Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has spoken movingly about losing his daughter Liora to cancer, saying he thinks about her “every single day”.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Mirvis said those in grief should be supported with “practical help” and “cocooned within the warmth of care”.
Liora Graham died aged just 30 in August 2011, after being diagnosed with colon cancer. She left behind her husband Jonny and children Kinneret and Elitzur.
The Facebook page dedicated to her memory states: “Liora faced her illness with unwavering complete belief in Hashem and showed a remarkable determination to remain positive and to celebrate all the happy things in life with true simcha and joy, which inspired those around her to do the same. Throughout her illness, Liora made it her mission to inspire people by sharing her experiences and reflections.”
The Chief Rabbi’s personal comments came ahead of a two minute silence at St Paul’s Cathedral today in memory of all those who have passed away this year – to mark the end of National Grief Awareness Week.
Mirvis added: “No two bereavements are the same. If anybody comes along and says, I know exactly what you’re going through, they don’t. Because grief is something personal. When one has suffered a deep loss, it’s with one for the rest of one’s life. And one thinks of the person every single day, and there is sadness.
“In the course of time, those who have suffered grief are hardly likely to remember the words you’ve said. I think we should primarily focus on two things. The first is to be there, be with people, give them that support, cocoon them within the warmth of your care. Number two, practical help”.
Welby opened up about the loss of his seven-month-old daughter Johanna in a car crash in 1983. The Anglican leader said: “Sometimes you’re just caught by surprise. There are days that are predictable. And then there are other days when suddenly something happens. It happened to me a couple of weeks ago, and I just suddenly thought, what would she be like?”
In terms of the pandemic, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives in the UK and more than 1.5m globally, Welby said: “I think for people around this country around the world, more than a million dead around the world this Christmas, there will be an empty chair. And it will be painful, deeply painful. I think I’d want to say be kind to yourselves. Give yourself time. Talk about the person. Be honest about your grief and your loss, that you miss them. There’s no harm in tears”.
Watch the clip here:
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