It is with utter sadness that PsySSA announces the sudden passing of yet another of its great leaders, Mirah Wilks.

The victim of a violent crime that took place at home, Mirah’s untimely death during the morning of Sunday, 6 October 2019, has left us with a deep sense of loss. Mirah was known to a great many of her colleagues in the psychology fraternity, and the communities she served with distinction, as someone who in the Jewish culture is referred to as “a mensch”. It is probably one of the greatest honours to be called a mench: A good soul; a person with integrity and honour; kind and considerate; someone who always treats others with the utmost respect and dignity; someone who is admired and emulated. Indeed, Mirah was well respected and much loved and these memories of her will stay with us. Mirah’s early professional life was in Fine Arts, Architecture and Education. In her own words, her second career in Psychology provided her “… with a life filled with appreciation for human talent, intellectual curiosity and resilience”. Mirah was in private practice for 12 years as a HPCSA Registered Counsellor. She served in PsySSA as Chair of the Registered Counsellors & Psychometry Division for many years. A PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Africa, Mirah’s research was on the phenomenon of resilience as a means of adaptation, survival and thriving in life. At the time of her passing Mirah was on the verge of embarking on her fieldwork. Her study promised to make a seminal contribution to the lives of many, especially in the LGBTIQA+ community. In the letter in which she introduced herself to prospective participants, she starts off  with: “Everyone has a story.” She writes that during her lifetime, she was often the identified ‘outsider’, among others, as an immigrant to South Africa to avoid war in another country; due to her religion; and as a survivor of childhood polio and adult kidney cancer. She later continues: “I have often wondered how I survived, rebounded and found new pathways to health. What was the source of my ability to regenerate? Where was my source of hope and positivity? … Did my attitude on life and my personality have anything to do with my experiences of resilience in adversity?” And hopeful and positive, she was. Always…

Our thoughts are with her family and friends and, in particular, her husband, Frank, and two children, Tarryn and Brett, and grandchildren, Shaina and Leo. A funeral service will be held  today, 7 October 2019, at 16.00 at Westpark, Jewish Cemetery (entrance is at the corner of Montpark and West Park Road, Montgomery Park).

On behalf of PsySSA & Division of Registered Counsellors and Psychometrists (RCP)

 

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