Rabbi Earl A. Grollman, 96, dies; Seeking to demystify death and grief

Rabbi Earl A. Grollman, 96, dies;  Seeking to demystify death and grief

Rabbi Earl A. Grollman, a prolific grief writer widely known for caring for those who suffered the deaths of loved ones in the 11th Home attacks in Belmont, Mass. He was 96 years old.

His daughter Sharon Grollman said the cause was heart failure.

Rabbi Grollman was known nationwide as an expert in grief counseling and appeared on “Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and other television shows. He served people of all faiths and encouraged open discussion on an often taboo topic.

He wrote more than two dozen books on death and grief, including Living When a Loved One Has Died (1977), Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers: How to Cope with Losing Someone You Love (1993), and Your Aging “. Parents: Reflections for Caregivers “(1997).

His work took him to all corners of the country. After a far-right militant bombed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people, Rabbi Grollman flew in from Boston and gave several presentations on dealing with grief. He spoke at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in that city and met with survivors, family members, and rescue workers.

“A touch of grief makes the world related,” he told The Daily Oklahoman in 1997 when he returned to the state to speak to rescue workers and others affected by the attack.

Rabbi Grollman, who for 36 years massed the Beth El Temple Center in Belmont, in the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He said a member of his former ward was a passenger aboard the fourth jet hijacked by the terrorists, United Airlines Flight 93, which was forced into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

“I tell people that the most important thing for all of us right now is to feel all of the reactions and feelings we are experiencing,” Rabbi Grollman was quoted as saying in The Vancouver Sun.

In fact, he is an advocate of openly speaking about death and grief, which many people find difficult, he said. “Death came out of the closet,” he told the New York Times in 1994.

“For so many years people thought death would go away if they didn’t talk about it,” he continued. “It was the immorality of mortality. But for the first time people are ready to acknowledge that life is the number one cause of death and they want to talk about it. ”He advised mourners with his oft-used adage,“ Grief is the price we pay for love ”.

His 1981 appearance on Mister Rogers ‘Neighborhood focused on the effects of divorce on children, and his message to them was that their negative feelings about their parents’ separation were okay, that they were natural.

Jonathan Kraus, the current rabbi at Belmont Synagogue near Boston, said Rabbi Grollman’s work on child grief was an important part of his legacy. Rabbi Grollman, he said, understood that grief can be complicated for children, but can translate these problems into simple language.

“He had the ability to make these ideas accessible without watering them down,” said Rabbi Kraus.

Earl Alan Grollman was born on July 3, 1925 in Baltimore to Gerson and Dorah (Steinbach) Grollman. His mother taught the Hebrew school; his father was selling books and postcards in the city harbor.

Earl became curious about grief at a young age. In an interview with Highmark Caring Place, an organization that helps young people deal with grief, he recalled not being allowed to attend his grandmother’s funeral when he was 14. The prevailing opinion at the time was that children had nothing to do with death.

He attended the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and was ordained in 1950. He became assistant rabbi at the Temple Israel in Boston and then in 1951 rabbi at the Beth El Temple Center in Belmont.

In seminary, he said he was not taught how to deal with death in a church, and this lack of communication about death worried him. After the death of a close friend, he wanted to advise the bereaved. But there were few resources to discuss death and grief in detail, he said.

In 1970 he published his first book on “Talking about Death: A Dialogue Between Parent and Child”.

Rabbi Grollman married Netta Levinson in 1949. His wife and his daughter survived him, as did their sons David and Jonathan; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His brother Jerome, who died in 2008, was also a rabbi and headed the United Hebrew Congregation in St. Louis.

After Rabbi Grollman retired from Beth El to focus on writing and counseling, he occasionally returned there to recite the yizkor, a memorial prayer for the dead, and used it regularly until his 90s the community.

“Obsessing over death can lead to paralysis, while ignoring it can waste opportunities,” he told the Times in 1994. “The most important thing about death is the meaning of life. Do what you have to do now. Live meaningfully today. “

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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