Moorings, Approaching Pesach

Rooting yourself as you walk in grief

When I call You,
please, answer me.


Just as when I
was in
a narrow place
and You
set me free

Show kindness
to me now.

Please, hear my 

-Adapted. Psalm 4:2

Long ago, in Egypt, we were slaves
crying out in pain.

And we learned
that we were heard,

saw, that there was Presence with us,

a pillar of cloud by day, fire by night.
By our side.

So too now in this time of grief we live in a different time of narrowness.
And yet again,
are we accompanied.

Pesach and the Coming of Spring:

Coping with Grief During this Season of New Life


As trees blossom,
as bulbs reach upwards towards light,
Spring arrives.

Yet for those who mourn,
our inner worlds may feel in sharp contrast
to this outer one.

Many internally experience as being in winter.
Feeling out of sync with the surge of new life.

For some, the beauty of spring flowers
brings desire to share these.
And with that longing
comes the keen awareness
that our loved one can't relish these this year.

It's in this season
that Pesach nears.

Pesach, laden with images.
Of people gathering,
family coming together.

And yearning can arise.
For belonging, connectedness.
For our loved one.
For the sense of home.

This newsletter comes as resource to aid you
as you enter into this powerful time of year,
powerful time of soul
in this juncture of mourning.

Common Grief Reactions:

During this season you may feel particularly tender and vulnerable.
Family and food, music and ritual, evokes memories, feelings, and longings.

My father was a wandering Aramean

Important Task During This Time:

Focus on what you need this year:
The journaling questions further below can help you reflect on what is most important about Pesach for you.
Some of the tasks mentioned in the Chanuka newsletter also relate to this holiday as well.

Natural Questions and Responses:

After my loved one's death our family has felt like it's broken apart.
Is it just us? Is this normal?

It's not unusual for families to "fall apart" during a life threatening illness and/or after a death.

With a member missing,  families have to re-arrange themselves.
Sometimes the person who died was the core who connected everyone else and/or who kept the peace.
Some families have long had fractures and have delicately hung together,
but with increased stress and loss these divisions can emerge more vividly.

Everyone in a family mourns in their unique ways. 
Everyone is thin skinned, sensitive and when in grief often without the resources to respond more graciously.
Weariness, stress, and the vacuum intensify this.

And despite families hopes that a family member will "transform" when a death occurs,
people tend to act more strongly as they always have in the past,
returning to old ways of coping.

Seeing a counselor who's well versed in  family systems as well as with bereavement
for support and coaching on how better to handle situations that arise, can greatly help.

And there are times when families break apart,
creating ripples of additional losses. Leaving not only the loss of a loved one,
but also the loss of the feeling of family.

I've always loved Pesach, but find it tiring to prepare for.
When not mourning I often felt too tired to enjoy Seder by the time my guests arrived.
Now that I'm mourning I'm even more concerned about this.

Your concern is well based. This is a time to be truthful with yourself.
Do you have the energy to host Seder?
Would it be better this year to be a guest at a friends, family, or synagogue Seder?

If no one invites you to join them for Seder. Ask someone you're close with if you can join them.
If you choose to host a Seder. Simplify preparations as much as possible.
Delegate dishes for guests to bring. And/or buy ready-made food.
Ask family and friends to help in preparations both before and after Seder.

Honor your grief. Watch out for becoming too depleted from all the work.
And for over-estimating what you are up to doing.
With the increased stresses, memories rising, and surfacing of grief, you may not have
as much time and energy available as you've had in the past.

Remember what's most important for you about this holiday.
And plan thoughtfully. So you'll be able to experience it's beauty.


My soul
thirsts for You.

As in
a dry and weary land
without water

-Psalm 63:2






Journaling Questions:

What do you most love and look forward to about Pesach?
What about the holiday touches you?
What specifically do you anticipate will be hard this year?
What options do you have in dealing with that?

What would you like to add this year to your celebration?
What would you like not to do this year?
What are you most concerned about this year?
What would help you deal with that concern?

What is your 'Mitzrayim' this year? (the place too
narrow for you, that holds you captive?)
What do you need 'to free yourself from' this year? 
What will help you do that?

