Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Glen Holman's post, "Shiva - What to say"

Sadly, Glen has sat shiva for his daughter, who was just days short of 11. This is one of the requests he makes of people paying shiva (rough equivalent--condolence) calls:

"Please allow me to be silent. I have been speaking for hours on end sometimes repeating myself. I am drained emotionally and physically. Be there to comfort me and if silence is what I need, please respect it."

Read the rest here.

I have paid shiva calls at which alcoholic beverages were served (which, to be honest, freaks me out), as well as shiva calls at which the mourners were visibly grieving, and many shiva calls in between. All I can say is that different people have different ways of expressing their feelings. It behooves us to have the consideration to take our cues from the mourners. Some weep, some laugh at the good memories, some show pictures, some speak of the deceased. Shiva callers are there to support the mourners. Sometimes that's not so hard, and sometimes it's very difficult, indeed. But we should remember that we are not there for our own comfort, but to give comfort to those in need of it.

4 Comments:

Blogger Unknown said...

No matter the type of person, I've always found one thing to be true: Let the mourner lead.

When a friend's mother was killed last year in a tragic accident (the logo on PT, LoR, my own, and other blogs), he started talking as soon as anyone would walk in.

When my great-aunt passed away recently, it was like a family reunion, joking around, showing off baby pictures. But in both, it was wise to wait for the mourner to show what mood he was in.

Wed May 24, 02:09:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Elie said...

A very important post by Glen, and by you. I included some of my own shiva experiences, good and bad, in my post last night concluding "Aaron's Story". In addition to letting the mourner lead, the other advice I'd give is to use the most basic rule of tthumb; think about what you would - and would not - want to hear someone say to you if the positions were reversed

Wed May 24, 10:27:00 AM 2006  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

I found out, years ago, that some members of my community were critical of me for not grieving more publicly and vehemently when my mother died.

She died nearly thirty years ago.

Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about her, and other kinfolk who have died.

We don't all show what we feel. Nor do we want to discuss all the deep implications of someone's death, their dying, and their legacy, at all times, in all details, and with everybody.

Does one who is visiting a sick person bring up all the things that could go wrong, all the medicines that have failed, all the agony that complications might bring?

Probably not. It would be ungepast.

By the same token, if one is visiting someone grieving a death, one should neither dominate the conversation, nor judge that person's responses.

A relative's death is not a daily occurence. No one should have perfected the art of grieving. And of course they will not be good at it.

Wed May 24, 08:55:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"Let the mourner lead."

"think about what you would - and would not - want to hear someone say to you if the positions were reversed"

"We don't all show what we feel. Nor do we want to discuss all the deep implications of someone's death, their dying, and their legacy, at all times, in all details, and with everybody.

. . .

"if one is visiting someone grieving a death, one should neither dominate the conversation, nor judge that person's responses."

Good, important, and, sadly, necessary advice.

Let us hope that all will be spared having the death of a relative become such a frequent experience that we perfect the art of grieving.

Auf/oif/only simchas--may we have only happy occasions.

Sun May 28, 04:04:00 AM 2006  

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