In my time of trauma, having Rosemary’s possessions at home, and slowly and gradually sorting them was a ritual of grief. Strange, the little rituals we make for ourselves, as part of the process. When our mother died there were four packets of instant porridge she hadn’t eaten. It tasted vile but somehow I felt an obligation to eat it all rather than throwing it away—it took me three months. In a similar way I am still using up Rosemary’s stamps, envelopes and paper. Other items proved to be less useful. I never could get her Blackberry or laptop to work properly for me, and eventually discarded them. I find her Kindle useful, but she kept it in a drawer and never used it. It seemed somehow to underline the differences between us—the items she used most were the ones I got on with least. I still have some of her papers in my study, but all now neatly filed. Slowly clearing the items away has been therapeutic. Each piece of paperwork completed, each item stored, each paper filed, has meant a further step of progress away from the trauma and the sadness. Writing this is itself a further step along the road.
Elul is a month given to us to reflect and prepare for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is a month where we try to take account of our lives, so that we might make the most of this powerful time of renewal, regeneration, fresh starts and healing.
This year our daily Elul Thoughts are taken from ‘Terror, Trauma and Tragedy’, edited by Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain and Rabbi David Mitchell. Each is a short extract of a larger piece designed to help us find meaning, comfort or perhaps more questions in the aftermath of horrific events, which have seemed all too frequent this year. The horror of such atrocities can leave us in confusion, depression and fear. As we move into a new year we hope these pieces might variously offer some solace, be a tool of self-reflection, and encourage us to continue working for a better world.