Vicki Polin
Social Justice Activist

When a family member has been abducted by Hamas

Hersh Goldberg Polin
Hersh Goldberg Polin

My heart is breaking for all of Israel.  Just about every Jewish American has family member or friends who lives in Israel.  The vast majority of Jews worldwide have been contacting everyone they know in Israel since October 7th. We all just want to know that our loved ones (family and friends) are safe and unharmed.  

Sadly many of us have not gotten good news.  On October 7th I learned Hersh Goldberg Polin was missing. My heart broke reading his name.  I was in a state of shock.  Even though I never met Hersh he is still family.  My heart has been breaking for his parents, and the rest of the family. I didn’t know what to do or how I could help, so I started writing this article.

If you’re in a situation when a loved one has been kidnapped, it’s vitally important to take care of yourself and the rest of the family.  There’s no shame in asking for emotional support from a trusted friend or even a professional mental health care provider. 

It’s normal to have difficulties sleeping and or concentration.  It’s important to eat healthy, sleep as much as possible and staying physically active.  It’s also vitally important to pay attention to how the kidnapping is impacting your children.

Please ask your neighbors and family members to provide meals, grocery shop and or just about everything else you might need, yet feel unable to do so.  Everyone around you wants to help but don’t necessarily know how — unless you tell them.

It’s important to be aware that children may not have the ability to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, so it might be helpful for the entire family to use art as a way of expressing what words can not, and then talking to each other about what the art represented for you. 

Pull out those crayons, markers, pastels and large pieces of construction paper and scribble, share what the experience was like to scribble and if there’s any meaning to what you created.

Don’t forget that you have the right to be angry.  One way to get that negative energies out of your body is by ripping paper, shouting your thoughts and feelings with each tear.  This could be done alone or as a family activity. Pounding pillows also works. 

Everyone reacts differently to trauma. There is no right or wrong way to cope.  It’s normal to develop cognitive issues such as inability to concentrate, finding your memory is impaired, feeling confused and disorientated. Denial of the abduction is also common in the beginning.  

You also might find yourself being hyper vigilant and feeling over stimulated and needing to retreat.  It’s important to embrace all your thoughts and feelings, none of which are wrong. Yet it’s vitally important to find healthy ways to express them.  Don’t forget to take breaks from watching the news.  Put on a nature station, listen to soothing music or what ever works to help keep yourself grounded. 

Things may never be the same for you or your family, and that’s ok.  What’s important to remember is that you can and will get through this, and with time things will start to feel better.  

About the Author
Vicki Polin is a feminist who has been a Social Justice Activist since her childhood. Vicki is also an award winning, retired psychotherapist who worked in the anti-rape field for just under forty years. For fun Vicki is an artist and nature photographer.
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