New Grief Resource Book

I am often sent resources from the grief community to share with the followers of Grieving Dads.  The most recent resource is a book that was sent to me by Chesapeake Life Center, which is a service of the Hospice of Chesapeake.  The book is called  Supporting Children After a Suicide Loss and can be ordered by following this link:  Resource Book.

Posted in Grief, Suicide | Tagged | Leave a comment

What to Say to a Bereaved Person

I often have people that sign up to receive notifications from the Grieving Dads blog.  Today I received a notification that “The Grief Geek” has started to follow me.  I spent some time on their blog and I found that many of the topics I have discussed are also discussed on this blog.  It is always good to see a topic from a different perspective or experience.  Therefore, I wanted to share the blog with all of you as a resource.

Also, one of the posting stood out to me.  Its on the topic of “what to say or not to say” to a bereaved parent or anyone that is grieving for that matter.   Over the last 5 years, I have heard from many of my followers regarding the horrific things that people say to them because they are either ignorant or really have not idea what to say.

Take a look at the link below to see the article but also come back to this posting and share with me the things people have said to you that have helped or not helped.

What to say to a bereaved person.

Posted in Grief, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

“Dark Days” by Kelly Farley

Dark Days

I was driving in to work today and thinking how far I have come since the early days of my grief. I started thinking about how something as simple as a good song gets me singing (not pretty, but to me I sound good) along with the radio. I now have goals and dreams that I look forward to pursuing. I also started to think about some of the rough days I had early in my grief. The only goals I had on those days were to survive and to get out of bed to make it to work. There was no singing along to the radio on the way to the office, only tears. Every time I start to beat myself up for not being “further” along in life, I try to stop myself and remember some of those early days.

One particular day really stands out to me. It started out with the normal dread of waking up and getting out of bed. I had one of those moments of bliss between sleeping and reality. The moment that you thought you had the worst nightmare of your life and the reality that you were living that nightmare. The day progressed with the mental struggles I often fought. But this day I didn’t have the strength to fight it, so I surrendered to it. I was am on my hands and knees and had been gaging/throwing up from the stress every time I tried to eat. Throwing up from the stress! I didn’t even realize that was possible. I was crying but there were no tears, only convulsive type spasms that resemble bawling, but again there were no tears. Only extreme sadness, fear, despair, depression, emptiness, guilt, devastation and anger. I am sure I am missing a bunch of other emotions that I was feeling that day.

I remember that it was a wintery afternoon and there I was on my hands and knees not knowing if I was going to survive. “Survive” is a word I asked myself a lot during the early days of the journey. “Am I going to survive this?” The reason I asked it was because I could feel myself dying and I really wasn’t sure I was going to survive. I asked my counselor, wife, family and friends. I needed confirmation that I was going to survive. And even when they said yes, I returned with “Are you sure? Because it doesn’t feel like I am going to.” I think some people around me started to ask the same question.

One friend of mine responded to an email I sent him. “Hey buddy, I am getting worried about you. This is the first time I have had concerns, I don’t want you hurting yourself, and you need to go to the doctor for help.” I never got to the point of thinking about ending the pain, but I can see how people get to that point. My friend was right, I needed to see a counselor.

When I was sitting with my counselor telling my story, I was fine (ok not fine, but better because I had an opportunity to tell my story and cry), but when I was on my own it would start to build up until my next appointment. I needed her with me to help tame conversations I was having with myself regarding the survival of this nightmare. Unfortunately, my insurance only covered one visit per week.

As I mentioned earlier, I sometimes have a tendency to judge myself for not being the guy I was 10 years ago before the loss of my first child. However, when I look back at some of those dark days, I realize I have come a long way from those days and that it’s ok to have easy/relaxing/enjoyable days and that the most important thing is the fact I feel happiness and peace in my life. Those two things are not easy to come by and I need reminders of those days to realize that it’s ok to just sit back and enjoy the simple things in life.

