Melanie Landau

How the hurt of the Holocaust lives on

It is Erev Yom HaShoah. The eve of Holocaust commemoration day and I’m on the way to my training in couples and family therapy. 

And I was thinking about how the Holocaust lives on in our family systems, in Israel,  and in the Jewish collective system. 

My grandmother who is a Holocaust survivor is now 100 years old and lives in a nursing home in Melbourne, Australia. My dad, her very devoted son, visits her every day. I live far away from Australia. My dad reminded me last week that my grandmother didn’t speak about her experiences until I started asking her questions.

As the survivor generation passes on in ripe age, it’s apparent to me how the harm of the Holocaust lives on. 

One significant way that it lives on is through the massive effects of unfelt grief. For that and other severe suffering that people experience the grief is so massive that it can’t be felt. 

My grandfather, Max, had a wife and children who got killed in the Holocaust. And then he married my grandmother straight after the war. This was a secret for many years. 

This loss is unimaginable. He died of cancer when my Dad was 6-years-old. Grief gets laid upon grief. 

In order for the grief to be felt there needs to be a huge access to resource and source. 

Grief does not disappear. There is no cosmic grief rubbish dump. It’s more like a compost that needs to be offered back to the Earth through feeling. 

The effects of unfelt grief are serious and severe. Unfelt grief is in other words a defense against authentic feeling. 

There are many ways and distractions to avoid our authentic feelings. 

We can be involved in intense re-enactments and relational drama- the triangle of victim, perpetrator, rescuer- in all corners of our life but ironically this drama and intensity, while it seems full of feeling, it is actually a defence against our authentic feeling. This victim triangle has so many expressions. In outer relationships and in our inner landscape. And we think we are out of it and then it can pop up in another way. 

When we can’t feel grief and be in touch with the life death cycle we also can’t feel love and aliveness. 

Opening gently to touch the tender heart of our own grief. Connecting to nature which in its generosity constantly gives to us. Contacting ancient well ancestors and getting information about how humans can rehabilitate our hearts. 

And extract ourselves from drama, connecting to the goodness of life. Identifying when the drama is first and foremost on the inside.

Learning to self-soothe. Self discipline. 

Breath by breath. 

It’s a journey for life. Facing our own death. Facing our own life. Living this life as fully as we can while we have it. 

About the Author
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Rabba Dr Melanie Landau has 20 years of experience in guiding individuals and groups in transformative processes.and cultivating the sacred. She is committed to the creativity and vitality of a living breathing expansive Torah. She is a couples therapist, empowerment coach and group facilitator. She can be reached on:
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