“Pissed off at God” by Kelly Farley

 “Pissed off at God” by Kelly Farley

This post is for the faith based grieving dads with faith based beliefs. I have for the most part over the last 4 years stayed clear of postings that revolve around faith. I allow the grieving dads that respond to my post to include faith in their comments, but rarely have included them in my post. I have done that and will continue to do that so non-faith based individuals are no offended and still have a place to come and share their pain/thoughts. If you are offended by faith based material, now is when you should stop reading.

My intent is not to alienate anyone on this blog, it is for everyone regardless of your belief systems because we are all in this together to help, learn and share our experiences/thoughts. However, one of the themes I hear a lot for grieving dads (and moms) is that they feel uncomfortable being pissed off at God for allowing the death of their child to happen. I was one of those people until one of the guys that helped me through the darkness said to me, “its ok to pissed off at God, he has big shoulders and can handle it.” Him saying that took away the guilt I had about being pissed off and allowed some of my anger to start to flow out of me in constructive (and sometimes destructive ways).

The following was sent to me today by a fellow grieving dad and I thought I would share it with those hear today that have decided to read on and have made it to this point.

 BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN, FOR THEY WILL   BE COMFORTED. ( MATTHEW 5:4 *NIV )  When you lose someone that you love, take comfort in   knowing that they are now with God. For it is written that   when we die; THE DUST RETURNS TO THE GROUND IT   CAME FROM, AND THE SPIRIT RETURNS TO GOD   WHO GAVE IT.   ( ECCLESIASTES 12:7 )       Therefore; BROTHERS, WE DO NOT WANT YOU   TO BE IGNORANT ABOUT THOSE WHO FALL ASLEEP,   OR TO GRIEVE LIKE THE REST OF MEN, WHO HAVE   NO HOPE.  WE BELIEVE THAT JESUS DIED AND   ROSE AGAIN AND SO WE BELIEVE THAT GOD   WILL BRING WITH JESUS THOSE WHO HAVE   FALLEN ASLEEP IN HIM.  (1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-14)    So take comfort in knowing you will see them   again, for it isn’t the end of them but only the beginning! The   beginning of a much better life where; HE WILL WIPE AWAY   EVERY TEAR FROM THEIR EYES.  THERE WILL BE NO   MORE DEATH OR MOURNING OR CRYING OR PAIN, FOR   THE OLD ORDER OF THINGS HAS PASSED AWAY.  ( REVELATION 21:4 )       Now I would like to share something with you that has   helped many who have lost someone.  It is called “Safely Home.”  I pray that it will minister to those of you who have lost a loved one, remembering that they are now…..

SAFELY HOME

I am home in Heaven, dear ones;
Oh, so happy and so bright!
There is perfect joy and beauty
In this everlasting light.
 
All the pain and grief is over,
Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in Heaven at last.
 
Did you wonder I so calmly
Trod the valley of the shade?
Oh! But Jesus’ love illumined
Every dark and fearful glade.
 
And He came Himself to meet me
In that way so hard to tread;
And with Jesus’ arm to lean on,
Could I have one doubt or dread?
 
Then you must not grieve so sorely,
For I love you dearly still:
Try to look beyond earth’s shadows,
Pray to trust our Father’s Will.
 
There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idly stand;
Do it now, while life remaineth–
You shall rest in Jesus’ land.
 
When that work is all completed,
He will gently call you Home;
Oh, the pleasure of that meeting,
Oh, the joy to see you come!

Posted in Anger, Bereaved Parents, Death of a Child, Despair, Faith, Hope, Inspiration, Peace, Survival, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 11 Comments

“Messed Up Inside” by Kelly Farley

Messed Up Inside

I was recently having a conversation with a guy that was buying an old ’66 Chevy truck from me and he had asked me if I had any children. There was a time I hated when people asked me that question because I wasn’t sure how to answer it. However, now I just answer it head on, “I have two children and both have passed away.” Some people quickly respond with “I’m sorry” and move on uncomfortably in the conversation. I am never sure what they mean by “I’m sorry.” Are they really sorry about my loss or are they sorry they asked the question and now have to deal with awkwardness of the conversation. Maybe they mean both. However, there are those who will actually stop and acknowledge what was said and sincerely say “I’m sorry” and not allow you to change the discussion until you understand that they really are sorry.

