Holidays and Special Occasions

Holidays and Special Occasions

Being ill or in grief during a holiday can be especially isolating or challenging. This section contains:

  • General and holiday-specific resources on illness and grief
  • Healing-oriented reflections that speak to these experiences
  • Coping suggestions
  • Holiday-based themes and practices that offer comfort and inspiration
  • Ways to adapt or enrich a holiday observance when ill, away from home, or in grief
  • Ways to acknowledge illness or loss at a celebratory event or family gathering

In the hospital

BAJHC produces specially adapted supplies for people who are in hospitals during the Jewish High Holy Days, Chanukah, or Passover. These are provided through the Spiritual Care or Social Services departments of the hospitals in our service area. To request a “Holiday in an Envelope” for yourself or someone else, contact a chaplain or social worker on the unit.

Seasons of grief

After a significant loss, the approach of an otherwise-festive holiday may be a cause of anxiety or stir up all kinds of feelings and concerns. We may experience poignant memories or the sheer pain of absence and grief, all the more intensely. We can feel out-of-sync or isolated when it seems the rest of the world is celebrating. Here are several resources to help you plan ahead, find opportunities for comfort and healing, or support someone else during a holiday.

Passover

Passover can involve elaborate rituals and social gatherings around the seder table.  For some people, that intensity of engagement and effort and emotion runs through the cooking and preparations, and the entire week of the festival ending with its Yizkor (memorial) service on the last day.

In addition to the general holiday resources and ideas above, here are some materials specifically addressing Pesach and the Omer-counting period that follows:

Chanukah

For many of us, Chanukah can be a time of great joy and celebration. This is the season when we celebrate the miracles of oil and light. Some years, at the same time, we are also observing the Thanksgiving holiday, or overlapping with Christmas. Especially if we are isolated or alone, away from home, or struggling with illness or loss, the season may have a very different tone. As we make preparations for Chanukah and the winter holiday season, we may face feelings of grief, fear, anger and confusion. We may feel unusually fragile or vulnerable; our happy countenance insincere. We do not want to burden our loved ones nor do we wish to lessen their enjoyment of the holiday.

We at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center hope you or someone you care about will find inspiration and comfort in these readings for the season of light. We wish you a Chanukah filled with illumination, awe, and shalom.