An orphan is someone who buries a parent.
An orphaned generation buries its children.
We are rapidly becoming an orphaned generation as we are losing more and more of our beautiful children, young adults, and adults to overdoses and suicides.
I don’t have any hard numbers, but it most certainly seems that these tragedies have been rapidly increasing over the past months. In fact, earlier this week, a thirty-something young man who works in this space shared with me that he buried four friends in the past two weeks.
From the depths of my shattered soul, I beg each and every member of our community to support those who are struggling with these challenges and to keep a watchful eye and ear to the subtle cues they often share about their pain and struggles. All too often, they blow right past us until we remember them at a funeral or memorial commemoration.
Several months ago at a funeral of this nature, a dozen friends of the deceased gathered to share their memories of his all-too-short life. One of the people who spoke was a middle-aged, chassidic person. He softly stated that his son was struggling with addiction and said, “I am terrified that I might be here one day burying my own son.”
He said that his family is following the advice they received from rabbonim and professionals who are knowledgeable in these matters [to give their son the “space” and the love/support he needs] even though, “it is very, very difficult for us to do that.”
My message to parents, siblings, friends and loved ones of abuse victims and people struggling with addiction is that you please listen to the wise words of that father and offer support in every way possible. And to all members of our community, always keep in mind that you never really know what pain and suffering people are contending with.
To my brothers and sisters who are battling the demons of addiction, mental illness and the searing effects of childhood abuse; please, please reach out for help today and may Hashem grant you healing, comfort, support and courage.
POSTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and founder and Director of Project Y.E.S. (Youth Enrichment Services). He is recognized throughout the Jewish community as an authority on raising children in these troubled times. His bold and insightful presentations, workshops, CD’s, and articles have helped to mold a generation of parents and educators. He is the author of two books, Growing with the Parsha and Living and Parenting, and has produced a whole host of best-selling parenting audio-visual materials. He is a regular contributor on Torah, educational, and parenting topics to The Jewish Observer, The Jewish Press, Mishpacha, and Hamodia periodicals.
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