I decided to share my thoughts and this story today because I want you to realize that no matter where you are in this journey, there is hope. There are brighter days ahead if you put in the hard work of allowing the grief process to run its course instead of fighting it. Learn to surrender and be vulnerable.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Posted in Agonize, Anger, anxiety, Bereaved Parents, Counseling, counselor, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Debilitating, Depression, Despair, Devastation, Emotions, Grief, Hope, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Men's Grief, Survival, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

“My First Christmas In Heaven”

This posting is for the Christian followers of this blog or anyone else you think would find it comforting at Christmas. I signed up for an emailed daily devotional 8 years ago when I was trying to survive on a day-to-day basis. The devotional has provided much comfort to me over the years. I thought the one I received today would be helpful to some. Peace.

GOD WILL WIPE AWAY EVERY TEAR FROM THEIR EYES; THERE SHALL BE NO MORE DEATH, NOR SORROW, NOR CRYING.  THERE SHALL BE NO MORE PAIN, FOR THE FORMER THINGS HAVE PASSED AWAY.                          ( REVELATION 21:4 *NKJV )

If you are suffering from the loss of a loved one this Christmas,   the following message is for you.  Also if you are not suffering   from that loss, but know of someone who is, why not forward   this message to them.  For it has ministered to many over the   past few years!   It is called:

“My First Christmas In Heaven”

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away the tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas
choir up here.  I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices
bring.  For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart
But I am not so far away, We really aren’t apart.
So be happy for me, dear ones, You know I hold you dear.
And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory of my undying love.
After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do.
For I can’t count the blessing or love he has for each of you.
So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear
Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ
this year.
Author Unknown

Posted in Bereaved, Christmas, Grief | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

“One Reason Why I Wrote My Book”

There are several reasons why I wrote my book, one of those reasons was to help other dads (and moms) through the aftermath of losing a child.  The only way I knew how to do that was to be brutally honest with myself and with the readers.  I knew I had to force myself to be vulnerable and transparent, which was not an easy task for me.  The following is a message I received over the weekend from a fellow grieving dad.  I am humbled by how far this book has reached and the people it has touched.  Bruce and all the others that continue to reach out to me is the main reason this book was written.

“Good morning Kelly,

My name is Bruce and like you I am a member of this awful club. I lost my ten year old son, Garrett, in February of 2013 and the last 22 months have certainly taken me to the brink and almost back. “Back” would mean returning to where I was before Garrett’s death and I am well aware that I will never be “there” again.

I finished reading your book last night and I will honestly say I wish I would have read it a year ago. For the first year after Garrett’s death, I, like many dads, tried to be the rock and man up to the grief that was trying to attack my already destroyed world. I spent twelve months “faking it” on the outside while everything inside was in an emotional war. Finally I sought out professional help through a grief counselor to help me understand, cope with, and even invite the grief in. Had I read your book earlier, I would have understood this is normal, I’m not going crazy, there are others like me, and I certainly would have sought professional help much sooner.

Thank you for writing this book and helping so many grieving fathers like me. I hate the club that we’re in but I have grown to respect and admire many of its members. 

Thank you Kelly for what you are doing to help dads like me. I know your pain, I feel the same hole in my heart that you feel in yours, and I share your desire to help other dads with their grief journeys.

May God’s peace be with you and all grieving dads this Christmas season, Bruce”

 

How has Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back helped you?

Posted in Bereaved Parents, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Men's Grief | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

12 Days of Christmas for Bereaved Parents

I know I am a little late at starting these, but better late than not at all. This was sent to me by the Sacramento-South Placer County Chapter – Bereaved Parents of the USA.  This is all good advice in approaches I have used/use several times over the years.

12 Days of Christmas for Bereaved Parents

 Day 1 – December 14

Right from the get go, give yourself permission to do, or not do, what you feel/don’t feel comfortable with this Christmas season. If you feel up to decorating your house… pour yourself a glass of eggnog and do what you can. If you can only manage to hang a wreath on the door, then allow yourself the freedom of leaving the boxes of decorations in the attic. They’ll be there for you next year, or the year after, or whenever you feel more like enjoying the festivities of the season.

