visit with you. And I’m going to pray for some smiles & laughter, through my tears. Remembering is hard, not remembering feels harder…

Today I am knee deep in a mad, angry, pissed off state of grief. No eloquent reflections to write–it would just be filled with expletives and written in all caps– like screaming, ranting & yelling at the top of my lungs–but on paper, which just won’t offer the same release as doing it for real. But doing it for real might just scare the shit out of my neighbors–so I don’t really know what the hell to do with it–it’s just simmering and I’m trying not to let it boil over–so Dad-that’s where you, me & the endless reverberations of your suicide, stand today! Oh, by the way, nightmarish dreams for me-that’s one thing. For my children, your grandchildren-well, that’s a whole other f*cking story. I mean–are you kidding me? I have nothing more to say today! At least nothing rational anyway. But then again, I’m writing you letters on Facebook because I can’t say any of this to you. Because you left. You f*cking left–so how rational am I to begin with?! So, yeah-mad! That’s all I’ve got today–because you left a mess behind here Dad. And you don’t have to do anything to help clean it up… and some days, that is so damn wrong & unfair!
Your daughter,

me and dad 2

Forgiveness is the final form of love.
― Reinhold Niebuhr

Dear Dad,

Soon it’ll be eight months since we lost you. Eight months since I heard your voice. Eight months since I heard you say, “I love you.”

I miss you Dad.

Grieving your loss, your suicide, has been hard. It’s a complicated journey, not at all linear like those stages of grief would have you believe. Leora gave a great analogy of the grieving process. It’s like the game Chutes and Ladders. Every day, you get up out of bed, you roll the dice and you move along the game board. Square by square, step by step you move ever so slowly ahead. Sometimes you land on a ladder and you get to advance even faster, headed towards the finish line. But just as easily, you can land on a chute, and find yourself sliding backward, and starting all over again. And so it is with grief. One step forward, two steps back. The times when the ladder allows you to move days, even weeks, through the loss with pain that is less palpable and ever present. Those are the days that remind you that joy, happiness, even a sense of peace, are possible. They tell you healing is happening. And then there are the days when triggers abound; holidays, remembrances, a television show, a book, something that opens the gate and allows the sadness, the pain, the loss, the missing… to find it’s way back onto center stage. Yes, I do believe that Leora got it right. Chutes and Ladders is the perfect analogy to the grieving process.

Dad, I’ve been angry at you for a while. It didn’t happen right away. Those early days, weeks and months were simply filled with shock, sadness, guilt and a tragic sense of disbelief. But somewhere along the way, I got angry. Suicide, if I’m being honest, feels like a choice sometimes. No, I wouldn’t dare allow someone who is not a survivor of suicide loss to say such a thing. But, as the survivors, the ones left behind, it feels like abandonment. We can say it, because we are living it. I’m the daughter, and you’re the dad. And dads aren’t supposed to just leave their children.

I’ve railed at you, yelled and screamed at the top of my lungs, until my voice was gone. I’ve pounded on and hit things until my knuckles were bloody and my fingers were swollen. I’ve thrown and shattered things. None of these are constructive acts, but sometimes anger simply wants, needs, to get out. And always, when I’m done, there is some relief, there is exhaustion and there is sadness.

But I don’t want to be angry at you anymore Dad. You must have been in such unimaginable pain to do what you did. Mom said something that truly resonated with me. When she stands at your grave, even if she is angry, she realizes that of all of us, no matter how hard our journey, it was you who got the worst end of this deal. Because we will find healing, we will laugh again, celebrate again and make new memories. But you, you will never again get to be a part of that. That is the ultimate consequence and cost of suicide isn’t it?

So Daddy, I forgive you. You would never have done this if you had the slightest sense of clarity in that moment. And I know you would never have wanted to cause us so much pain. I close my eyes and I hear you tell me you are sorry. Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me; wishful thinking. Or maybe, in the still and quiet moments, you are with me. I hope that you are.