Well, the guy who was buying my truck fell into the later crowd. I could tell he was sincere and he wasn’t afraid of discussing it. After a few minutes of telling my story and about how the book came to be, he blurts out “that would mess me up inside.” Without pause I turned to him and said “it messes everyone up inside, it’s just part of the deal.” I then said “don’t let the smile and my ability to stand here and bullshit about the truck fool you, I am messed up inside, in fact it really fucked me up for a long time.” His response, “I can’t even imagine.”

I have learned, like many bereaved parents, to continue living and enjoying life the best I can, but that doesn’t mean something hasn’t changed inside. Not all of its bad and not all of its good, just messed up. I’ve become more compassionate towards others but also less tolerant of others. I don’t take people’s bullshit anymore (never really did, but it’s gotten worse) and I have become more direct with my comments. I generally get to the point and not dance around stuff like I once did.

I have also changed my approach of living, mainly out of necessity. A fellow co-worker mentioned to me that he and his new girlfriend have a saying “we need to start living the KFL.” He then told me that it stood for “Kelly Farley Lifestyle.” I had to remind him that that lifestyle is a result of burying two children and the realization that life is too short. Both have corporate jobs and allow the companies to work them 60-70 hours per week. They are also convinced that the company will fail if they don’t work those hours. I on the other hand work my 40 hours a week and go home. My wife is a teacher and was off all summer so I decided to take every Friday off with her and enjoy our time together to enjoy the summer.

I use to work non-stop, concerned I was letting the company down but I learned after the loss of my children that I had been letting myself down. Life is not meant to spend at the office working long hours and weekends. I have found a balance and when things are off balance it’s generally in my favor, not the other way around. I’ve learned it’s about spending time with yourself and family doing what you love to do. I also learned quickly that the more you give, the more they will take. If you give less, they will find someone else who will do more.

So to get back to the point of this posting; yes, I am messed up inside and see things from a different perspective than I use too, but that’s just the way this thing goes. I could write another book just on this topic and all of the other things messed up inside of me, but I would rather open it up to all of you.

What is messed up inside of you (good or bad)?

Posted in Brokenness, Healing, Smile, Survival, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

New Black Wristbands – Love is Forever

imagesLT9SRGS5BLACK SILICONE WRISTBAND – Text Reads “Grieving Dad – Love is Forever

Many people ask me (including men) what to put in a care package for a dad that has lost a child.  There are many ideas for moms, but not so much for dads.  Because I never really knew how to answer that question, I asked the grieving dads that follow me on Facebook what they would like to see in a care package and many of them responded with “wristband”.  As a result of that response, I created the wristband with the words “Grieving Dads – Love is Forever”.  Below is a sample photo of what the band looks like.  If you are interested in purchasing this wristband, please click here to be directed to Amazon.com to place an order.  You can also order a copy of my book and the wristband will be included (at no additional cost) in the order.

If you are a registered not for profit organization (503c) that offers care packages to bereaved parents, I would be more than happy to team with your organization to donate these wristbands in order to provide something for the dads.  Please email me if you are interested in teaming.

Let me know what you think of them.  I’ve been wearing mine since they came in last week and it helps me remember to be kind to myself in times where a beat myself up for not being the guy I was before losing my children.  It also lets others know of the pain I carry even during the times where I am smiling on the outside.

Peace.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Father’s Day – Wishing You a Peaceful Day

Well, here we are, another Fathers’s Day. A day that grieving dads dread. A day that makes us think about being a dad to a child (in my case two children) that has died. Everyday is a day that makes us think about the “what could/should have been’s”, but Father’s Day is one of those hand full of days that makes us reflect a little longer and a little deeper.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been feeling the pressure to write something profound for Father’s Day. Something that will help grieving dads get through this day, but nothing came to me. I was drawing a complete blank. The more I thought about it the more I became frustrated with myself for not being able to write something meaningful.

It finally dawned on me this morning when I sat down to write this post. There isn’t anything I can do or say that will remove the darkness of this day. As proud as I am to be the father of my children, its still a tough day. Thinking of my children makes me smile and sad at the same time which is kind of a weird place to find yourself. Let me reword that, thinking of my children makes me smile, realizing they are not here with me, makes me sad. They don’t make me sad, their lack of presence makes me sad.

I plan on spending today working out in my yard and going for a run. Finding something that allows me to think about them but not sit around dwelling on the sadness of the day, but to connect with them just a little. I will be doing things that bring me an element of peace.

