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Coming to terms with a difficult year on Yom Kippur


Dear Ella,
My relationship with God is complicated. I believe in God with my entire soul, which is why I don’t understand or accept why God’s been so hard on me and my family this year.

We’ve really had it rough. After eight years in remission, my mom‘s cancer returned. She’s fighting every day through radiation and chemo. Daniel, my son, was in a horrible car accident and is still in constant pain. He is undergoing intense physiotherapy to get him to where he once was. Emotionally, he’s a wreck, withdrawn and scared.

Being a single mother, and an only daughter, I am falling apart.

Between work and family, I’m ignoring my own needs and showing signs of cracking. I find I’m crying and feeling very sorry for myself. Then I feel guilty that I dare think about myself when they are suffering so much. I can barely move my neck, I have no time for the gym or relaxation or to even cook something normal. I grab whatever I can from fast food places. At night, I can’t turn off the noise in my head.

I have a feeling Yom Kippur will be very hard for me this year. I’m so angry and find myself blaming God for my lot in life. I don’t have a specific question to ask, but want to thank you for allowing me to vent.

Complicated Relationship


Dear Complicated Relationship,
Sometimes life hits you over the head with a baseball bat and you find yourself trying to stay balanced while the pain and dizziness are overwhelming.

The reason you’re feeling the way you are is because of your compassion and selflessness, putting your mom and son before yourself. To be that selfless is a very special trait, which is admirable and noble, but have you ever thought of what it would be like for Daniel and your mom if you were not like that?

You’re the medicine that keeps them going. Without you, their struggles would be so much harder, which means you have to take care of yourself, or their lives would be so much worse. Running yourself ragged is not the answer to their problems.

Using God as a scapegoat for your current lot in life may be cathartic, but let’s try looking at what happened from a different perspective. Your mom is still with you, fighting. She is obviously strong and hasn’t given up. She’s had a gift of eight years in remission and it can happen again. Daniel is alive, and with hard work and time, he will hopefully regain his former life. Is it possible to attribute that to God as well?

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It’s the day you are closest to God. It’s clear and expected that you have a lot to work out. You’ve spent this last year being angry, and no one can blame you. What better day to turn the anger around than on Yom Kippur? This is the day that God can forgive you for your anger and help you get through the coming year with more peace.

Set yourself spiritually straight and allow yourself to be down and sad, but never forget that you always need balance. Take care of yourself first. It’s not selfish, it’s survival – not only for you, but for your son and your mom.

You can get through this if you are rested, well-nourished and not in pain. Take care of yourself physically and spiritually. Stop feeling alone and talk to a friend or a therapist. No one will judge you or think any less of you. On the contrary, they will allow you to vent, cry and regain the harmony you need right now.

On Yom Kippur, pray any way that speaks to you. It may be with traditional brachot in a synagogue, or it may be in your own way. Through prayer and meditation, you’ll be changing the noise and anger in your head so you can get through this coming year with peace, clarity and your health intact.

Your strong beliefs are a blessing and the most important part of coming to terms with your struggles so you can move forward.

Yom Kippur is all about reconciliation with God and yourself, and in return you will find peace within your own heart.

Gmar chatimah tovah.

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