Even more so, such is the case when the loss is sudden – akin to a bolt out of the blue – as opposed to ‘expected’, as a result of illness. And depending on whether the loss involves ones child, spouse, parent or sibling – the four most central relationships – the emotions may vary widely. Indeed, the strength, or lack thereof, of said relationship often becomes a mitigating factor. But there are common reactions to the aforementioned losses, especially when certain deeply resonant ‘trigger’ days roll around.
Specifically, the date of death is huge. In Judaism, we refer to the person’s yahrzheit. It looms ever so prominently in the back of ones consciousness, even if not verbalized. Ones anniversary, if missing a spouse, becomes more than bittersweet, focusing on what could/should have been. Holidays are no walk in the park. But another prominent date is the loved ones birthday. How can one not think of each ‘birth’ year of said nearest and dearest, reminding us, once again, that our lost one will never reach said milestone? One can’t.
In this regard, there are indeed valuable resources for those of us grappling with such personal pain. And not being one who relies on self help books, the fact that a particular book resonated at all speaks for itself. Besides, having lovingly received it from a nearest and dearest, today, in particular, it is appropriate to pass it on to others in need. I Wasn’t Ready To Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping & Healing After The Sudden Death Of A Loved One by Brooke Noel & Pamela D. Blair, PH.D. is heartfelt, written by experts who have experienced their own trials and tribulations, only to pick themselves up from their pain and pass on some highly valuable insights.
As to the birthday: “The deceased person’s birthday is a time for remembering. You may feel your loss anew each time their birthday comes for many years. Your own birthday may feel different. You may wonder why you are still alive and they are not, and it will be difficult to celebrate your own life for a while….Many people find a sanctuary by creating a ritual with which to celebrate the deceased’s birthday. Perhaps you can surround yourself with other people who were close to the loved one. Perhaps you can take a walk in nature and just think and cry and rant and talk…”
E. Charles Douville, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, in his review of the book, stated: ” As one who deals with unexpected death, I am so pleased to find a truly valuable reference for those souls who are blindsided by such misery…This book is thoughtful, thorough and intensely meaningful. Up until now, Rabbi Kushner’s reference When Bad Things Happen To Good People has been my mainstay in such circumstances; I will add this book to my recommended list.”
Significantly, the book’s essence is crystal clear: it is not a ‘one size fits all’ process. And that’s a crucial component, though seemingly very obvious.
Most resoundingly, it was a blessing, a precious gift from G-d, to have been married to such a wonderful man. I would do it all over again, despite the pain of losing him in the prime of his life.
Yet, it is with eternal gratitude to our sons, through their (but not to be remiss, with special appreciation to my daughter-in-law, Kayla, for her creative and quiet input) selfless act of compiling his unique life story with pictorial and written testimony in a beautifully illustrated album-like book entitled, ‘Celebrating the Life of Frank Kutnicki’, that I am learning to indeed pay tribute to his life, instead of dwelling on his death. It is still a ‘work in progress’, and mostly due to their ‘labor of love.’ Not for nothing.
Alas, today, July 31, is a day etched in stone, like February 20. As such, a heartfelt message to my beloved husband, Frank Kutnicki, z”l (of blessed memory), forever the father of two loving, moral and strong sons: Your birthday will always remain a part of those who cherished you. You made everything possible. And for that, plus so much more, your family is forever grateful.
Gone, but not forgotten – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyQ31m0zvNY
The way it was…the way it should have been…
יהי זכרו ברוך
I am thinking of you and sending love. Thank you for all you do to keep us informed. Take care of yourself.
Leith, thanks for your kind words.
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