Having Proper Closure

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    On the topic of tragic occurrences, I’d like to have this thread dedicated to help aid and support those who currently or who have been in the grieving process. Also for those who have friends and family suffering, and individuals who are curious and/or want to learn more about this particularly delicate subject.


    It is a delicate subject and everyone grieves in their own way although the grieving process is similar for everyone, following the same 5 stages of grieving. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Acceptance & Depression.

    Although people have the habit of saying “I know what you are going through I lost my…..” No one really knows what a person is truly going through. Even siblings grieving for the same parent are not going through the same thing and doesn’t really understand each other fully. Since each sibling has their own individual memories, their own individual experiences and therefore are going through their own individual grief and pain.

    People also are so flustered when they make their shiva call they don’t know what to say so they say the most stupid and irrational things. If you are the one unfortunately that may be entering this tragic situation please know that this is a common occurrence and the aveilim will compare notes at the end of the night and just laugh at it. Many a visitor has “redt a shidduch to the aveil”. Even thought the nifter or nifteres wasn’t yet even cold in the grave. Many a visitor put in an offer on the home, or offered the name of a good lawyer so the family can sue the doctor for malpractice.

    People should know that there is going to be awkward silences at the shiva house and that’s OK. It is not up to the visitors to make conversation. The Aveilim will begin to speak when they are ready.

    As far as helping others who are grieving. At the beginning of the process the best thing to do is be a great listener. Be there so a person can share the pain, release the pain, talk out their hearts. Be there to listen, to share, even to cry with another person. When you share the pain you allow them to unburden themselves and lighten the load.

    Also please realize that the when a person is grieving they are not their normal selves and their normal chores do not get done. Their children are missing that parent. The household is not being run normally. Ask the non-grieving parent what needs to be done to pick up the slack. What does the grieving person need? What do the kids need to help get the home back to normal.

    After a period of time, if the person in pain is not coming out to do normal things, start visiting. Don’t allow them to indulge themselves to be alone in their grief.

    Years ago I befriended a woman who had ten children and lost one to leukemia. Since that child had died 10 years earlier, it was always about mourning that child’s death. The kid’s lives were never the same, everything was about loss. Do you know what I told her? I said I can hear your child banging on his coffin yelling “can the rest of you get out of here there is no room for me!!!”. It got to her. I told her it was high time she stopped mourning his death and honor his life! That was a turning point for her.

    Hashem has it all figured out. There are very little halachas involved in the mourning ritual and that just translates into the nature of the human being, that every one is an individual and their needs are different.

    The time for mourning a child, a sibling and a parent is different and that too is natural. So watch your loved ones and don’t let things get too out of control or out of hand. If you think they are going too far, you might have to get them professional assistance.


    There was a terrible tragedy in our community last week. Four wonderful people passed away in a terrible accident. Everyone is still reeling from what happened and people are having trouble continuing with their lives and people who barely knew them are breaking down to cry when least expected.


    I have heard such things as mybat described, in recent years. It just feels like more and more tzaar is coming to the Jewish community at large. And it is often the innocent and worse yet, the very young, who are collaterally damaged. I really don’t know how one can rebound from that.


    Aries, your explanation is appreciated. But the way you treat a naive formulaic reading of Kubler-Ross as if it were engraved on stone tablets by the Finger of G-d is not as helpful. In the forty years since she wrote Death and Dying we’ve found that not everyone experiences these stages. Certainly not in a strict order – which you have consistently gotten wrong exchanging Depression and Acceptance. And not in all cases. There is research which indicates that she may well have gotten it wrong and that the expectation that one is supposed to go through these stages in order and as prescribed may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Her later attempts to extend it to all traumatic events is a case of making too much stew from one oyster.

    I have experienced great personal loss which did not fit her prescription at all as has almost everyone who has lived long enough to see a number of tragedies.

    It’s a rough guide, not a Law of Nature. I’d hate to see grieving people take it too seriously and believe they are “stuck” or abnormal because they don’t follow the steps as laid out.


    Anuran, I have no clue who you are talking about. Grieving is a process and these are the most common stages. No it is not written in stone as I mentioned, each person goes through their own personal pain and their own grieving process as everyone is unique and individual. However, since these are the most common and the most known, and what I know of personally to the best of my knowledge that is what I wrote about.

    People who are entering the mourning period should not be surprised by these feelings and emotions. Their friends and families should not be surprised or frightened by it either.

    In addition, an aveil will have the most uncomfortable feeling of loss of bitachon and emunah. You might feel your bitachon level drop all the way down to zero. But please do not be scared it is normal, and rest assured it will return.


