July 21, 2009 5:31 pm at 5:31 pm #590066
I had major surgery two weeks ago. I did not tell many people because I don’t want to be the talk in everyone’s mouth. From those people who knew about my surgery I am most grateful to those who sent over suppers, gave me books to read or CDs to watch. – Be sensitive don’t ask questions. I will tell as much as I want to. This is not only with illness but especially when people have lost their money or jobs I say please be sensitive. Don’t practise “work across the road syndrome” talk to those in suffering show them you care but Let’s try to be sensitive!July 21, 2009 5:56 pm at 5:56 pm #705343
I totally agree with you. I had a horrible experience a few years ago and people who thought they were being helpful by asking all types of questions, were just annoying me.
One must know when to back off!July 21, 2009 6:04 pm at 6:04 pm #705344JosephParticipant
nameless: What happened to you???? JK 😉July 21, 2009 7:39 pm at 7:39 pm #705345
I had some renovations in my home and the workers spilled paint all over my persian rugs. People were calling and asking me if I am insured,and for how much, blah blah blah-:) Just kidding, I wish it would have been so simple.
No-someone in my family was RL very ill, and people kept on nagging for detailsJuly 21, 2009 7:54 pm at 7:54 pm #705346anon for thisParticipant
After my father died suddenly, a number of people (during shiva & afterwards) asked intrusive questions. My sister, who is one of the smartest & nicest people I know, told me that people ask questions like that after an illness or death because they want to reassure themselves that the same sort of thing won’t happen to them. I think she’s right, & knowing this made the questions a little easier to deal with.
It is natural to feel worried after hearing bad news. But it’s not the responsibility of the availim or someone suffering from an illness to provide reassurance to others. People should talk to friends or a rav, and of course daven/ say tehillim, if they are worried about what will happen to them.July 21, 2009 8:07 pm at 8:07 pm #705347
With all respect to your clever sister, I beg to differ.
If people were so concerned about whats involved they would researcht the issues and speak o professionals.
The reason they ask these intrusive questions is satisfy their curiosity, period!!July 21, 2009 8:35 pm at 8:35 pm #705348
11 years ago during Shiva for my father O’BM, one of the “comforters” asked what he had died of. A liitle background: I never met this person before he was engaged to a friend of my wife. I replied that he had a heart attack. This person told me that I was wrong because “nobody dies of heart attacks anymore” I said my father did. He started to argue with me – yes he started to ARGUE WITH ME! Well, I was the mourner and I felt that I had some rights so I started to stand up so that I could throw him out of my house. My Rav came in about that time and quickly defused the situation.
4 years ago during Shiva for my mother O’BM, someone started peppering me with questions and advice on “how to mourn” additionally, when other visitors would come this person would berate them for not comforting the mourner properly or would accuse them of speaking loshon Hara. I left the room and requested that my wife follow. I asked my wife to tell this to leave and not return during Shiva.
In a separate post I will write what visitors brought comfort and what they did.July 21, 2009 9:03 pm at 9:03 pm #705349
Believe it or not I once witnessed the following:
A young man in his 20s was tragically murdered, leaving a poor widow with four small children. He left elderly parents and lots of syblings.
At the shiva, some idiotic woman who noticed the mother’s heart wrenching cries, piped up and said ‘You will have to learn to be ‘mekabel yisurim Bahava’!
INSENSITIVE is an understatement!!!July 21, 2009 9:07 pm at 9:07 pm #705350
there were many that brought comfort. in most cases just by walking in!
once again, a little background. I was on my way to take my mother O’BM for chemo. I stopped to get a coffee and as the pot was almost finished, someone reached in to take it. in a display of poor behavior, I snapped at the person. B’H, I came to my senses and apologized to the person for snapping at them explained my poor behavior. we introduced ourselves and each went of us went our separate ways. A few weeks later my mother was niftar and this person saw it in the Yeshiva weekly newsletter. He came to my house and just his walking in, showed me that he cared and that meant a lot to me.
Another young man could not come, so he visited on the phone. Once he was in Yeshiva in the US and once he was in E’Y and he took the time to call both times – that says I care more than he probably realized.
my experience was that those that came and were not talking (sometimes nervously) to fill the silence or to swap Shiva stories, but were just being there, were the most comforting AND it didn’t matter if I was close to the person or barely knew the person.
maybe someone should open a thread on tips when paying a Shiva call, but then again, who said what worked for me is what others need or desire.July 21, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm #705351kapustaParticipant
nameless, thats not insensitive, thats just stupid. (no better word.)
I think I once said this in the CR, but it bears repeating. I heard this straight from someone who was there. I know the person it happened too.
