by Myra Giberovitch, MSW, RSW
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This is a stressful time for all of us, filled with fear, anxiety, uncertainty and worry as our world turns upside down. Whenever I’m feeling anxious and afraid, I gain strength and inspiration by thinking of the life lessons I learned from my late parents, Fela and Moishe Grachnik, Holocaust survivors from the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz. They endured starvation, hunger, disease, slave labor and the murder of their family members. And yet in spite of these horrendous experiences, they rebuilt their lives after the war, raised a family and contributed to their community.
As I was growing up, my mother used to say, “In life we never know what lies ahead. What’s important is to adapt to circumstances you can’t change, no matter how difficult.” She made everyday choices to control her environment. One of them was choosing her attitude and taking action when responding to situations. She persevered and never gave up, not even when her entire family was deported to their deaths and she was left alone in the ghetto at age fifteen. She had a positive attitude and never dwelled on her suffering. And most importantly, she never lost hope that things would improve – that she would survive and rebuild her life. Both my parents appreciated the simple pleasures in life such as family, friends, their health, and a refrigerator filled with food. They took nothing for granted.
During this difficult time, I am inspired by the words of Anne Frank, a young German-born Jewish diarist and aspiring author who spent twenty-five months in hiding in a secret attic in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. She wrote in her diary: “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death…If I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
I trust that this too will pass. We will get through this together. Actually, we ARE getting through this together, right now in the present moment, one day at a time.