Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

During the past two yom tov days of Sukkos, known as zman simchasaynu or "the holiday of our joy", I actually found myself, to my surprise, abiding by that directive a time or two. Making kiddush in the sukkah the first night, after all the work putting it together, was a big emotional lift. We had both day meals out with close friends and family, which was very nice. And the neighborhood sukkah visiting ("hopping"), which I helped organize this year, was fun and social.

So naturally, now I want to feel guilty about this! (So much for my lofty sentiments about the evils of Jewish Guilt; I suppose philosophy is one thing, and emotions are quite another.) It just feels wrong on some level to even be able to have fun right now, especially in a social setting.

Yet I realize that this is simply the way it is for me. I had analogous feelings when I first went back to work after the week of shiva for Aaron. I thought something must be wrong with me because I was able to function so well, at least on the outside. Shouldn't I be falling apart, too depressed to deal with anything? Was I not mourning well enough? What was wrong with me?

We've all heard about the so-called "five stages of grief": denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Others have argued that these stages are all actually pre-grief, and have proposed different ways of charting the grieving process itself. My own experience has been that all of these various stages occur concurrently, even simultaneously. Some level of "acceptance" - or maybe that's too lofty, maybe "enduring" or "distracting" would be better terms - has been present for me almost from the very start. This has enabled me to cope with day to day life, even enjoy small pleasures where I can. On the other hand, I am still struck anew with a sense of denial - of the pure unreality of this loss - on at least a daily basis.

This blog, in a very real sense, is emblematic of this dichotomy. One day I'm composing discourses on religion, politics, or pop culture, sharing jokes, posing trivia questions. The next, words about Aaron's loss are pouring out of me faster than I can type and tearing my heart open all over again.

The blog serves as both a distraction, and a catharsis. Right now, I need both types of writing equally, and there is no contradiction or impropriety in their parallel expression.

It's just how I survive.


At 10/20/05, 3:15 PM, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Elie: As a father, I read what you wrote and am speechless.

I recently found your blog and continue to read your postings on a daily basis.

At 10/20/05, 3:33 PM, Blogger SS said...

My husband always quotes that passuk (verse) from Ha'Azinu "Zur yeladecha teshi", which, he tells me, means that Hashem is so benevolent that He allows us to forget the unpleasant things. It's not inappropriate, it's the only way to survive. Nobody would judge you for it except you, and there is no need. You need to get through life. You still have a family to care for, the rest of that didn't fall apart. All the best, G'mar Chatimah Tova.

At 10/21/05, 5:39 PM, Blogger benros52589 said...

for the sukkah he wouldnt have been there ny way maybe thas y u werent so depressed hopefully u wont be depressed at all


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