The True Kaddish
The custom of mourning was introduced in ancient times to facilitate man's adjustment to death and prepare him to face life under new circumstances. Traditionally a period of seven days — shiva — was set aside for contemplation, reflection and prayer. The family would assemble following the funeral, look back upon their dear one's life with a measure of perspective and renew their faith in God's ways. In the Process the family was drawn together both physically and spiritually.
Reform Judaism encourages a three-day mourning period. The beneficial effect of resuming one's daily endeavors is recognized. We do not sit on boxes nor cut our garments to afflict ourselves. We do not cover our mirrors to indicate our lack of interest in our own personal appearance during our period of sorrow. But a period of contemplation, of quiet meditation, the opportunity of being close to family and friends and for reflecting upon the meaning of life is still important. Our sages well declared, "ein menachem es hames," "There is no comfort in the presence of our dearly departed one." No words will bridge our gap of sorrow. Our tears are the tender tribute for lives that breathed love and warmth into our lives. Separation is the inevitable price we must all pay for years shared together. It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. God grant us the understanding that comes from looking back. God grant us the courage that springs from facing the future nobly. May our dear ones truly live on in the beauty of our lives. May this be our Kaddish — our sanctification — of them. Amen.
— Rabbi Sidney Akselrad (z"l)
A Beth Am Kaddish reference is available online.