While she was sitting shiva for her mother, someone told her (a much older single) that now that her mother was niftar, she could get married. Its a sad sad world out there. :/July 22, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am #705352
At the shiva, some idiotic woman who noticed the mother’s heart wrenching cries, piped up and said ‘You will have to learn to be ‘mekabel yisurim Bahava’!
That is a certifiable moron. People really should be given lessons on who to be menacheim aveilim. I had an old family friend paying a shiva call when my dad O”H died, zing me with a personal and insulting remark about my appearance that was thoughtless in the extreme and cannot be repeated here. she probably thought she was being helpful. Another person came when my mom O”H passed away, and informed us that my sister had been an extremely ugly baby and she didn’t know how she could possibly wish my parents mazel tov on the birth and really mean it. She was not joking when she said this. FTR, my sister was a stunningly adorable baby, the nurses’ pet of the nursery. and kinehora still is gorgeous. I have always maintained, when you don’t know what to say, SAY NOTHING. Better to remain silent and risk being merely THOUGHT to be a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.July 22, 2009 12:39 am at 12:39 am #705353ambushParticipant
So that the mekatrieg in Shamayim should not look down and say “these are Yidden?” thereby creating an even more tragic nine days…
Yes, people may say insensitive comments. Yes, they may be hurtful. Yes, they may be not nice, and they may hurt.
But I PROMISE YOU, that %99.9 percent of them are really nice people (other wise they wouldn’t be coming to be menachem the avel ?) and just didn’t realize it was hurtful/ insulting!
You are right, some comments are just so out of the ball park- how could that thought even enter someone’s mind?? But still, they are saying it AND THEY ARE TRYING TO CARE IN THEIR OWN WAY!
Some people like to talk, others don’t. For the peson coming in to a Shiva house, it’s a little uncomfortable and they might not know what to say!
and hopefully most people never had a chance to be an avel and don’t know.
Have we (myself INCLUDED) ever said something, just to slap our head and say “What was i thinking! How could i have said such a thing!”
just as a side point, I also REALLY don’t appreciate it when people ask questions about something that is totally not their business. It’s so hard to be dan lekaf zechus sometimes…July 22, 2009 2:29 am at 2:29 am #705354kapustaParticipant
Another person came when my mom O”H passed away, and informed us that my sister had been an extremely ugly baby and she didn’t know how she could possibly wish my parents mazel tov on the birth and really mean it.
oomis, WOW! that takes the cake! (calories included 😉 ) forget for a second about the shiva, its a stupid, senseless comment to say anyway. I would love to know what she was thinking. On second thought, maybe not.July 22, 2009 3:47 am at 3:47 am #705355
I would love to know what she was thinking. On second thought, maybe not.
Oh, Kapusta, we KNEW what she was thinking. She was thinking it’s perfectly ok to be a yenta, and say whatever is on your mind, no matter where you are. To be honest, having been personally insulted at the shiva for my father O”H, I figured it was my sister’s turn, the next time around… We all had a good laugh after the initial shock wore off, and the woman had left. We then quoted Rabbi Akiva and simply said, “Neechamtanu.”
“other wise they wouldn’t be coming to be menachem the avel “
Well, actually, I have another story about THAT. My neighbor was sitting shiva and she noticed an unfamiliar woman sitting there for a long time. (The neighbor told this over to me, when I shared our own shiva story with her). The woman said not one word to anyone, but just sat. So she finally spoke to her and asked her if she had been a friend of her late mother. Nope. Did she know her from work? Nope. Had she ever been in any Jewish organizations with her? Nope. She went through every possible idea, but the woman finally said, no she had never met the mother. “Then would you mind telling me what you are doing here in my shiva house?” my neighbor asked. “Well,” the strange woman replied, ” I read the obituary notice in the paper, and saw that your mother was survived by your father, and I was thinking maybe he would be good for me!”July 22, 2009 4:04 am at 4:04 am #705356JaxMember
oomis1105: wow that last one was beyond bizarre! some people have no sheichel what so ever! i wonder how the person sitting shiva didn’t burst out laughing!July 22, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am #705358
Let’s share ideas how we can become more sensitive. I think one has to be careful talking about the holidays one is taking or the new kitchen you are buying when other people are struggling to make ends meet. Why do we need to tell everyone about the “great holiday plans?” I think even if you are buying a new shietel or dress you don’t need to announce it. What do you think?July 22, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm #705359
Oomis, your stories take the cake! Sheesh!
In my experience, people feel like they need to dole out their “sage” advice, which generally is babbling nonsense.
When my husband’s friend’s father passed away recently and we made a shiva visit, I told him that people were going to say plenty of stupid things and that it doesn’t end at shiva. People will say things like “What, its been 3 months, why are you still mourning?” I told him to ignore that and mourn as long as he feels the need to. I also told him that people would say things like “You’re young, you’ll get over it” and that wasn’t true. You learn to adjust to the void in your life, and its less obvious as days go on, but the loss of your parent never really leaves you. He said he found that comforting.
