“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 | 20 Comments

“Wanted”

I was contacted late last week by a research and casting company that were hired by a large national insurance company located here in the United States.  They contacted me as a result of finding my book and wanted to know if I knew of any bereaved dads that would be willing to participate in a Public Service Announcement (PSA).  The PSA is based on promoting household safety by showing others that “bad stuff” can happen.  First of all, I was honored they contacted me and secondly I was excited that they were looking for grieving dads to be apart of this campaign.

I informed them that I would post something on my blog and social media outlets to find out if there is anyone willing to be interviewed and be a part of this project.  I asked them to send me a list of household accidents that someone may have lost a child to and they provided me with the following:

  • Poisoning (drinking/eating toxic products, swallowing button batteries, carbon monoxide, medicine overdose)
  • Drowning (bathtub or pool)
  • TV or furniture tip-over
  • Driveway back-over
  • Falling (windows, stairs, etc)
  • Choking or Strangulation (window blind cords)
  • Fire and Burns (fires in homes, burns associated with grills, fire pits, etc)

All of these are horrific and if we can bring awareness to these areas of realities, we are doing a great service by helping other parents to avoid the loss of a child.

If you have had the unfortunate experience in one of these household accidents and willing to speak with this organization, please contact me by email or phone.

Peace.

Kelly

 

 

Posted in Household Accident | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Virtual Book Tour?

BookCoverImage

I have to be honest, I have not read my book Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back since it was published in June 2012.  I have read the book multiple times as a draft and through the editing process.  I have done a few book readings of the first chapter or two at support groups I was invited to, but I have not read it from cover to cover since it was published.  That being said, I do believe I am in need of a “tune-up” in my attitude and I believe rereading the book can dial me back in to what is really important in life.  A reminder of how far I am come since the very dark and desperate days of trying to survive the aftermath of losing two children.

I have become restless and frustrated with myself in recent months.  Restless because I want to accomplish and do so many things but there are times I just can’t focus long enough or have the energy to follow through.  I believe a lot of this is tied to the after effects of the impact my mental state took from the blow.  I need a reminder that getting out of bed with a smile and a spring in my step is a HUGE deal and I should not take it for granted, I should be proud of myself instead of beating myself up for not doing more.

I do plan on reading the book over a few month time frame, but this time I wanted to do a virtual book reading.  I would video tape me reading the book while stopping at critical points and discussing my thoughts on the subject.  However, before I spend the time and energy doing this, I wanted to find out if anyone would be interested in following along in the book and participating in the discussion.

Would you be interested I participating in a virtual book tour?

Posted in Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads Words, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Men's Grief, Men's Issues, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

“Never Show Weakness” by Kelly Farley

“Never Show Weakness”

Men are often times programmed from a young age to believe that “big boys don’t cry” and that they should never show weakness. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult for men to “release” the emotions that build up. I often hear from dads that tell me that they can’t seem to cry. They feel the emotions welling up inside, but the release just doesn’t happen very easily. I try to provide ideas/tools that I have learned from dealing with my own emotions during the aftermath of losing my two children.

I am a firm believer that one needs to learn to be transparent and allow themselves to become vulnerable. This isn’t easy for men, but allowing yourself to seek professional counseling and participating in support groups can help with this process.

Another important part to the healing process is staying active, especially for men. Not as a tool to avoid dealing with your emotions, but quite the opposite. Using activities such as exercise allows you to not only burn anxiety, it can allow you to be in your own thoughts; processing what has happened to you.

I spent a lot of time riding my bike, jogging and taking on none time critical home projects. Early on, I would find myself breaking down and crying during these activities. Even years after their death, I still use these tools and from time to time I will push myself enough physically that I will feel the emotions build up and ultimately trigger a release.

I wish I could give each grieving parent the secret to surviving the death of their child, but I can’t. What I can do is share the things that helped me make it through the dark days and ultimately back to the path of healing.

