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Creating Meaning in Difficult Times

by David J. Wolpe

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-57322-141-4
Publisher: Riverhead

The Psalmist wrote that although weeping would endure for the night, there would be joy when morning came. This is a book about that transformation, and it’s painful to read. Wolpe, a Los Angeles rabbi who is featured on A&E’s Mysteries of the Bible, has a spiritual counselor’s instinct for sharing in the afflictions of the people he interviews. He wrote several drafts of this book, each becoming increasingly personal; the final version is colored by the unexpected news that his 31-year-old wife had developed cancer. Despite an apparently successful surgery, they will never have another biological child. He writes that we experience loss not only with such tragedy but also with “things that die while we are still alive: relationships, dreams, loves.” There comes a moment, for instance, when each of us realizes that our childhood dreams are not going to materialize. These losses can make us bitter or help us to grow and redefine our values. Then there is the “culmination of losses,” death, with its utter finality and apparent arbitrariness. Mourning must be transformed gradually, never denying the very real pain of loss. It’s that stinging pain which reminds us to seek the meaning in the loss. This is a book to pass on to those who are grieving—i.e., to every single person we know.