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Grieving Is Not for Adults Only

June 16, 1996

Re "A Chance to Say Goodbye" (June 2) about taking children to funerals: Thanks to Roslyn Rozbruch for an insightful and important piece. More than 60 years ago, my father died. And I have never had closure for the very reasons she discusses. No one would talk about it with me.

I was 10 years old, away at camp. On visitors' day, in the middle of the season, I expected my parents to be there, especially my father since I had made him a gift in the arts and crafts class. Instead, an uncle showed and said my parents couldn't come. For the rest of the summer I carried inside me, in between hikes, marshmallow roasts, sports and swimming activities, a feeling of foreboding.

When finally it was time to ride the sleeper down to Grand Central Station, I rushed into the huge, high-ceilinged room searching for my father. I saw my mother, dressed in all black, a hat with a veil and a long garment keeping her out of my reach. No one told me--they didn't have to. I looked all around, finally said, "He's dead, isn't he?" All anyone did was nod.

No one ever really spoke about him to me and over the years, I wondered: Had he run away? Had I had done something? Was he really dead? Perhaps they were trying to spare me or more likely spare themselves from trying to make sense out of dying to a child when they couldn't make sense of it themselves. And I say, I should have had my holiday interrupted, brought home so I could participate in the mourning and grief process.

Now, years later, tears fall at unexpected times. Not just because my father died, but because no one thought my feelings mattered.

JUDITH JACOVITZ

Laguna Hills

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