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Rachel is a bubbly and adorable 8-year-old girl. From a young age, she was afraid of the dark, but after a minimal amount of coaxing, would eventually go to bed. Outside of the home, Rachel loved school, excelled in her classes, and looked forward to going to school each day. Suddenly, one night, all of this changed. Rachel would not go to bed. She claimed she was afraid of the dark. After four hours of her mother sitting beside her bed, Rachel finally fell asleep; however, she awoke an hour later screaming, "Please don't leave me alone. I can't be alone." Rachel's mother, in an effort to calm her down, spent the night on the floor beside the bed. Even so, Rachel woke about every half-hour to check that her mother was still there.
Dear Rabbi Horowitz: Our family is recovering from the terrible, unexpected loss of a loved one who passed away far too young. My husband and I have differing views on seeking professional help to help our children cope with the tragedy. (Thankfully, at least on the surface, they all seem to be doing well.) I am strongly in favor of seeking this help, while my husband, who is an amazing father and has been our bedrock throughout this ordeal, thinks that we should leave well enough alone and not subject our children to the agony of pouring their hearts out to a stranger. We are regular readers of your columns and recently re-read your "Open Letter to Teens Who Lost a Parent," where you very clearly encourage them to seek help if they are having difficulty dealing with their grief. But what if they don't seem to be exhibiting any such signs? We would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this matter. Respectfully, Susan