Bereaved Children Speak About Loss, Resilience, and Time

Each year the entire youth division gathers together and some of the members stand before the group and speak about their journey as bereaved brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters.

This year’s theme was “Time” – how it helps heal but also diminishes the memories of the loved ones lost to terror.

For Yishai, 17, whose brother Shalom was murdered while sitting at a bus stop in 2015, time is a double-edge sword.

“Time for me is a conflict – on the one hand it allows me to continue living in the present. As time progresses, I feel that I can grow and grow,” he said. “On the other hand, as time passes, my memories of Shalom start to fade away.”

If he could ask time for one gift, he said, it would be that it continue to move forward as it does but not rob him of his memories of his brother.

For Achinoam, 15, whose brother Erez was murdered in a truck ramming attack in Jerusalem it has been a teacher and a source of grief and sadness.

“The time that passed made me realize that my life is very valuable – more than I sometimes realize. Thanks to the time I spent at OneFamily, I became who I am today,” she said.

“But with the passing of time, there is also a great deal of pain. Every time I remember Erez, a small part of me breaks down a bit.”

Tamar, 23, whose sister Shlomit was murdered in a stabbing attack in 2016, said her ability to cope with the loss has evolved over time.

“In the first year without Shlomit, I was consumed by fear,” she said. “I was afraid of a new life and afraid of time. I was afraid to forget how she looked, her speech and her laughter, I was afraid to forget her. I talked about her all the time so people would not think I did not care anymore and thought about her at every given moment, sometimes even without really wanting to.”

In the second year, she continued, “I began to think that indifference might be a better way to cope than this constant preoccupation, so I got myself myself involved in other things to forget about the pain.”

As more time passed, however, she discovered that “whether I wanted it or not, bereavement was part of me, part of who I am and that I had to learn to live with it to continue.”

For Dafna, whose father was murdered in 2005 when she was very young, the passage of time has helped her find her own identity that includes her father. “I was three and a half when the terror attack happened and now thirteen years have passed, and as time goes by, I feel that I understand more about the meaning of loss, and I feel this every day.

“I’m at the stage in my bereavement that I am building my own character but as I build myself I do so according to who I am and also from the life and image of my father.”

Read highlights of all the speeches below:

Tohar, 12, whose father was killed in the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and

The time sometimes passes quickly and sometimes slowly.

Sometimes all we want is the time to pass and sometimes all we want to be able to get it back.

Twelve years ago, during the Second Lebanon War, my father was killed.

I was born without a father.

Dad is a very central person in my life so obviously I want to know him.

It’s like not knowing Mom-it’s impossible. I would like my love for Father to be based on really knowing him and having real memories and not just stories others tell me. I would like to know all about him -even the small things like how his voice sounded.

After a person dies, people only talk about the most important things about him. They do not speak of his shortcomings. But those are also part of what helps us love a person. It’s hard to love a perfect person, and it’s hard to love a person when you know only parts of him.

I would like to know my father from my perspective and not just through the thoughts and feelings of others.

Ayala, 11, whose father was killed in a shooting attack in 2009

Nine years ago my father was murdered in a shooting attack while on his way home to the settlement.

I was a little girl aged two and a half and all I know about my father are stories people told me about him.

This year I am celebrating my Bat Mitzvah and I feel that this time is very significant for me and my family.

The time passes by, forgetting the little things, such as how his voice sounds and some of the memories disappear but with time the understanding grows that it’s not what defines him and it does not matter what I remember or forget – because I always think of my father.

Still, if I could meet and talk to him and ask him for something, I would ask him to come back to live with us.

 

Yishai, 17, whose brother Shalom was murdered in a car ramming attack in 2015.

Time for me is a conflict – on the one hand it allows me to continue living in the present. As time progresses, I feel that I am going through things that make me grow and grow. On the other hand, as time passes, my memories of Shalom become a little more faded

I am happy that I can live in the present, but on the other hand as time passes my experience of Shalom become only memories. At some point in time, my brother, who belonged to the present, has now become someone who belongs in the past.

As time passes I am aware of its advantages, and yet I it saddens me. If I could ask for one thing of the time, I would like to ask to that I continue to move forward but that the memories of Shalom do not fade.

