Published On: Fri, Nov 11th, 2022

Let’s Talk Tachlis

Written by Rabbi Stephanie Shore

As a rabbi I have had the amazing blessing of knowing many families for decades. With that comes numerous opportunities to assist family members with various life passages. I can’t say that I prefer one lifecycle event over another they are all meaningful. I have, however, always had an empathetic heart to end of life pastoral counseling and funeral services. I find this time of our lives as being acutely powerful and all too often not given the proper attention or planning.

Many of us might contact a funeral home to make our pre-need arrangements. That may take a tremendous burden off our family members, but it doesn’t address the paramount importance of the one ceremony that will sum up our lives and leave an indelible memory on those whom we’ve left behind.

Before a baby is born we go to great lengths to prepare ourselves. We read books, blogs and listen to podcasts in order to ready ourselves for the awesome honor of parenthood. When the baby turns 10 we are excited to receive the date for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The planning is so intricate that many parents have big binders organizing the plethora of individuals and companies that will help make the day as special as it can possibly be.

Then comes the wedding and it follows the same intense planning. Sometimes a year or more of busy preparation is involved to ensure that dreams of the perfect celebration are brought to life. We invite the ones who mean the most to us, and perhaps some we are obligated to invite however, it is a marvelous celebration of unique and individual splendor.

Big anniversaries and birthdays march in line, where every beat of planning is synchronized to excel expectations. 

Why then, when we come to the completion of our lives, do we not pay the same attention to details? Why do we sub-consciously, throw our arms up saying to our loved ones, whether we mean to or not, “You plan this one.” What about your desires for a proper and fitting end of life ceremony that reflects the unique and individual wonder of you and the life you lived.

When we have purposefully and valiantly come to our journeys end, we arrive with memories we wear like badges, and emotional or physical scars to mark our bravery and courage. We may be a bit weathered from riding out the storms of life but wiser, nonetheless.

Faced with the frightening prospect of our mortality we carefully avoid the topic of death. We surrender all of our life achievements, victories and accomplishments to a 40-minute ceremony lead by someone who doesn’t even know us.

It is understandable that the fear of death precludes us from planning the inevitable so, let’s talk tachlis.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could share with our families our desires for our end-of-life ceremony? Do we want a celebratory feel to the service? Would we prefer a somber and contemplative tribute to a life well-lived? Dare I say that perhaps we want a party because we don’t want our loved ones sad and despondent?

It is crucially important we understand that we can plan this most profound life passage! The most beautiful end of life situations I have been a part of have been the ones where the deceased has pre-planned and talked about the way they would like their loved ones to mourn.

In the book of Genesis, we read of our forefather Jacob gathering his sons so he may bless them all individually. Jacob knows he is nearing the end of his life and wants to share with each child personal and meaningful sentiments. This act of Jacob impacts his children in profound ways. His legacy and memory is emblazoned not only in his family members but in our Torah.

Your life story is equally worthy of this type of farewell, and I would like to help you achieve it. Email me at rabbishore@gmail.com and let’s begin discussing this most important lifecycle moment. Let’s talk about your fears, your doubts and your faith. If you are non-religious and the topic of G!d is challenging, let’s make sure that your funeral reflects your beliefs or non-beliefs. Let’s not leave to chance this service which is of paramount importance.  

I want to walk beside you and your family so that when the time comes you will know in your heart of hearts that your desires have been made known to the ones you love the most.

I will look forward to beginning a conversation with you so at your life’s completion you can be sure that your life and your legacy be passed on from generation to generation, L’dor Vador.

With Sincere Love and Blessing,

Rabbi Stephanie

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