Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Selfish Empathy

Forgive me.

I went to a funeral today. I listened intently as various friends and family of the deceased regaled in what is and what was. The rabbi at the lectern was somber. His voice floated through the room both melancholy and hopeful. As he cleared his throat to begin the Mourner's Kaddish, I was again dragged back to childhood.

Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba...

This chant, this prayer, this island of familiar in a sea of horrific will always remind me of my dad. His death is my earliest remembrance of these foreign but comforting words. I listened as a child intently at his funeral. Then, year after year, in synagogue, my mom would bring us to remember on his yahrzeit.

And it is through these shattered lenses; through this prism that I experience grief.

When my patients die, when I hold their families hands, I am remembering. When I attend a funeral, or pat a shoulder gently and sigh, I am reliving. Not the beauty and wonder of the life before me, because I will never feel as profoundly as the poor husband, child, or sibling. But the epic loss that pervades my existence.

In your father, I see my father. In you, I see myself. Forgive me if my grief is divided.

I empathize with your pain.

And your grief brings me back,

to my own.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Adonai ozley amo ytein, Adonai yitbareck et amo va shalom.

Oh Lord give strength unto your people. Lord, bless all peoples with peace.

and especially you Dr. Grumet.