I miss you Dad. It’s Chanukah. Tonight, we will light the sixth light on the Hannukiyah. Remember our first Chanukah, after we reconciled? I do. We lit the candles together via Skype. You had used flashlights and tape to turn yourself into a human menorah. And on another night, you created an alter ego, dressed in full rap attire, you became Jew-Z-Big.

You had that silly and playful side in you. You had joy within you, and joyful moments that made up your life’s story. But you had your fair share of demons too. You were not a resilient man, and change was never easy for you. Optimism didn’t come readily to you, nor did faith in the unknown. You were a pragmatist, and a worrier. And when depression and anxiety came this time around, I do believe they played on these parts of you, and they grew far too powerful for you to bear. Through the cracks in your armor, they got inside and poisoned your sense of self, until all you were left with was a vision of being a burden, of being worthless, of somehow failing us. The pain that took hold in that dark room, on that dark night must’ve simply been unbearable. And all that you wanted, was for the pain and suffering to end. You didn’t choose to leave us. You could no longer see us, our love for you was obscured, clouded by suffering. And that will always break my heart.

So when I light the candles tonight Daddy, through my tears, I will devote tonight’s candle to you.
For the light of forgiveness that I offer to you
And for the light of forgiveness we found when we reconciled four years ago
For the light of memories that mark happier days
For the light I hope to shine on that which took you from us; mental illness & suicide
For the light that will guide me through the Chutes and Ladders of grief
For the light, the Divine Spark that you carried within, even though you couldn’t always feel it and struggled to trust in it
For the ember of you, that I carry within me and pass on to my children
For the light of love that we were blessed to know, in all of it’s complicated, messy and awesome glory
And in the warm glow of the candles, and in the stars up above, I will look for you… always. And the light of my love, I pray, will reach you.

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.
― Og Mandino

dad and yael

Death is harder on those who are left behind.
― Robert La Fosse, Nothing To Hide


Dear Dad,

Today marks six months since your death. A half a year has gone by since you were here. In some ways it feels like just yesterday and in other ways, it feels like a lifetime…

Here’s the thing Dad, I want to be clear. I’m in a really angry stage of grief right now. I’m angry at you, I’m angry at God and I don’t know what to do with it all. I mean you are not here. If you were, damn it I would sit you down and yell at you. I would scream at you. I would demand that you fix the fucking mess that you left behind. But you’re not, and I can’t.

Yesterday, as I sat in my therapist’s office, she suggested that I tell you how I feel. Write a letter, put it out there. Tell your father everything…

I don’t know. It’s not quite the same. I mean, I want to yell. I want to scream at the top of my lungs. I want you to look me in the eye. I want you to see, really see, the pain that you have caused.

I’ve apologized to you a million times Daddy. A million times I’ve shared my regret, the missed signs, the things I could have done, should have seen. Sometimes my shoulders are so heavy with that burden that I can barely walk. But what about you? Where the hell is your sorry, where the hell is your regret?

Do you have any idea of the damage you have done?
In one single moment, you forever altered the course of our family. You set off a grenade, loaded with shrapnel, into the center of our worlds. And while you are gone, we are left picking up the fucking pieces of our shattered hearts, our wounded souls, our very selves. And where are you? You’re gone! You’re just fucking gone!

I get it, on that very cerebral level, I understand that it was an illness. I can step back and see that you were suffering, and that you saw death as the only way to end your pain. But it doesn’t resonate on an emotional level. There, it simply feels like you left us, you abandoned us, you chose death over those who loved you most. I mean shit Dad, mom was in the house, I was just a phone call away. You were not alone. You were not fucking alone!!!

Fathers are not supposed to just willingly leave their children! How did you not remember that? We were estranged for six years Dad. We promised one another that never again would we let anything get in the way of our relationship. We would not let resentment or anger simmer, we would not let molehills become insurmountable mountains, we would not leave each other again. We had a deal and you fucking broke it!!!

I want to know why!

You died for nothing Dad! Do you hear me?! For nothing!! You were not terminal. Perhaps chronic, chronic anxiety, chronic depression but you had just begun treatment. You didn’t even give it a chance to work!

