A Bisl Torah

Living with Grief

Franklin Pierce was our 14th US president. Prior to the presidency, President Pierce suffered the death of his young sons. One was 11-years-old and died in a train crash.

There is much written about President Pierce’s relationship with his wife, Jane, most of which isn’t praiseworthy. Jane grieved for her children and wasn’t suited for the public life of being a president’s wife, especially while she mourned. At a certain point while in a deep depression, it was clear she wasn’t going to come downstairs from her White House bedroom.

President Pierce knew how much his wife liked fresh flowers. Lore explains that he ordered fresh flowers for each room of the White House, hoping to brighten his wife’s spirits. While still incredibly sad, she ventured downstairs to see the flowers. A step. The tradition continues to this day—in each room of the White House, there are freshly cut flowers.

We all know people in our lives who are suffering in different ways. Often, this holiday season brings up fresh memories and reveals an ever present pain. Although often masked, grief continues.

Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can offer someone else is acknowledging that pain while hidden, still exists. Rabbi Yehuda HaChasid once said, “I will build an altar from the broken fragments of my heart.” Which means we can grow, learn, and live, using our tears and love as cement and mortar.

During the darkest days of the years, don’t turn away from someone’s angst. It may be our acknowledgment and embrace that helps someone take yet another step forward. Walking with grief and with you, willing to build.

Shabbat Shalom

In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.

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