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Coping with the Loss of a Grandchild

Coping with the Loss of a Grandchild

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Question:

My beautiful adolescent grandchild was recently killed in a terrible accident. This is actually the second grandchild I've lost. Please tell me how I'm supposed to be happy?

Answer:

I looked at your e-mail several times and closed it each time. How can I presume to tell you how to be happy after what you have gone through? I can write that I understand your grief and sadness, but, in truth, I am sure that I cannot really understand the pain that you must be living with and I truly cannot really feel the depths of your sorrow. But I do feel sorry for the pain and the sadness that I can only imagine that you and your family must be going through.

You write that your grandchild died tragically quite recently. The pain must still be especially severe and raw at this point, especially after the other tragedy you've suffered before.

I do not think that you are meant to try to erase that pain. We do need to mourn our losses; we cannot simply deny them and go on with life. And that is why according to the laws of the Torah, we can see that our mourning goes through various stages—with the first days and week being the most excruciatingly severe and unbearable; the first month being exceedingly difficult and the first year still very harsh. Time does have a way to heal, though, and though the pain never ceases, it dulls somewhat.

The following are some ideas, culled from the words of our sages, to help cope with the pain of bereavement:

At times, the severity of our pain can be somewhat eased through actions—by doing positive acts in the merit of our loved ones, and knowing that as a result the neshamah (soul) of our departed is getting pleasure from our actions in the World of Truth.

At times, it may also be helpful to speak to others about the departed, about your feelings, about your memories. Just the act of speaking to a friend, or a therapist when needed, can help deal with grief.

Sometimes it helps as well to keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and memories, and to keep reminding yourself that though you miss your loved one terribly, ultimately their soul is in a better place.

Speaking to G‑d, as well, about your pain; praying to Him, crying to Him, expressing your anger and outrage even, can help us reconnect to ourselves and our Source.

And in the right time, it is necessary to keep busy, move forward, keep focused on accomplishing or doing positive things in our world; to erase some of the harsh pain and bring more joy and goodness.

I have never been put through the sort of pain you write about. But I hope that some of these thoughts might be helpful. Let us hope and pray for the Redemption, when you will be reunited with your loved ones and when such sorrow and sadness will be erased from the face of this earth forever.

For more insight, please visit our Death & Mourning section, and specifically the Mourning Readings section.

Chana Weisberg for Chabad.org

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Discussion (13)
February 14, 2016
God prefers truth I would think.
I have a hard time with fluff...like a denial and self-delusion of what we often really feel inside, which is powerful and mixed emotions.

Fear, rage, resentment, confusion and a sense of being abandoned by God. If denial works for you...then fine.

I think we best recognize the whole range of feelings and thoughts. You can't hide those from God nor "fool" him.

Hope, faith prayer...absolutely critical, beneficial in my belief. But there is no explanation for the horror of the suffering of a human, especially an innocent child. If the suffering can be connected to one's own choice or the bad behavior of others, OK can't blame God. But these cases...there are no explanations.

Even Elisha the prophet did not accept God's will. He breathed life back into that child...He knew it was a horror.

We have to accept that we have a range of emotions and thoughts...all need to be validated and then we have to find a way to live with it.
Howie
Glendora
February 13, 2016
I feel I not only lost a grandchild, but a part of my child
Anonymous
February 20, 2015
We have a granddaughter who is severely brain damaged, a genetic condition, we have almost lost her many times as she has grand mal seizures. I've thought long and hard about what and how will I feel when our daughter rings us to tell us that Anna has gone home to be The Lord. Our grief will be great, but our daughters will be greater. Already we talk about how we will stand with our daughter and her wonderful husband. We will grieve, but our concern will be for our daughter and comforting both she and her husband.