I remember a conversation we had only a few weeks before you died. We talked about that serious bout of depression you had gone through when I was a kid. You had left your job. You had a wife, two kids and instant regret at the choice that you had made. I would wake up at night and hear you crying, shouting at the top of your lungs…

God, I want to die.
I want to kill myself.
What did I do?
I want to die!
I want to die!

You would berate yourself. I would go off to school and wonder if you would be alive when I got home. I remember asking mommy so many times if you were going to kill yourself? I was terrified.

We talked about all of this and you, after all of these years, apologized for the first time. You acknowledged the pain, fear and anguish you must have caused for your children. How frightening it must have been. How deeply sorry you were for ever causing such hurt. I told you that I forgave you long ago. I reminded you that you got through that dark period. That you could get through this one too. You just had to tread water. You had to let us help to keep you afloat. You had to embrace real help, therapy, medication, whatever it would take. You had to be willing to peel back the layers and, once and for all, come to know and understand yourself. You said that you knew that.
You said that you would do that.

You lied! At least that is how it feels. How could you fucking apologize to me for the words and still end up taking your own life anyway. How could you do that!!!

I am so angry Dad. I can’t even access you in life right now. I look at pictures and I can’t feel fond remembrances, I can’t touch the sweet, it is so overpowered by bitter right now. I can’t remember you, feel you, reflect on you in life because it is all so clouded in your death. How did suicide become the final footnote in your story?

I want to tell you all of these things. I can’t scream on a keyboard, I can’t capture the tears that are flowing as I right this. The rage that coincides with my grief! There are not enough exclamation points to contain my visceral anguish!

I’m angry.
I’m so fucking angry Daddy.
Why would you do this?
Why, why, why, why???
It is the unanswerable question that we have to learn to live with.

I sit in therapy.
I do the grief work.
I muddle through it day in and day out.
I have good days and bad.
Today is a bad one.

I miss you.
I’m so mad at you.
You shouldn’t have done this Daddy!
You deserved better.
We deserved better.

I don’t feel better after writing this. It’s not cathartic this time. Who am I kidding? You aren’t logging in to read my latest blog post. But I have to believe that you see…

You see the tears.
You see the pain.
You see the struggles.
You see your family picking up the pieces.
In one desperate moment, you forever altered us.
You left.
We are here.
Do you see us Daddy.
Are you sorry?
Do you weep?
Do you ask us for forgiveness?
I wonder…

I want you to fix it Dad.
I’m like a child, stomping my feet, tantruming, desperate to make myself seen…
It’s your damn mess.
So why are we the ones left cleaning it up?
Why Daddy?!
I’m screaming, I’m crying, I’m reviling, I’m missing all at once.
It’s exhausting!
I’m tired Dad.
As I sink back into the quietness that follows the anger, I revert back to those childlike words.
It’s not fair.
It’s just not fair.
You shouldn’t have done it Dad.
And I want you to fix it.
But you can’t.
So I must.
Like Humpty Dumpty after the fall.
I am picking up the pieces.
The pieces you left behind.

I will do it. I will endure it. I will get through it. I will rebuild. Even if it takes everything I’ve got. Even when grief hits me like a sledgehammer. I’ll get back up. I’ll keep fighting. Because I deserve it. Because I am loved. Because the best parts of me will be better and I will learn from this.
I will bear the scars.
I will find my way to healing and to wholeness.
I won’t give up.
You shouldn’t have either!
And I’m so angry that you did Dad.
You should have chosen life.
You should have fought.
Fuck all of the cerebral understanding.
Do you hear me?
Fuck it!
Because the truth is it feels far more personal than that.
Can other people say it?
Hell, no!!
Not unless they’re living with the aftermath.
Not unless they’ve lost a loved one to suicide.
But I can say it.
Because I’m living it.
I’m living with it.
I’m living with this new identity that feels so fucking foreign.
I am now a Survivor of Suicide Loss.

