When I heard the news on Monday I joined the world in being broken hearted. My children were in another room but when they saw my face they asked what happened. I told them that Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, the boys we all had been praying for and lighting extra candles for, were found but they were not alive anymore.
My kids asked me what they can do now. They wanted to be consoled. This is what I told them, realizing that I don’t have all the answers and no one can fully understand what happens in the next world. But I knew that what I share from my heart will enter their hearts.
1. With the passing of a loved one the relationship is not over. It has moved from a physical relationship to a spiritual one, and that can be maintained and endured forever by doing our part with good deeds done in their memory. We have the power to do very meaningful activities for departed loved ones. Our actions in this world maintain a spiritual connection and provide a powerful elevation in heaven to the soul of our departed loved ones.
2. Each age group has its own intellectual, spiritual and emotional level of intelligence. So I shared with each of my kids, who range from three to 16, different ideas on good deeds they could do which was age appropriate. I explained how all of my kids have names of relatives that have passed away and that even that brings great honor and pleasure to our departed loved ones.
3. I stressed to my children that these are positive ways we can provide great merit to the souls of those who have passed away. What we are learning is not meant to be scary or depressing but rather even the smallest good deed done on behalf of a departed loved one is like sending a “virtual” present to a departed loved one’s soul in heaven.
During this very sad time we can channel our feelings of loss into positive actions to elevate the souls of those we mourn and at the same time we will spiritually elevate ourselves. There are so many ways we can elevate the soul of those we love through performing kind acts by visiting those who are sick, saying special prayers, learning Torah and so much more. We have real power in our hands to assist the souls of those we love and miss by dedicating our lives to good deeds and that by doing this we provide the ultimate comfort to our departed loved ones.
Though it is hard to understand, when a person passes away, I told my kids that the soul actually mourns as well. That when the soul transitions to the World of Souls and realizes that it can no longer perform physical deeds in this world, it is very sad for the soul. Since the soul is sad, we the living must be the arms and legs doing good deeds in this world to try and ease the soul’s transition. And we actually help the departed one, helping their soul rise higher and higher.
Adults recite a special prayer called Kaddish, but as kids they can also say their own prayers. I suggest to my kids that we give charity on behalf of the boys to Jewish schools or to the poor. Another idea we discuss is to avoid speaking or hearing gossip, helping the elderly, and to learn more about Jewish wisdom. I tell my kids that if they want they can choose a Jewish book they want to learn more about and that this will provide a powerful merit for the boys’ souls.
By speaking carefully and openly with my kids, I hope my kids realize passing away is a transition from this world to another dimension. Although we cannot see our loved ones anymore, we can still maintain a spiritual relationship with our loved ones forever.