“I have really sad news,” my wife said to me over the phone as I was in the middle of my dinner. She went on to tell me about the passing of our brother-in-law’s brother. I buzzed her with questions, “Was he sick? You never said he was sick! What happened?“ She had no answers.
My friends and I are at an age when it is not, unfortunately, uncommon to be losing parents. While this is sad and hurtful, it is understandable. The older generation passes and the next generation moves on. However, to hear of someone passing in our generation or G-d forbid the next one is leaves one shaking his head wondering why is this happening.
I did not know him, Bruce and had only met him a few times over the nearly 11 years or so that I have known my wife. We did not have much reason to come in contact. However, I did know about snippets of his life: served in the Israeli Army, loved knaidelach (you try spelling a Yiddish word), worked in emergency services. There is something else I know: he leaves behind two children, ages 7 & 9 and his own parents are alive and well. How many times has it been said, “There is nothing worse than having your children pass before you.” These good people are experiencing that feeling and it will be with them for the rest of their lives.
Shortly after my wife called me and I digested the news, I called my brother-in-law. I had to. I wanted to. There was agony in his voice. He was writing the eulogy to be delivered at his little brother’s funeral the next day. Upon returning home from work the next day, my wife described the tears our nieces and nephews shed as they saw their uncle being buried. This terrible phone call and scene were made even more difficult because I did not share the personal sense of loss that loved ones of mine shared. My sadness is for them. I am outside the circle. However, rather than wanting to join them, my concern is how do I perform my role as comforter. I’ll visit with them, listen to some stories, look at pictures, or just sit with them. I don’t know if this will help them release some of the grief, but I know that knowing someone cares and wants to share your grief can be comforting and meaningful.