Bereavement is never easy, let’s discuss it - opinion

The truth is that people generally do not know how to deal with someone who has become bereaved.

 Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai lays a wreath on the grave of police volunteer Amichai Carmeli  (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai lays a wreath on the grave of police volunteer Amichai Carmeli
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Four months ago, I was having a lovely Shabbat on a quiet day in March, blissfully unaware of what was in store for me when Shabbat ended. I found out my oldest brother had taken his life, leaving behind his loving wife and five beautiful children, ages 11 down to 4 months old. I was suddenly thrust into a world I never wanted to be in. It started with being up all night to catch an early morning flight to Tel Aviv and finished with taking the pulpit to be the lead family member to eulogize my brother.

Have you ever had a car accident where the airbags were deployed or have you been a sudden victim of a crime?

That jolt you feel, and that shock, surprise, pain, anger and hurt are all symptoms I experienced initially and continue to experience today. Having been in bereavement counseling for over three months, I have gone through many ups and downs. Questions, coming to terms with everything, exploring feelings and the inevitable grandiose assessment: could I have done anything?

The truth is that people generally do not know how to deal with someone who has become bereaved. I didn’t before I was bereaved. I would make excuses not to go to shiva houses, thinking that I didn’t want to envelop myself in such sadness or that I would be a burden on people who just wanted to be left alone with some peace and quiet to grieve on their own. How naive I was.

I will say proudly that the people who flocked in and out of my late brother’s home in Ramat Beit Shemesh to tell us stories about him or just to share their own experiences with a death that was so sudden were some of the most important experiences I took from that harrowing week. These were some of the building blocks I needed to get on with my life.

Don’t underestimate the power of making yourself uncomfortable by going to a shiva house or speaking to someone who is grieving. Companionship is ever-so-important in the process.

I still suffer. I love my brother so much and I miss him every day. I think I will always be in some form not 100% whole, if that makes sense, but this is what happens to everyone. Eventually, we will all experience bereavement, and will feel lost and alone. Some may be lucky and experience this in their old age. Others may not be so lucky, like myself, and experience this as a young person. I am writing this to hopefully break a stigma and if I can help one person feel that they are not alone, then this has served its purpose.

There are times when I burst out crying, thinking about my loss. That is normal. Everything we go through in grief is normal. The key is knowing that we will be OK. We won’t be the same, but we will be OK.

If you have been bereaved and would like to get in touch or if you have anything to share, send me an email – [email protected]