I’ll tell you something Dad…
God’s honest truth.
Some days it feels like you took the easy way out.
And I’m fighting like hell to forgive you for that.

Your Daughter…

There would have been time for such a word. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
― Wiliam Shakspeare

Grief (1)

shofar two

High Holiday services were brutal for me. Unusual for the wife of the rabbi to say out loud, I know. But there it is. Five months after my father’s suicide, the liturgy of the holidays felt like a vat of salt was being poured into my still open wounds.

We recite Unetanah Tokef….
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
Who by sword and who by wild beast,
Who by famine and who by thirst,
Who by earthquake and who by plague,
Who by strangulation and who by stoning,
Who shall have rest and who shall wander,
Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,
Who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented,
Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low,
Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.
But repentance, prayer and righteousness avert the severe decree.

As a still very new, and grieving survivor of suicide loss I cannot possibly utter these words. Though I do not believe in an all powerful God, an intervening God, the words, the liturgy of these Holy Days reverberates with that kind of Divine Image. Recited around me, carried to the heavens in the voice of a congregation, I feel angry at God, betrayed, let down. I am unable to pray. I simply stand and cry, and at other times I leave the sanctuary overcome by grief.

Five months ago my father took his own life. There are no words to describe the pain his death, his choice, has left behind. On a cerebral level, I can recognize that it was his illness, the depression & anxiety that had taken hold of his soul, that led him to his death. On an emotional level I feel abandoned, angry, traumatized, profoundly sad and grappling with the many complex layers of this loss.

I want to know if God watched him do it.
I want to know if God, or the angels cried out.
When Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, God’s Angels cried out to stop him.
Where were they when my father died alone, in the basement of the home I grew up in?
I want to know why my father felt unworthy of inscription in
The Book of Life.
His story was not done.
Surely this could not be God’s

U’fros Aleinu Sukkat Sh’omecha
Spread Over Us Your Shelter of Peace
How many times have I prayed these words?
Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habracha l’avoteinu

Bless those in need of healing with refuah sh’leimah
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit

And how many times did I pray these words, thinking of my father’s struggles and wanting so desperately to help him once again find peace.

And now, the holiest of days in our Jewish calendar. A time of reflection, atonement, renewal. A time to meet God with openness, with honesty, with confession and with grace. And I can’t.

We are in this complex dance right now God and I. As I lash out in anger and bewilderment, I beg for peace and comfort. Like picking the flowers off of the petal.

I need you
I need you not
I forgive you
I forgive you not
I pray to you
I pray to you not
I turn to you
I turn to you not

It would have been easier not to go. It was offered to me. Friends, family, even my beloved husband offered me the out. If it is too hard, if it hurts, if you are suffering, do not come to services this year. It’s okay. God understands. That is what I was told. So much love and concern surrounding me. So many wanting to hold me up. So many wanting to minimize the pain I’m enduring. It would be okay this year to do “Jewish lite.”

But I wanted to be with my family.
I wanted to support my husband on his first High Holy Days here in Colorado.
It made sense, right?
But it wasn’t really what drew me to go.
At least not in full.

I couldn’t name it, this other pull. I then I read an article that a friend had shared with me. In it there was a poem by Aaron Zeitlin.

Praise me, says God, and I will know that you love me.
Curse me, says God, and I will know that you love me.
Praise me or curse me
And I will know that you love me.

Sing out my graces, says God,
Raise your fist against me and revile, says God.
Sing out graces or revile,
Reviling is also a kind of praise,
says God.

But if you sit fenced off in your apathy,
says God,
If you sit entrenched in: “I don’t give a hang,” says God,
If you look at the stars and yawn,
If you see suffering and don’t cry out,
If you don’t praise and you don’t revile,
Then I created you in vain, says God.

And there it was.
I went to sevices on Rosh Hashanah and on the evening of Yom Kippur to show God that I was still in this relationship. I showed up to offer God the truest and most authentic prayer I had, my tears; and in that regard I prayed without end. I showed up to deliver this message.

