Rebecca Shares Her Story
Becoming a widow at age 38 with four young children was a emotional blow that was so incredibly hard to deal with. You suddenly become ‘e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g’ to your children and the responsibility just takes on a life of its own. If your husband was the main breadwinner, you don’t have much savings and if there was no life insurance policy, you are suddenly thrust into a world of financial mayhem that literally tears apart your life.
So many times, well-meaning people would say, “Just be happy that you had nine great years with your husband and you are blessed with wonderful children.” That answer never, ever comforted me.
I KNEW how lucky I was. I was 28 when I got married and I treasured every day of our marriage and was grateful to Hashem that I was able to have children right away. So many things I was truly happy about – yet it did not take away any of the financial burden.
What those well-meaning people did not realize is that when you are a single-parent the financial burden completely clouds your life. You put on a happy face for the public but your heart is always sinking a little bit knowing there are bills to be paid and not enough money in the bank to cover them . There is always that ‘slight headache’ or ‘upset stomach’ or ‘rash break-out’ that comes from those emotions erupting from inside.
It is the most humbling experience to take financial help from people – especially if you have never done it before. But, the ‘receivers’ should do it for the sake of their emotional and physical well-being and to take care of their families in the best way possible. And…the ‘givers should do it in the most delicate way, i.e., through a fund, through coupons that can be redeemed at different stores, or through a close family member or friend. (I almost called the police one night when I heard someone at my door but it turns out it was a good Samaritan dropping off an envelope with money for us through our mail slot!)
I remember receiving anonymous checks every year around the Yom Tovim. What a lifesaver that was! Because even when one is getting by on a very tight budget, there are Always things that come up that require a little extra money, i.e., clothes for the yom tovim, money for school trips, driving lessons, etc…
I was extremely fortunate that I had a supportive family and friends who were able to help me out during those difficult years – financially and emotionally. And my heart is full of gratitude to those individuals who I did not even know who donated to a private tzedakah fund to help off-set some of the tuition/wedding expenses for my children. Also, kudos to my boss who was so understanding about my situation, and always graciously let me take off when I needed to take my kids to the doctor or see a school performance.
I refused to let my financial burdens effect the happiness of my home life and always made sure my children were living in a very happy atmosphere. Boruch Hashem, they have all grown up to be very positive, outgoing individuals. But, to this day, 25 years later – when I say Tehillim I thank those individuals who helped us out financially. I hope that they truly know what an enormous mitzvah they were doing.
Rebecca Bram Feldbaum is the author of two books, If There’s Anything I Can Do . . . (Feldheim, 2003) and What Should I Say, What Can I Do? (Simon & Schuster, 2009). She is a popular speaker who draws upon her personal experiences to teach others how to help those who are going through a medical crisis or who have suffered a loss. Visit her website at www.rebeccafeldbaum.com or contact her at [email protected]