RE: Sitting Shiva

Where in I decide to stop talking

I can’t stop talking about it. I think there’s a large part of me that makes people want to hurt. Make people feel how deeply I feel.

“You don’t understand. Here, let me hurt you so you can understand. So you can be sad like I am sad. I don’t want you to be sad at me. You have to be sad. There. By yourself. Like me.”

I ran home the day before he was transferred to Seattle and took a shower. By the time I was on my way back, it was almost dinner time. I swung by a fast food place. The well meaning attendant said, “Any big plans this weekend?”

Yeah. Well… I said, “I’m going to say goodbye to my son who’s in the ICU and may not make it the next little while.”

Poor kid. He didn’t deserve it. But… “How are you?” Stupid words.

So I want to talk about it. All the time. There’s so much business involved in death. So many i’s and t’s to deal with.

But my wife decidedly does NOT want to talk about it. Doesn’t want to talk about the handling of the body or the purchasing of an urn or if we should see him before they cremate him or if we need to empty his room or if we need to deal with his clothes or if we need to …

None of it.

But the phone is ringing every day and there are more people to talk to. She’s stopped answering her phone except for one or two people. She doesn’t want their pain or their acknowledgement or well wishes. All if it is poison. It reminds here he’s gone. That her baby never gets to come home. All if it sucks.

Sitting Shiva

There’s this practice in Jewish traditions to sit and directly, emphatically mourn for seven days. During that time there’s supposed to be visitors to the family and food eaten.

In our church’s culture, we’re told to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. But what we’re missing is that people mourn differently.

My wife would like to have someone sit near while she ugly cries. Don’t ask her how she’s doing. That’s a stupid question. You just need to be there. Be there while she squeezes the lemons life gave her. Just sit there. With her. Be present and cry. Because you can’t fix it. You can’t bring him back. But you can be there to cry with.

You can tell her stories of his glory. Tell her about how you loved him too. Tell her about the time he was in your class or in your space and helped you. Retell stories of amazing escapades.

Just don’t talk about death. His death. Or his pain. She knows those. She doesn’t want to feel those.

Just tell her how great he was and cry with her.