A shave to remember by
(51 Stories)

Prompted By Haircuts

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My mother died in 2017

“Let your beard grow for 30 days. And quietly remind yourself That you are a son in mourning for your mother."

And my friend Marc told me about “Shloshim.”

He had not known the practice when his parents died

But afterward, he wished he had

“Let your beard grow for 30 days.

And quietly remind yourself

That you are a son in mourning for your mother

When the day arrives to shave it off

You are ready to move on.”

To remove it called for ceremony

I found an app

All-Klezmer-music, all the time

With a French-speaking commentator to introduce the songs

As Radio Yiddish played

I shaved

And blessed the memory of

Beatrice Borman Fink

Leon, Dad, Dale, Mom (1950)




Profile photo of Dale Borman Fink Dale Borman Fink
Dale Borman Fink retired in 2020 from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, MA, where he taught courses related to research methods, early childhood education, special education, and children’s literature. Prior to that he was involved in childcare, after-school care, and support for the families of children with disabilities. Among his books are Making a Place for Kids with Disabilities (2000) Control the Climate, Not the Children: Discipline in School Age Care (1995), and a children’s book, Mr. Silver and Mrs. Gold (1980). In 2018, he edited a volume of his father's recollections, called SHOPKEEPER'S SON.

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Characterizations: been there, moving, well written


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    I never know about this custom, Dale, but what a beautiful way to honor your mother and officially end the mourning period.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    That is truly lovely, Dale. A beautiful and fitting tribute for your mother and a perfect way to honor her memory. I appreciate the photos you included of her in addition to the before and after of yourself as well.

    May her memory be a blessing.

  3. Suzy says:

    My rabbi told me about Shloshim when my mother died, and we held a service for her after 30 days instead of sitting shiva, but I didn’t know about letting your beard grow. I wonder if there is any comparable action for women in mourning.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    Thanks for sharing this Dale. Ritual can be very healing. I wasn’t familiar with this one, but it sounds as if it was helpful. Grief doesn’t end, but some things help you move forward nonetheless. Blessings.

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    Having our dear friend Stacy die last October, not that many years after her Mom, we have grown familiar with Jewish traditions surrounding the death of a loved one. I find them very beautiful, poignant, and well thought out to help those left behind to move on with life after such a loss.

    • Yes, Dave. It was comforting to have something so clear and concrete and part of “daily life.” It gave me an easy way to tell people at work that I was in mourning, too, (“hey, Dale, rocking a new look.?”) which was nice because it’s easy to shunt those feelings aside and I think healthier to be reminded at least several times a day, even if you are the type of person who is trying to focus on other things and go about your regular life.

  6. A beautiful, moving story and tribute, Dale. Just 100 words, and just perfect.

  7. Marian says:

    This is such a touching and healing ritual, Dale, and I didn’t know about the growth of a beard, but it makes perfect sense. We do need some sort of corollary ritual for women. My dad died on the first night of Hanukkah in 2001 and then Christmas and New Year’s happened, so shloshim was the perfect time to have a memorial service for him. My family felt the distinct mark of time and could return to our daily activities.

  8. Well done, Dale. I, too, was unaware of the custom; thanks for sharing it.

  9. Risa Nye says:

    Dale, this was a new one on me, as well. I’ve always been kind of fascinated with the ritual of shaving, from the time I used to watch my dad–to the time I suggested it was time for each of my two sons to start shaving. This is such a meaningful tradition to honor the loss of a loved one.

  10. Beautiful Dale, may her memory be for a blessing.

  11. John Shutkin says:

    Also a new custom for me too, Dale. But a very touching one and I hope it helped the healing. Certainly, the shaving is an apt way to express “moving on.”

    Great use of RetroFlash and its poetic possibilities, and also of the lovely pictures. (The before and after ones were absolutely crucial, of course.)

  12. I love this poem and the feeling behind it. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Nice to read of from a man who misses his mother combined with a personal emotional healing technique. Thanks.

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