Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

As we enter this world, we are surrounded by many people. From the technical staff that helps the child come into this world, to all the family waiting anxiously to greet their little newborn.

All in all, everyone is there, although the baby doesn’t know or understand that fact just yet. As children grow, they learn that at the time of their birth they were surrounded by all their loved ones.

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When we leave this world after 120, once again we are surrounded by many people; technically those who care for our bodies to make sure we rest in peace in the proper manner, and once more by our loved ones who came to wish us farewell. Here too, the person we love who left this world might not be aware of who is there and who is caring for them at that precise moment. At both extremes we are surrounded by people, and loved ones. But what happens in between?

Do we surround those same people as we should? Are we there for them just as they were as we came into this world?

As we grow and get older we go through many changes and challenges. One of the greatest challenges is loneliness. We can find this situation at almost any age.

There can be a child who isn’t very popular in school and might feel very lonely. Or there can be a single man or woman who lives alone and they feel very lonely much of the time.

When we enter this world our parents are there by our side. Even in difficult situations where a mother cannot take care of her child there are foster parents and adoptions, and once again the child is surrounded by parents who love them.

What happens when we grow up and get older, much older? We might find ourselves alone. Our children are all grown up and have families of their own, and everyone is very caught up in their daily lives. Do we remember or care for our parents as they did for us when we were young?

When our parents get older, they need us. And not always are the children there as the parents were for them growing up. There is an expression, that a parent can take care of many children, but many children can’t take care of one parent in the same way.

One of the hardest facts of growing older is the loneliness. When a person makes it into the 70s and 80s of their lives, many of the people they grew up with like their parents and many loved ones are no longer living. And their children are busy with their own children.

Their friends are each in their own homes and might not so easily move around as they did when they were all younger.

We must remember our parents and be there for them although we are very busy and have so much to do. We mustn’t wait for them to be ill in order to visit them or see what they need.

More than physical care what our elderly parents need is our company. They were there to read us a bedtime story or hear what happened in school. Where are we in our very busy schedules, to hear what happened to them in the morning, afternoon or night?

I see so many foreign caretakers looking after elderly people. On one hand I’m so glad that they are being cared for. And on the other hand I wonder why they are alone. Where are all the children they raised? Where is the smile on their faces? They are cared for but what about their loneliness? We make sure our parents basic needs are cared for, but what about the need for love and affection, attention, and emotional support?

The long winter nights can be so lonely. A book or a movie are not always the best solution. Our parents, or other family members who are alone need us the way we needed them growing up. Reach out to your parents and loved ones while they are still around, and support them with your time, and your love, since that is what they really need.

Thank you Mom and Dad for always being there for me, and may Hashem give me the strength and wisdom to know how to return to you that great love and support, as you did for me all my growing years and way beyond that. I love you.

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Michal can be reached at michal@jewishpress.com