Burial Service After Miscarriage or Stillbirth

 KERI’A / קריעה

The pattern of life has been torn apart.  What was to be whole, is now broken.  Dreams shattered and what should have been, is not and will never be.  Tearing a ribbon, a symbol for the fabric of life, expresses the tear in our heart.  In moments of sadness, loss, and despair, the gift of tears and the freedom to weep can be a berakhah – an experience of the awesome and awful wonder of life and death. 

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, דַּיַּן הָאֶמֶת.

Barukh Atah Adonay, Eloheynu Melekh HaOlam, Dayan  Ha-Emet!

We acknowledge you, Eternal One, as our God, as Sovereign of All, as the One who decrees our reality.


יְיָ נָתַן וַיְיָ לָקָח, יְהִי שֶׁם יְיָ מְבֹרָךְ

Adonay natan, Adonay lakakh, yehi shem Adonay mevorakh.

The Eternal gives because God is the source of all, and the Eternal takes because God is the culmination of all, yet we praise the Eternal’s name not for beginnings or endings but for the life and love that can only exist between those boundaries.1

(Tear the ribbon)

PSALM 6 / תהילים פרק ו

יְהוָה אַל־בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי וְאַל־בַּחֲמָתְךָ תְיַסְּרֵנִי:
חָנֵּנִי יְהֹוָה כִּי אֻמְלַל אָנִי רְפָאֵנִי יְהֹוָה כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ עֲצָמָי:
וְנַפְשִׁי נִבְהֲלָה מְאֹד וְאַתָּ [וְאַתָּה] יְהֹוָה עַד־מָתָי:
שׁוּבָה יְהֹוָה חַלְּצָה נַפְשִׁי הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ:
כִּי אֵין בַּמָּוֶת זִכְרֶךָ בִּשְׁאוֹל מִי יוֹדֶה־לָּךְ:
יָגַעְתִּי בְּאַנְחָתִי אַשְׂחֶה בְכָל־לַיְלָה מִטָּתִי בְּדִמְעָתִי עַרְשִׂי אַמְסֶה:
עָשְׁשָׁה מִכַּעַס עֵינִי עָתְקָה בְּכָל־צוֹרְרָי
סוּרוּ מִמֶּנִּי כָּל־פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן כִּי־שָׁמַע יְהֹוָה קוֹל בִּכְיִי:
שָׁמַע יְהֹוָה תְּחִנָּתִי יְהֹוָה תְּפִלָּתִי יִקָּח:
 יֵבשׁוּ וְיִבָּהֲלוּ מְאֹד כָּל־אֹיְבָי יָשֻׁבוּ יֵבשׁוּ רָגַע

6 O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger,
neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak:
O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
3 My soul is also sore vexed:
but thou, O Lord, how long?
4 Return, O Lord, deliver my soul:
oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee:
in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
6 I am weary with my groaning;
all the night make I my bed to swim; I
 water my couch with my tears.
7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief;
it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity;
for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.
9 The Lord hath heard my supplication;
the Lord will receive my prayer.
10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed:
let them return and be ashamed suddenly.2

Fountain of Mercy, Comforter of All, the One found in sorrow as well as in joy, be present for us in this moment of loss.  Stand with us as we stand with (parents’ name), who when looking forward to the miracle of life, have encountered the darkness of death.  Tears of mourning have taken the place of tears of joy.  Dreams of a baby’s cries have become their sorrow.  Sadness has overcome their lives as they recall their hopes, as they imagine what might have been.

Whatever life is, life is unpredictable.  Our blessings and troubles often come without warning, and appear without a reason.  But life has the power to transcend loss and love contains the strength to overcome death. 

As they struggle with the loss, support (parents’ name) trust in the love that brought them together.  May they find strength in their hearts and courage to go forward in life.  May they always be surrounded by dear ones and friends.  May they soon find the beacon of hope reaching out to them through the real darkness of this moment.

We pray that the life force of (baby’s name,) their unborn / stillborn child, taken from them before its first breath, be returned to the treasury of life.  In the presence of the Source of All Life, may the recollection of the life that was not to be, help (parents’ name), their family and friends find the blessing of life, through the sustaining gifts of love, memory and hope.3

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ זוֹכֵר יְצוּרָיו לְחַיִּים בְּרַחֲמִים:

Barukh Atah Adonay, zokher y’tzurav l’chayim b’rakhamim.

We bless you Eternal One as our God, whose compassion renews us unto life.
(from the High Holiday Amidah)



Gilda Radner, acknowledging the reality of her approaching death from cancer, said . . .

I wanted a perfect ending.
Now I’ve learned, the hard way,
that some poems don’t rhyme,
and some stories don’t have
a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Life is about not knowing,
having to change,
taking the moment
and making the best of it,
without knowing
what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.

