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?
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