Sister-In- Law

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My brother in law is dying. He’s 44 and has metastasized cancer. We
live across the country and because of a bankruptcy that’s forced us to
live on cash instead of credit. We have not been as much a part of
family life as we might otherwise have been. My husband has taken a
leave of absence from his job to be with him in the last weeks. I am
due to go soon, though I haven’t seen the mass of in-laws in a long
time. I love my husband and his brother. But I am afraid I will feel like
an interloping stranger to the meshopchah, crowding their precious
last time with him. I am also heartbroken and clueless about what one
says to someone who is unfairly dying so young, let alone a guy who
has a great wife and two teenaged children, has never hurt anyone in
his life, and who is the last person this should be happening to. Do I
just hover in the background and help out, or is there some other way
of being appropriate?
Sister-In- Law

Dear Sister-in- Law:
Go and tell everyone quietly: Please tell me how I can best be useful in
this difficult time. I’ll babysit, run errands, cook, clean, whatever is
most useful to the near and dear. For your husband, try to be his rock.
Hold him, encourage him to cry, take him on walks, give him a shot of
something string when he needs it.

To his bother all you can say is, I’m sorry, you have always been a
good person, and people love and value you. We’ll miss you and honor
your life and your memory. [Brother’s name] and I will help your
family as best we’re able. If there’s a reason for this tragedy I don’t
understand it either. But people who claim to understand say G-d
works in mysterious ways. I don’t understand them. I have no good
answers and probably not even the right questions. If I could punch a
hole in the sky and change it I would. But instead all I can do is hold
your hand and tell you every time I cheer for [his favorite team], see a
certain movie, eat a certain food, etc I will think of you. You’ve been a
great brother to him. We all love you and value your being and your