During the week of sitting shiva, it feels a little like being the star of some kind of bizarre show. There's an audience hanging around all the time watching you, and everyone has lines that they say to you and lines they expect you to say in return. It feels, in a strange way, like being very important. And then the week ends, and suddenly the show has been canceled. There are people who still check in on you, and ask anxiously how you're doing every time they see you, but for the most part, the world around you shifts on to whatever comes next.
One of the few things that I actually like about saying Kaddish is that it asks the world (well, the minyan at least) to focus back in on the mourner, to allow us to be important again for just a few scattered minutes every day. But even then, it's all of the mourners collectively who get the attention, not one person specifically. I partially resent this--I guess I feel strongly that my grief is greater than anyone else's and I just want people to know that I'm feeling crappy--but I also appreciate that it makes me notice that there are other people going through similarly crappy times. There's this moment that I've noticed in most minyanim when the people who are saying Kaddish surreptitously look around to see who else is saying it, too. I've never approached anyone after Kaddish to ask their story--"So, who died?"--but there's a delicate thread of kinship that's built in that first moment of 'Yitgadal.'
12 years ago