Take the pressure off of yourself by asking for help. If you have other children, and you just don’t think you can put up the outside lights on the house, bake cookies or spend time at the mall, ask a friend or relative to step in for you and do some holiday activities with the other kids that will allow them to enjoy the holidays through a child’s eyes. This is not the time to try to be “super mom or dad.”

Day 2 – December 15

Whether it’s your first Christmas season or your 20th, think of a way to brighten someone else’s holidays by doing for them what you cannot do for your own child. This could be anything from selecting a child from an underprivileged home, or an elderly person who needs a neighbor to stop by on Christmas Day with a hot meal. Lifting someone else’s spirits will definitely lift yours.

Day 3 – December 16

Enjoy the holidays by starting new traditions that incorporate memories of your child. You may want to make or purchase a new ornament for the Christmas tree that reminds you of their personality or something they enjoyed. You can create a scrapbook of past holidays you enjoyed with your child. How about framing one of your favorite photos of your child and displaying it in your home? Visit a place they enjoyed and have a toast in their honor. Bringing good memories to mind will eventually replace the sadness caused by not having your child with you physically. Eventually you’ll find yourself thinking about the good times you had with them more often that dwelling on the fact that they are no longer here.

Posted in Brokenness, Christmas, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Holidays, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Lurking” by Kelly Farley

Lurking

I realize I have come a long way since the early days of grief when I would find myself on my hands and knees because the pain (emotional) was so intense I couldn’t function. When the anxiety got the best of me and I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown.

Trust me when I say this, if you have ever lived through one of those episodes, you don’t take a good day for granted. Early on, my episodes seemed to last for months and over time they gradually went from weeks, to days and eventually hours. The thought of going back to those dark days is something I don’t even like to think about. They were as dark as it gets.

I have a new appreciation for people that live with mental health issues their entire life. I know my depression and anxiety was brought on by a “profound situation”, the death of my two children. I can honestly say because I put in the hard work of grieving and allowing myself to process my pain that I am able to function in life again. In fact, I would classify 99% of my days as good. Not as good as I was before the losses, but considering where I’ve been after the losses, I’ll take it.

However, the 1% of bad days still suck. They are nowhere as deep as the early episodes, but they still weigh you down. I recently experienced a couple of those days after coming down with mild flu symptoms last week. Not the kind of day that paralyzes you with sadness/despair/anxiety, but the kind of day that just weighs on you. I think even non-bereaved parents have these kind of days from time to time because of life’s events. However, these 1% days are new to me. I never experienced bad days before the loss of my two children. I thought everyone walked around with a smile and the feeling of being able to conquer the world, apparently not.

I bring this topic up because there are certain things the trigger those 1% days or emotional heaviness for me. I feel them when I am at my weakest moments. I can all most always count on having them when I am sick. I think my strength to fend “it” off becomes jeopardized due to immune system. I also get these unexpected attacks when I have an extremely intense workout.

It just goes to show its always lurking below the surface, waiting for an opportunity to reveal itself. The good thing is, these episodes are nowhere near as intense or last as long as the crippling episodes I had for a couple of years after the loss of my children. I’m not talking about a sadness episode, but more of “I’m not sure what to do with myself kind of moment”. They are kind of overwhelming, heavy, introspective type of moments.

Anyone else experience this type of behavior?

Posted in anxiety, Bereaved, Bereaved Parents, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Debilitating, Depression, Despair, Emotions, Exhausting, Grief, Grieving Dads, Having a Bad Day, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Men's Grief | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

“Ignorance is Bliss” by Kelly Farley

Ignorance is Bliss

When using the word “ignorant” to describe someone it is generally not meant to be a compliment. We all know that this word means that the person is “lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular”.

I work in an industry that requires me to oversee large public improvement projects. When I say large, they can range from a couple of million dollars in construction cost all the way up to 2-3 hundred million. A co-worker of mine is currently overseeing one of these 300 million dollar projects and he is feeling a lot of pressure to make sure his team delivers. It’s not uncommon for members of his team to work 60-80 hour weeks designing one of these projects. As you can imagine, the hours worked and stress of one of these projects weights heavy on most of the team members.

