Dealing with Death

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


The Greatest Losses

 There are many losses that we must face during our existence.  As humans, we lose the comfort of our  beginnings, our mother’s womb.  As we develop into childhood our gains are great.  We learn to receive what we need to grow, how and  what we must to achieve to meet our needs, how to request the necessities to help us grow, to become more self sufficient, to reject the behavior that causes pain.  We instinctively feel and do what will bring us success in accomplishing our growth. What we learn and succeed at as children helps us develop into the adults that we will become. Our parents are our role models and from them we learn who we are, what we achieve, or otherwise.  As we grow we learn what is acceptable; what pleases, what does not, and hopefully that which will be most acceptable to ourselves and those who came before us.

The religion that we are born into or do not have makes a difference in how we view our world.  As Jewish people, we not only learn the Ten Commandments, we are to practice all that is written and taught to follow specific edicts, follow the demands that are expected of  of us, “go the straight and narrow path” of our ancestors, of life.  We are to be decent to our fellow men, to pray and trust that good things will happen if we believe in our G’d, help the poor, be nonjudgmental and give to  the needy. If we would be able to accomplish the “Karyagim Mitzwot” (613 good deeds/blessings), our lives would be much better, worthy, and meaningful.

Our lives are imperfect.  There is much that occurs that we cannot foresee, that we cannot absolutely predict, over which we have little or no control.  We cannot know or absolutely foresee where life will lead us and how to make every road that we take smooth or predictable.  It depends not only on us but our surroundings, i.e. what our family expects from us, who our friends, acquaintances are and will become, our situations, our livelihood, our “mazel” - our luck, what the general situations are in which we find ourselves, and much more. We have little control over many circumstances that occur.  We do not know much that occurs, the beliefs of our acquaintances, their feelings toward us, and much more.  Our health is not always as good or predictable as we would like it to be.  Unfortunate surprises can occur with which we have very little to do.  All of us desire the best for our surroundings and ourselves.

Losses that occur in our lives over which we have little if any control occur.  Illness, helplessness and death happen that leave us in unimaginable pain and despair.     

When a beloved member of our family dies we are helpless and cannot accept or ever forget or bring back that essential human being that meant so very much to us and our being.  When our parents die, a part of us dies with them.  No matter how much we grieve, how much time passes since they were taken from us, we feel the loss and the love they gave us.

With the death of a child we are in an unimaginable grief.  If we are the unfortunate parent involved in such a drastic misfortune, we feel lonely, sad, and almost responsible for this occurrence.  The child was meant to be with us forever, through good times and other times.  We depend on our children, they know us in almost every way, they love us, they are our cheerleaders and our protectors and we are theirs.  They were raised in our image,  our strength, and our love.  No one nor anything can ever replace them.


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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