September 30, 2012

Rachel Strella

Tragedy and Community

Last week, I found out that the son of my first clients, Donna and Albert at Mitrani at Home, passed away in Geneva. Their son, Reuben Eli Mitrani, suffered a brain aneurysm while traveling abroad. He was only 20 years old. This news was both shocking and saddening, and I send my deepest condolences to Donna and Albert.

Reuben in his playhouse, July 1993

As I wondered how Reuben’s parents could possibly be coping with such a tragedy, I stumbled upon an article posted to Donna’s Facebook wall. Eric Yaverbaum, author and blogger, wrote Reuben Eli Mitrani – how long is a lifetime, in which he reveals how much social media has helped the Mitrani family during such a difficult time.

He highlights journal entries Donna posted over a 10-day period while Reuben was in the hospital. In one post, she writes:

"I'm not really sure how people ever sat in hospital rooms and just waited before there was technology. You will never hear me criticize Facebook or social media. Your postings, and texts and emails are what is carrying us through. Never again will we doubt the importance and impact of a thoughtful note. You cannot imagine what your words and memories mean to us - the picture they are painting of the Reuben we know and the Reuben you know. Mostly they are the same truly remarkable young man, a man ready to launch into the universe and make his mark. It is heartening to hear of how many of you he has already touched. Please continue to share."

I immediately recalled a personal experience that caused me to reach the same conclusion as Donna. A little over two years ago, my Mom was in the hospital and there were several moments when we thought she would not survive. As I posted status updates on Facebook and sent text messages to close friends, their words of encouragement were perhaps the only things keeping me together. My first thought was, “what did we do before technology?”  As Mom's condition worsened, I remember reaching out to my friends via Facebook as they helped me through a difficult and trying time.

During tough times, every positive thought makes a difference. My thoughts were with Donna and Albert the day I heard about the aneurysm and my thoughts have been with them ever since.

I encourage you to read Donna’s blog, which she updated frequently during those trying days. I think you’ll find great courage, hope, and inspiration. Even though I wasn’t physically present as the events unfolded, I felt like I was right there, experiencing it with him and his family.  And learning valuable lessons right along with them.

May peace be to this family…

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