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The Jewish Report Editorial

Adam’s death is our wake-up call

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When the news of Adam Seef’s death started filtering into this community, there was disbelief and shock across the board.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jul 04, 2019

When someone’s child – albeit a teenager – takes his or her own life, every parent shudders in horror. Nobody can walk away from the awful feeling that accompanies this fear.

Even those who successfully manage to put their heads in the sand and easily ignore everything else around them, can’t hide from this one. Nobody can ignore the intense sadness and despair this brings to a family, friends, and the entire community.

Everyone who seemed to know Adam, loved him. He was successful, super bright, and had his whole life ahead of him. But in the depths of his own internal turmoil, he could see no sun rising in the morning. He could see no tomorrow.

When I heard that he had taken his own life while on an Ohr Somayach tour in Israel, my eyes welled up with tears. I didn’t know this boy, but I was moved simply because I am a parent, and this is my – and every other parent’s – worst nightmare. I ache for his mother. I want to reach out and hug her, and tell her that tomorrow will be okay. But it won’t.

Adam’s death has rattled this community to the core. Every parent has had a wake-up call.

Do our children know they can always come to us? Do our children know that we will forgive them, no matter what? Do they know that we will do everything we can to help them through anything? Have we made it clear that tomorrow, things will improve, and if not tomorrow, the day after that?

Have we jammed open our channels of communication so they talk to us when times are tough, rather than hiding it?

How do you know if you have done all the right things? How do you safeguard your children from themselves?

I have no idea. I’m absolutely sure, though, that Jodi and Justin Seef would have done everything they could to protect and help their son. And if they had an inkling there was trouble ahead, they would never have let him go overseas. They would have pulled out all the stops to save their beautiful boy.

But how do you read the signs? Are there even signs to read?

In this edition, we ask experts these questions so that we can have some answers to help us through this. (See page 8.)

You know, we get upset and angry about so many things in this world. We find reasons to get stressed and mad all the time.

But when all is said and done, there is nothing more important than family. And as parents, nothing more important than our children.

This is a wake-up call to us to talk more, listen more, and communicate. It’s certainly not to say that the Seefs didn’t do that, they did their absolute best. It’s simply to say that we should appreciate what we have in our families, and keep those channels open.

I’m sure I was not alone in spending time with each of my children this week, having the discussion about what happened to Adam. I did my best to make sure that they understood that my husband and I are always there for them, and would have their backs … no matter what.

We also talked long and hard about the fact that no matter how bad things get, the sun will always come up the next morning offering a new day, new possibilities, and hope.

Our children could be tackling a range of ills, like being bullied, not believing they are doing well enough at school, having a fight with a close friend, feeling different, isolated. It could be anything, but they need to know there is always hope.

I hope I got through to them. It isn’t easy. We all have busy lives, and often our children don’t want to talk – especially our boy children.

What was it that went through Adam’s head the night he took his life? I have no idea. I don’t know exactly what happened or what could have prevented him from doing what he did. Perhaps nothing.

However, I bet that every one of us wishes we had a chance to try and talk to him out of it, to make him see there is always hope, to tell him his life was only just beginning.

Limmud

For the past two weeks, many of us have been absorbed by the fracas over the Beth Din and Limmud. While I don’t want to undermine it, especially as our newspaper has been at the centre of the debate, I do believe we need to look at the bigger picture. As a community, we are a family, and we need to listen to each other and communicate. We will never always agree – and we don’t have to. But we do need to listen and reach out to one another.

This week, the chief rabbi has brought his perspective to the debate. I’m grateful he has done so. It’s important. He has opened the channels of communication.

You may or may not agree with either side, but the point is, we need to listen, and move forward.

This is the lesson we need to learn from the loss of Adam. We need to be alert to problems, be open to accepting, and make a point of listening.

As a community, we hold the Seef family close. As we cannot bring back their beautiful son, we can do our best to let Adam’s legacy be one of accepting people as they are, and communicating.

Shabbat Shalom!

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