How are you going to spend the day with your children?

Wishing all of you a peaceful Father’s Day.

Posted in Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Death of parent, Fathers Day, Grieving Dads | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Happy Father’s Day? My child Has Died

This is an old posting but one that I think applies. I am working on another Fathers Day piece for later this week called “Dark Side of Father’s Day”. Peace. Kelly

Happy Father's Day? My child Has Died.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“Wanna see a picture of my baby that died?” she said.

The following is a link to a blog that started following my blog today.  I couldn’t help but connect with this article.  I too felt the need to tell strangers about the death of my children.  Not so much show them a picture, but to let them know how much pain I have endured and I am still standing, functioning.  I still feel the need to tell people/stranger that I have lost a child and always find a way to work it into the conversation.  Is it fair to put this on strangers?  I don’t know, is it fair that I have to walk around with this in my head on the time?  I am going to go with a “no” for both of those questions.  But its part of my therapy to tell my story.  Enjoy the article.  Its an interesting topic.  Peace.  Kelly

“Wanna see a picture of my baby that died?” she said..

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

“Brokenness” by Kelly Farley

“Brokenness”

After a long winter here in Chicago I found myself trying to get motivated to “do something” but couldn’t seem to find the energy or desire. The bitter cold and constant gray put me on an emotional roller coaster that sucked away a lot of my energy. As part of that, I decided to get out of the house and join a men’s group. It was only scheduled for a few weeks which gave me time to see if I enjoyed the group or not.

The first meeting was discussion of a book that the group had been reading and the topic was life’s hurts. Of course I shared my story and received the usual “holy shit that’s bad” look from the group, many of which have healthy living children. At the end of the meeting one of the guys who seemed to be really struggling with some life issues looked at me and said “I am not sure how you ended up here this evening, but I think you were meant to be here to help me.” I do believe my new ability to be open and transparent with my story helps others realize you can survive some of life’s difficult times, but survival doesn’t mean you will go back to the person you were before.

The next meeting I decided to bring copies of my book to hand out to the group since the theme of the group was about restoring your life after going through a difficult time. This morning I received an email from the same guy I mentioned above. His short response said, “Thank you for the book. Very provocative. Real life for understanding brokenness at its worst place.” His words although short, really hit me. I always struggle to find words (because there are none) to explain to non-bereaved parents what it’s like to lose a child. However, the word brokenness really stood out to me. I decided to look the word up because I wasn’t sure if it was even a word. Here is the meaning I found:

“Violently separated into parts or pieces. Not working properly; damaged.”

As soon as I read this definition, it reminded me of what I have been through and the fact I am still standing, laughing, smiling, etc. But there is still parts of me that don’t work properly and are damaged. The last six months have been difficult for me because I had lost my “new way” of taking life in, not stressing about stupid stuff that doesn’t matter, etc. Looking back to when these feeling started I realized I was trying to get back to the person I was “before” the losses. The person caught up in the bullshit of making more money, demanding respect/appreciation and wanting more in my career as an engineer. Although successful at pleading my case and getting what I wanted, I still feel empty. Now I feel like I need to “perform” in order to prove that they didn’t make a mistake. Although they have never told me I need to prove myself, I feel the internal feeling of not letting them down, which has caused me to put greater pressure on myself.

Reading the definition of “brokenness” was a reality check for me. I have been violently separated into parts and pieces, millions of them. I need to realize I don’t work properly because as hard as I try to take those millions of pieces and put them back together again, I can’t get them to go together like they were prior to my children’s deaths. I have in fact been damaged and need to remind myself of that from time to time. Not as an excuse to give up, quite the opposite, I have found ways since their deaths to live a “rich” life, but need subtle reminders to realize that although damaged, I am not fully broken. Taking a step back and readjusting the direction you are going is just part of this journey.

Posted in Brokenness, Death of a Child, Inspiration, Living Simple, Loss of a Child, Perspective, Profound Life Experience, Survival | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Happy Mother’s Day to Grieving Moms

Happy Mother’s Day to Grieving Moms

Mother’s Day is another one of those Hallmark Holidays that generate excessive amounts of cute commercials of moms kissing their newborn babies toes or moms spending quality time with their family. It’s also another one of those days where I cringe every time one of those commercials come on while my wife and I are sitting there trying to enjoy some down time together. I cringe because I know these commercials/images of moms spending time with their children inflicts pain on my wife.

