One Way To Deal With Death

“When it comes to the matter of death, none of us are either wise or confident. In a profound sense death appears to make a mockery of life.”

Death is a topic that both interests and repels people. We know that it is inevitable, and yet, Americans generally prefer not to think about or discuss death. Do we think that the silence will somehow shield us from our common fate? That certainly was not Rabbi Olan’ view. So he opened a thoughtful conservation about death in his October 19, 1969 radio sermon.

As you read or listen to the sermon (please do!), you will notice that Rabbi Olan’s focus was not on explaining death and speculating about the afterlife. Instead, he offered his listeners counsel on how to cope with the deaths of loved ones. After all, the deaths of others is how each of us experiences death during this life.

How can we survive such losses? Olan’s answer drew his listeners into the depths of Jewish faith and practice. When sorrow is too deep for your own words, lean on ageless liturgy. Pray the mourner’s Kaddish. Pray it in community. That is one positive way to deal with death.

“By reciting the mourner’s prayer of sanctification in the midst of a Congregation we link ourselves to others in a common sorrow. When they answer amen to me and I to them, we are bound to each other in a human bond that is stronger even than love. The loneliness which death brings is driven away as a man is joined to a mystic past and a living present of common mourning.”

Follow this link to read the sermon text.
Follow this link to listen to the audio recording.
Follow this link to watch the scrolling-text video.

*Written by Tim Binkley*