Jun. 11th, 2010 01:10 pm
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
[personal profile] mamadeb
I am only venting here, and I know it's going to sound terrible. I'm sorry about that.

There is a standard of behavior for people sitting shiva. The idea is that one is divorced from all physical worries because one is emotionally devastated. The mourner sits on a low seat and people come to them, and sit waiting to be acknowledged. If the mourner never looks up, so be it. There are no greetings, no farewells. It's too emotional a situation for that.

Meanwhile, other people - non-mourning family or close friends or members of their community - take care of them. They do not cook, they do not clean, they most certainly do not serve others. They sit.

Now, this is never fully honored. A mother of small children will take care of them; a naturally polite person will have to be restrained from being polite. But this is the standard and the expectation in Orthodox households.

Everyone is assuming my husband's family is doing this to the best they can. So they walk in and my sister-in-law is washing dishes, and my brother-in-law is cooking eggs, and Jonathan's walking around, and my mother-in-law is bustling, and I'm standing there USELESS.

Or they're sitting and visitors are praising me for all the hard work I'm NOT doing. Or when I try, I get told not to do it. Oh, I can make breakfast. Sometimes. And if I clean up, I do it quietly - I'm not looking for praise or thanks - but then my mil complains to my husband I'm not doing anything. Or not putting away things I never took out, or put them wrong or....

I can't tell them what to do, and I know that. And bustling around is a way to hide from grief - but THAT'S THE POINT. This is the week to grieve, to hurt, to let it happen.

And they're really not that religious, and they don't want to be told what to do, and I get that. So I'm hiding. Because when I get upset, Jonathan gets upset and I don't want that to happen. He's already frustrated because, despite having a brother and a sister, the mourning is going to fall on HIM. He's the only one going to say kaddish, he's the only one who'll miss out on conventions and weddings and celebrations. He's the one getting up far too early in a strange bed to lead morning minyan. His brother, who has children to get to school and daycare, is in his own home. His sister and niece, who are here from Israel, are staying at a neighbors and come by when they come by. And insist on not doing anything appropriate.

This is creating a huge tension between the expectations of the callers, who are all experiences at going to shivas, and the behavior of the mourners. And Jonathan is feeling ground between all of that - me, his family, expectations that he chafes at as well, but understands. And none of that is helping their grief.

And it makes my life easier if I just let them do as they will, but then I feel useless.
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mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)

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