These perfect moments of moms with their children are things that my wife will never get to experience and they are a constant reminder that we do not have living children. A reminder that our children are dead and that as a family, we do not fit into the advertisers demographics. Most people couldn’t bear to watch a commercial that included unthinkable pain reminding people to reach out to the grieving moms during this difficult time.

I remember going into a Hallmark store a few years back to purchase a Mother’s Day card for my wife and asking the lady at the store if they had cards for moms that have lost a child. The look in her eyes was of shock and sadness and or course the answer was “I don’t think we do”. She continued to help me find something that was a little more neutral in tone.

If you know a grieving mom, reach out to her on Mother’s Day and give her a hug and let her know that the pain of this day does not go unrecognized.

Wishing all of the grieving moms a peaceful Mother’s Day!

Posted in Mother's Day | Tagged | 4 Comments

“There Isn’t Anything Worse” by Kelly Farley

“There Isn’t Anything Worse”

One of my favorite quotes in my book is “there isn’t anything worse than the loss of a child and if there is, I don’t want to know about it.” I remember the moment I heard that statement. It was a beautiful summer day and I was interviewing a fellow grieving dad to include in my book. We were in Marshalltown, IA and sitting on a brick wall looking over the Maquoketa River enjoying a couple of beers after a long day of bike riding. Since we didn’t ride together in the event that day, it was the first time we had met, but like most of the dads I interviewed, there was an instant connection.

There wasn’t much small talk, just two dads sharing their story and experiences. We sat there staring out over the river taking turns sharing snippets of our horrific nightmare. The trauma, details we hadn’t shared with anyone else and both agreeing our lives had forever been changed.

One of the most important things I walked away with that day is the fact that the death of a child is the worst possible thing a human can endure. The aftermath takes you to places one cannot fathom until you have actually been there.

However, I am cautious about challenging my belief that the death of a child is the worst thing. I remember saying to someone after my first loss that “I’ve experienced the worst day of my life, there isn’t anything you can do to me.” Months later my second child died. So I am now careful how I say things. Although I don’t not believe there is anything worse, I am not looking to challenge that belief and like my friend said “I don’t want to know about it.”

What part of my book did you connect with?
Any stories that spoke to you more than others?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

“When to Say Goodbye”

This one is a tough one because it hits very close to home for me.  My wife and I also had to say goodbye to both of our children.  There is always the “what if’s” or the questioning that goes into an impossible situation like this.  The following was sent to me by a fellow grieving dad, Brandon Tucky, who was kind enough to share his story so others that have been faced with making a decision like this could realize they are not alone. 

When to Say Goodbye

Two years ago today, my son Abraham was born.   He came out premature by a few weeks.   Although it was a natural birth, it was far too early to be term.   Immediately after birth, he was taken to the NICU unit.   We waited in pure fear for hours until a neonatologist finally came to see us.   The doctor asked me to step outside while my wife rested.   In the hallway, I waited for the worse news in my life, that Abe did not make it.   He was rushed out so fast that I did not even see him breathing.   Thankfully the doctor told me he was stable.   Stable is a word that I was not happy with.   Better than passed away, but still it sent fear throughout my body.   During our hallway meeting, the doctor went over horrible statistics about how it was in the grey area of too early to semi safe and all the medical complications that will come to pass.  It pretty much sounded like they were telling me to say goodbye.  Well, I was not ready to say goodbye and told her to do everything they could for my son.

With my head down low, I went back into the delivery room and told my wife as much as I could stomach to tell her while crying.  I am sure I did nothing but make it worse for her.  We eventually passed out from utter exhaustion and sleep deprivation.  When we woke up, I went straight to the NICU unit.  We were taken back to see Abe on lock down.  There were machines and tubes all over the chamber he was resting in.  It scared me to see so much stuff keeping him going.  A nurse came over and told me that he made it through the night, but it wasn’t without a few hiccups along the way.  I let out a breath of utter calm knowing he was still fighting.  The second shift neonatologist came to meet us and asked us to step into a room.  He reiterated the risk and depressing statistics of our son and most premature babies.  He asked us many questions about how far we were willing to go.  Once again I refused to say goodbye.  We told the doctor to do everything they possibly can for our son.

