Simple rituals can have a HUGE impact.

Over the past few years a multiple of painful losses have poured down on me. I am thankful that I was able to take some refuge from the ancient traditions I continue to use along my grief journey.

For me, I leaned into the Jewish customs provided in death and grieving. Regardless of what customs are used, it appears there is scientific proof that these traditions are helpful.

Rituals provided structure.

Science has proven that performing rituals can be surprisingly effective during grief. Routines can be accomplished with little thought thereby providing necessary stability when we are at our most unbalanced and lost. It also provides much needed community during a time that can feel isolating.

One of the only traditions handed down in the Jewish religion that extends beyond the initial year of grieving is Yahrzeit.



                          (among Jewish people)  death of a parent or other close relative, marked by the

                          burning of a memorial candle

Definitions from Oxford Languages

Yahrzeit is an annual custom that is first noted a year after death and continues throughout the lifetime of the person observing the tradition. The date is based on the Hebrew (lunisolar) calendar so it actually fluctuates from year-to-year.

Yes. That means I have 2 different days to honour the death of my loved ones!

This coming weekend marks the yahrzeit of my husband.

During this 24-hour period, I will chant traditional prayers and light a yahrzeit memorial candle (which burns for approximately 24 hours). Tradition suggests that the yahrzeit’s annual commemoration is typically only observed by the spouse, parents, children and siblings of the deceased.

The flame from a candle is symbolic

We learn from the Book of Proverbs (chapter 20 verse 27) that,

“The soul of man is the candle of G-d.”

For me the candle signifies a time for reflection. The symbolism of the mesmerizing flame as it flickers and glows reminds me of my husband’s life that also shined so warm and bright. And then –- it too, extinguished.

Yahrzeit provides continuity and allows me an annual check-in on my personal mental health.

It is a paradoxical time. I grieve a lost future and find joy in the beautiful memories I was gifted during our lifetime together.

It also provides me with a feeling of connection to others who similarly share my grief. I am truly appreciative to know he was loved and continues to be missed by so many as we near 7 years of loss.

Tradition brings me structure and I am grateful for it.

Forever evolving.

Have you heard about Hope for Widows Foundation’s annual virtual Widows of Hope 5K on May 15 and 16? Registration is now open! For details, FAQ’s and to register/support go to: Anyone can join! Whether you are a widow, widower, or a friend/family member showing support, or walking in the loss of another family member, everyone is welcomed to participate. The deadline to register is May 15, 2021. The proceeds will directly support widows directly through their annual financial Restoring Hope and Peace Grants, Sunshine Boxes program, and our Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program.




On May 20, 2014, Susan’s world came crashing down. Her 54-year old husband passed unexpectedly of a heart attack. The years since have been a whirlwind of emotion, trauma & joy (yes, she said joy, thanks mostly to the birth of her grandchildren).

Over the next 5 years, Susan experienced additional heartache following the death of her dad & both of her brothers. She knew her only way to make sense of all her grief was to find a way to use her experiences to help others.

Now, armed with a grief educators certificate from David Kessler, a coaching certificate, her learned experience and inspiration she has set out to make a difference in the lives of the bereaved.

Living with loss is a lifetime challenge. When someone dies, friends and family rally around the bereaved for a short time. Soon after, the conversation changes from one of comfort to one of anticipation and judgement. The bereaved are given a time frame to “get over it”. This antiquated notion leaves no option but to grieve in silence. Often silence can become isolating and cause mental and physical health issues.

Susan educates society on how to help those who are grieving by using her voice to speak up and share her learned and lived knowledge.

Susan encourages collaboration and dialogue so please reach out to her at evolve beyond grief on her website, Facebook and Instagram.