(When I was asking the wonderful people at the Ronald McDonald House about the various issues that would concern us as orthodox Jews, they put me in touch with Sarah Devorah. Her son had a transplant at Fairview 4 years ago. She has been a wonderful source of inspiration to me. Here is a small part of what she signed in our guestbook. She forwarded it from a pediatric nurse who gave it to her. It really sums up how there really isn't anything to say. -L)

When No Words Seem Appropriate

I won't say, "I know how you feel" - because I don't. I've lost parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, but I've never lost a child. So how can I say I know how you feel? I won't say, "You'll get over it" - because you won't. Life will have to go on. The washing, cooking, cleaning, the common routine. These chores will take your mind off your loved one, but the hurt will still be there.

I won't say, "Your other children will be a comfort to you" - because they may not be. Many mothers I've talked to say that after they have lost a child, they easily lose their temper with their remaining children. Some even feel resentful that they're alive and healthy when the other child is not.

I won't say, "Never mind, you're young enough to have another baby" - because that won't help. A new baby cannot replace the one that you've lost. A new baby will fill your hours, keep you busy, give you sleepless nights. But it will not replace the one you've lost.

You may hear all these platitudes from your friends and relatives. They think they are helping. They don't know what else to say. You will find out who your true friends are at this time. Many will avoid you because they can't face you. Others will talk about the weather, the holidays and the school concert but never about how you're coping.

So what will I say?

I will say, "I'm here. I care. Anytime. Anywhere." I will talk about your loved one. We'll laugh about the good memories. I won't mind how long you grieve. I won't tell you to pull yourself together.

No, I don't know how you feel - but with sharing, perhaps I will learn a little of what you are going through. And perhaps you'll feel comfortable with me and find your burden has eased. Try me.


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