I am angry at you God.
Perhaps it is unfair, misguided anger, but I need a place to put it.
My father’s end is unjust, unacceptable.
It feels like an abomination.
And I want to know where you were.
Where was your compassion?
Where was his peace?
And I want to know why my own prayers for comfort do so little to ease my own pain?
I want to know so many things. I want to yell and I want to cry. I want to speak and I want to remain silent. I want to turn away from you and I want to turn towards you.
But I’m here, in your house.
I’ve lived through estrangement before.
I will not do it again.

In “Vayishiah” Jacob wrestles with the angel. His name is changed to Israel
which means
to struggle with God.

I could not do it all. I went to services on erev Rosh Hashanah and on the first day. I could not bear to stand through the liturgy, or run from it another day. And I went to services on Kol Nidre, but I could not return for the remainder of the holiday. But the point of it all is this…

I showed up.
Though my knees threatened to buckle and my feet carried me to and from the sanctuary and back more times than I can count; I showed up.
In my silence and through my tears, tissue after tissue; I reviled and admonished God.
In my pain and in my anguish, in the sobs that felt as if they came from my soul; I forced myself to turn towards God.
I struggled.

To stay home for it all would have been easier.
To turn my back would have been easier.

But God and I have a long journey ahead of us.
And we’ve shared a long journey past.
And I don’t know much right now.
The answers I seek escape me.
But I do know this…

I showed up.
Because I want God in my life.
Faith is my anchor, even when I feel lost at sea.
God’s love is steadfast
Even when I find it hard to receive.
I love God.
And in my anger & my pain;
deep in my soul
I know God loves me.
And I know God loved my father.
My father is with God now.
And my most fervent prayer
is that he is at peace.


First, Mommy asked us all to think of two lines that would tell something about your life
Words that might encapsulate who you were even beyond the beloved husband, father and grandfather
I pictured you sitting outside, your head turned toward the sun
Oh how you loved to bask in the warmth
And then I pictured you surrounded by your family, your greatest blessings and the source of your deepest joy
And through my tears
The words came to me

Then, it was the image of your footstone
A drawing of what it would look like
It was such a stark and abrasive sense of finality
There was your name
The date of your birth
And the date of your death
A beginning and an ending
And the words that I had come up with
Well now, they were actually there
On a stone
A stone for your grave
It took my breath away
And I dropped to my knees
Tears just kept flowing

And now The High Holy Days
First, Rosh Hashanah
Then, Yom Kippur
The Yizkor Book of Remembrance
Your name will be in it
The form sits in front of me
I fill in the information
I need to share something more about you
I want to share something more about you
But it makes me weep that once again
I cannot share it in life
This is a book of Remembrance
For those who have died
And you Daddy
You are in it

It all just makes me weep…
Because I want you here
I want one more day Daddy
I want you to fight

These remembrances are the tangible reminders
That you are not coming back
That you are gone
That you could not fight even one day more

That you chose death
Or death chose you
I don’t know
I don’t care
I hate it all
It all just makes me weep Daddy
It all just makes me weep

4 months ago today. I stood in Whole Foods on a Monday morning. My cell rang. It was my brother. He never calls me from work. Maybe he was calling to congratulate me on selling the house. But, he was crying. “Daddy’s dead. He killed himself.” I made him repeat it. It couldn’t be. He kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” How horrible it must have been to make that call. I asked, “When? How?” I know I asked over and over again, praying for a different answer. No, this could not be true. I fell to the floor…primal screams, crying… strangers gathered. One prayed for me, others called my husband, I remember these kind strangers discussing how they would get me home. I shouldn’t, I couldn’t drive… still others went in search of a friend who I said might be working at Whole Foods. She came and got me, she took me to the back and waited with me until Fred could come….four months ago today, a normal Monday morning became a nightmare. And, of the many, many challenges our family has faced, surviving my father’s suicide and working through the horrible, painful and complex layers of grief…has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do….

How can it be?
A lifetime of precious memories
Reels of film
And yet, I can only see the end
Your end
It haunts me.

