One Family youth
One Family youthOneFamily

The Significance of Loss – A Journey of Life-making Choices

The State of Israel is an exceptional success story, with the return of the Jewish people to their homeland after thousands of years living in exile. Added to which the country boasts an impressive number forerunners in numerous sectors: science, technology, medicine, agriculture, security, and more.

In many cases Israel’s development came as the result or in response crises, finding answers to acute problems that required a solution. The most outstanding example of this is security.

Due to the constant threats - from within and outside of its borders - the State of Israel was forced to establish a strong military that would guarantee its security. Moreover, it is clear to us today, that a vital part of our national security in the Jewish State, is the outstanding resilience and social cohesion in Israeli society.

From the very beginning, Israel’s society, Israel’s family, has been forced to deal daily with loss and trauma. The ongoing state of war and terror attacks have exacted a heavy price on Israeli society, a very costly price indeed. Soldiers and civilians have lost their lives, many were injured physically and emotionally. Many families have been plunged into bereavement and grief.

This article is dedicated to a touching initiative that occurred 18 years ago in response to a real need that arose in society: the OneFamily Fund, which supports terror victims and bereaved families.

When any family is suddenly faced by the loss of a loved one, they suffer tremendous pain and grief, and are plunged into a cycle of personal and family mourning, a crisis that no one can ever prepare for. The family is immediately forced to deal with endless questions, hardships and urgent dilemmas, as well as the long term new and uncertain reality.

In the darkest hours of their lives OneFamily enters the picture, bringing with it its vast experience, and professional knowledge. The organization helps family members get through the initial days and those following after, as everyone returns to their daily routine and the family begins to internalize the void that has appeared in their lives.

OneFamily has, in the past 18 years, gained vast professional expertise and in-depth experience in accompanying and treating bereaved families and terror victims. This understanding has led OneFamily to develop a holistic treatment model to assist the families. Within that framework professionals, together with the different department heads, the Youth Department, Young Adults and Family Departments, established a unique rehabilitative treatment, bespoke to best fit the specific needs of each family.

Already during the Shiva, a case worker with responsibility of the area the family live, visits the family, introduces themselves and listens to the family members, while identifying their immediate needs, sensitivities and financial situation. These findings are immediately dealt with by the relevant departments. The case worker remains in constant contact with the family accompanying them and coordinating throughout the process.

The long term challenges faced by families are many and varied. The equilibrium and roles within the family change, family relations are often strewn into turmoil, the financial situation is impacted and so on. Often, victims describe the gap that exists between their own recovery and their daily routine and the expectations of those around them. More than once they sense the message from those around them is that should “get on with it”, and at the same time they feel they still need more time and patience to recover.

Many talk of the difficulties they have in expressing happiness, and the underlying feeling that they need to apologize for enjoying themselves and feeling happy. However many of their hardships are answered in group meetings with fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, boys and girls, children who meet in “equal groups,” with people facing similar challenges, and more often than not, are able to understand and empathise with each other without even having to utter a word.

One of OneFamily’s most significant achievements is the creation of its platform that allows community development, the community of OneFamily. This community today consists of thousands of members, bereaved families and victims of terror, who view OneFamily as a welcome home, a place without any conditions, a place to have fun and to be sad, a home whose main characteristics are togetherness and understanding, and which allows people to come together to be stronger and far more certain than were they alone.

Miriam Peretz lost her two sons Uriel and Eliraz. She is also a member of the OneFamily community and once said “we all suffer from disabilities, but we all choose the degree of our disability.”

In that frame of mind, and offering clinical treatments in addition to the support and accompaniment, we attempt to sow the seeds of “growing post trauma”. These seeds will grow, flower, and continue to offer care over time. One of the most emotional outcomes in the community is to see members not only receive help, but help one another.

When a person who has suffered trauma succeeds in putting aside their own personal pain to help another member, they feel a sense of value, of purpose in the pain. The feeling of satisfaction also helps them in their own personal way to cope, for the benefit of all.

It is common to divide bereavement into three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the remaining life of a person.

OneFamily helps thousands of families, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, to rebuild with renewed significance and write the coming chapters in their life story.

This mutual journey requires trust, patience and a lot of love. Personally I view my work in clinical treatment as a kind of dedicated mission. From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful to my colleagues in OneFamily for their trust and the privilege to be part of their mutual journey.

Yehuda Ish-Shalom

Clinical Social Worker at OneFamily

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