I'm not saying a grandparents grief is unimportant, but as parents our responsibility to our children is greater. G-d knew exactly what he was doing when he gave parents children. Love your daughter, comfort her as as you do, you will be dealing with your own grief too. Shalom shalom
Phyllis Pearson
NZ
February 18, 2015
Brotherly Comfort
My sister, not so much as a bird falls dead from a tree without our Father's approval. You can take much joy that your grandchildren have fulfilled their intended purpose and I pray shebbet shalum for them. Please my sister, turn your face to our Father in heaven, approach as his most treasured daughter (because you are) and allow Him to comfort you. When you are ached (in oneness) with Father you are ached with all that befalls you. That is all I can say for now the rest will come from Father!
Achik tzamech
February 17, 2015
coping wit loss
We lost our son last month. His good deeds and his love to his fellow friends and students is with us every minute. We can't understand Hashem's ways. We know that his Neshama is close to his Rebbe. He can fabreng with the old Chasidim that he loved and appappreciatd. There is too much pain and sorrow. May Hashem hasten the coming of Moshiach Now.
Anonymous
LA.
August 12, 2011
Lose of a grandchild'
I have lost 4 grandchildren. The first two were stillborn, but weighed enough that we had to have graveside services for them. On August 6, 2010 I lost both my grandsons. Dylan age 5 and Jaxon age 3. This has just really ripped my heart out. I have a hard time because they lived with my my husband, and my son. Their mother also live with us, she is my daughter. My family struggles everyday. You see there is no noise anymore, no crying, no more saying mawmaw I love you, or poophoo I love you. It has all gone away. Oh how I wished for just one more minute with them. I think about them all the time. The thing that really gets me is that only my daughter and the my grandsons were at home that day and their dad has filed a wrongful death suit against me, my husband, my son and the boys mother. Please be prayerful for my family. We are really struggling.
Anonymous
Smiths Grove, KY
October 21, 2010
What to say to daughter
Laura, tell your daughter what you shared here: "I am so proud ... the most amazing woman I knowl."

We keep going on because that's how Life works . . . not necessarily a rhyme or a reason.

{{{Laura}}}
Marny
Vista, CA
October 14, 2010
loss of my grandson
I lost my first grandson, my only grandchild September 2009 at the age of 4 months. He passed away suddenly from a virus, the common cold.

The shock and grief I felt for the first 6 months was horrific, I didn't think I cound make the pain stop .... yes it has gotten easier, but there are still times when I cry so hard I think I am going to die.

This on top of the grief I feel for my daughter is so hard. I don't know what to say to her sometimes as I don't want to say anything to upset her. I am so proud of her, she is the most amazing woman I know.

How do we keep going on?
Laura
Burlington, Canada
July 28, 2010
Loss of firstborn grandchild
My daughter-in-law had to have an emergency C-Section in her 5th month of pregnancy. The little guy weighed 1.25 lbs. He lived long enough to hold their fingers and smile.

My son asked me if I ever experienced such a loss - "No" ... he asked if my only pregnancies resulted in still-living children - "Yes" -- and then he snapped at me and said: 'Then you have no idea what it's like to lose someone you love!!'

Other than grandparents, all my uncles and aunts, I have lost my mom, only sibling, father, husband, numerous friends, and now my first grandchild -- aside from the obvious -- my son, too, although he's still alive.

When my daughter didn't feel well, I would surprise her with a yellow rosebud -- and said "Love makes the hurt go away."

My son and his wife never told me they now have 2 more children.

G-d gives me strength to keep laughing and enjoying my life. He loves that I am learning all things Jewish-and was with me in Israel at The Wall. First trip.

L'Chaim!
Marny
Vista, CA
April 10, 2010
The Loss of my Grandaughther
My granddaughther took her life on December 17, 2009. She shot her heart with a gun. I feel her pain and I think that she was hurting and thats why she did it. I could not see the signs of depression. If only I could have been able to stop her. I cannot let her go and cry for her everyday. I miss her dearly and pray to her everyday. Please give me advice on how to go on everyday. I cannot dream her or feel her. I want some answers.
Anonymous
Robstown, Texas