Religious beliefs are very personal. We practice for a variety of reasons. Because of how we were, or were not, raised. How it feels to us in our lives. I could go on, however, the point I am making is that in my religion, there are certain traditions I was brought up to follow.
Between 11 months and a day and a year after someone has died, a ceremony called the Unveiling occurs. Physically speaking, the veil that has literally been put over the gravestone will be removed during this ceremony. Emotionally, this is supposed to signify that your period of mourning for your loved one is over.
My mother’s unveiling was last Sunday. I had been dreading it for weeks and months. This final step.
My dad requested as few people to come as possible. He preferred to grieve privately, and I not only respect that, I also understand it.
A few of my friends who had known my mom and myself came to pay their respects and support me. I have known these few friends for anywhere between five and thirty years, or more. I was glad to have them there, even though I discouraged many others from coming so as not to intrude on the rest of the family’s solitude.
When I arrived at the cemetery, my aunt gave me a sweet bright smile, which was full of understanding and encouragement. When the rabbi began the service and my eyes filled with tears, it was my aunt, who sweetly made her way through the small knot of people and pulled me into a hug. Thank you. That meant so much to me.
Then my dad pulled me to his side for the rest of the service. It was short. Thankfully. When it was over, everyone was milling about, between making jokes about nothing to remembering Mom.
My friends pulled me into a hug, and they stayed chatting with me for quite awhile after everyone else had left. We were alternating between joy and sadness. I am grateful for such loving and caring people in my life.
My mother’s yahrzheit, the anniversary of her death, is this Sunday. At our synagogue, they will read her name. Traditionally, loved ones go to hear their departed loved ones’ names read. Mom wasn’t big on those kinds of traditions. The purpose is to remember. In order to remember, you have to forget.
I haven’t forgotten. She is still with us every day in so many ways.
Now that they unveiling is behind me, instead of looming ahead, I feel more at peace, more able to breathe, more able to smile.