Siblings that pass away have special meaning to us. They are often close in age to us and their death may bring to mind our own mortality. Life is no longer taken for granted. Someone from our generation has passed away. If the death is unexpected, there may be loose ends in the relationship that have not been dealt with. It is common that a death of a sibling brings upon a search for meaning. We may ask ourselves if we are accomplishing the goals that we have set for ourselves.
A death in the family leaves a void that cannot be filled. No one can ever take the place of this individual in the world. We should not try to comfort the family by saying that “it was his time anyway”, or, “he was suffering”. These may be words of comfort later. However, there must be time to mourn the fact that things will never be the same. One minute he was here and now he is gone. The human mind must be allowed to sit with this reality. Mourning is a necessary part of the human experience. If it is ignored, a general feeling of sadness may pervade the whole family.
When we lose something that is precious to us, we are left with a feeling of sadness. Whether it is a precious friend or even a treasured object, the loss can be hard to bear. It is as if a part of you has gone missing. Throughout our life we amass collections of friends and treasured possessions. Having close relationships help us feel as if we are not alone in the world. When we lose someone or something that is precious to us, we may realize that there is a certain aloneness that can never be filled. Ultimately the condition of life is one of being alone before G-d.
Research has shown that people live longer when they are surrounded by people they love. We are beings that thrive in community and it is not healthy to deny ourselves human contact. For people that live alone, even a pet has been shown to increase the life span for as much as five to seven years. Those of us that have blessed with family have been given a gift. They can join you in time of celebration and also in times of tragedy. Having a family to support you as you go through life is of monumental importance.
Death is life’s greatest mystery. What happens when our soul leaves our body is the most important question in the world. The answer will affect how we live our lives. The world is plagued with the question of what comes after this. When we are faced with the death of a friend or relative, we are stunned with grief. We don’t understand, he was here and now he’s not, where did he go? Where does the spirit go? The truth is that our soul knows of its eternal nature. If we ask our souls this question in a real way, we will find that we know that we are made from the stuff of eternity.