But, each person reacts differently.
I know people tend to like hearing fabulous stories about the person who died – the good ones about chesed they did, or funny stories and things like that. People want to revel in the good of their loved ones, NOT the bad ones.July 22, 2009 5:28 pm at 5:28 pm #705360
The worst thing is to tell a woman whose child has died, rachmona litzlan, “Don’t worry, you’re young, you’ll have more children.” My sister-in-law law’s 12 year old daughter (the elder of two daughters)died very suddenly, and people kept telling her this. She never had another child after this. the two she had were miracles to begin with. And whatever you do, don’t tell someone their loss is a bracha because the person was suffering, or that a young person who died, “at least died without sin “(people said this to my SIL also, and she was dumbfounded. She was not frum, but her attitude was that her daughter was a sweet, well-behaved, respectful child, so what possible sin could she have had had she lived????
You are right, SJS, people want to ehar ncie things about their loved ones, not some meaningless and often very stupid nonsense that they say either out of ignorance or because they feel the need to fill the silence.July 22, 2009 6:00 pm at 6:00 pm #705361
Wow. As if one child can replace another. Oomis, you know the craziest people!July 22, 2009 6:43 pm at 6:43 pm #705362
B”H SJS, I do NOT know the person who spoke to my SIL. And the other people involved are not in my life anymore, so it’s a moot point.July 22, 2009 8:52 pm at 8:52 pm #705364
Another big no no, is to say at a shiva call that “he is now in a better place [at olam habo]”. That is no way to comfort a mourner.July 22, 2009 9:31 pm at 9:31 pm #705365
DN, that never bothered me. It didn’t help any, but I didn’t find it insensitive.July 22, 2009 9:35 pm at 9:35 pm #705366
Many people do, and it should not be said. It is no way to comfort a mourner.July 22, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm #705367
Lessons learned from my experiences are and the model that I try to follow:
Speak when spoken to
Try to fill the silence that at times reigns in a Shiva house
Share your Shiva stories
another thing is even after Shiva sometimes a person still needs to talk – the operative term there is TALK, not be talked to. Let the mourner talk.July 22, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm #705368
You aren’t even allowed to start talking to the mourner until he starts talking to you.July 22, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm #705369
Mdlevine – very wise words, indeed. I recently went to a shiva house that was especially uncomfortable because the aveilim were two brothers (I am close friends with one of the brothers and his wife), and when my husband and I went to visit, they literally just stared at us silently and even smiled nervously, but both refrained from making any kind of a pischon peh to which we could respons. Thus we sat for several minutes, no one saying a word.
I later found out that our friend was just very flustered about how to conduct himself, and even though he knew he had to be the one to speak first, he just didn’t do it. Eventually someone did speak, but it was very awkward. We also did not know the nifteres, so we had nothing to say about her. I just said something like, I know she must have been a very special person to have produced such wonderful sons as our friend and his brother, and that we didn’t need to knwo her personally to see that. They actually liked that very much. There were no other visitors at the time, so we didn’t leave for a while, but as I said it was a bit awkward. Still, you have to always take your cues from the aveilim. And in my world, an aveil can talk to me anytime anyplace, if that person feels the need to vent about their loved one, even more so after the shiva. When everyone has gone back to his life and the aveil is no longer seeing a steady stream of people coming and going, that is the moment when they truly begin to feel the loss, IMO.July 22, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm #705370noitallmrParticipant
It’s only when you don’t feel comfortable in a persons presence do you feel the urge to talk…July 23, 2009 5:47 am at 5:47 am #705371JewessMember
I once went to nichum avelim and I said something to the wife of the deceased and she thought it was hilarious. I did not mean to be funny in any shape or form, but I’m glad I made her laugh…It did bother me for a while though, because what she understood was not at all what I was saying and it was not something I would ever say.
When sitting shiv’ah my family had some weird things said to us too. This was right before I made that remark that made the above mentioned lady laugh. After that happened, I realized that people sometimes say things and they come out wrooooongggg.July 23, 2009 6:34 am at 6:34 am #705372
Well here is some dark humour which I find quite vile.
At a certain shiva home, the family rented the special chairs the Aveilim must sit on.
Whe the chairs arrived, the widow of the deceased asked that they be changed as these particular chairs did not match the carpet…..July 23, 2009 8:08 am at 8:08 am #705373
Let’s not concentrate on shiva houses but consider how we can be sensitive to someone who has lost his job, his house? How is the best way to be sensitive to those who have lost large sums of money? How can we show our sensitivity to someone who is no longer able to go to the country because he cannot afford to?
