By Jennifer Graber
It has been eight years since our community lost Zev Friedman, alav ha’shalom. The past eight years have been times of critical change for friends of Zev who were around the age of 16 in 2006. Many have since received college degrees, fallen in love, gotten married, written epic pieces of music, traveled the world, or just simply grown.
The community has also seen many changes. The falafel shop on Central Avenue that Zev would frequent for a quick lunch has since been replaced. Many of our friends and family members have moved away to new cities, states, and countries, and many new members joined our community without knowing of the tragedy that befell our hearts eight Mays ago.
As time passes, we become older and more mature while Zev stays forever young in our minds. It becomes hard to justify why we are still mourning in our hearts. After eight years of change and growth, we ask ourselves, “When do we stop grieving?”
I speak for many when I say that Zev’s passing caused a lot of sadness, hurt, and pain. Though our friendship was brief, I felt deeply connected to Zev. I recall one night writing in my journal in the midst of existential thought, “I don’t think that I’ll ever get over this.” I was right. I have not gotten over his passing and I never will.
Instead of moving on from my grief, I have learned to grow from my time with Zev and my time since his passing. I remember to incorporate into my life the ways that Zev made me a better person. It was Zev who taught me to take a second look when I meet a new person. And it was through Zev that I learned to let my friends know how important they are to me. Acclaimed French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir once said, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” Losing Zev does not hurt the same way that it used to eight years ago, but the beauty of our friendship and my resulting self-growth remains intact.
Thus my message to those who have been affected by loss is that we do not stop grieving, and we should not try to. I still miss Zev very much and wonder every day how life would have been different. But more importantly, I know that I have grown through love and loss of Zev Friedman, a’h, and that is something I will cherish forever.
Robin Brandes Friedman sends heartfelt thanks to all of those in the community who continue to support the family in their grief over Zev Friedman’s passing. v