Dear Dr. Yael,
I would like to address the misconception that orphans have a harder time then most getting married. As a girl from an out-of-town family of 7, who lost her mother at the tender age of 13, I can certainly share my perspective and point of view on this matter. In my humble opinion, it is not just young men or women who are orphans who remain single. There are plenty of people fortunate enough to have both parents and even both sets of grandparents who are not married.
My genuine advice to all those who have lost parent(s), especially those who have lost their mothers, is to find someone they can trust and really connect to that person. This is critical for his or her emotional well-being. Whether it’s a family member, close family friend, a teacher, or even a therapist, an orphan needs someone who can provide direction and guidance with warmth and understanding. Orphans need someone whom they can really pour their heart out to, because, regardless of how capable one parent can be, he or she cannot perform the task of two. Hashem gave us two parents for a reason. It is therefore of utmost significance that those who lost parents become close to someone in whom they can confide. Many orphans walk around with an everlasting feeling of guilt which can affect their married years later on. I was one of those individuals and can easily relate to that.
I was “fortunate” to get married and engaged at the age of 18; however, I went into it with a lot of baggage and many insecurities. Throughout my teen years there were many people who tried to get close to me, but I wasn’t able to connect with them. Then, almost 15 years after my mother passed away, I was fortunate to become close with someone who not only understood me, but was also able to offer me the guidance I needed. She helped me become a secure and confident individual.
I know that we tend to be closed and hesitate opening up with others, but it’s a risk we have to learn to take as the right person can help us become a more “well-adjusted” individual. Each one has to identify what his or her specific needs are in a mentor, confidante, and surrogate parent. I needed someone who was old enough to be my mother, who was wise, strong, and very insightful. I was fortunate to find that double-fold. So, if you have lost a parent, remember there is light at the end of the tunnel; you just have to open your eyes and search really hard. I wish everyone in Klal Yisrael an easy and painless time in finding your bashert.
An Orphan Reborn
Thank you for this insightful and important letter. I agree with you and believe that every person, not just orphans, can benefit from a mentor. While generally that is a job a parent would hold, unfortunately, not every child can open up to and receive guidance from his or her parents. It is especially important for young children and teens to have an older and mature adult who can guide them in making the right decisions. For those who have lost their parent(s) at a young age, or whose parents are not capable of being role models, it is imperative to find someone that they can trust and emulate. Often when a child lacks this connection they are more likely to get advice from their peers or to follow their own instinct, which can sometimes prove to be very destructive.
As an aside, I will say that sometimes orphans have a harder time making a commitment because they are afraid that they will love someone and then lose them. So what you did was quite courageous.
Thank you for your letter and hatzlocha!