Achinoam, 15, whose brother was murdered in a truck ramming attack in 2017

The time that passed has brought many things with it – some bad, some good.

The time that has passed has made me realize that my life is worth a lot. More than I think or know. Thanks to the time I spent at OneFamily, I became who I am today.

And with the passing of time, it also brings a lot of pain. Every time I remember Erez, a small part of me breaks down a bit.

 

Yotam, 13, sister Shlomit was stabbed to death in 2016

Three years have passed already and life is so different.

During these years my nephew Ziv was born. I celebrated my bar mitzvah.

But everything is different without you, there is no night I do not think about you and remember, there is no night or day without longing.

Every day I ask him, “Why?” Why her?

Everyone says that everything happens for the best and that nothing happens without a reason – in the meantime I do not see it and only ask – Why her ??

I love you Shlomit and always will.

Tamar, 23, sister Shlomit was stabbed to death in 2016

My older sister Shlomit was murdered in a stabbing attack in Beit Horon almost three years ago, when I was 20. Whenever I am asked when the attack took place, it takes me time to answer because for a moment I am not sure. It does not feel like 3 years, it feels like a lot more and at the same time feels like it just happened.

With time I realized that whether I wanted to or not, bereavement was part of me, part of who I am and that I had to learn to live with it to continue. I realized that I had to find balance because one cannot completely ignore the bereavement, and on the other hand it is impossible to deal with it all the time.

So I started a process of learning – when and how to put the pain and longing to the side and when to let them be present.  I have learned to give space to pain and to yearning without falling, learning to talk about Shlomit and smile while doing so.

I have learned to understand the balance.

 

Dafna, 16, whose father was killed in an attack in 2006

I was three and a half when the terror attack happened and now thirteen years have passed and as time goes by, I feel that I understand more about the meaning of loss, and I feel it every day.

I’m at the stage in my bereavement that I am building my own character but as I build myself I do so according to who I am and also from the life and image of my father. I also feel fear and a missed opportunity that the more time passes, the more time my father is not with me and I have not had the experience of experiencing life with him.

But with time, barriers open and opportunities come up to share and talk my feelings through.

And today I can face up to my loss

 

Yaela, 13, whose father was killed in 2005

Father,

A year ago I had a bat mitzvah. You were not with me, but I felt you right next to me, kissing and hugging me.

When I was a month old you were murdered on your way home.

I did not get to know you, but I learned about you from the stories of my mother, friends, neighbors and others who shared with me. From these stories I try to build an image of you, Yossi, my father.

From these stories, what everyone told me is to remember your happy smile, the same smile I have in a picture with you when I’m a baby and you are holding me in your arms.

There are so many times when I think of you and feel your absence! For example, on Friday night when you would have blessed me after kiddush, I would like you to bless me.

And when there is an evening for fathers and daughters in school – I’m sad that you are not there.

Or just at night I remember you – I have the picture of you holding me as a baby in my room and I occasionally look at it at night and I remember you.

There are stories that people tell me about you and I am proud of you and that you were a man of giving.

And sometimes I have thoughts…if you only you would have left work late that day…my life would have been so different.

Avior, 16, whose father was killed in a suicide bus bombing in 2003

I do not have many memories of my father, just pictures and videos. Since my father was killed, 15 years have passed and for the past 10 years I have been in OneFamily.

Sometimes when I hear other children’s stories from the group I think that maybe in a sense it is easier for me to deal with the loss because I do not know what it is like to grow up with a father.

Sometimes it comes up in memorials and when I’m at friends’ house – I see what it is like to grow up with a father, and this is a situation I do not know.

For me, being in OneFamily is a privilege, but if I had my time again I wish I could have my father with me.

Adi, 10, whose brother Ziv was murdered in 2018

Four days before my birthday and two weeks before Passover my older brother Ziv was murdered in a terrorist attack near Mevo Dotan.

It has now been eight months and sometimes the time that passes helps me to forget what happened.

I feel time flies and despite all the sorrow and pain I have, I also do all kinds of happy and fun things like making jewelry, painting and spending time with my friends. This helps me to forget some of the troubles.

I have a fear of time – that it will pass and I will not be able to do everything I want.

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