Friday, August 27, 2010

An Aching Void

Mental health professionals say that a person who takes their own life is in such a dark place, they feel like they are causing their loved ones an unending amount of pain, and removing themselves from the picture will take away that pain.

In actuality, the void a person leaves (no matter how the death occurred) is gaping, aching, and incredibly painful. Even more painful is that there isn't really a way to heal or fill that void. Nobody can take the place of a lost loved one.

I sometimes feel like a piece of me died with my brother, or at least it went into hiding with his death. While I know that the void will probably remain forever, I hope that in time it will become, if not less gaping, less painful.

I wanted to relay something that was told to my family during shiva (I'm not sure exactly where the thought originates).

When one is leaving a shiva house, it is customary to recite this phrase to the mourners: Hamakom yenachem etchem b’toch sh’ar avaylay tzion v’yerushalayim; “May God comfort you among all of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” If you look at the Hebrew of this phrase, the word used for God here literally means “the place.” Of all of the ways in which to refer to God, why use that particular name? Why not dayan (judge), as we say when we hear that someone has died (baruch dayan ha'emet, blessed is the true judge)?

No matter the circumstance, when one has suffered the loss of a family member, there is a huge void that causes both emotional and physical pain and turmoil. Even with all of the comforting things people try to say, no one can fill that void. In such a hard time, God comforts the mourners, even just the tiniest sliver, by filling that painful place with his divine presence.

I'm not exactly sure what I think about this, but it sometimes offers me some small modicum of comfort.

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