"I was searching for a way to mark the end of my treatment for breast cancer. The idea of mikveh resonated with me - entering the waters helped me release the pain I (sometimes) still feel and it helped me accept and better integrate how cancer is still a part of me and is something I can live with."
Immersion may be used to mark the changes and challenges inflicted by illness and loss. Immersion is also a way to embrace the future with gratitude.
The emotional and spiritual toll that follows many kinds of losses and struggles is not always acknowledged. Many people find that mikveh provides a way to face up to the changes wrought by pain, illness, and loss. While there is no “cure” in the waters of the mikveh, many people do find a sense of healing and wholeness there.
Some of the reasons for a healing immersion include:
- After a diagnosis of cancer, as a way to prepare for treatment or surgery
- After cancer treatment is completed and the “patient” becomes a “survivor”
- After divorce
- After a period of mourning
- After miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion
- Upon deciding to end fertility treatments
Mayyim Hayyim has a range of ceremonies to help individuals name the fear, despair, faith, gratitude, and hope that are often part of the healing process.
Mayyim Hayyim has also published a book called Blessings for the Journey: A Jewish Healing Guide for Women with Cancer. Written by a group of thirteen volunteers — cancer survivors, caregivers and health care professionals — who identified the need for a guide to the journey through treatment and its aftermath, they created an invaluable resource based on Jewish teachings and first-hand experience.