If you’ve just lost a family member, you may find yourself considering Kaddish, a traditional prayer said by mourners during daily services, which helps the grieving to reconnect to community and society in the aftermath of a serious loss.
I’ve been saying Kaddish daily (unless something prevents me) since my mother’s funeral on May 15. On days when I go twice a day, this represents a 200% increase in my normal weekday synagogue attendance. Sometimes I’m late, and occasionally, I miss it entirely - sometimes because I overslept, because of a work obligation, or because I had the opportunity to do something social that I know my mother wouldn’t want me to miss on her behalf.
The beneficiary of a day school education, I knew most of the words to kaddish already, but I had no idea what the experience of saying kaddish was supposed to be like. During shiva, I tried to keep up with my father and brothers; after that first seven days, on my twice daily visits to the Conservative synagogue that is halfway between my home and my office, my confusion continued. The more times I went, the more questions I had.
I wished I’d had a guide that approached the Kaddish-saying experience with honesty, information and humor. (And pop culture references.) So that’s what this is - a guide in process, which will hopefully help and perhaps pry a wry, reluctant smile from people going through a process of mourning.