That day we got a hotel near the hospital and hunkered down for a long day.  I kept in constant contact with the nurses and checked on him personally several times a day.  My arms began to burse and crack from the number of times I scrubbed in to see my son.  By the end of the second day I began to feel good about Abe’s chances.  On the third day, we came to see Abe resting in the NICU unit, calm as can be.  He was a very good boy for the nurses that night and was about to get testing done to see how he was doing.  We waited for an hour for x-rays and blood work.   When the doctor asked us to come into the loathed meeting room again my feel good vibe went away rather quick.  He told us that his lungs had filled up with blood and they do not know why.  Once again we were asked to make a decision.  I feel so bad about looking at my wife and saying that maybe its time to let go, but she said it is not time to say goodbye.  The doctor, despite how he felt about our decision to keep caring for Abe, went on doing his job taking care of our son.   I felt so bad about, and still feel bad about, even thinking it was time to give up.

Later in the evening we scrubbed in to see how he was doing and the nurses were so happy to have us come over to his bubble.  I noticed right away that it was much quieter.  There weren’t as many machines going as there had been.  The nurse said that the blood cleared up and that he was starting to breathe on his own.  They also turned down some of the meds and let Abe take over for himself for the first time.   Had I said to let him go earlier that day, I would have made the biggest mistake of my life and instantly felt horrible about it.  Seeing him using his little lungs to breathe for himself was one of the most inspiring moments I have ever had.   I still hate myself for almost saying goodbye.  I sometimes think my wife saw me differently from then on.   We left the NICU unit so lifted and happy that we actually enjoyed a day without fear.  Our boy was fighting and we were all going to be home together in time.   We celebrated a good day with dear friends of ours over for dinner and then I slept that night, for the first time in the last few days, with no fear.

Come morning, we once again scrubbed in to see Abe.  The nurses said he had a little trouble during the night but got better and was back to normal by the time we were there to see him.  The nurse let me open one of the little windows so that I could touch my son for the first time.  To my amazement, when I put my goliath finger in the palm of his little hand, he actually grabbed and held onto me.  I finally had my dad moment.  My son held his dads hand.  I could not have been any happier and more proud of my son.  We told the nurses that because he was being such a good boy, that we were checking out of the hotel and going home.  We didn’t live far and honestly, really thought we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.   Right after I showered in my own bathroom for the first time in 4 days, I got out to my phone ringing.   The Neonatologist asked us to come back to talk about something, but to not be alarmed and drive safe.  There was no way that I was not going to be alarmed by this, so we rushed back to the hospital as fast as we could.

When we arrived the doctor put us back in the dreaded room where I refused to say goodbye many times before.  This time was going to be different.  We were informed that the blood that had vanished from his lungs was now in his brain.  She said it was a stage 4 bleed and the one procedure that could be done, was risky and severely dangerous.  We were given disclaimers about quality of life and the potential for a son who would never know he was even alive.  The doctor said she would be right back and left for a few minutes.  My wife and I just broke out in tears and a horrible pain in our hearts as we finally came to a decision where we would have to say goodbye.  No one really knows if he was suffering, or if it was only the medicine and machines keeping him alive.  We know for at least one day, Abe was giving the fight or his life to prove he was not giving up as we refused to.  Something just told me to not be selfish and to let God do what he was going to do.  My wife could not say the words to the doctor, so I built the strength to tell them its ok, and to pull the plug.

They brought Abe to us with a drip so that he would not be in pain while he passed away in our arms.  The first time I actually got to hold him in my arms, and the last time.  He gasped for air a few times which was so sad to see.  I almost yelled for the doctor to start hooking him back up to the machines, but knew it was too late for that.  Our son passed away in our arms 3/8/2012.  We had four of the scariest yet happiest days of our lives.  Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever done but knew that we did it for our son.  We overcame our selfishness and thought only of Abraham, and I would live with myself knowing by being selfish and trying to keep him live, was actually making his life worse.  I am by no means telling you to give up or give in immediately, but there is a time when you have to get over yourself and start listening to the doctors, and God about what’s best for your child.   We are both saddened at times but know that he is in heaven and happy, waiting for the day we are with him once more.  In the end, it was not really a goodbye for good, just a goodbye for now.

Brandon T.

Posted in Agonize, Compassion, Courage, Death of a baby, Death of a son, Despair, Devastation, Tough | Tagged , , | 2 Comments