Kelly Farley
Author of Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back
www.GrievingDads.com

Posted in Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Men's Grief | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

“Reality Check” by Kelly Farley

Reality Check

It’s been over 10 years since I have been to a wedding. In fact, I have not been to a wedding since I lost my daughter Katie in 2004. However, for whatever reason, I have four of them that I will be attending over the next couple of months. A few weeks back I attended the first on the four that are on my schedule. It was a beautiful outdoor wedding and reception location. I actually enjoy going to weddings because I am an outgoing person and I like to meet new people any chance I get. I believe everyone has a story to tell and I am intrigued to hear their story.

The wedding was going pretty good and I was enjoying a couple of cocktails when they announced the bride and grooms first dance. I didn’t think much of it until after the dance when they announced the father and daughter dance. It was about 15 seconds into the dance when I noticed the pride and love that this father had for his daughter. And it was about 2 seconds after that where I looked at my wife and said, “I’ll be outside.” She asked me where I going. I replied “I have to go, I can’t watch this.”

It hit me in that moment that I will never be able to have a father and daughter dance with Katie. Never. I will never be able to watch my son Noah start a family of his own. Never. I will never have grandchildren. Never.

Another never moment happened over the weekend. My wife and I were out running errands this past Saturday when we drove past a restaurant in our area. I noticed that there were about 10 teenage kids all dressed up with their dates. It was Homecoming weekend and these kids were out having a great time. I am sure they just left each of their family’s homes after taking a lot of photos. All of the things I did when I was a kid. My wife said, “It sucks we’ll never get to experience that with our kids.” I responded with “yes it does.”

The reality of the situation is I will never be able to see them do any of the things other children their age group get to do. I don’t think about these types of things often, but the reality of the moment happens in a split second and emotions follow closely behind.

What reality checks have you experienced lately?

Posted in Broken Dreams, Dreams, Emotions, Homecoming, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Reality, Tears, Tough, Weddings | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

“Dead Where It Stands” by Kelly Farley

“Dead Where It Stands”

As many of you know, we (me, Barry Kluger and Jim Boyle) have been working for 3.5 years on Federal legislation to change the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to add bereaved parents to the list of recipients that could qualify for the benefits set forth in this legislation. What that means is a bereaved parent would be allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid time (in a 12 month period) without the fear of their employer firing them.

We have had a lot of support from large National Organizations and the many people that have signed our petition (83,000 letters sent to Washington) at www.FarleyKluger.com. We have been to Washington DC on three different occasions to meet with legislators. As a result of our efforts, Senator Jon Tester (MT) had introduced S. 226 – The Parental Bereavement Act of 2013 in the U.S. Senate and Congressman Steve Israel (NY) had introduced H.R. 515 – The Parental Bereavement Act of 2013 (aka Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act) in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 515 has had 43 cosponsors (Congressman) and S.226 has had 13 cosponsors (Senators). Both Bills have been sent to the appropriate committee to be considered for a hearing. At first glance, you would say we have been successful at getting this initiative pushed along and we would agree, to a point.

The reason I am writing this posting is twofold, one is to let you know that we were informed this past summer that these Bills would not be considered for a hearing, basically, they die where they stand. It is unclear at this time if we will pursue this legislation in the next congress. We didn’t exactly have bi-partisan support for this Bill. Almost everyone agreed (when we spoke) that these changes to the original FMLA make a lot of sense. After all, I don’t know too many people that can bury their child on day 3 and then expect to get back to work on day 4 because the company’s 3 day bereavement leave policy has been exhausted. Some of the reasons it didn’t get support are “causing undue stress on American businesses” and “concerns for abuse of existing FMLA”. As far as the abuse goes, you need to produce a death certificate in order to qualify, hard to fake that one.

