Illness, Loss & Grief Support

“I am with you in times of trouble, I will strengthen you and honor you.” (based on Psalm 91:15)

During the most challenging of times, we ensure that life is honored, human dignity is respected, and kindness is shown to individuals and families who are coping with illness, loss and grief.

JCFS Chicago works in collaboration with the Chicago Board of Rabbis and CJE SeniorLife.

Support for Individuals and Families

  • Healing Through the Seasons
    • Quarterly community-wide grief support programs that incorporate music, mindfulness, grief education, first person narratives, and opportunities to share your loss with others. You can view videos of previous programs here.
  • Grief support groups
    • Monthly groups for adults who have experienced the death of a loved-one within the past two years, in partnership with area congregations, currently offered on Mondays and Wednesdays.
    • Monthly group for young adults grieving the death of a parent, sibling, or partner, in partnership with Mishkan Chicago and Base Hillel.
    • Hand in Hand: a group for those under age sixty who are grieving the death of their spouse or partner within the past two years.
    • Healing Hearts: a group for older adults grieving the death of their spouse/partner within the past two years.  
    • Grieving a Loss to Suicide: monthly group for adults navigating the world after the death of a loved one to suicide.
    • Other groups as needed.
  • Help and Healing Workshops
    • The Healing Shofar, for bereaved adults anticipating the major Jewish Fall Holidays after the death of a loved one.
    • The Empty Chair, for bereaved adults grieving the death of loved ones who will not be at this year’s Passover seder.
    • Workshops that explore the healing power of art, music, reading and/or writing.
  • Jewish Chaplaincy Services offers welcoming, compassionate, easily accessible and professional spiritual support for individuals and families.
  • Suicide prevention education and support, in partnership with MISSD (The Medication-Induced Suicide Prevention and Education Foundation in Memory of Stewart Dolin) and No Shame on U. 

Information and Resources 

Community and Professional Education

  • Bikur Cholim trainings for synagogue communities and other Jewish organizations to strengthen skills needed to sensitively and compassionately provide comfort and care to congregants and community members.
  • Clinical training for mental health professionals on grief and loss.
  • Learning opportunities focused on illness and death through a Jewish lens to help hospices and other healthcare facilities provide culturally sensitive care. 

Strength through Meditation

  • A guided meditation for support and healing during challenging times is available in this document and audio file.
  • A meditation on forgiveness, specially developed for preparation for  Yom Kippur is available in this document and audio file.

Support & Funding
JF/JUF Fund for Innovation in Health (funded by the Michael Reese Health Trust) and The Albert and Lucille Delighter and Marcella Winston Foundation, a Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, The Lauri S. Bauer Foundation for Sudden Loss and other generous donors.

For more information, please contact:

Marsha Raynes, LCSW, Manager, Adoption, Infertility and Bereavement Supports, 847.745.5408.
Rabbi Joseph S. Ozarowski, D. Min., BCC, Rabbinic Counselor and Chaplain847.745.5433.