A guide for the bereaved

To the families of those killed in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Moshe Holtzberg 298.88 (photo credit: )
Moshe Holtzberg 298.88
(photo credit: )
To the families of those killed in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, It will take many years before you accept that you are the person whom tragedy has visited. Make no mistake; this tragedy will affect you for the rest of your life. You will long for the person who was murdered. You will long for the person you used to be. People will ask you: Do you hate the killers. And when you answer no, they will think that something is wrong with you. But hate is not something you have the energy for; you are too sad to hate. Besides you are a person who loves. To turn to hate would make you like the killers, and you refuse to let that happen to you. You will never have the happiness that you had, something will always be missing. The person you loved, as well as your belief that life was good. Now you have experienced true evil. Your loved one was deliberately targeted. That evil does not go away from your eyes. When you close them, you see your loved one in his last minutes - you see yourself the moment you got the news. There are short-term therapies like EMDR that can help you deal with the shock of the trauma. DON'T FORGET your other children, especially if they are young. They are the silent victims. People think they don't understand and they understand everything. They know what has happened to their brother or father or sister or mother. But they don't want to talk about it with you. Make sure they have art or music or dance therapy, that they get to express what has happened inside them. When people tell you to be strong, don't feel that you have to be. If you don't allow yourself to mourn, you will never again be happy. Mourning is the active process of transforming grief. It is a demanding process. You need support to engage in the work of mourning. There are other victims of terror who have been through what you are now experiencing. Sometimes it is other survivors who can best offer you support - not the experts who may not understand what you really need. Don't be afraid to tell others what you need. You will find gifts in your pain, new people, faith, things you didn't know. Embrace whatever blessings come to you. People will be around you at first, but then eventually it's you and your family and your grief. Let yourself cry now; otherwise you will be crying in the years to come. Don't let others tell you that your loved ones died for nothing. They died because they were innocent victims of radical Islamic hatred. They died because radical Islam is vicious and evil and worships destruction and stands against everything you hold dear. When you refuse to be bowed by hatred and savagery, you honor your loved one by sanctifying life. For this reason it is paramount that you seek justice - but do not seek revenge. Revenge embitters you while justice elevates you. Justice is motivated by love; revenge is motivated by hatred. Revenge is the modus operandi of the terrorists, and their hatred for others will in the end be defeated. Keep speaking about the evil that was perpetrated against your loved one. Don't allow the media or others to call the murderers militants or freedom fighters. Insist that your loved one's murder be remembered. The writer's 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists in 2001. She and her husband Seth created the Koby Mandell Foundation which offers healing programs for families struck by terror (kobymandell.org). Her book The Blessing of a Broken Heart won a National Jewish Book Award.