How can it be?
The complex & complicated road we traveled
The one that led us to a better, deeper & stronger path
A true knowing & understanding of one another as people
has come to an abrupt end
There is nowhere left to go with you.

How can it be?
I will never hear your voice
You will never speak my name
We will never laugh together, cry together
Simply just “be” together.

How can it be?
You, who basked in the sunshine
Could no longer see the light
You who reveled in the beauty of the ocean
Could no longer see the promise on the horizon
You who loved to gaze at the lighthouse
Could no longer see it’s symbolism…
Storms pass
Calmer waters come
Safety is within reach

How can it be?
That you…
Felt so alone on this earth
So isolated in your pain
So much like a burden to those who loved you most
To believe that we might simply be better off without you

How can it be?
Never again will we share
A kiss
A hug
A card
A celebration
A conversation
A hard day
A sad day
A memory
An “I love you.”

How can it be?
Why must it be?
It didn’t have to be.
It didn’t have to be.

But it is.
It is.
It is.

How can it be?
I do not know.
I do not know.
But it is.

I went into therapy a few weeks ago. The Survivors of Suicide support groups simply were not enough to help me navigate through the complex & painful layers of grief. The grief of suicide loss is so very hard. There is guilt, anger, shock, sadness, a sense of abandonment, question after question and then there is the profound sense of loss, unnecessary, senseless loss.

I’ve struggled so much with the looking back. I’ve referred to it before. We the survivors are left performing an ongoing psychological autopsy of our loved one. Missed signs, a hindsight understanding of depression, anxiety and the myriad of other illnesses of the brain. We ask ourselves what we missed.
What if…
If only…
Did I…
Should I have…
Why didn’t…

I feel so many days that I could have done more. I should have done more. Perhaps if I’d called my dad that afternoon. My mother told me he always felt better after he spoke to me. Would that have changed the outcome? Did I not listen hard enough? Did I not validate enough, encourage enough? If I knew more, could I have done more? Why didn’t he tell me the true extent of his suffering?

And then there are the more painful questions.
Why did he leave me?
Wasn’t I enough?
Didn’t he love me enough to keep fighting?

And the list goes on…

My therapist asked me, in the midst of my tears and my pain, to think about what my father would say to me. If he could speak to me (oh how I miss hearing his voice & knowing he is here), what would he tell me?

And so, I took a deep breath. I closed my eyes, tears still flowing, and I thought…. And here is what I think he would say to me.

My dearest Deborah. I am so very sorry for the pain that I have caused you. It breaks my heart to see the burden you now carry. I love you, I will always love you. This was not your fault. Do you hear me? This was not your fault. You allowed me to feel heard, safe, validated and loved each & every time that we spoke. You saw me just as I was, in the midst of so much emotional turmoil and pain, and you listened. You told me I was enough. That was such a gift that you gave to me in my last months on this earth. This was not your fault. My dear daughter, be gentle with yourself. Please stop beating yourself up. Be compassionate to yourself. I was in so much pain. I just wanted to end my own suffering. And now, I’ve left that suffering in the hands of those I love most. I am so sorry.
You were enough.
You loved me enough.
You were a light in my life. In my own darkness, I lost sight of that for one irreversible moment.
I hope one day you can think of me and smile.
I hope you can forgive me.
It’s okay if you get mad at me. I understand.
My daughter, my child, I didn’t tell you the full truth of my suffering. I wanted to spare you. But I haven’t spared you have I? I was so wrong to hide that from you.
I was so wrong to leave the way I did.
This was not your fault.
This was not your fault.
I am with you. I am still loving you. I am still here. I will always be with you.
I’m sorry my dearest daughter. I am so, so sorry.
This was not your fault.
I love you.

Maybe that is what he would say to me, if he could. One day I hope I can come to believe all of that. I am trying. I sure do wish he could tell me in person. I wish I could hear him, feel him, sense his presence. Perhaps the layers of grief are simply impenetrable at the moment. I hope the time will come….

