When someone we love passes away, we experience deep sorrow and grief. We miss that person’s presence and caring. We miss the support and all that we shared. Jewish mourning rituals and customs are meant to help us cope, to face the loss realistically, and to find comfort. Jewish tradition helps us to understand that “death is not the end” but rather that our loved ones continue to live in our memory and keep influencing the ones left behind.
In this regard, this week’s Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, provides us with a very important tool. While Chayei Sarah may be translated as “Sarah’s lifetime,” our parashah actually deals with Sarah’s death, how Abraham dealt with it, and how life continued for her family after this big break, just before Yitzchak and Rivka start their own new family.