The second reason I am writing this post is to inform past and future grieving parents how to still receive the benefits allotted by the original FMLA without the fear of losing their job. It’s not an easy process but certainly one that most bereaved parents should have knowledge of in case they need additional time. First and foremost, you have to comply with the FMLA requirements. That means you must work for a company with at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius. If you meet these requirements, then you have to meet at least one of the following:

  • for the birth and care of a newborn child
  • for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care
  • to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
  • to take medical leave because of a serious health condition
  • to care for an injured service member in the family

If you lose a child, you could use either “to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition” (ie: distressed spouse) or “to take medical leave because of a serious health condition”. The key to this is to have your doctor diagnosis you with PTSD, depression and/or anxiety condition. These are all issues that bereaved parents experience and they are a serious health condition. Just because you don’t see the “injury” doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Once the doctor has diagnosed you, they then must be willing to sign the paper work that allows for you to utilize FMLA benefits. Like I tell all of the people that show up to my workshops, if your doctor will not sign off on it, then fire them and find a doctor that will.

I was recently speaking on this topic at a workshop I presented at for The Compassionate Friends National Meeting in Chicago and a grieving dad raised his hand and informed the room that his doctor writes him a letter at the beginning of every year so he can use his 12 weeks sporadically throughout the year as needed without fear of being fired for taking too much time off. I was lucky, my employer allowed me to go part time for almost 3 years in order to deal with the “health conditions” I was dealing with.

There is one thing that you should be aware of, is that when you are diagnosed and treated for one of these conditions, you now have to disclose it on your application for health insurance, life insurance and disability insurance. Many will not cover you and it they do, it will cost you. This is why we were pushing to have the “death of a child” included into the existing FMLA. We should not be penalized for trying to survive the death of child. We just need time to catch our breath and to figure out what has happened to our world.

I should say “I am not an attorney” or “expert” on this subject. I am just sharing with you what I have learned. Please consult an attorney or your HR manager (careful with this one, they still work for the company).

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Posted in anxiety, Bereaved Parents, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Debilitating, Depression, Despair, Family Medical Leave Act, Farley-Kluger, FMLA, HR.515, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Parental Bereavement Act of 2013, PTSD, s.226, Senator Tester | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

“Where’d That Come From?”

The following was sent to me over the weekend from a fellow grieving dad.  I think the topic is very appropriate and one I think we can all relate to in some way.  I know I have had many of these surprises.  What have been some of your surprises?

Where’d That Come From? 

Tonight I was on a short flight from DC to Atlanta.  As the title suggests, I had one of those “Where’d That Come From” experiences we all are familiar with.

I was writing an email to our nanny, who cares for our nearly two-year old son, Bradley, who will start Montessori school on Monday.  Simple enough – it’s a transition for him and our family.

Before Bradley, we had adopted another son, Grant, who unexpectedly died at six weeks.  And prior to that, we had given birth to a daughter, Catherine, who at 21 weeks who could not survive.  There were miscarriages even earlier.

So, tonight, as I wrote my gratitude to our nanny, I was overcome with grief.  In truth, I was a sobbing, snotty mess on a plane after they had already retrieved the napkins.  Thankfully, it was dark, but that didn’t matter much.

I feel blessed – truly – for this milestone (albeit trite) for our son.  It’s just pre-school or day care.  But what struck me (hard) were the milestones we will never celebrate with our earlier sons and daughters.

I’m struck that grief is always close to the surface, if not directly in our face.  It doesn’t take much to trigger it. While I don’t “welcome” the tears, I honor what they represent and accept the grief and loss for what it is.  Really. Fucking. Hard. (And real.)

I am grateful for having a community of men who may be nodding as they read this. And I offer to those too raw, too angry, too ashamed to be that snotty mess on a plane, to know that there are so many of us who will hold your grief as/with our own.

Thank you for your virtual support.

- Thom

Posted in Blindsided, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Emotions, Flashbacks, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Tears, Tough | 12 Comments

“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 , | 13 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 , , , | 32 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