A Dilemma

We were invited to friends for the whole Shabbat. We were supposed to go last week and both families forgot till Thursday night, by which time I had already made plans to send my oldest for a "Shabbat Pinuk" at the grandparents (pinuk= spoiling). So we rescheduled for this week.

Last night, I called my friend to ask what I can bring. (Actually, more to inform her I'm bringing carrot kugel, because that's what E eats reliably and roasted broccoli and cauliflower because they're in my fridge and need to be made). She sounded really preoccupied when I first spoke to her earlier in the evening.

When she called me back later to confim things, she told me the reason she'd been preoccupied was because she had just found out that her neighbor, mother of four, had committed suicide yesterday. Her oldest son, an 8th grader, found her hanging in the bathroom in the afternoon. Her daughter is in my friend's daughter's class. Her youngest just started first grade last week.

I was stunned. I literally had to sit down. I had never met this woman in my life, but news of her death felt like a punch in the stomach. All I could think of was her son, her children. How could she abandon them? My friend said there were never any indications of depression or abuse. No one knew anything.

Such a tragedy. After I caught my breath, I asked if we should still come for Shabbat. My friend assured me that it was still ok to come. I said ok and hung up. Then I called my husband, my mother, my friend. I had this immediate need to call and tell people, I don't know why. Then my mother pointed out that it might not be such a good idea to go and have my oldest, 6, exposed to possible discussion of this tragedy. She was right. A is very sensitive, as are most 6 year olds who are on the cusp of understanding such abstractions as death and love, but can't quite process them as older children and adolescents can.

So I called my friend back and suggested that maybe that it's not such a good idea to come. She said not to worry, she also didn't want her younger son, also around 6, to know and she was sure her daughter was mature enough not to talk about the event in front of him or any of the younger children. I was still hesitant. This poor girl, who is friends with the girl who just lost her mother: Why pressure her to repress her feelings with our presence? But my friend and her husband felt it was ok to come and so did my husband. I was outnumbered.

I hope it works out ok. I'm really not interested in discussing suicide with A. To this day, she still remembers my grandfather's death from a year ago, and she only met him 2-3 times in her life. She's not upset about it, but she still thinks about it and where he is and what happened to him.

Reading the above over, I realize I'm turning this immense tragedy into something that's all about me. I fully realize it has absolutely nothing to do with me. These poor children will suffer tremendously for the rest of their lives for no rational reason except undiagnosed or poorly treated mental illness. I've been thinking of them constantly today and I probably will for a while.

Update: We went and it actually turned out ok. My friend's daughter didn't go to the funeral, which made it much easier. Our kids played together from the minute we walked in erev Shabbat till they collapsed on the couch shortly before Shabbat ended and the topic was never discussed in front of the children. I think it probably helped that my friend and the woman who died weren't very close friends. I'm sure in that situation it would have been much different.

The daughter, N, went to visit her friend in the late afternoon and came home for seuda shlishit crying. My daughters were already asleep by then and her mother, father and I did our best to comfort her. N and her friend are 11. :(

I lost a night of sleep because E didn't like his pack and play sleeping arrangement but I'm glad we all went.


SuperRaizy said...

What a horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to her family.

mother in israel said...

What an awful story. My heart goes out to the husband and children.

I don't think it's a bad idea to go. It'll probably help your friend to keep her mind off what happened, and it'll distract her kids too. You can't completely shelter your kids anyway, and at 6 it's unlikely that anyone will say anything to her.

Baila said...

It will be okay. You'll be on the alert for anything that shouldn't be discussed in front of the young children.

I am so sorry for this tragedy.

Commenter Abbi said...

SuperRaizy, MII, Baila- It is such an awful story. I hope the family can find some peace with time.

B'sorot tovot to us all.

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