When a family member dies, it is a time of upset and confusion, a time younger members of the family do not fully understand. I have vivid memories of the uproar when my grandfather died; despite the fact that it was not sudden, everything seemed to come undone. I was 11 years old, and I was more upset by the drama resulting from the death of an Italian patriarch than by the loss.
Every religion, every culture, every society has its own rituals that are invoked when a member dies. Some of the customs seem bizarre to young witnesses who are trying to understand their own feelings. A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort is a workbook designed to help Jewish children sort and understand their feelings at the loss of a beloved family member, and to further understand Jewish customs at such a time.
Children are encouraged to write, draw, and color on the pages as they wish; to add photographs; and to mangle the book in whatever way they please (well, they’re given permission to fold the pages). In addition to the explanations and exercises, there are short stories which further illustrate the purpose of A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort.
Parents reviewing A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort before giving it to a child, will be tuned in to things they may not be considering in their own time of grief. It offers activities that a child and adult can do together, not just during the initial time of loss but in the future to remember and honor memories.
Jewish families are not the only ones who can benefit from A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort; it is a useful resource for those involved in grief and bereavement counseling. I have both received bereavement counseling and later performed same, and know that sensitivity to cultural differences is key. A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort clearly explains Jewish customs and rituals and provides a glossary of terms with which gentiles may not be familiar.
Exercises throughout this workbook are designed to educate and comfort a child; parents or other adults may also draw comfort from working on them with the child. It includes entertaining activities, such as puzzles, on which a child can work, as well.
Bottom Line: Would I buy A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort? Yes, if I were still engaged in bereavement counseling. Many of the exercises and activities are appropriate for children of different faiths, and it is an informative introduction to Jewish custom.