    When I lost my parents O”H within five months of each other, and so unexpectedly, this was how my grieving stages went. 1) disbelief 2) acceptance 3) acceptance 4) acceptance 5) acceptance. I cried and cried, and cried some more, buckets every day for an entire year, and then to a lesser extent for another two years, and now, just when I am especially missing them (which granted is every day) I don’t break down sobbing, as I used to, more like just tearing up).

    As soon as the initial shock of realization hit me (my siblings as well), we immediately accepted that this is what it was. There was no illusion that they would rebound from their respective imminently fatal strokes. Neither did we bargain with Hashem,except to say, please don’t let them suffer any pain. When we said Boruch Dayan HaEmes, we had 100% complete kavanna and were not merely repeating the words we were told to say. I realize this is not necessarily typical, but we have strong emunah, raised as we were in a very frum, but also modern Orthodox home (and I say that to show that one need not be Yeshivish in order to have real bitachon in Hashem and accept His Ratzon as Just).

    Everyone deals with grief in a different and private way. there is no one right formula, Kubler/Ross notwithstanding, and different people have different coping mechanisms. When people came into our shiva house,they were shocked at times to see us crying, and then minutes later laughing our head off, too. What they did not realize was that we were telling over stories that contained both elements within them, one making us very sad, the other lifting our spirits greatly. So it really is a case of different strokes for different folks.



    You make good points; your sincerity is very apparent.

    I do wish to note that grieving is one place that I wish weren’t “clinicalized”, “psychologized”, and wrapped up in wise sounding therapeutic cubbies, EVEN with the “all-knowing” caveat of “of course, each process is highly individual”.

    I do know you had and have NO intention of doing so, but sometimes, categorizing the grieving process in the way you did has the inadvertent effect of doing so. Please excuse my fabricated words; I usually have a more sophisticated vocabulary. For grieving, though, sophistication goes out the window, and each mourner rides a painful, oftentimes excruciatingly lonely, and sometimes deeply spiritual journey that cannot be wrapped up in any wise-sounding manner. This area is untouchable.

    All your other points are terrific and on-the-mark. Please don’t take offense, and thank you for the rest of your well-spoken words.


    Aries, Bemused says what I’m trying to express with a lot more sensitivity and wisdom.

    And with forty years of this being presented there’s some evidence that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. People expect that they will go through these stages in order, neatly and cleanly. So they feel worse when they don’t or put themselves through extra pain forcing themselves into the mold.

    I recently lost someone who meant more to me than all but a few people in the world. My sorrow was genuine. I loved her deeply and will miss her terribly for a very long time. But I wasn’t angry. I didn’t bargain. There was no denying what was going to happen. She had lived a very long, full life and simply came to the end of it at an improbably ripe old age.


    Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Acceptance & Depression.

    Let’s see, when I lost my mother I went through Acceptance, Depression, Acceptance.

    When I lost my father I went through Acceptance, Denial, Acceptance, Depression, Acceptance, Depression, Acceptance, Depression . . .

    Somehow I missed out on the Anger and Bargaining. And the reason there was Denial with my father and not my mother is probably because I was there when she died but not there when he died.


    Well again, everyone is different. I have one sister and one brother, and they didn’t experience what I did when my father died. Are they stronger than I am? Am I more sensitive and emotional? Or did we all have different relationships with my father?

    Probably, all of the above. What I listed and not bulleted, or outlined, was the most common 5 stages of the grieving process which you will find if you google “grieving process”. zeh hu! It helps to know that these strange feelings and emotions that might creep up on you is quite normal and you are not going crazy although you might feel that you are. You might experience it while your siblings don’t, as I did. The day after my father’s shloshim, 31 days exactly, my cousin made a wedding and both my siblings attended with my Mom. They each took some job like giving out the seating cards or holding the light for the camera, etc. so they can be in attendance. Everyone called and yelled at me that I have to go, how could I not? My question was “how could you go?”. My husband and kids went, and I stayed home alone, because I lost my father and I didn’t feel like finding an excuse or a loop hole to absolve my obligation to him. I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want to dance, I didn’t want to smile and I didn’t want people to look at me.

    My intention was not and is not to have a debate on what is the most common, or what is the proper way, or what psychologists agree on. I was simply answering an inquiry to the best of my knowledge.


    I understand what Aries is saying very well. I also had a cousin’s son’s wedding a couple of months after my father was niftar. In our case, all of my sibs’ spouses and my husband attended the chasunah, but we siblings opted not to attend with or without a loophole. BTW, I do not judge or condemn anyone who chooses to avail himself or herself of a halachic loophole. it is for you and your rov to discuss, and is not my business. If a rov says it is ok, then that’s the p’sak for that person. For me, it was not what I wanted to try to get a heter to do. Had it been my sister or brothers who were making the simcha, I probably would have felt different. I cannot say, and this is a moot point now, as my parents are gone 15-16 years.

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