A Different Take on The Kaddish/Yizkor

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A prayer intended for those whose relationship with the deceased was tumultuous, abusive or otherwise less than blissful.

When you find it difficult to honor your parents:

Prayers that are intended to engender sadness upon recalling the loss of a “loved one” — but, sadly, do the opposite — are too often the reality. Undeserving praise is untruthful.

I would only like to bring in the possibility of using these prayers with a different slant.

What exactly is the meaning of the Fifth Commandment (Honor Your Mother and Father) for those who have or did have abusive parents? How can one be true to oneself, yet honor such a parent?

I think flipping the question is the start to the answer. How can I honor myself when I had less than honorable parents?

So, now we need to answer that question.

It has been shown in data and surveys that certain negative behaviors of parents — and witnessed by children —can often lead to children continuing the behavior.

To honor oneself one would have to make a concerted effort to knowingly and willingly and purposefully — separate THEMselves from THEM (bad influences).

During these moments of prayer…we can give thanks that WE are NOT them. We can review the past with sadness but hopefully see joy in the present and see how far we have come in spite of their actions.

That we have overcome, that we are stronger for it – as we ARE standing here –  and we are no longer as broken. For those of us who are not yet completely healed…Baruch Hashem…there is tomorrow.

In bad times, we need to build ourselves up, even when others try to knock us down. Remaining strong is the biggest blow to their attempts to keep us weak.

These prayerful moments afford us the opportunity to give the royal finger saying…I am a survivor of your actions…I am here, I am relatively happy and I will move forward. MY horrible memories can be countered by my successes.

There is no halacha/law preventing anyone to change the words of the prayer to fit the occasion. (minhag, maybe, but not law). Reinvent the prayer to say what is in your heart….HHMM, truthfulness in prayer ?

So with every Kaddish/Yizkor moment — for those who might find love and loss difficult concepts recalling various and difficult relationships … we might take it as our personal time to reflect and revise Kaddish:

1) I SMILE as I free myself to THINK the truth,

 2) I SMILE as I free myself to acknowledge the truth,

3) I am PROUD that I am not them,

4) I STAND UP TALL, with SHOULDERS BACK – for what I have accomplished IN SPITE of them!

5) I THANK HASHEM THAT I AM HERE….and have become the fabulous person that I am — on my own — no help from them and likely no support!!

6) I PRAY WITH GRATITUDE AND JOY — that I have this prayerful opportunity to dilute a toxic relationship and call it out for what it really was.

7) I WILL NOT DWELL on the past negative and I WILL rejoice in my current positive!

8) Hashem, May I have the strength to look back and acknowledge the pain…but also have the strength to move forward in gladness.

I can only overcome my sad past by appreciating my present.


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