May the inspiration that comes from this post be an aliya for my sister
I’ve been going back and forth in my mind how to write the following.
My debate being, do I write this “story” in a conceptual third person way hoping that perhaps it won’t be as painful or write straight from my heart? But, I know that it must be straight from my first hand experience because as bad as the hurt is, I myself can do better.
I am writing not to point fingers, but rather in the hope that something can come from this. A something that may take some effort in mindfulness. I simply want to bring an awareness.
I recently lost my younger sister. She had suffered a lot in the months leading up to her petirah and left behind a reeling family of parents, siblings, husband, and young children.
My family was in so much pain, trying to figure out if there was any realistic way we’d be able to pick up the pieces of the last heartbreaking few months while she was sick and then try to live without our sister/daughter/mother. She was a person who simply lived life, gaining from all the joys life had to offer and then left us so quickly. She was super popular—perhaps the most of all us siblings.
We began to sit shiva assuming people would come in droves. We are a large family and are all married into large families.
But the droves never came. Of course people came. Lots of them. But it could’ve been more. I am not talking about random people. I am referring to family members and neighbors who just didn’t show.
Of course not everyone can come in person.
But the calls never came.
The simple texts never came.
Perhaps some were thinking that the aveilim probably don’t want a madhouse of people or “I’m not so close to the avel. I feel weird going.”
But as we all know, “tzarot rabbim chatzi nechama.” Our loss was a devastation. Hearing kind words would have been cream on a wound.
When I got up from shiva and back to my children, the realization began to set in that so many people that could’ve been me mechazek with a few simple thoughtful words were instead completely missing.
As the months passed and I began to meet people at simachot and events, I realized how uncomfortable I was from those who didn’t “show up.” It pained me to look them in the eye knowing that with just a bit more thought they could have reached out.
And so began my new campaign.
A plan of consciousness and mindfulness.
I began to look for opportunities to give others feel-good moments.
I am putting in every bit of effort into not looking for reasons to get away from going to events, or reasoning why I can avoid certain situations.
I picked up the phone and made extra calls to wish others a shana tovah before Rosh Hashana.
I texted a young neighbor who moved while I was away letting her know how much we would miss her.
I ran to a wedding that I knew would make the baalat simcha feel important but at the same time wouldn’t notice if I didn’t show.
I followed up with a friend that had mentioned she was suffering from headaches the last few days to make sure they had passed.
I am nowhere near perfect but the awareness is there.
I want to end by pointing out that there really were so many special people who went completely out of their way to come be menachem avel or sent the most heartfelt messages. I even received a card in the mail from an old classmate who I haven’t seen in years. I won’t forget them. And I am choosing to dwell on those people.
If anyone reading this gains the inspiration to join my campaign, may it be a zechut for aliyat neshama for my sister.
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This article is so honest, beautifully written, and so so important. Thank you for sharing. It made me realize that the shiva calls I make truly make a difference, and that simchas are not something to be missed either, if we can make it work. I’m so sorry for your loss…may your sister’s neshama have an Aliyah and may you and your family have nechamah.
Beautifully written!! Definitely something I’m going to work on!
So poignant and beautiful. Thank you and wishing you nechama. I’m so sorry for your loss, and her special neshama should have an Aliyah. So emotional reading this
That friend says
I am that kind of person. I reach out to friends and follow up about things we spoke about… I just feel like it is rarely reciprocated and then I start questioning myself. I wonder if maybe I’m over stepping boundaries. Maybe other people are just so busy, but when you are this kind of person it makes it hard to continue when you feel no one notices you back.
I am definitely going to join in your campaign! May this be an Aliyas Neshama for your sister.
This was a beautiful article, though raw and painful. It’s something I’ll keep in mind too when deciding if I should or shouldn’t go. Having made simchos and having sat shiva recently I can really agree with you. There are some situations where it’s true that you’re barely noticed but in most cases every person contributes simcha or comfort. May your family know no more pain and may this be an aliya for your sisters neshama
I will never forget the friend who dropped off a simple fruit salad by my door about two weeks after shiva, with a sticky note saying, “Thinking about you.” It was so hard to go back to routine and have everyone acting as if nothing happened. Her small act of kindness was so powerful. I have tried to pay it forward. Bringing a muffin to a friend when her husband was out of the country. Writing a letter to a former teacher to tell them how much they impacted me.
Thank you for this post, and may your sister’s neshama have an aliya
As someone who sat shiva twice before turning 25 I can honestly tell you how real and honest your words are. Number one – sitting shiva is the most vulnerable thing in the world. But it’s amazing as the Avel – we don’t need u to say anything – u showed up – and that means the world… you don’t need to say anything special – you won’t take the pain away no matter what. That’s why hashem gave us those special words to say – (hamakom…) bc there isn’t really anything to say. So yes, even that random person you’re debating to go to – show up – it DOES MAKE A DIFF – and they will get a chizzuk from it on some level.
I love your post! May it be an Aliyah for your sisters neshama!♥️
Really a well written and thought provoking article
Thank you for sharing such an honest and important piece
Bli neder will worker harder on this.
May your sisters neshama have an aliyah
Such a beautiful way to deal with your hurt and pain. May Hashem send you and your family a Nechama.
Thank you for a beautiful article.
I was struggling with the idea of calling an acquaintance who lost a relative under complicated circumstances. I did call her and I’m glad I did.