A Conversation With My Son

I didn’t intend to open up a conversation about mental illness, be courageous or honest. I am not courageous; my son was. I just wanted to talk to my son who had just taken his life after suffering from OCD related depression for the past 10 years. After traveling 26 hours returning home to Israel after hearing an utterance that will echo in my brain and pain my soul forever – “He is dead,” I had some 40 minutes to write the Hasped for my beloved son. Do you know how surreal it is – even now – to write that sentence; parents are not supposed to write eulogies for their children…

In my eulogy I wrote to Ariel Z”L. No one else. Yet, given the responses I continue to receive, something has resonated with people. I’m not sure what – confronting mental illness? Talking about suicide openly? Speaking about depression – this affliction so few people see or understand because it is not visible? The pain and misery that goes unnoticed because it does not make front page news like horrific terrorist attacks or car accidents? The utter sense of helplessness to see one’s child in such pain and the painful realization that we, as parents, have no control over our children’s decisions?

I’m not sure what chord was struck, but countless people sent me private messages that ‘my daughter; my son; my husband; my wife’ are suffering from what one person termed – this monster called depression.

I spoke to my son at the funeral. I wish I could speak to him more; people told me that I still can. It’s not the same… but it’s all I have. If this conversation helped (helps) other parents, other brothers and sisters, other mental health professionals – people – to cope just a little better with this dreadful and ubiquitous disease, then I derive a modicum of comfort even though the word comfort has no real meaning for me these days.

Rest my son, rest. Your noisy, sharp and piercing mind and sensitive soul can finally rest. May your memory be a blessing.

About the Author
Meir Charash, originally from Fair Lawn New Jersey, made Aliyah to Israel 37 years ago. In 1979, Meir acquired a B.S. in Business Management, majoring in organizational management, from Boston University and a MSW in 1984 in Group and Community Work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work (WSSW) at Yeshiva University. Meir worked as a community worker in Beit Shemesh and in Jerusalem, was the Director of the Israel Office of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for 19 years providing fiduciary oversight to donor funds and facilitating Israel – Diaspora relations. Meir’s expertise is in the area of community building, fundraising and organizational behavior. In addition to supervising Wurzweiler social students, Meir worked as Faculty Advisor and Coordinator of the Israel Block Program from 2010 to 2017. Meir is married with three children and resides in Armon HaNatziv, Jerusalem. He is a certified fitness trainer, Thai massage therapist and an avid mountain bike rider having participated for nine years in the Alyn Charity Bike Ride for the Children of the Alyn Rehabilitation Hospital and in two races, the “Epic,” and “Sovev Arava”. Meir served in the armored forces for a year and a half and 15 years in reserve duty.
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