In Response to In Response to the Elephant in the Room

A woman wrote an “editorial” in the “Women’s section” of Ami magazine on the topic of what not to say or do to her now that she has lost a child. I felt it needed a response.

Below is my response which I sent to AMI Magazine just now.

Dear Bayla Schwarzmer:

Welcome to the club” – the club of parents who have lost a child.

I first heard about this welcome over two decades ago when my magid shiur was describing the scene as Rav Mendel Weinbach Z”L (Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Somayach) sat shiva for his 16+ year old son. Another Rav came to comfort him and used those words – he had also lost a child.

The thought of these words comforted me when I lost my 11 year-old son in 2010. I repeated these words and the story when the magid shiur who originally told them to me in 1997 came to be menachem avel in my home.

Personally, I have had to “move on with my life” and “get over it” – two things you have explicitly stated that you don’t want to hear. Most people will never understand my situation, but how can I blame them? As my (ex)wife wrote when our disabled son was born:

What answer should I give
When you ask me
“How many children do you have?”
Shall I say “Two” or “Three”?

Well where is the third, your thoughts I tell
“He’s in another place, he’s not very well…

Even today, two decades later, I still stumble when innocently asked, “How many children do you have?”

I hear your pain and hope that one day you will forgive the people who have innocently said things which hurt you, and that you will have the strength to move on with your life.

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