The Blessings of Mourning with Rabbi Anne Brener

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More than comfort is offered here, as Brener unfolds for us a unique perspective on grieving and mourning. She draws from the Jewish tradition, which is particularly rich and skillful on this topic: “Judaism does this well,” she says. “Our mourning rituals are really healing rituals, and there’s a wisdom in these ancient rituals” that makes them applicable to grieving persons from any cultural background. The much-needed first step is to acknowledge mourning in a society that wants to ignore it. “I’m committed to depathologizing grief,” Brener explains. “Grief is not an illness. Grief is an appropriate response to something that is basic to being human - and people need support and tools.” In this discussion we gain tools for healing current grief and even long-ago losses that we have not fully processed. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Rabbi Anne Brener, LCSW, is a psychotherapist, spiritual director, and frequent “scholar-in-residence” across the United States and internationally. Her work focuses particularly on the issues of grief, mourning, spirituality and healing. A founder of one of California’s first shelters for victims of Domestic Violence, she has worked as a Hospice Chaplain and co-founded a training program for Jewish Spiritual Directors. She is Professor of Ritual and Spiritual Development at the Academy for Jewish Religion and a Faculty member at Morei Derekh, a program in Jewish Spiritual Direction. 

Anne Brener is the author of several books including: 

  • Mourning and Mitzvah (Jewish Lights 3rd Edition 2017) 

To learn more about the work of Rabbi Brener go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • The three parts of the healing process of mourning
  • Using breath to connect with feelings
  • How the Judaic tradition encourages healing from grief
  • Processing previous losses of all kinds
  • Appropriate ways to relate to those who are mourning
  • The relation between grieving and other kinds of personal growth
  • The Judaic concept of soul
  • The use of writing to help process emotions
  • The role of prayer in grieving

 Host: Michael Toms           Interview Date: 3/18/1994         Program Number: 2453