Category Archives: Grief and Grieving

Written by children on the day they were sent to a gas chamber in 1944

for a blog girl watching sunsetOn a purple, sun-shot evening Under wide-flowering chestnut trees Upon the threshold full of dust Yesterday, today, the days are all like these.   Trees flower forth in beauty, Lively too their very wood all gnarled and old That I am half afraid to peer Into their crowns of green and gold.   The sun has made a veil of gold So lovely that my body aches. Above, the heavens shriek with blue Convinced I’ve smiled by some mistake. The world’s abloom and seems to smile, I want to fly but where, how high? If in barbed wire, things can bloom Why couldn’t l? I will not die! 1944

Anonymous (Written by the children in Barracks L 318 and L 417; ages 10-16 years)   in the Terezin Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Prague. If those children had been able to remain optimistic until the end,  how dare I give up, ever?

So many people wanted to comfort me …

  SO MANY PEOPLE WANTED TO COMFORT ME.  SO FEW SUCCEEDED

People aim to comfort a parent who has lost a child. So few really know what to say.

Our son, Doron, was a healthy, strapping young man who loved sport, particularly surfing. When he was drafted into the military and into a fighting unit, the last thing we contemplated was illness. He was far too healthy. Sometime during his military service, something happened to his mind and much later, long after he completed his three years compulsory military service, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Then, before his 34th birthday, he released himself from a mind that tormented him and as his mother, I was released from watching him suffer. We were parted forever . I mourn him, I miss him, I’m angry and sad, particularly because he ended his life to quiet the voices in his head that no modern medication managed to alleviate. It took a long time for me to forgive him for taking my son away from me. I wondered when and whether I would ever be happy again.

Few people knew what to say to us grieving parents, particularly because suicide was concerned. What does one say to grieving parents? What does it mean to offer condolences? Well, all I can tell you is what we didn’t want to hear.

I would die if I were you: This is only a manner of speaking and not remotely true. Human beings are built to withstand all kinds of calamities and they survive although probably changed forever. However, they continue to live. When we heard the above, we felt as if this person were predicting that we would never be happy again and that if we do manage a semblance of happiness, we should really feel guilty. Believe me, I felt cursed and didn’t need anyone to make it worse.

So what could that person have said? This must be the hardest thing in the world for you. Remember that I am thinking of you.

I can’t imagine how you must be feeling: This didn’t work either because if the idea of losing a child couldn’t be so terrible unless you could imagine it. Grief is isolating. I felt as if there was an unwritten line drawn between the rest of the world and myself. I felt so very alone and vulnerable. I needed empathy, not pity. So, what would I have preferred to hear? I feel so sad for you and your family. What can I do to help you?

I have no idea what you are feeling: But you do. You feel sadness because the death of a child by suicide after a long illness is one the saddest and incomprehensible things in the whole world.
I feel so sad would have sounded so much better.

While growing up, we were taught rather shallow, standard things to say when people die but most of what we learned lacked emotional engagement which is the very thing that grieving people need – in fact, it’s what they long for particularly in those early days when the grief is raw.

We should think deeply about what they would most like to hear. I have seen grieving parents actually cringe. I believe that the best way to comfort somebody is to listen to them because in this situation, it is not about you, but about them. That person has a great need to talk so let them. Allow them to say what they feel. The flags below show the stages that grieving parents will go through.

Grief tags 2

Do not stand at our graves and weep ….

 

snow on either side of the road

Do not stand at our graves and weep

We are not there, we do not sleep.

We’re a thousand winds that blow, we’re the diamond glints on snow.

We’re the gentle autumn rain.

 

When you awaken in the morning’s hush, we’re the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight, we’re the bright stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at our graves and cry, we are not there, although we died.

In memory of my late husband and our son who left us long before his time.

Dealing with grief

numbered silver balls 

 I imagined a silver ball bouncing around inside the weekly lottery machine. I knew that it was unlikely that someone else could associate that image with feelings of grief and yet, it was the best metaphor I could come up with that explained the unpredictability of my emotional patterns when I mourned for my near and dear ones who had passed away over the years.

 

Today, grief is seen as a psychological problem that has to be overcome. The grieving person gets time off work for the funeral, is often handed a prescription for an antidepressant, and is then given membership for a bereavement support group.

