Not knowing what happened to your loved one is much harder/ShutterStock
One of the hardest things for any human being is the death of someone close to you. There is no doubt about that. Some say that not knowing what happened to your loved one is much more difficult. In fact, there is no consolation for the death of a loved one and human psychology overcomes longing by transforming the external memory of the living and the deceased into an internal memory that lives within the remaining family and friends.
However, the uncertainty in the case of missing persons and abductees prevents internalization of memory. This is responsible for the possibility that our loved one is still alive.
In addition to the suffering resulting from the lack of resolution resulting from the impossibility of internalizing memory, uncertainty itself is a tremendous source of suffering. It is known that the waiting time to receive answers to medical tests can be much more difficult than receiving the news, when the disease exists and treatments need to be started. An extreme example of this is that after the discovery of AIDS in the last century, many of those who experimented with waiting for the test results suffered so much that there were many who preferred to avoid sex altogether as long as they did not experience this suffering again. For some people, the pain of love stems from the uncertainty created between hope and insecurity that the relationship will take place.
"There are hundreds of bodies that have been mutilated beyond recognition, so it is impossible to tell families that their loved ones are not kidnapped or dead and it is important to say that knowing that their loved one is dead, terrible as it may be, is easier than uncertainty."
Tens of thousands of people in Israel are currently in exactly this situation. There are hundreds of bodies that have been mutilated beyond recognition, so it is impossible to tell families that their loved ones are not kidnapped or dead, and it is important to say that knowing that their loved one is dead, terrible as it may be, is easier than uncertainty. Uncertainty also prevails among the relatives of the abductees, even if they saw their relatives abducted to Gaza on that black Saturday on October 7, there is no way of knowing what happened to them since then. Are they still alive? Where are they located? Under what conditions are they held? Are they treated inappropriately, God forbid? And countless other agonizing questions.
We were all exposed to the campaign of 3-year-old little Abigail from Kfar Gaza, whose parents were both murdered, and she was kidnapped to Gaza and is there without parents or family. The uncertainty about little Abigail cries out to the sky - what's going on with her? Who is there with her? Who helps her? Who caresses and soothes her? Who wipes away her tears? Who helps her fall asleep? The situation is intolerable and indigestible.
Uncertainty leaves a vacuum into which many worrisome questions gather, the answers to which cause terrible anxiety, which is sometimes even paralyzing. Anxiety is an automatic survival mechanism that produces imagined certainty.
The uncertainty of the families of the abductees can be paralyzing/Roni Knafo
Therefore, I would like to propose an active way to deal with the terror that anxiety brings, one that can alleviate even slightly emotionally. The psychological exercise is built on a cognitive-behavioral approach (CBT) and therefore it is an exercise that must be applied in daily life, certainly in this period of uncertainty. His goal is to help with a sense of stability that is so lacking at the moment, to give a sense of certainty in what is possible. The exercise is part of a method that can restore a sense of control to the moments of anxiety and fear.
This is a strict method - grounding, activity, guided imagery and normalization of thoughts. Although each stage complements the next, in case of uncertainty and terrible tension, it is recommended to focus and constantly repeat the first and most important stage, and that is grounding.
Ask yourself the following grounding guiding questions:
- What's going through my mind?
- What do I really know?
- Am I afraid of something bad?
- Could it be that the situation is not so bad?
- Could the situation be much better?
- If it's a rumor: Is it coming from a reliable source (if you're not sure, the answer is probably no)
- Did the source of the rumor have good intentions (if you're not sure, the answer is probably no)
- Is there another reliable source that our relative is alive because I have seen footage of him or her walking on their feet? That she walks on her feet? (If you're not sure, here, too, the answer is probably no.)
When you see the situation negatively from what it really is
The goal of these questions is to take all the thoughts you have in your head in the sea of uncertainty you are in and distill reality as it is. Obviously, you don't have control right now over what happens with your loved ones who are in captivity, but you can control the information as you know it and avoid false and hearsay information.
The lies can be independent, when the answer is always in a direction we don't want to think about at all, and then the question arises - do I see the situation negatively, and is it possible that the situation is more positive?
Whenever you feel the same negative thoughts in your head, immediately ask yourself whether the situation could be more positive. Whenever there are rumors, and there are many, these are precisely the tools Hamas uses in its psychological warfare against us, we must examine the source of these rumors, the reliability of the source, and always try to cross-check with another reliable source. I'm sure you already know where you'll get the most reliable information.
There is no doubt that your reality is unimaginable, uncertainty manages you throughout the day, but try in between to take the time to work on yourself, and thus continue to focus on the most important goal of all - to bring your relatives home, to all of us.
Dr. Nir Esher is the founder of the Psagot Institute, an expert medical director and instructor in cognitive behavioral therapy
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