Letting your heart speak for you in silence
Author's note ... Many good and helpful people are at a complete loss for words when trying to console a newly-bereaved parent. I am here to assure them that is okay. Better nothing said than the wrong thing. When the mouth fails, let your heart speak for you in silence.
I dedicate these words to my late son Ben whose thirteenth yahrzeit we observe on the twenty-fourth day of Heshvan, corresponding to Monday, the twenty-eighth day of October.
I believe that deep, deep down all bereaved parents want and may even need to share the experience of their loss of life with others.
Though mourning is finite in length, grief is not and becomes our companion, as it were, for the rest of our lives. "Absence becomes presence," author Robert Avrech insightfully remarks regarding the loss of his first-born son.
The popular notion that "time heals all wounds" is "fools' gold" although I do agree that, in some instances, the intensity of grief does diminish as the years pass.
I would be truly shocked, however, if any parent, Jewish or Gentile, who had suffered the death of a child, were to tell me he no longer grieved, that his wound had healed.
One must not try to grieve alone. I know. I tried. I stopped going to minyan. The results? Isolation instead of resolution; loneliness instead of "oneness".
The only real friends I had, my synagogue community, understood. "Give him space and time. He'll come back."
They waited. I came back.
Yes, there are intensely private, painful moments in grief. They leave more slowly than they arrive.
You wonder whether sharing will be therapeutic.
Yes, because the people with whom you share your grief: neighbors and friends are the very folks who want to help but cannot if they don’t know.
Bereaved parents? They’re just about everywhere you are, perhaps even among your neighbors and friends.
How to start? By waiting. It won't be long before "How many kids 'd'ya' have?" So, tell them.
"Well, three but our son Ben passed away ... "
And after it's gotten around, as it will, invite your neighbors and friends to an open house/Oneg Shabbat to be held in your home.
Alan D. Busch