 

It was pointed out to me that there \was a right way and a wrong way to grieve and if I chose the wrong way, it would be my responsibility to seek treatment, either by taking medication or starting a course of psychotherapy.

 

I didn’t think that I believed in rituals, but I realized that the traditions I turned to while mourning gave me a sense of control over my grieving process and in time, helped alleviate my grief somewhat. Playing a favorite song, walking along the beach or watching a sunset evoked fond memories and brought on a cathartic cry, which was usually helpful.

 

Frankly, from my experience of grief after losing far too many near relatives, three in traumatic ways, I didn’t think that my grief needed to be treated. I truly believe that grief is a part of the human condition similar to fear or anger. Maybe grieving deeply  was the price I had to pay for loving so deeply.a burning candle

My son Doron

 DORON

When we talk to God, it’s called prayer but when God talks to us, it’s called schizophrenia. By  Lily Tomlin.

In my book, I changed all the names making it easier for me to write honestly. Doron is David.

David’s Story is a heart-breaking study of the progress of schizophrenia, destroying not just one life, but making tragic inroads into the lives of every family member. This story gripped me from the first page and I grieved along with the author. I highly recommend it.

By Dvora Waysman (author)

David’s story is available as a kindle e-book on Amazon or Smashwords. Serch for Jill Sadowsky, click on David’s Story, click on buy now and then follow instrucdtions. If you do not have a kindle, you can download the free kindle app that allows you to read this book on any laptop.

 

 

 

1000 blogs posted to date

no more stigma 5I posted my 1,000th blog on May 23, 2014 and even I was amazed at the amount of material I have included on these pages.

I have written two books, my work has been included in two Anthologies and I have had many articles and stories published. So you might ask why I began blogging. Well, while my son was ill with schizophrenia, my husband and I belonged to a support group but if we’d had blogs to read in those days, we would have gained even more useful information that could have helped us enormously. So, I decided to blog about mental illness, other brain illnesses and Alzheimer’s disease and hoped that in these pages, by speaking out frankly, somehow, I would manage to give others some empathy and even hope sometimes, encourage people to join me, and together, we might be able to lessen the blame, shame, stigma and discrimination accorded the brain illnesses. What surprised me most was how many people in countries all over the world started following my blog. Probably due to the sensitivity of the subject of mental illness, few people actually left comments, but, what they did do, was send me emails. And, I replied to every single one of them even though it is time consuming.

When my blog was born in November 2011, I had no idea of how much work it would entail to write a blog and keep it going. and, I had to learn how to post a new blog, how to save a draft and worst of all, how to get an image not only onto the screen where my blog was, but, I had to learn how to make that image show up and remain where I wanted it to be on that particular page. The result was that instead of going to bed at a reasonable time at night, I found myself fighting with my laptop till the early hours of the morning; sometimes with good results, but very often, the computer won the battle and I gave up tearfully. After all who could a blogging grandma call at that hour? Believe me, I was often tempted to wake B., my computer guru, but I knew that he would not have been impressed.

I felt as if I were doing a fairly good job, but every time a journalist related yet another incident of violence committed by an unstable person – the latest occurred on May 24, 2014 when a young person suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome and living in the USA, went on a shooting spree.  In my humble opinion, unless the United States of America changes its gun laws, I cannot see a way out. I always thought that the safety of a country’s citizens was the priority of a government.   

 In America under the Brady Act, one cannot have a gun for personal or business use if a person:  

Has been convicted of a crime punishable by being in prison for more than one year.

Is a fugitive from justice;

Is addicted to, or illegally using any controlled substance;

Has been ruled mentally defective by a court or is committed to a psychiatric institution;

Is an illegal alien living in the United States;

Has received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces;

Has renounced his/her U.S. citizenship.

Is subject to a restraining court order that involves his/her ‘intimate partner,’ that partner’s child, or children; has been convicted of domestic violence in any court.

 In spite of the above, I shall continue to blog about accepting a person with a mental illness the way we accept people with other illnesses. Maybe I am naive, but I firmly believe that even one voice can make a small difference. Please join me.

Time for change 1

If your life is a song …

 

For seniors and anybody with any kind of problem

If your life is a song, sing it.

If your life is a game, play it.

If your life is a challenge, meet it.

If your life is a dream, realize it.

If your life is a sacrifice, offer it.

And, if your life is about love, enjoy it.

 

lovebirds 2By Sai Baba