In these moments – when nothing makes sense, when reasonable expectations are overturned, when light is eclipsed, when words lose their power – all that is left is silence.  Let us pause for a moment to enter that silence as we explore the frightful and liberating ambiguity of life.4

PSALM 121 / תהילים פרק קכא

שִׁיר לַמַּעֲלוֹת אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי אֶל־הֶהָרִים מֵאַיִן יָבֹא עֶזְרִי:
עֶזְרִי מֵעִם יְהֹוָה עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ:
אַל־יִתֵּן לַמּוֹט רַגְלֶךָ אַל־יָנוּם שֹׁמְרֶךָ:
הִנֵּה לֹא יָנוּם וְלֹא יִישָׁן שׁוֹמֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל:
יְהֹוָה שֹׁמְרֶךָ יְהֹוָה צִלְּךָ עַל־יַד יְמִינֶךָ:
יוֹמָם הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לֹא־יַכֶּכָּה וְיָרֵחַ בַּלָּיְלָה:
יְהוָה יִשְׁמָרְךָ מִכָּל־רָע יִשְׁמֹר אֶת־נַפְשֶׁךָ:
יְהוָה יִשְׁמָר־צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד־עוֹלָם

 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.5


PSALM 23 / תהילים פרק כג

מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד יְהֹוָה רֹעִי לֹא אֶחְסָר:
בִּנְאוֹת דֶּשֶׁא יַרְבִּיצֵנִי עַל־מֵי מְנֻחוֹת יְנַהֲלֵנִי:
נַפְשִׁי יְשׁוֹבֵב יַנְחֵנִי בְמַעְגְּלֵי־צֶדֶק לְמַעַן שְׁמוֹ:
גַּם כִּי־אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת לֹא־אִירָא רָע כִּי־אַתָּה עִמָּדִי שִׁבְטְךָ וּמִשְׁעַנְתֶּךָ הֵמָּה יְנַחֲמֻנִי:
תַּעֲרֹךְ לְפָנַי ׀ שֻׁלְחָן נֶגֶד צֹרְרָי דִּשַּׁנְתָּ בַשֶּׁמֶן רֹאשִׁי כּוֹסִי רְוָיָה:
אַךְ טוֹב וָחֶסֶד יִרְדְּפוּנִי כָּל־יְמֵי חַיָּי וְשַׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית־יְהֹוָה לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים:

1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.6


Yitgadal v‘yitkadash sh‘meih  raba. B‘al‘ma di v‘ra chiruteih, v‘yamlich malchuteih b‘chayeichon

יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא. בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא כִרְעוּתֵהּ, וְיַמְלִיךְ מַלְכוּתֵהּ בְּחַיֵּיכוֹן

uv‘yomeichon uv‘chayei d‘chol beit yisra-eil, ba-agala uvizman  kariv, v‘imru amein.

וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן וּבְחַיֵּי דְכָל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל. בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:

Y‘hei sh‘meih raba m‘varach l‘alam ul‘al‘mei al‘maya.

יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא:

Yitbarach v‘yishtabach v‘yitpa-ar v‘yitromam v‘yitnasei v‘yithadar v‘yitaleh v‘yithalal sh‘meih d‘kudsha b‘rich hu,l’eila [u l’eila] mi-kol

יִתְבָּרַךְ וְיִשְׁתַּבַּח, וְיִתְפָּאַר וְיִתְרוֹמַם וְיִתְנַשֵּׂא וְיִתְהַדָּר וְיִתְעַלֶּה וְיִתְהַלָּל שְׁמֵהּ דְּקֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא לְעֵֽלָּא [וּלְעֵלָּא] מִכָּל

birchata v‘shirata tushb‘chata v‘nechemata,

da-amiran b‘al‘ma,  v‘imru amein. 

בִּרְכָתָא וְשִׁירָתָא, תֻּשְׁבְּחָתָא וְנֶחֱמָתָא, דַּאֲמִירָן בְּעָלְמָא, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:

Y‘hei sh‘lama raba min sh‘maya, v‘chayim aleinu  v‘al kol yisra-eil, v‘imru amein.

יְהֵא שְׁלָמָא רַבָּא מִן שְׁמַיָּא וְחַיִּים עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:

Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya-aseh shalom aleinu v‘al kol yisra-eil, v‘imru  amein.

עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו, הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם, עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל כָּל יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵבֵל, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:


May God’s name be made great and holy in the world, which God created according to his will.

May God’s dominion become real in your lives and throughout your days and in the life of all Israel and may this happen speedily and soon and let us say, “Amen!”

May God’s exalted name be blessed in this and in all worlds forever!

May the Blessed One’s holy name be blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, proclaimed, glorified, elevated, and lauded beyond (between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur: well beyond) all the words of blessing, song, praise and consolation that we can utter in this world and let us say, “Amen!”

May there be abounding peace and life from heaven for us and for all Israel, and let us say, “Amen!”

May the One who creates peace in the heavens above, grant peace to us, to all Israel and to all who share this world, and let us say, “Amen!”

May the Fountain of Compassion flow freely for us and for all those whose hearts are torn in sorrow.  “Amen!”

1 Rabbi Lewis John Eron
2 King James Version
3 Rabbi Lewis John Eron
4 Ibid
5 King James Version
6 Rabbi Lewis John Eron

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