By Yael Hanover
If you are going to be Menachem Avel a family who has lost a child, please consider the following, and trust me because I speak from experience having sat Shiva for my own child:
• If you are overcome by emotion and cannot stop crying, do not go. The family is dealing with their own emotions, they do not need to deal with yours as well.
• There is a reason there are posters printed with what to say on them. Say little or nothing else. If you are wondering if you ought to say anything in particular, do not. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT begin a statement with, “At least,” “You need,” “You should,” or “Don’t.”
• Do not compare losses. If you have mourned a parent, spouse, sibling or friend, it is not the same. If you have lost a pregnancy, it is not the same. Your loss is valid and deserves respect, too. If you need to talk about it, someone else’s Shiva is not the place.
• Do not bring your children. They can be a distraction or say things that while appropriate to their age, are not appropriate for the situation and could cause the family greater discomfort.
• Do respect the family’s wishes and feelings. If they want privacy or to eat nothing but milkshakes or eat nothing at all, do not try to change their minds. Try asking what you can do to facilitate their requests.
• Do not question the circumstances of the child’s death. Do not bring up preventability. The cause of death is absolutely irrelevant in light of the simple fact – He is gone, help them survive that by being sensitive.
We should know only simchas and good news between now and Geula, it should be immediately.