When the Disabled Die

We are burying my uncle. In a few days, I will place the last remnants of one side of my family into the ground. My mother is alone. And now, we as her children are responsible for the pieces.

My mother has chosen not to have a funeral. At least, not a traditional funeral, the kind held in a synagogue with eulogies and accolades. Instead, we will bury my uncle graveside. A pauper’s grave repeats maliciously in my brain.

“No one will come,” my mother tells me. “We’ll be lucky if we have eight for a minyan.”
I want to tell her that the angels don’

t speak Aramaic. I want to tell her our friends will arrive. But, none of that counts. Not right now. Not to my mother. My mother, who spent every day of the last six years visiting my uncle. And, not to my family who spent every day of the last sixty-some years caring for my uncle.

Who cries for the disabled when they die?

My uncle deserves the burial of a normal life: a life with family, friends, children and colleagues. But, a life of disability destroyed all of that. And now, my family will stand alone at the graveside of my uncle and mourn for a man that no one knew.

But afterward, we will return to our house for shiva. There, my family and I will gather and eat whitefish and lox. We will remember our uncle. We will cry about his death. And, we will laugh about his life.

You all should have been so lucky to know him…

Posted by Hollywood to Holy Land

  • Carly Lesser

    Baruch Dayan HaEmet. Condolences on your loss. Being disabled doesn’t mean someone isn’t loved, and that there aren’t people to cry for them when they pass on. It sounds from your post like your Uncle was in an assisted facility. I’m betting the people there probably are also mourning his passing too.

    May his memory be for a blessing. His life was his life. He clearly touched your heart and soul. Maybe that’s all any of us can really hope for.

  • http://www.geocities.com/urulan Rael OneCloud

    It does make it harder to know people. I was never THE socialest of butterflies- I was a bit of an odd duck ie. into ‘geek’ things, unpopular in school etc. but then my arthritis and diabetes kicked in I found it harder and harder to get out and do all the little socialising things that are required to keep old friends and make new ones. So like your uncle I only have a little hardcore group of family & friends who know where to find me. My funeral, when death eventually happens, will probably not be heaps of huge.

    But is that so bad? I think Y_h_w_h has a way of refining us. Widdling down all the unnecessary so we have time for the real value of life, and to me the friends who DO know me, who DID stay on after I could no longer run around being faboo and artsy, are probably the better ones.

    Maybe less people knew your uncle. But those who did know him knew him best of all, because he had all the time in the world for them. That may be the brightest blessing of them all. לחיים!