How can we show our sensitivity to someone whose looks have changed because of medical reasons? Let’s share our ideas to increase our sensitivity to others.July 23, 2009 8:12 am at 8:12 am #705374NobodyMember
As many of you know I am on the Chevra Kadsha and believe me I’ve seen it all. from the most bizare to the downright disrespectful to the incredible heart wrenching kovod and over the many years I have learnt a solid lesson.
People say the dumbest things and behave in the most appalling way at funerals and shivas. BUT…. it is not always them being crass. It is often the reaction of embarrassment or feeling uncomfortable and not knowing how to behave.
As part of our training we were taught how to behave and speak from the time of Y’tzias Neshomo (and even before) through the funeral, shiva, shloishim and even The Year. We always guide people by offering the families small /leaflets booklets which are left at the funeral grounds or near the door on Shiva ettiquette to that guests may find useful.
On a lighter note there are always those who try so hard to get it right and land up getting it sooo wrong it makes you laugh. Naughty I know.July 24, 2009 2:54 pm at 2:54 pm #705375Mayan_DvashParticipant
;October 8, 2010 3:48 pm at 3:48 pm #705376blinkyParticipant
A family member was recently sitting shiva and someone came over and said, “oh at last its not so bad because so and so was very old anyway…” And went on to proceed how he lost s/o at a younger age and that is so terrible but for this you shouldn’t be sad. I think something is wrong here.October 8, 2010 5:26 pm at 5:26 pm #705377
Something is horribly wrong, because that person does not understand the value of life. Let me give you 2 examples:
Story 1 – A famous rov (can’t recall who) was once very ill, and the doctor suggested painful procedure, but made it sound like it almost did’nt pay to do it, beause “the paitent would not make a full recovery anyways”.
To which the rebbitzin said, How much time would it add? Doctor says, 6 months, at best. She says, 6 months! I’d do it if it would only add 6 days! (Because she understood the value of another day of learing, another day of davening)
Story 2 – My grandmother lived to see 100+, and the last 6 months, she was totally out of touch with her surroundings. In the last few days, she was so weak, she could not even lift the food or drink off her plate, so we had to spoon feed her. During one of my turns, I thought to myself, she made it trhu 2 world wars, built, lost and rebuilt a family and home, made it with general good health till way into her 90’s. What’s the purpose of these last few months, when she is totally dependent on others and cannot function at all?
Then it dawned on me. The purpose was to give US the opportunity to have the zechus of taking care of her. And by giving us that chance, she enabled us the chance to be givers, not takers.
So, you are right. Just because a person makes it to x age, does not mean they are expendable. (Sorry you had to hear the poor comment, but at least you know you’re on the right mind-set)October 8, 2010 5:37 pm at 5:37 pm #705378blinkyParticipant
Thank you BP Totty for a beautiful post.October 8, 2010 6:03 pm at 6:03 pm #705379
Oh, you just caught me in a good mood. I’m normally the kind of person that would tie little kids to trees, and leave them for the bears and wolves (gosh, I loved that thread!)November 1, 2010 6:20 pm at 6:20 pm #705380
(I’m reviving this thread, because I think its something we need to be reminded of from time to time.. especially myself)
Many of us take every precaution to maintain or improve our health. We watch our diet, exercise, read up on the latest developments that might give us an edge, try to encourage our friends / family to do the same, ectNovember 1, 2010 6:44 pm at 6:44 pm #705381yaff80Participant
A number of years ago there was a tragedy here in town when a lady was Niftar very suddenly. Her husband left for shul and returned to find hatzolo and ambulance trying to revive his wife, to no avail.
Reb Nosson Tzvi Finkel Shlita “happened” to be in town at the town, and went to be menachem avel. He came in and sat down. He did not speak a word. After a few minutes silence he said Hamokoim yenachem etc and rose to leave. R’ Ahron Chodosh shlita said “az der rosh yeshiva red nischt, maint as es iz nisht da vas tzu zagen” meaning if the rosh yeshiva doesnt speak means there is nothing to say.
As I have said before, I have a motto “if you have nothing to say, dont say it”!November 1, 2010 7:03 pm at 7:03 pm #705382aries2756Participant
In coaching we teach our clients the two breath method. Take two breaths before responding, this will give you an opportunity to calm down a bit and not just react. This is an extremely good idea for ALL to learn in order to give your lips a chance to stop stupid comments from coming out of your mouth and your brain a chance to sort them from smart ones.
People say the stupidest thing at shiva homes. They will tell men who have lost their wives to call them after Shiva because they have a good shiduch for them. They will ask women who have lost their husband if they are putting the house of for sale because they might have a buyer and even more stupid things if you can believe it. People should learn to either keep their big mouth shut or just follow the lead of the aveil. Or they should practice or prepare of few decent things to say before they go. As others have said, if you don’t have anything nice to say just smile and say nothing. Your presence is enough.
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