Ask Aviva: Unable to attend this simcha


Dear Aviva,
My husband and I are in our late seventies and are proud grandparents. Our first grandchild just became engaged to a lovely young man. They are planning on marrying in Israel in a few months. I cannot attend, since I am responsible for taking my husband to dialysis and caring for him.
Our children or grandchildren help out the few times that I am not able to take him, but all of our family will be at the wedding and I do not feel that it would be right to leave him with someone who is unfamiliar with his situation.
I have been dreaming of my granddaughter’s wedding from the time that she was a very young child and cannot come to terms with this concept of not attending.

-Caring Caregiver

Dear Caring Caregiver,
First of all, Mazel Tov—the first grandchild’s wedding is a very exciting time!
I think that it is very admirable that you are not ready to give up your duties temporarily. It is a testament to the fact that you deeply care for your husband. My concern is that you don’t end up resenting it afterwards. So in order to do that, we have to help you come to terms with it before it happens and help you own your decision.
First step: Rule out all other options. It’s time to get creative and flexible. One idea that comes to mind is utilizing these few months until the wedding to find someone whom you can train and trust to do the job. I personally benefitted from this type of situation after I had my youngest child. I never trusted anyone to care for my babies until they were old enough to go to playgroup and never dreamed of leaving someone else in charge even for an hour. Unfortunately, I was in a critical medical state while expecting my youngest and needed help with the baby after he was born. I was very present in the house, though physically not 100%. During those months, I showed the woman how I run things, how I parent, and she followed my lead. After some time, I trusted her enough to leave her in charge a few hours during the week and started working outside of the home. Could I trust her completely? No. I couldn’t trust anyone in that position completely. But I definitely felt comfortable since we had a few months history: I could hear her when she thought I was napping, I would watch her from the window if she took my kids outside, etc.
So if you were able to find someone now and train them, and have neighbors checking in on them while you are gone (in between the reminder phone calls that you are making,) would you feel comfortable leaving? If not, that’s fine. I just want you to realize that it would be you holding yourself back, not your husband holding you back. And that is fine as well.
If you decide not to go, you still need to actively do what you can to come to terms with things. Can you please read my first sentence again? Notice that I did say that it is an exciting “event,” instead I framed it as an exciting time. This means that you can be part of this momentous occasion without attending the actual party. Get involved and tag along. (With the permission of the bride and her mother.)
Go with them to look at invitations, weave through Bed Bath and Beyond while clumsily scanning items for the bridal registry. Don’t offer your opinion unless asked, but be there. These memories cannot replace seeing your granddaughter under the chuppah. However, shopping, planning and choosing with Babby over a span of a few months are far more valuable and cherished memories for a granddaughter than dancing with you at her wedding as her friends keep shoving in to show off the shtick. Not to mention the headpiece comb that’s digging into her scalp and the train she keeps tripping on. That is if she can even remember more than an eight of a second of her wedding.
And, the best part of being in your late seventies is living in the early 2010’s—get all dressed up and Skype will transport you!


Aviva Rizel is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice that can be reached at 347-292-8482 or She is a resident of Far Rockaway.