Say­ing Good­bye: A Hand­book for Teens Deal­ing with Loss and Mourning

Neal C. Gold­berg; Miri­am Lieberman
  • Review
By – August 6, 2012
The authors have writ­ten a hand­book for read­ers in high school and old­er on under­stand­ing death from with­in a Jew­ish frame­work, bas­ing their dis­cus­sion on halachah (Jew­ish law) and cus­tom. Gold­berg, a ther­a­pist, and Lieber­man, a social work­er, begin with a com­fort­ing let­ter to par­ents and edu­ca­tors, stress­ing their under­stand­ing of our dis­com­fort with the sub­ject of death. They intend this book to be used for a life­cy­cle class on death and dying. It will enlight­en read­ers on what to expect when pay­ing a shiv­ah vis­it, and how to com­fort the mourn­er. The sooth­ing cov­er sym­bol­i­cal­ly shows a but­ter­fly fly­ing away. In the first sec­tion of the book, there are eight chap­ters that address the sub­ject of death using sto­ries from real life. Each chap­ter ends with a list of rec­om­mend­ed read­ings found in the sec­ond sec­tion of this book. These are essays writ­ten by Torah author­i­ties and esteemed col­leagues, authors and song­writ­ers in order to pro­vide a con­cep­tu­al frame­work of the unique Torah and psy­cho­log­i­cal approach to death.” In these, lay peo­ple and pro­fes­sion­als’ strug­gle to under­stand, mourn, and accept loss and grief.” In one of these essays, Sher­ri Man­del, whose son Koby was mur­dered by ter­ror­ists, says that for her, recov­ery from grief came not from being told to be strong but from being allowed to change and grow. Includ­ed here are exer­cis­es to do, such as writ­ing an obit­u­ary for some­one who has recent­ly died, then writ­ing one about your­self telling how you would like to be remem­bered after 120 years. A dis­cus­sion of eth­i­cal wills and an exer­cise to cre­ate one is includ­ed. Aside from the fact that it is miss­ing an index and a bib­li­og­ra­phy cit­ing its sources, this is an excel­lent book for tra­di­tion­al schools with obser­vant stu­dents, because of the reli­gious ref­er­ences (all of which are defined). It is also help­ful for non-obser­vant read­ers, whether they are learn­ing about Jew­ish death rit­u­als or are going through the grief process. Rec­om­mend­ed for coun­selors, rab­bis, par­ents and teach­ers to use with ages 14 – adult.
Andrea David­son is the librar­i­an of The Tem­ple-Tifer­eth Israel in Beach­wood, Ohio. She holds an M.L.S. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and is a for­mer mem­ber of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards Com­mit­tee. She enjoys try­ing out the books she reviews on the kids at the Tem­ple and on her grandchildren.

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