I stopped by this coworker’s office recently and could see the stress he was carrying. I sat down and let him vent about some of his team members and how they really don’t see the big picture of what we have to accomplish. They don’t understand that our business depends on delivering a quality project in order to get another project from our client. They don’t understand the business model and the fact that if we don’t get another project, they will not have a job/paycheck. They just show up to work, do what their told and go home. They don’t think for themselves and rely heavily on the project leader to tell them what to do. At the end of his venting, I said, “ignorance is bliss”. We both laughed and he said “that would be nice not to know, to live in your own little world”.

I spent the rest of the day thinking about that statement, “ignorance is bliss” and thought about what I have been through with the loss of my children. I wish I was ignorant to this nightmare. I wish I didn’t know the pain of burying a child. I wish I didn’t know the aftermath that people go through after burying a child. I wish I didn’t know about days you can’t get out of bed because the pain is so emotionally and physically destructive. I wish I didn’t know about the long term impacts of losing a child. I wish I didn’t have to hear from all of the other dads (and moms) that have also been on this path. The reality is I do know, I wish I didn’t, but I can’t change that fact.

I also thought about the people on my co-workers team. Maybe they aren’t ignorant after all. Maybe they understand that “you don’t know what you don’t know” and they are perfectly ok with that. There was a time after the loss of Katie and Noah that I took on the mindset of “I’m doing the best I can and if that isn’t good enough for you then to bad.” That was the only way I could have survived. I didn’t allow myself to take on more stuff.   I had reached my capacity and then some. However, over the last couple of years I have allowed myself to worry about stuff that really doesn’t matter. Getting out of bed every day with a smile and a sense of peace should be the only thing that matters.

Is ignorance bliss?

Posted in Death of a Child, Debilitating, Depression, Emotions, Exhausting, Men's Grief, Tough | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

“More on Men’s Grief”

I received a response from Author/Therapist Tom Golden last week after I posted on the subject of “Man Grief vs. Woman Grief”.  Tom was kind enough to share a link to an article he wrote on the subject of men’s grief.  Tom has written a couple of books and often speaks/trains others on the subject.  Some of you may have already seen the link he posted on my last blog entry.  For those who have not seen this article, it can be viewed here:

Why and How Do Men Keep Their Emotional Pain Invisible?

As always, please share your thoughts/comments.

Posted in Grief, Men's Grief, Men's Issues | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Man Grief vs. Woman Grief”

Man Grief vs. Woman Grief

I received an email yesterday from a fellow grieving dad who is doing research for a grant asking me if I had come across any articles on the subject of why/how men and women grieve differently.

Here is what he found in his research:

“Those inclined to the “male model” will keep grief to themselves, work hard to avoid losing control in front of others, and refrain from asking for help or assistance. In the “female model,” feeling related or connected is of paramount importance, while in the “male model” feeling independent and autonomous is critical.”

Here was my response:

Thank you for reaching out to me on this subject, it’s a good one. It’s a subject that I tend to question when the “experts” voice their opinion on it. I have seen all of the papers that say men and women grieve differently and I must say I am not sure I agree with them. If you take societies expectations away, do they really grieve differently or do we grieve differently because we have both been “given” roles and if we don’t play those roles, we are looked down upon. Not sure if you read my book, but I talk about this subject because after my first loss, I felt like I had to be the rock, to carry the load. I felt the pain as well, but I didn’t give myself permission to feel it because I was taught not to throughout my whole life. After my second loss, I fell apart and I gave in and became “weak”. I needed to be cared for, I needed to cry, and I needed to openly mourn the loss of my two beautiful children. If I wouldn’t have allowed myself to do that, I am not sure I would have survived. Now I would agree that people grieve differently, but I am not sure it’s because they are a man or a woman.

To answer your question, I have not come across any papers I consider valid. They were not written by anyone that have had to actually live this nightmare and until you have walked it, I don’t want to hear your “expert” opinion. However, I have interviewed/spoken too many grieving dads over the last several years and I can assure you, they feel the pain just as much, they just don’t know what to do with it because it goes against everything they’ve been taught.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Peace.

Kelly

What are your thoughts in this subject?

Posted in Uncategorized | 29 Comments