Chai Lifeline Shabbaton for Bereaved Parents this coming Shabbos
They asked me to speak at Lunch - Not a clue as to what to say.
The following is a very raw rambling of my attempt to write
I was asked to say a few words at this festive meal for a few reasons – 1) You already know why my wife and I are here, 2) I do speak a lot and have spoken a few times about what lessons I have learned from the tragedy and lastly I am pretty much never at a loss for words – so I said “sure”
• As much as I tried to figure out what I thought might be helpful to convey to everyone here – I couldn’t think of one thing
• I could speak to an audience that hasn’t necessarily experienced what we have but us?
• You know, even when people tried to comfort me and said “there are no words” as well meaning as they tried to be –those words of “there are no words” felt so hollow, so contrived, so…. Not comforting- I was in too much pain to hear any word.
• So what I could say here today?
• Even when someone shared with us that they had experienced the same tragedy I was like in my mind “ you know I can’t take this- all my compassion and mercy is already used up for me and my family –telling me about your child is a burden for me
• Even if you are not alone in your life - I do have to say that there is such an acute feeling of existential loneliness- certainly if you are shouldering this completely alone - one feels totally alone,
• So alone if there isn’t anyone who understands you, if there isn’t anyone who can really care just exactly how you are feeling, if there isn't anyone who can experience the thoughts you have just as you have experienced them
• At some point most people yell out to the heavens and say “I’m so alone” – and sometimes as much as you might have a partner who would like to share “your” pain –they just can’t.
• Seemingly they just can’t get on the same page as you and completely lift your burden
• And you just can’t blame them at all – they can only do the very best they can – they are so totally innocent – reacting to only what just comes to their mind –limited as to their thoughts –a prisoner of their own constraints and pain
• So much so you sometimes can see their pain and come to a realization as to just how lonely they are – and wow what they must be feeling-oyyyyy- Until you engender your feelings for them
• “I feel so badly for them-my spouse- my partner- and just sometimes at that moment of love and compassion for them – my own loneliness –for just a moment –maybe more disappears
• But even when not in your own compassion – just realizing that they are doing just the very best they can –can take the sharp edge of the anger of feeling so alone –
• the sharp edge of your being critical and judgmental of your partner and spouse and forgiving of the fact that that your partner and spouse is doing little to alleviate your pain
• Nothing is perfect- I can’t have someone totally on my page- taking care of the depth of agony that I feel, they can’t (no matter how close you are with your spouse) take care of my feeling so lost, so confused
• But hopefully I do have someone in my life that shares my very same loss –our daughter- and while not my whole page can my spouse share
• She is the only one who is going through the same agony and terror albeit in a different way and in that there is an opportunity (if you can reign your criticalness and judgmental-ness)
• To further create an indelible, unbreakable bond that only he/she can do- that is deeper than every before the loss –
• Even with a vulnerable -bare – a brief acknowledgement that I too am am my own living hell from a common place - a common source - and in my own way, which is only what I can do am I sharing this experience with you.
• And in that maybe, perhaps your immense yoke can ease a little bit and your spouse and in that way your spouse can become a source of comfort in a way that no-one else can possibly do
• This was all – that I have absolutely nothing to say to all of you that I think would be helpful –
• I could share something that I have found to be helpful to me