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Texts of mourning and loss

Below are some biblical verses. This is not an exhaustive list; you are likely to encounter many other verses that resonate within you. Some days, you may want to repeat to yourself someone else’s verbalisation of your pain and distress, or your thankfulness for what you do have, or your anger at God and life, or the comfort you wish to hear. Some may be appropriate for reading aloud publicly; some for reciting privately in moments of stress, reflection, or depression.

 For a short commentary, click here.

Genesis 30:1

וַתֵּרֶא רָחֵל כִּי לֹא יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב
וַתְּקַנֵּא רָחֵל בַּאֲחֹתָהּ וַתֹּאמֶר אֶל־יַעֲקֹב
הָבָה־לִּי בָנִים וְאִם־אַיִן מֵתָה אָנֹכִי:

Rachel realised that she was not bearing any children to Jacob.
She was jealous of her sister and said to Jacob,
“Give me children! If not, let me die!”

Genesis 37:34-5

לד וַיִּקְרַע יַעֲקֹב שִׂמְלֹתָיו וַיָּשֶׂם שַׂק בְּמָתְנָיו וַיִּתְאַבֵּל עַל־בְּנוֹ יָמִים רַבִּים:
לה וַיָּקֻמוּ כָל־בָּנָיו וְכָל־בְּנֹתָיו לְנַחֲמוֹ וַיְמָאֵן לְהִתְנַחֵם
וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי־אֵרֵד אֶל־בְּנִי אָבֵל שְׁאֹלָה וַיֵּבְךְּ אֹתוֹ אָבִיו:

Jacob tore his robes in grief and put on sackcloth.
He kept himself in mourning for many days.
All his sons and daughters tried to console him; but he refused to be comforted.
“I will go down to the grave mourning for my son,” he said.
He wept [for his son] as only a father could.

Samuel I, 1:10-16

י וְהִיא מָרַת נָפֶשׁ וַתִּתְפַּלֵּל עַל־ה’ וּבָכֹה תִבְכֶּה:
יא וַתִּדֹּר נֶדֶר וַתֹּאמַר ה’ צְבָקוֹת
אִם־רָאֹה תִרְאֶה ׀ בָּעֳנִי אֲמָתֶךָ
וּזְכַרְתַּנִי וְלֹא־תִשְׁכַּח אֶת־אֲמָתֶךָ
וְנָתַתָּה לַאֲמָתְךָ זֶרַע אֲנָשִׁים
וּנְתַתִּיו לַה’ כָּל־יְמֵי חַיָּיו וּמוֹרָה לֹא־יַעֲלֶה עַל־רֹאשׁוֹ:
טו וַתַּעַן חַנָּה וַתֹּאמֶר לֹא אֲדֹנִי
אִשָּׁה קְשַׁת־רוּחַ אָנֹכִי וְיַיִן וְשֵׁכָר לֹא שָׁתִיתִי
וָאֶשְׁפֹּךְ אֶת־נַפְשִׁי לִפְנֵי ה’:
טז אַל־תִּתֵּן אֶת־אֲמָתְךָ לִפְנֵי בַּת־בְּלִיָּעַל
כִּי מֵרֹב שִׂיחִי וְכַעְסִי דִּבַּרְתִּי עַד־הֵנָּה:

10 With a bitter spirit, she prayed to G-d and cried bitterly.
11 And she made a vow, and she said “L-rd of hosts!
If You will indeed consider Your handmaid’s suffering,
And if You remember me and do not forget Your handmaid,
And if You will give Your handmaid a son;
Then I will give the child to G-d for all the days of his life,
and a razor shall not touch his head”. [...]
15 And Chana answered and said “No, my master,
I am a deeply grieved woman; I have drunk no wine or alcohol,
but have poured out my soul before G-d.
16 Do not regard your handmaid as a troublesome woman;
from the greatness of my anxiety and anger
have I spoken up until now”.

Samuel II, 19:1, 5 

וַיִּרְגַּז הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיַּעַל עַל־עֲלִיַּת הַשַּׁעַר
וְכֹה ׀ אָמַר בְּלֶכְתּוֹ
בְּנִי אַבְשָׁלוֹם
בְנִי אַבְשָׁלוֹם
מִי־יִתֵּן מוּתִי אֲנִי תַחְתֶּיךָ
אַבְשָׁלוֹם בְּנִי
…וְהַמֶּלֶךְ לָאַט אֶת־פָּנָיו
וַיִּזְעַק הַמֶּלֶךְ קוֹל גָּדוֹל
בְּנִי אַבְשָׁלוֹם
אַבְשָׁלוֹם בְּנִי

And the king was agitated,

and he went up to the top of the gate

and he wept,

and this is what he said as he went;

“My son, Avshalom!

My son!

My son, Avshalom,

Would that I could have died instead of you,

Avshalom, my son,

My son!

…And the king covered his face,

and the king cried out in a loud voice,

“My son, Avshalom!

Avshalom, my son!

My son!”

Posted in Mourning, Prayers.

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