Still in Searing Pain Years After Tragedy

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Dear Rabbi Schusterman,

My life has not been easy, but the clincher has been the murder of my husband in a holdup at an ATM. That happened two years ago and I still cannot get over it. Am I destined to spend the rest of my life—I’m 58 years old—in misery?

G. K., Milwaukee, WI

Dear G. K.,

My heart goes out to you for your terrible loss. There are never any easy answers for such tragedies.

The Talmud says: “Do not comfort a person when their deceased is lying before them.” The literal imagery of this aphorism is obvious, but it also is meant figuratively. In your case, you continue to feel the immediacy of your loss. No two people are alike and no one can judge the timeline of the heart. These feelings may last awhile longer.

Yet it is certain that God does not want you to live in misery indefinitely. Nor, may I be so bold to say, is it your husband’s idea either. His soul continues to live on a heavenly plane. He is aware of your travail and is miserable for you and with you, too. But he can’t change things for you, only you can.

You have much to live for. Have you chosen to participate in grief counseling? Have you joined a bereavement group with others who have been through similar losses, who have lost loved ones as victims of crime? You are not alone in this. Joining a support group will help you feel less isolated. With the guidance of a skilled counselor, you can find comfort and support among people who can understand your particular grief as only they can.

And your husband, may he rest in peace, wants and deserves peace too. It will be a kindness to you both for you to seek emotional peace, to the extent that is possible. When you will be at peace, so will he.

Rabbi Gershon Schusterman

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