P.S. I think he’d say he’s proud of me. Proud of me for telling his story. Proud of me for speaking our truth. And proud of me for using my pain to try and help others. Yes, I think he’d be proud. I hope he is. Though I can only imagine such pride, is tempered by the tears he cries. Because grief has become my teacher. And it is my father who brought grief and all of it’s painful lessons, into my life.

mom and dad wedding


Fifty years of marriage

It is referred to as The Golden Anniversary.

But my father isn’t here…

Still, his death & his absence does not, cannot tarnish what he and my mother built together.

They were best friends. Children really, when they first met. They grew up together. They started a family. They built a home. They built a life.

It wasn’t always easy. And no, it wasn’t perfect. Nothing worth having is. They always taught me that marriage is work. It takes two imperfect people striving to build a foundation of trust, acceptance, respect and unconditional love. And when that foundation is strong, the hardest of times become somehow more bearable and the best of times, so much more meaningful. But the foundation must always be tended to. That is the work. The labor of love.

I always knew my parents loved one another. They said it. They showed it. They were demonstrative in their affection towards one another. They held hands and they kissed. Yes, they kissed in front of their children…

Ani l’dodi v’dodi li I am my beloved & my beloved is mine.

Fifty years of marriage. It was supposed to be celebrated as a couple. The toast to be shared wishing for “many, many more anniversaries to come.” It was supposed to be a day of great joy. But alas, life did not honor what was supposed to be.

Gold should shimmer, it should sparkle, it should glisten. It reflects light and life.

Without my father it does not shine so brightly. It is muted by his loss, by his absence.

But still, we must honor this milestone. We honor it for my mother, and in loving memory of my father.

Fifty years is quite an achievement.

My mother & father on the day my mom turned Sweet 16.

My mother & father on the day my mom turned Sweet 16.

Together these two kids who met in Brooklyn 55 years ago-built something so very beautiful.

June 13, 1965 was the beginning of their journey as husband & wife. And from that day, and that commitment, came a family. Two children and six grandchildren. That is the legacy of their love story.

So, we celebrate that. We celebrate the family that love built and the love story that started it all. And we mourn the husband, father & grandfather who is not with us on this day! But never will we allow his death to diminish all that he and my mother shared, all that they were to each other, all that they had been through, all that they had experienced in good times & bad, & all of the love that filled their days.

This is for you…

“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet)I want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― E.E. Cummings

greene party1652

A Sabbath Prayer for my father, who took his own life on April 20, 2015. And who is missed so very much…


Adonai were you with him as he drew his last breath?
His final exhale, releasing him of the pain & torment.
His soul cleansed and once again at peace.

It was not his time. But still I pray that you welcomed him into your care, to a place where he would hurt no more.

Tonight we kindle the lights of Shabbat.
He was lost in the darkness God. I pray that each day he is bathed in light. It is how I want to picture him, basking in the warmth of the sun. His favorite way to sit & pass the time.

Tonight we say the Kiddush and sip the wine.
He could not see or taste the sweetness that surrounded him God. It was in the kiss of his beloved bride. It was in the hearts of his children. It was in the love of his grandchildren. I pray that he knew that, that he still does. And I pray that the bitter taste of tears no longer lingers upon his lips. Rather, may there be a way he can still savor all that he was to us. It is we who cry now…

Tonight we bless the bread. The braided strands so symbolic of family. Each of us so deeply & intimately intertwined. And yet, there is a strand missing God.

Adonai my God, the Sabbath wish is for Shalom, for wholeness & peace. May he know it now God. He had not known it for so long. May you help us to know it once again. It seems so far from reach. We piece together the fragments each day, but the missing parts remain. How do we mend Adonai? Help us, guide us. Nurture in us the strength we need to rebuild. Tend to our spirits & our hearts so that they may know and truly feel joy once more.

And please God, place a kiss upon his cheek for us, tell him that we miss him, hold him in your everlasting embrace and once in a while, let him come to visit us. A whisper in the wind, a face in our dreams, or a rainbow in the sky.

Adonai, on this Sabbath eve. As the tears still fall. This is my most fervent prayer.