On Removing a Child’s Life Support

baby-teardropThis is a difficult prayer for a difficult moment. A private moment. A moment no one should have to face. It’s for use by parents when removing the life support of a child. It is divided into two parts: a meditation before the removal of life support and a brief prayer after the child passes on. I wrote this at the request of Rabbi Stephanie Covitz, resident chaplain at a children’s hospital in Ohio, who recently participated in such a moment. May the family, and all who face these unthinkable choices, find consolation and healing. In the weeks ahead, I will also post an adaptation of this prayer for use by clergy. This prayer will appear in my forthcoming book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

On Removing a Child’s Life Support
Before the Removal

Soul of the Universe,
When I/we dreamed of becoming [a father / a mother / parents]
I (we) never expected to face the death of my/our son/daughter,
Still only [a baby / child / youth / teen / in his/her prime],
Or to remove life support,
And, in days to come, to bury him/her.
You have challenged me/us to make painful choices,
Unimaginable choices,
And yet, G-d of Ages, benevolent and holy choices.

I/We do this in the name of healing.
And I/we do this in the name of kindness.

I/We do this in the name of mercy.
And I/we do this in the name of grace.

I/We do this in the name of love.
I/we do this in the name of compassion.

I/We do this from the depths our despair
Praying to find a path back to wholeness and life renewed.

After Passing
Author of Life,
Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace to
______________________ (name of the child in Hebrew or your native tongue),
My child,
Whose life has ended too soon.
May the memory of my/our son/daughter be sanctified with joy and love.
May his / her soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A source of blessing in our midst.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here’s a “Meditation on the Burial of a Young Child.” See also “For the Bereaved” and “For Bereaved Children.” I’m honored that Rabbi Covitz used some of my work in her Rabbinic thesis and has turned to me for assistance on several occasions.

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