Shiva Support Systems

Alone in my apartment with my thoughts, I had to agree with what my brother said about our Mom: it’s like she actually died a long time ago, for us.  It just took a while for the remnant of her to catch up, I guess.  This is just the aftershock of an event.  Then comes all the recovery and sorting of fragments of a life, and paying off debts.

So I’m not in shock or distress so much as empty and sad.  I’ve had decades to prepare.  The time for healing rifts or closure is long gone.  Now it’s just the uneasy sensation of a real life dilemma in which immediate family members are not medically able to be there for even minimal funeral/burial arrangements, which must and will happen right away, with or without us.  It’s just a reality of our times.

I can see the wisdom in sitting shiva for a week with other family and friends, to help in the healing process.  It turns out I don’t do well rattling around alone in my apartment for long periods, even under normal circumstances.  Jewish tradition got this much right–people need a community or support system around in times of need as well as in good times.  My other brother Andrew is a case in point.

Maybe that’s why I’ve grown to identify with dogs of late–like humans, they are social animals who need a pack to feel a part of, even if the pack is their humans.  They love to please us, even grovel for it, to feel appreciated and approved of.  They don’t do well isolated in cages, or in chaos, just like us.  It’s unnatural.  They’ll get neurotic or even go stark raving mad.  Kind of like old humans consigned to facilities, away from loved ones, merely maintained.

This is not the case here, because my mother was taken care of by each of us in turn, and I know I have a loving family to turn to if things get tough.  Though it’s getting smaller by the minute!  I guess I was always more of a cat than a dog up until now, keeping to myself and doing my own thing for the most part, except when I made some very questionable human choices.  See how well that worked out!  Now I see that a well-functioning support pack, however unconventional, is the way to go!

For now, I’m just here, waiting to see how things play out, feeling unsettled and weird.  In the meantime, this was one of my mother’s favorite flowers, lily of the valley, growing at Avdi’s.


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