Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mourning in the shadows

As you've probably heard, Rav Ovadia Yosef died yesterday.

Israeli news sites reported that over 800,000 people turned out to pay their last respects to the 93 year old Torah scholar and leader of Sephardi Jewry. 
צילום: משה מזרחי, חדשות 24
Everyone from public figures, senior politicians, and leading Rabbis have been offering sound bites praising Rav Ovadia, and many "regular" people have been posting their "the time I met Rav Ovadia" story on Facebook. 

The news coverage, in every possible medium, has been non-stop.

And I have nothing to add to the public discourse about Rav Ovadia. 

I want to talk about someone else. 

I don't know his name and neither do you.

I've never met him.

I've never met his family and I probably never will.

He died yesterday. Or maybe the day before, maybe today.

But he wasn't famous. He wasn't a scholar, or the founder of a political party. 

He was a regular person, like you and me. Not perfect. Human. 

Maybe he lived a long life and was blessed with children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren like Rav Ovadia.

Maybe he was in the prime of his life with a wife and children, a job, a mortgage. 

Maybe he died young, in his twenties or teens.

Maybe even a child or infant.

There's a lot I don't know about him. But I know this - he has a family. 

And as difficult as it is to lose someone you love, when their death is overshadowed by the death of a famous person, it is that much more difficult. 

It feels like the entire world is caught up in mourning this public figure, and your world has just ended. Your son/husband/father wasn't famous but to you he was EVERYTHING. Your personal tragedy is so enormous and overwhelming. And everyone is talking about this public figure who died. And you just don't care.

I know, it sounds petty. Unless you've been there, unless you've experienced it, unless you've felt it. Then you get to add anger, resentment, and guilt to all the other feelings you're experiencing. And you can't tell anyone how you feel because you think they'll judge you.

But there is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings.  The way you feel is the way you feel. And the good thing about feelings is that they eventually pass. 

And though each year, when the anniversary rolls around, you have to deal with the public frenzy again, it gets easier.