web analytics
November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Opening Up About The Holocaust

Respler-013114

Dear Dr. Respler:

Regarding your January 17 column, “Passing On One’s Holocaust Experiences,” I wish to offer some comforting words to the grandmother whose father is sharing his wartime experiences with his 11-year-old great-grandson (the letter writer’s grandson).

I am also a child of survivors, one whose mother still has a clear mind. Although she is physically healthy, she is very depressed. All my life she never shared any details of the atrocities she endured during the war. I think if she shared her pain, she would unburden herself. I agree with you that the letter writer needs to redirect the audience for her father’s horror stories, but it sounds like her father is still enjoying his life and relating to his family. Conversely, my mother has always been a quiet, sad person.

Baruch Hashem, our amazing father had a positive outlook and dealt with his issues differently. I feel very bad for my mother; as no one wants to be around her, she is very lonely. She has no friends, and even her few contemporaries who went through what she endured are different than my mother. While I may be reading between the lines, it seems from the letter that this woman’s father is not depressed. Thus, she should be grateful that he still wants to be a part of the lives of his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and you. That being said, I reiterate my agreement that this woman must help her father find another medium to express his painful memories.  An 11-year-old child should not be put in the position of having to deal with these issues.

I wish my mother would talk about her pain. In fact, I showed the woman’s letter to my mother thinking it would start a conversation between us. But all she said was that she did not want to discuss the column and that the great-grandfather should keep his feelings to himself. I said to her, “Mommy, it is better to talk about your feelings. Maybe if you would talk about your past, you would not be so sad all the time.” She just became quiet and said that she is who she is and that she could not change at her age. I even raised the idea of a support group (I had one lined up for her), but she said that she just wants to bury the past and that I should never again bring up this issue.

Even though I don’t know the woman who wrote the letter, I just want to convey to her my hope that she look at the positive side of this situation. She should be grateful that her father is at least talking about his past and that he appears to be taking an active part in his daughter’s and her family’s life. For this she should be happy.

Silence is not always golden. Expressing feelings helps people move on and enjoy their lives. I think Hitler, yimach shemo, did not only kill six million Jews, but also killed my mother’s spirit and denied me the ability to have a normal mother. Thank you for listening, Dr. Respler, and keep up your great work.

A Child of Survivors
 

Dear Child of Survivors:

Thank you for your letter. In life we must always try to find the positive in every situation.

I hope this woman reads your letter and sees another angle to her situation. With respect to your mother, she appears to be clinically depressed. It seems as if she took all the anger she accrued during the war and turned it inward. This might be the cause of her depression. I think you should recommend to your mother that she receive professional help.

Even if she refuses to speak about her past, perhaps some medication can help alter her negative mood. Another idea is for her to begin to address other subjects, which can lead to talking about her past in a more natural manner. Finally, exercise is the greatest anti-depressant. Maybe you can help your mother enroll in an exercise class geared both to people her age and in her physical situation. For instance, swimming is a recommended exercise for people of all ages.

Since your mother is not interested in joining a support group, possibly just getting her involved in more activities would be helpful. Other people surrounding her will likely help her. However, if your mother is indeed clinically depressed, getting her to do anything will be challenging. You need to prepare yourself for some resistance, as depression sufferers generally do not have any desire to do anything. This may force you to practically have to drag your mother to some of these activities, but remember that it will be well worth the difficulty if your mother responds positively and her mood begins to improve.

Thank you for advising all of us to be appreciative for what we have. I wish you much hatzlachah with your mother, and I hope you have the zechus to help her unburden herself.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Opening Up About The Holocaust”

  1. As a Holocaust survivor myself I can relate to this problem, to talk or not to talk.
    I resolved my problem with seeking psychiatric help for many years since I suffered with PTS. I was fortunate to become a professional artist where I can express myself freely. I have quite few friends many very young people who regularly visit me. It is the most serene part of my life right now at 89 years of age.
    Shalom
    Holocaust survivor

  2. Margaretha Tierney says:

    Dear people who still suffer. Take your hurts to G-d. Tell Him all you have suffered and still suffer and give them to Him. It is too big for you to continue carrying. It might not seem like He takes them, but once you have actually done it, refuse to listen to the thoughts that come about them — just say, 'They don't belong to me any more. G-d has taken them from me.' Then purposely do something to take your mind from them. Every time they come to mind, direct your attention elsewhere while acknowledging that they do not belong to you any more. Say these words out loud. After a while the 'enemy' will leave you alone. Direct your attention to the goodness of our G-d and ask Him to give you His joy. Nehemiah 8 verse 10.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz delivers lecture.
IDF Chief Rabbi: Nothing is Holy to Muslims on Temple Mount except Al Aqsa
Latest Sections Stories
West-Coast-logo

Lester Crown, a perennial member of the Forbes 400 list since 1982 and founder of the prestigious Covenant Foundation, took the stage in Washington, D.C. before a room of high-powered dignitaries, philanthropists, and innovators.

Collecting-History-logo

Not as well known, however, is Keller’s involvement with Jewish and Israeli communities.

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

This core idea of memory is very difficult to fully comprehend; however, it is essential.

Sometimes the most powerful countermove one can make when a person is screaming is to calmly say that her behavior is not helpful and then continue interacting with the rest of the family while ignoring the enraged person.

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall divide within you.”

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.

As Rabbi Shemtov stood on the stage and looked out at the attendees, he told them that “Rather than take photos with your cellphones, take a mental photo and keep this Shabbat in your mind and take it with you throughout your life.”

Yeshiva v’Kollel Bais Moshe Chaim will be holding a grand celebration on the occasion of the institution’s 40th anniversary on Sunday evening, December 7. Alumni, students, friends and faculty of the yeshiva, also known as Talmudic University of Florida, will celebrate the achievement and vision of its founders and the spiritual guidance of its educational […]

The yeshiva night accommodates all levels of Jewish education.

More Articles from Dr. Yael Respler
Respler-112114

Sometimes the most powerful countermove one can make when a person is screaming is to calmly say that her behavior is not helpful and then continue interacting with the rest of the family while ignoring the enraged person.

Respler-111414

There are many people today with very little training who put out shingles and proclaim themselves to be marital coaches, shalom bayis helpers, advisers etc.

When one marries someone with children, all family members must accept them.

My mother-in-law is totally devoted to her daughters and their children. Her sons’ children on the other hand are treated like second-class citizens.

How can I help my wife learn to say “no,” and understand that her first priority must be her husband and family?

It is important for a therapist to focus on a person’s strengths as a way of overcoming his or her difficulties.

I went to camp for many years. We cleaned our own bunks and did not have air conditioning.

“I would really love my mother-in-law …if she weren’t my mother-in-law.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/opening-up-about-the-holocaust/2014/01/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: