Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Rachel Weeps for Her Children


There is a Bible story that from Rachel’s tomb her voice can be heard lamenting and weeping for her children  because “they are no more”. In the Bible we read of many losses:  The long time loss of Joseph to his father at the hand of his brothers;  the temporary loss of Jacob’s son Benjamin; the prevention of the loss of Moses by his sister as he was sent off in a basket to prevent his death, and much more.  In history we have the biggest loss of all, the death of six million innocent Jews at the hands of the Nazis during the holocaust during the mid nineteen hundreds. The unnecessary losses of soldiers in times gone by and in today’s world.  The loss of potential generations that were caused by the losses mentioned above.   There are many thoughts and parables about death, the mourning process and the possible healing that can follow after losing our loved ones, the most significant human beings in our lives.  There is a Jewish adage:  “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of jubilation.”  In the former we learn how important each individual is and how much meaning they have had.  It makes us appreciate our family, our closest friends and what they are giving us in caring and love; what it would be like without them, what these losses result in and what deep holes and scars are left.  There are places in the mourner’s heart that can never be filled.  The memories can comfort a little or can create loneliness and yearning because the love, the affection, the uniqueness of the deceased can never return to comfort, to heal, to bring joy and peace. 

Unfortunately the person that is gone was not appreciated in a measure commensurate with what he or she gave us during his or her time on this planet.  In losing a beloved spouse, the devastation is overwhelming.  The widow (or widower) feels bereft of all the blessings she had, the support she was given, the beauty with which her life was filled, the intimacy and protection she had to the person in her life with whom  she could share all of her deepest secrets without being judged and much, much more.  When a child dies the devastation is unimaginable and more so when an adult child leaves this earth.  Parents reproach themselves believing that they could have prevented the death through some means, no matter how erroneous.  The parents have lost their future and there is no replacement for the offspring to whom  they have given life, have nurtured in the womb, have taught, have loved, have hoped, dreamed for and seen through illnesses, through joys, through accomplishments!

Witnessing the bereaved, the mourner, we feel with him and at the same time we come to the realization how fortunate we are for being able to give comfort, courage and support to the mourner.  It gives us the opportunity to contemplate each meaningful individual in our lives, what comfort and well being they have given us, how important they are in our lives and how much we appreciate them.

Rachel’s weeping from her “kever” is a symbol of the feelings that come with the sadness, the losses that are insurmountable in life, and the meaning of each human being who inhabits this world. 


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of  Deviant Nurses & Improper Patient Care (2006).

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