Remember this day.
On which you went free from Egypt.
The house of bondage.
Exodus 13:3

Things to Do That Might Enrich This Time for You:

As you prepare for the holiday, music can lift and ready the soul.
Personal favorite CD's for Passover are:
The Passover Story sung by the Western Wind and narrated by Theodore Bikel.
Songs from a Passover Haggadah from Transcontinental Music Publications-URJ.
Cindy Paley presents A Singing Seder.

Just as on other holidays, the giving of Tzedakah in your loved one's memory to an organization.
Can touch your spirit. Knowing you're aiding others in need, carrying life to others, gives both ways.

Meditation before Seder:
You Who aided my ancestors as they faced life's hardships.
Travel with me now.

I am ready to undertake this evening's journey.
I open myself to enter deeply into a telling that has taken place for thousands of years.
A story that belongs intimately to me.

Seder holds deep meanings as I create the tale that is my life.
How I meet adversity. How I hold my struggles. How I handle change. How I deal with fear.
How I respond to those with power over me. And how I uncover the power that lies within me.
How I respond to that which oppresses me. And what it is that gives me hope. That touches my soul.
This is a story for this very moment in my life.

On the eighth day of Pesach comes Yizcor. A time of remembering.

The Hebrew Month of Iyar:
The Hebrew month following Nisan, the month of Iyar, which comes two weeks after Pesach,
was said to have been a time of healing for our ancestors after they left Egypt.

It was seen as a time of recovering from the wounding of captivity and oppression. 
A time of succor. A time of being cared for by Spirit. 

Imagine moving into the ancient invitation of Iyar this year of your mourning.
Allow yourself space this month to be quiet. Reflect and heal. Just as our ancestors did so long ago.

To mark the Spring:
Buy an herb or green plant for your home.
Bring in some of that energy of growth and life.


Rav Yehudah said:
Whoever goes outdoors in Nisan.
And sees the trees in leaf.
Should say:
to the One Who created
goodly creatures and goodly trees.
For the enjoyment
of humankind"

-Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 43b, adapted.

Mourning and Spiritual Messages Derived From This Holiday:

Walking the Desert

For some who mourn. Being bereaved can feel like being suddenly thrust into a desert.
Into a rocky, barren place. Empty, desolate, and foreign.
With few resources. Stripped to the bone.

Our ancestors left all that they knew. Fleeing into the wilderness.
City people, they learned to live in this place.
With new ways of eating and sleeping. With new rhythms of life.
Thrust into unprotected wilds.
Living intimately in the elements. They walked closely with their Source.

When mourning we too find ourselves walking in a wild place.
We learn in time how to care for ourselves when we feel lost.
How to survive in this place of grief.
We learn when to move and when to stay put.
We learn to listen and to read the messages that rise up from our bones.
We learn to find springs of water. Discover underground caverns. Find shelter.

In the desert we encounter our angels and our demons.
New parts of self.  New parts of soul.
Desert walking, like mourning, is hard work. Struggles, gifts and hardships interweave.

Grief breaks us wide open.
We feel the broken places.

At times grief pins us to the ground. Laughs at us when we try to control it.
And at times it holds us. Makes us surrender. To forces greater than our understanding.

To travel the terrain of grief and spirit is to enter a domain of mysteries and wildness.
Where bushes burn and are not consumed. Where angels speak at the very last moment.
Where people find healing. And where exiles find their way home.
Where at our travels end.
We come out differently from how we entered.

They cried out to You in their trouble.
And You brought them out of their distress.

You quieted the storm.
Stilled the waves.
And they were gladdened.


You led them to a haven.
You turned a wilderness into a pool of water.
And a dry land into water springs.

You caused the hungry to dwell there.
And established an inhabited city.

They sowed fields and planted vineyards.
Which yielded bountiful fruits

-Psalm 107: 28-30, 35-37 adapted

A Resource for Comfort and Support:

A prayer-poem for aid during this time.

You Who love deeply from within.
Draw near us.
As we sit on the hard parched earth.
Amidst desert wind.
Wilderness all around us. Large empty spaces.
So wild. So wide open.

Uncover wells that we might drink.
Help us heal our wounds.
Hold us close when we call to You.

Be there.
As our bodies and souls mourn.
As we relearn our lives.
As we refind You.

As You.
We refind.

To see the prayer-poem for Passover- click here

vicki-p-avdatSo in time.
May it be.


Take good care.

As you travel through this season.

Of power.
the deeper places.









Guide to Hebrew word

Tzedakah: funds for justice making

Photography Credits

Vicki Hollander