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 , , , , , , , | 11 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?

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“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

“Dear Colleague”

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This is a big deal.  It is a “Dear Colleague” letter that was sent out this week by Congressman Israel (D-NY) and Congressman Gosar (R-AZ).  What makes this a big deal is the fact its a bi-partisan “ask” of fellow Representatives to support this important legislation.  Seems like common sense to me.  Send this to your rep and ask them to support.  Email it, call their office or repost this on Facebook/Twitter using your Reps. Facebook Page or Twitter name.

I have to say, it’s pretty cool to see my name in this bill.  Now we just need to get it passed for all of the bereaved parents that will follow in our footsteps.

Click the link below to see a readable copy of this letter.

2014.02 Dear Colleague Signed

Posted in Bereaved Parents, Death of a Child, Farley-Kluger, FMLA, HR.515, Parental Bereavement Act of 2013, s.226 | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

“Slump” by Kelly Farley

Slump

Call it winter blues, a sump, depression or whatever else describes feeling like I’ve been feeling.  The last couple of months have been a struggle for me.  I know deep down it is all part of the “new me” that was created as part of losing Katie and Noah, but I still don’t like it.

I am nowhere near as deep in this shit storm as I was for years after their death, but it still impacts how I live my life.  The last six months I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride that consists of the old me highs to the new me lows and can’t seem to find a place in the middle that creates a level of peace.  I feel like I am constantly searching for that one thing that will bring me happiness but I can’t seem to find it and when I do, it doesn’t last.

I have always been an idea guy and get very excited when I come up with ideas that no one else has thought of and turn it into something.  It ranges from inventions, business models or public service initiatives.  I have had a lot of them over the last year but I can’t seem to hold on to any one of them long enough to follow through with it.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to “perform” and lately all I’ve been doing is going to work, coming home and sitting in front of the television or reading a book.  I know its ok to recharge and have some down time, but I can’t seem to allow myself to do it.

There have been a lot of changes in my mental health, personality, view of the world since the loss of Katie and Noah.  Some are good, some not so much.  I would say the two negatives are the emotional roller coaster rides and my inability to focus for long periods of time.  Before their deaths I was always full speed ahead and very focused on whatever it was I was trying to conquer at the time.

I know I’ve accomplished a lot over the last couple of years with publishing my book, this blog and starting the Parental Bereavement Act of 2013.  I did these things to honor Katie and Noah as well as to help others through the aftermath.  I didn’t do them for monetary gain, I had a different motive, to do something that Katie and Noah would have been proud of their dad for doing.

The following is a snippet from the “My Story” section of my blog when I started Grieving Dads back in 2009.  I haven’t felt that way in a while and need to find a way to get back to that mindset:

“I look and feel different now.  The stress of their deaths has sprinkled some gray into my hair and lines on my face.  It has taken a part of me that I know I will never get back.  My definition of success has changed.  I no longer feel like I am rushing around all of the time trying to prove myself to the world.  I am no longer the go-to guy at work.  I do my job, but I don’t do it as if I want to run the company someday.  I could easily be persuaded to run off to a simpler way of life.  I know Katie and Noah would want me to make a positive impact on other’s lives, which this project has allowed me to do.  The idea of helping others helps me.  Material things do not hold much meaning to me anymore.  Spending time with my wife and my dog Buddy is much more satisfying than working long hours to acquire material items that do not provide happiness.  I now know that it’s okay to show emotions and that it’s not a sign of weakness.  I prefer a quiet and peaceful life.  To be quite honest, I am fairly confident that even if I wanted to, I couldn’t maintain the same pace as before the losses, but I now know that’s okay.”

Seems as if I’ve lost the “I now know that’s okay” mindset and I trying to get it back.

How about you?  What kind of struggles have you’ve dealt with since the death of your child?

Posted in Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Depression, Emotions, Grief, Grieving Dads, Happiness, Hope, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Son, Men's Grief, Peace, Perspective | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments