“Overcoming The Loss Of A Child Without Drugs Or Alcohol: A Parents Guide

The following article was sent to me by Jennifer Scott at Spirit Finder and it was written/published by DrugRehab.org.  I think its a great read and wanted to share it with all the followers of Grieving Dads.  Make sure you click on the active links in this article, it will take you to other great reads about this subject matter.  I have heard from many grieving dads that have struggled with substance abuse after the loss of a child.  Please comment and let me know what you think of this subject matter and great resource.  Peace.


Overcoming The Loss Of A Child Without Drugs Or Alcohol:  A Parents Guide

The death of a child is one of life’s most agonizing challenges. No parent can ever be truly prepared for the grief that comes with this kind of loss. In some cases, it can lead a devastated parent to turn to drug or alcohol use in an attempt to cope — but in fact, substance abuse only creates a bigger problem.

This guide is for any parent who has recently lost a child and may be having an especially difficult time coping. It will discuss the kinds of emotions and obstacles to expect, the risks of drug and alcohol dependency, as well as healthy, effective ways to cope with your grief. The healing process is just that: a process. It will be a long, tumultuous journey, but one you can find your way through.

What Comes Next: The Emotions To Expect Throughout Your Healing

First, it’s important to note that there is no “correct way” to grieve. Some people may be so overcome with sadness that they constantly cry; others may feel too numb to show much emotion at all. Everyone will need to be supported no matter what they’re feeling, even if it’s difficult to understand. Don’t be afraid to express your grief outwardly, but keep in mind that just because you don’t see the same display of emotions in others doesn’t mean they feel nothing.

This difference in coping is often most apparent between men and women, and this can cause two grieving parents to butt heads at a time they need each other most. Men often take a logical standpoint, trying to take care of things they have control over: the funeral arrangements, getting back to work, and caring for their partner. Some men feel as though they shouldn’t show their grief because of societal pressures to be the family rock. Though it’s understandable that men feel as though they are held to a different standard, it’s important to recognize that showing emotion is not a sign of weakness. A father who has lost a child should feel open to express himself in any way that he needs to, whether it’s taking some alone time, openly weeping, or finding ways to laugh through his grief.

The emotional rollercoaster the loss of a child brings may cause you to experience many different things, including:

  • Shock
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • Guilt
  • Resentment

These kinds of feelings may occur at any time following the loss of a child in any order. One parent may stay stuck in a state of shock for several weeks while the other may immediately feel angry, then guilty.

When a child dies, so do many hopes and dreams of the parents. Their future is forever altered in a devastating way, and they have to constantly cope with the different aspects of that fact. Some harsh realities are easier to see in advance — knowing you’ll never see your child get married — while others may sneak up on you. For example, if you planned to teach your child to play basketball one day, you may feel a sudden surge of anger or sadness when you see something related to the sport. Even years after the fact you may feel resentment at the graduation ceremony of a niece or nephew, remembering that your child won’t experience their own. Accepting the loss of these painful realizations isn’t easy, but it is an important step in your grieving.

The Risks of Addiction in the Grieving Process

For some parents the death of a child can be too devastating to bear, so they may seek out ways to lessen or even completely numb the pain. Drinking is a common part of the grieving process in many different cultures, and it can quite easily snowball into a major problem for someone who’s having an extreme reaction to the loss. It’s a slippery slope for anyone, but especially for those who have a family history of addiction.

Parents With A History Of Substance Abuse

Losing a child can lead them to question their sobriety. They may feel so devastated that they can no longer see any point in staying sober, or even wonder if their child’s death is some kind of penance for their past. It’s normal to feel torn about the things you were once sure of, because losing a child goes against the rules of nature; parents never expect to outlive their children. Losing that kind of certainty can make you question if everything you thought you knew was wrong, even the decision to stay sober. This can be even further amplified if your family was a major part of what led you to quit using — to some, it may feel like it was all for nothing.

The moment these thoughts enter your mind, you need to tell someone. Tell your partner, your sponsor, or a trusted loved one. You may even want to reach out to a drug counselor, or a therapist who specializes in addiction and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. Even if you’ve been in control of your addiction for many years, this kind of devastation can trip up even the most committed of recovering addicts, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It’s better to preemptively seek support than to risk succumbing to temptation and putting your sobriety — and your own life — at risk.

Reaching out if you’re struggling with your sobriety isn’t just about preventing relapse; being open about this challenge will be an important step in moving forward. If you do somehow blame yourself for your child’s death and it’s tied to your addiction, you need to sort out those feelings. You must be able to confront both the symptom (your desire to use) and the underlying problem (your guilt) in order to truly heal.

Parents With A History Of Substance Abuse

Losing a child can lead them to question their sobriety. They may feel so devastated that they can no longer see any point in staying sober, or even wonder if their child’s death is some kind of penance for their past. It’s normal to feel torn about the things you were once sure of, because losing a child goes against the rules of nature; parents never expect to outlive their children. Losing that kind of certainty can make you question if everything you thought you knew was wrong, even the decision to stay sober. This can be even further amplified if your family was a major part of what led you to quit using — to some, it may feel like it was all for nothing.

The moment these thoughts enter your mind, you need to tell someone. Tell your partner, your sponsor, or a trusted loved one. You may even want to reach out to a drug counselor, or a therapist who specializes in addiction and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. Even if you’ve been in control of your addiction for many years, this kind of devastation can trip up even the most committed of recovering addicts, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It’s better to preemptively seek support than to risk succumbing to temptation and putting your sobriety — and your own life — at risk.

Reaching out if you’re struggling with your sobriety isn’t just about preventing relapse; being open about this challenge will be an important step in moving forward. If you do somehow blame yourself for your child’s death and it’s tied to your addiction, you need to sort out those feelings. You must be able to confront both the symptom (your desire to use) and the underlying problem (your guilt) in order to truly heal.

Parents Without A History Of Substance Abuse

The risk of escalating from mourning to addiction is still significant. Some may use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, as an escape from the agonizing reality they can’t face. They may even excuse their excessive use with the justification that once they’ve had a certain amount of time to drown their sorrows, they’ll be able to pull themselves out of their abusive patterns. Unfortunately, this process not only lengthens the time it will take to grieve, it actually makes it much more excruciating. Those feelings will have to surface eventually, but with constant repression will only build and build.

As a grieving parent continues to abuse substances following the death of a child, the danger continues to increase. As their tolerance grows, they must use more and more of a drug to get the same effect. Some may escalate their drinking to new highs, others may start to look for a new or stronger high and resort to more intense drugs. A person who once only drank socially may begin abusing prescription painkillers or anti-anxiety medication, convinced that because it came from a doctor it cannot truly be drug abuse. Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is a rapidly-growing problem in America, largely because of how quickly it causes a person to become dependent.

Parents Without A History Of Substance Abuse

The risk of escalating from mourning to addiction is still significant. Some may use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, as an escape from the agonizing reality they can’t face. They may even excuse their excessive use with the justification that once they’ve had a certain amount of time to drown their sorrows, they’ll be able to pull themselves out of their abusive patterns. Unfortunately, this process not only lengthens the time it will take to grieve, it actually makes it much more excruciating. Those feelings will have to surface eventually, but with constant repression will only build and build.

As a grieving parent continues to abuse substances following the death of a child, the danger continues to increase. As their tolerance grows, they must use more and more of a drug to get the same effect. Some may escalate their drinking to new highs, others may start to look for a new or stronger high and resort to more intense drugs. A person who once only drank socially may begin abusing prescription painkillers or anti-anxiety medication, convinced that because it came from a doctor it cannot truly be drug abuse. Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is a rapidly-growing problem in America, largely because of how quickly it causes a person to become dependent.

The Best Way To Avoid Developing An Alcohol Or Drug Abuse Problem

The best way to avoid developing an alcohol or drug abuse problem is to find healthy ways to cope with your grief. First, be honest about how you’re feeling and allow yourself to acknowledge it. It’s OK to cry if you’re sad and to vent your frustrations if you’re angry, but do try to avoid directly taking it out on others. Sometimes, all it takes is asking a loved one to sit and listen, or if you prefer to be alone taking a few minutes in another room. If you aren’t ready to be open just yet, take your time, but let your family and friends be a crutch when you can. Some people find it helpful to have someone with a completely outside perspective and no emotional attachment to the deceased, so consider reaching out to a professional therapist to make sure you’re coping with your feelings.

Keep the lines of communication open with your co-parent, even if the two of you are no longer together. You each have the unique perspective to help one another cope, so reach out and keep the door open as much as possible. However, be careful not to shut out your current partner in the process — they are suffering a loss, too, and you will need to lean on each other for support. Talk about how you’re feeling on a regular basis, and truly listen to what each other has to say. If you don’t understand what they’re going through, don’t become upset or make accusations; instead, ask questions and make the genuine effort to empathize. Keep in mind that just as you need your partner to try to see where you’re coming from, they need the same in return.

Be patient and kind with your partner even when you disagree, and let them know you love them every chance you get. Be honest about any challenges you’re facing with your loss and addiction recovery, and don’t be afraid to ask your spouse if the topic is relevant to him or her. The understanding between you should be completely honest and confident: you should each feel totally comfortable going to the other about any issue. Make sure you hold up your end of the bargain — even if you wanted a glass of wine just for a second yesterday and it quickly passed, share it with your partner. They will appreciate your candor, and may even find the strength to tell you about a challenge they wouldn’t have previously shared.

It’s important to maintain or begin healthy habits after your child’s passing. It may not be easy to feel motivated enough to commit to staying active, but you must find positive coping strategies in order to stay on a clean path. Find ways to get physically active, perhaps taking a walk every day or joining a health club. Exercising increases your body’s production of endorphins, which can naturally lift your mood. True, a workout won’t completely eliminate your overall grief, but it’s a healthy way to burn off stress and avoid negative behaviors.

Keep the lines of communication open with your co-parent, even if the two of you are no longer together. You each have the unique perspective to help one another cope, so reach out and keep the door open as much as possible. However, be careful not to shut out your current partner in the process — they are suffering a loss, too, and you will need to lean on each other for support. Talk about how you’re feeling on a regular basis, and truly listen to what each other has to say. If you don’t understand what they’re going through, don’t become upset or make accusations; instead, ask questions and make the genuine effort to empathize. Keep in mind that just as you need your partner to try to see where you’re coming from, they need the same in return.

Be patient and kind with your partner even when you disagree, and let them know you love them every chance you get. Be honest about any challenges you’re facing with your loss and addiction recovery, and don’t be afraid to ask your spouse if the topic is relevant to him or her. The understanding between you should be completely honest and confident: you should each feel totally comfortable going to the other about any issue. Make sure you hold up your end of the bargain — even if you wanted a glass of wine just for a second yesterday and it quickly passed, share it with your partner. They will appreciate your candor, and may even find the strength to tell you about a challenge they wouldn’t have previously shared.

It’s important to maintain or begin healthy habits after your child’s passing. It may not be easy to feel motivated enough to commit to staying active, but you must find positive coping strategies in order to stay on a clean path. Find ways to get physically active, perhaps taking a walk every day or joining a health club. Exercising increases your body’s production of endorphins, which can naturally lift your mood. True, a workout won’t completely eliminate your overall grief, but it’s a healthy way to burn off stress and avoid negative behaviors.

Don’t lose sight of the things that are important to you. If you have other children, make sure you show them the same love and support you always have. Allow yourself to feel joy that they are still with you. Actively seek out things throughout your day that make you feel happy, even if it’s simply the kiss goodbye from your spouse in the morning. Every moment of happiness counts — especially when you’re facing the intense darkness of a child’s death — so let yourself be grateful for them as they arrive. It’s OK to still feel sad over your loss, but don’t let it overshadow the wonderful people and things still in your life.

In addition to staying physically active, consider finding a creative outlet with which to express your emotions. Painting, poetry, music, and dance are all wonderful ways to find your voice, even if you’ve never tried before. You don’t have to share your creations with others, but you may discover it’s a unique way to honor the memory of your child. It may even help you communicate better with your partner — perhaps in the moment your words fail, but you’re able to sit down later and put them to paper with time and careful thought.

Have your support system on constant standby, and don’t be hesitant to ask for help. Your sponsor should be an easy-access contact in your mobile phone and on speed-dial at the office. The moment you’re feeling anxious or feeling overwhelmed with negative thoughts, reach out to those you can count on. You may even find that making small social gestures can briefly alleviate the pain or loneliness you’re feeling — asking a coworker to eat lunch together, for example. You don’t have to talk about your child or anything related to his or her death; you might even enjoy chatting about something light like the weather or the new office dress code. It can be a nice escape from negative thoughts and a positive way to make new connections.

Avoid situations where you typically used drugs or alcohol in the past. The less you’re around temptation, the more you can focus your mind on more productive things. You might find it rewarding to spend your free time volunteering with a local child bereavement organization, or getting more active in your sobriety groups. Some parents work through their loss by organizing a tribute to their child, be it planting a tree in his or her memory or holding a fundraiser for a specific medical condition. Honoring your child in this way, even if it’s an unofficial ceremony with only close friends and family, can bring a greater feeling of acceptance surrounding the death. It can be something positive to focus on that keeps you on a healthy path, leaving you with a sense of fulfillment, joy, and pride.

Don’t lose sight of the things that are important to you. If you have other children, make sure you show them the same love and support you always have. Allow yourself to feel joy that they are still with you. Actively seek out things throughout your day that make you feel happy, even if it’s simply the kiss goodbye from your spouse in the morning. Every moment of happiness counts — especially when you’re facing the intense darkness of a child’s death — so let yourself be grateful for them as they arrive. It’s OK to still feel sad over your loss, but don’t let it overshadow the wonderful people and things still in your life.

In addition to staying physically active, consider finding a creative outlet with which to express your emotions. Painting, poetry, music, and dance are all wonderful ways to find your voice, even if you’ve never tried before. You don’t have to share your creations with others, but you may discover it’s a unique way to honor the memory of your child. It may even help you communicate better with your partner — perhaps in the moment your words fail, but you’re able to sit down later and put them to paper with time and careful thought.

Have your support system on constant standby, and don’t be hesitant to ask for help. Your sponsor should be an easy-access contact in your mobile phone and on speed-dial at the office. The moment you’re feeling anxious or feeling overwhelmed with negative thoughts, reach out to those you can count on. You may even find that making small social gestures can briefly alleviate the pain or loneliness you’re feeling — asking a coworker to eat lunch together, for example. You don’t have to talk about your child or anything related to his or her death; you might even enjoy chatting about something light like the weather or the new office dress code. It can be a nice escape from negative thoughts and a positive way to make new connections.

Avoid situations where you typically used drugs or alcohol in the past. The less you’re around temptation, the more you can focus your mind on more productive things. You might find it rewarding to spend your free time volunteering with a local child bereavement organization, or getting more active in your sobriety groups. Some parents work through their loss by organizing a tribute to their child, be it planting a tree in his or her memory or holding a fundraiser for a specific medical condition. Honoring your child in this way, even if it’s an unofficial ceremony with only close friends and family, can bring a greater feeling of acceptance surrounding the death. It can be something positive to focus on that keeps you on a healthy path, leaving you with a sense of fulfillment, joy, and pride.

Whether or not you’re a recovering addict, the death of a child can be a slippery slope into substance abuse. Allow yourself to be open and honest about your grief, lean on your loved ones, and don’t be afraid to ask for extra help when you need it. Don’t let any progress you’ve already made get lost in your sorrow — falling into old, dangerous habits will only exacerbate your pain. It may seem like there is no light among darkness, but with time and patience, there is healing.

 

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“Guy Grief” by Kelly Farley

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“Guy Grief”

It is hard to believe, but my book Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back has been published since June of 2012. It’s been 5 years since this book has been published and I know it has helped thousands of grieving dads and moms through the aftermath of losing a child.

I still hear from several grieving dads every week that continue to struggle as well as the new members of this horrible club. I am both honored and inspired by the response and feedback that I receive. It helps me realize that life is bigger than me and my problems. It’s about a having the strength to reach out and pull as many people as possible out of despair and help them see the light at the end of the tunnel as well as helping them find the purpose that changes the course of their life for the better.

I may not be able to get back to the person I were before, but I can still live a life of meaning that helps others while honoring Katie and Noah. I know they are proud of their dad and I try every day to “make them proud.”

Because of this, I am considering a new venture called “Guy Grief”. I have found that there have been many non-grieving dads that have connected with my book. Not so much the loss of a child aspect, but the other messages within the book that stop men from seeking help. I have sat with many men that have shared their stories of heartbreak with me through their tears. Hurting guys that have never felt like they have had permission to “tell their story” of pain.

One of the things that became obvious to me as I have personally navigated through my losses is that it is an absolute must to allow yourself to become vulnerable, transparent and authentic. One must learn to let it out, all of it. Even the really dark stuff that has happened to us throughout our life.

I hope you continue to stay with me on this journey of reaching others. I need your continued support and feedback as I start this new book project. The project will be similar in nature as far as hard hitting real life stories of pain and survival. I want to be the person that provides a safe place for guys to tell their stories (often for the first time) without judgment. My place is not to judge, only help facilitate the healing.

Feel free to email me your name and contact information for the pre-book orders.

Below is a link to an interview I did last week regarding the topic of men and pain. Or as I like call it, “Guy Grief”.

https://embed.sparemin.com/embed?r=7405&templateId=2

Posted in Agonize, Brokenness, Debilitating, Despair, Devastation, Emotions, Grief, Guy Grief, Hope, Inspiration, Men's Grief, Men's Issues, Peace, Profound Life Experience, Survival, Trauma, Uncategorized, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“You Cannot Hide” by Kelly Farley

 

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This is one of my favorite quotes.  It speaks the truth about trying to hide from your pain.

You must open the door and face grief head on if you have any hopes of living through the loss of a child.  You can run, but you cannot hide.  It will find you.

You do it have to make the same mistakes I did trying to survive the loss of Katie and Noah.  Read about and learn from my own experiences (and 100’s of other grieving dads) in my book.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Only Us” by Kelly Farley

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“Only Us”

I have tried many times to explain the pain of losing a child to those that have not lost a child.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no words to describe it.  You have to experience it to fully understand it.  It’s more than grief, it changes everything about you in ways that takes years to fully understand.

The pain is all encompassing and it smothers you with relentless despair.  There are times you don’t think you will survive it, I’ve met some that haven’t.  It’s a terrible terrible thing for one to endure.

It is survivable, in fact I think one can thrive after the processing and hard work is completed.  It takes a major transformation of self to get to this point.

I don’t wish it on anyone, but I will be here to help others through it if I can.  It’s the least I can do.  I stand at the bright end of that dark dark tunnel and know the journey is long and dark for those behind me.

Posted in Agonize, Bereaved Parents, Brokenness, Brotherhood, Compassion, Courage, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Debilitating, Depression, Despair, Devastation, Emotions, Exhausting, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Words, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Haunting, Inspiration, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Pain, Perspective, Survival, Tough, Trauma | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

“Hell” by Kelly Farley

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Over the next year, I plan on presenting various quotes from my book that I think are impactful and can help other grieving parents as well as people that have not lost a child understand the impact of this loss.

Some of you will connect with the quotes and some of you will not.  However, I ask that you help me by sharing these images because you never know who is reading them.  Any one quote could help someone through the pain, fog and the feeling of being alone in this nightmare.

I am looking forward to hearing from the many grieving parents that will benefit from these quotes.  There have been thousands of people around the world that have read my book, but there are 10’s of thousands more that need our help.

I think we can all relate with the “hell” we’ve all been through.

Peace.

Kelly

Posted in Agonize, Bereaved, bereavement, Brokenness, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Debilitating, Despair, Devastation, Emotions, Grieving Dads, Inspiration, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Men's Grief, Miscarriage, Perspective, Survival, Tough, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Help Wanted” by Kelly Farley

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“Help Wanted”

One of the most important things to me is being able to help others through the nightmare of losing a child. I’ve realized through my own journey that I found help/support from multiple different resources and people. I want to create as many valuable resources as possible to help others along, so bear with me on this wordy post.

As mentioned about, I’ve found help in many places once I was open to receiving it. One of the unexpected resources happened about 9 months after losing my son Noah. I was looking to hire someone that could help me with branding/marketing a new small business I was thinking about launching. The new business idea was a distraction and something I very much welcomed. However, I was still overwhelmed with the pain and when it came right down to it, I didn’t have the energy to even implement a business (or even care about it for that matter), but I still went through the motions of distraction.

I met a new business associate for coffee. We discussed what she could do for my business until the conversation changed to my recent losses and the difficult time I was having. As the conversation went on, she suggested that I attend an upcoming weekend retreat for men at her church. I was a little taken off guard and I told her I would think about it, which was my way of saying “no thanks.” A few days later one of the leaders from that group called me and invited me to the retreat. Again, I said, “I’m not sure it’s for me.” He kept bugging me and finally I said I would attend. I envisioned a bunch of guys sitting around all weekend reading the bible, but I thought if it would help me as much as the lady said it would, I should go. Nothing else seemed to be helping me, so what do I have to lose other than my time.

I won’t get into the details of the weekend, but there were about 30 others guys, each one with their own struggles and nervous about what this weekend was going to be about. I met a fellow grieving dad at this event and he was one of the key people to help me through my pain. In fact, I had dinner once a month with him for a couple of years. When I told him about my book idea he encouraged me to not only write it, but he also donated his credit card points to fund my airfare so I could conduct face-to-face interviews with other grieving dads around the United States. Although I don’t see him as much as I use to, he is still a dear friend of mine to this day and someone I would not have met if it were not for my conversation with a stranger over coffee.

I know that was a long story to get to the point of this blog post. In fact, I thought about deleting everything above since it’s a long story to get to what I wanted this blog post to be about. Many of you that have followed me over the years know that my rambling often goes off on a tangent.

Now back to the title, “Help Wanted”. Since my book was published in 2012 (wow, its already been 4.5 years) and even before that, I envisioned a time that I would actually conduct a weekend retreat for grieving dads. A weekend that would have me (and others) leading discussions and small groups about our experiences. It would include a cross-section of people and experiences at various stages of this journey. I’ve always believed that there is healing in being around others that have been through the same thing. We would also spend one of the days (or ½ days) leading various activities outside (hiking, biking, golfing, fishing, etc.) as a way to spend time with others that “get it.” Who wants to sit inside a hotel conference room for 2 days anyway? Not me. But I do find peace in being around others that understand.

I am not yet sure of all of the details because my expertise in not in event planning. My expertise is coming up with the ideas, my ADD doesn’t allow for me to actually focus on making it happen. It was hard enough to write a book. My ask is this:

Is there anyone reading this blog post that has the experience (and desire) to lead and implement a Grieving Dads Retreat Weekend? I am confident that the time spent will be valuable to all of the guys that would attend the retreat. I am also confident that it will be a healing experience for whoever leads this event because you will be making a difference. It will provide you hope just like this blog and writing my book has helped me.

I was thinking a good location would be Colorado since its somewhat centralized between coasts and it allows for many of the outdoor activities for breakout sessions, but I am open to location. It’s just an idea as of right now, but if you have an interest in playing a part in helping others, I would love to speak with you.

In addition to the weekend retreat, I have been exploring the idea of leading a Podcast, but I have no idea how to even start one. I think many grieving dads would find a value in having this as a resource to them in addition to my book. If you know anything about Podcasts and how to create them and have the desire to help me, I would also like to speak with you.

I am looking forward to hearing back from everyone that has an interest. If I don’t hear from anyone I’ll just assume that the need/desire for these resources are greatly exaggerated in my head. In all honesty, that wouldn’t be the first time.

Peace.

Kelly

 

Photo Credit: CaledoniaEHanson Flickr via Compfight cc

Posted in bereavement, Brokenness, Brotherhood, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Despair, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads Words, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Men's Grief, Men's Issues, Podcast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

“Musical Emotions” by Kelly Farley

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Musical Emotions

It’s been over 11 years since I’ve heard this song for the first time.  It was about a year after losing my daughter Katie.  It was also 8 months prior to losing my son Noah.  I remember my wife and I sitting in the living room watching TV and this song came on in a video.  The opening lyrics are:

“Sunny days seem to hurt the most.  I wear my pain like a heavy coat.”

Although we didn’t know what the song was about, we both looked at each other with tears flowing down our cheeks.  Although it had been a year since our loss, I was still trying to avoid the pain by not dealing with it.  If you read my book Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Music lyrics have a way of speaking to me in ways that often trigger emotions from happiness to sadness and everything in between.  I often listen to music when I work at the office or just around the house.  It’s not uncommon for my wife and I to turn on music at home and just enjoy a couple of cocktails while talking about life.

Today was one of those days were I was sitting at my desk and Spotify was playing random music and this song came on.  I immediately stopped what I was doing and just listened.  It took me back to the moment I first heard this song and the emotions it triggered.

The song is called “Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney.  I often wonder who Katie and Noah would have been.  What their personalities would have been like.  The type of people they would have become.  Questions that are to difficult to answer because its impossible to know.  However, I believe they are kind loving souls that will live with me until I die.  Providing me guidance and perspective.

If you do not know this song or are interested in hearing it, click here to watch a video.

Let me know your thoughts on the song and how music impacts you.

Peace.

Kelly

 

Photo Credit: ugo.ciliberto Flickr via Compfight cc

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“Weakness”

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“In My Pocket” by Kelly Farley

Earlier this year I was approach by my friend Dianne Gray to write the following article and create a corresponding video for a new project she was working on. Dianne is a fellow grieving parent and Board President of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation. In addition to all of the great work Dianne does from those that are grieving the loss of a loved one, she also worked with Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman & Amy Sky to create a the new album “LIV ON” – The new album was designed to aid & comfort those experiencing grief & loss while using the power of music to heal. The song I was asked to write a piece for is called “Stone in My Pocket”. Although I had not heard the song prior to writing my piece, I found the title very fitting. Check out article below, my video and the LIV ON album (which is now available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify).

In My Pocket

I don’t intentionally keep it a secret, but I also don’t advertise it to everyone; it’s kind of personal. Just knowing I have it with me makes me smile, and it gives me a sense of peace and comfort throughout the day. When it’s not in my pocket, it can be found in a small decorative plate near the back door of my house with a pile of the other everyday things I take with me. Other things include loose coins, keys, wallet and my phone.

The song “Stone in My Pocket” instantly made me think of the item I’ve kept in my own pocket for nearly ten years. This item serves as a reminder of what I’ve been though, and the fact that I have survived the death of my two children. More importantly, however, it reminds me of my Katie and Noah, and how they are always with me and looking out for me as I make my way through this life. They guide me to be the best dad I can be.

The item was originally a heart-shaped pewter pocket coin with the words, “May the Spirit always guide you” inscribed on the front, and the words, “May the Father ever watch over you, may the Son ever bless you” on the back. I say “originally” because it has dramatically changed throughout the years due to the abuse it has taken while living in my pocket. The coin has worn to the point where the words are hard to read, and about five years ago, I noticed a small crack starting to appear at the top where the heart comes together. At the time I thought it appropriate, because I did have a broken heart.

I still do.

As time progressed, the size of the crack increased until the coin completely broke in half about two years ago. I carried both of those pieces in my pocket for nearly a year, until one of the pieces went missing. I didn’t panic right away because the coin has occasionally fallen out of my pocket throughout the years, but it has always made its way back to me when I retrace my footsteps. However, this time I couldn’t find the other half. I looked everywhere for that piece, and I still keep an eye out for it in hopes that it will show up some day.

I don’t remember how this coin made its way into my life all those years ago, but I am sure glad it did. It has served me as a trusted friend by providing me comfort in times I needed it.

The item in my pocket and I have both changed throughout the years, but I find it fitting since both of us continue to move through life with a piece of us missing, a piece of our heart.

Although a piece of my heart is missing, I know I still have to find a ways to survive the impacts of losing Katie and Noah. Does a heart shape coin in my pocket help me survive? In some ways it does. So does the black silicone band I wear on my wrist with the words “Grieving Dad – Love is Forever” engraved on it.

They both serve as reminders of my children and what I have gone through. They remind me that life is bigger than myself. They remind me to live my life in a way that would make Katie and Noah proud of their dad. I do that by trying to help other dads through the aftermath of losing a child. When I was at my lowest, I felt alone. I felt alone because there were very few resources for men that have lost a child. I made a commitment to myself at that time that if I survived the nightmare, I would do something to help others.

The good thing is, I did survive and I wrote my book to serve as that resource. I interviewed hundreds of grieving dads as part of the research for my book. The one thing I noticed as part of my conversations is the fact that I learned the difference between the dads that were doing “ok” versus the dads that were still very stuck in their grief. The difference is this, the men that are doing “ok” have found a purpose that allows them to honor their child. They live their life helping others in a way that would make their child proud of them.

My advice is to find a cause related to your child and make it your life purpose. It will allow you to feel close to your children; knowing that they are smiling and saying, “That’s my dad.”

Written by:

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

Posted in Bereaved, bereavement, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads Words, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Kelly Farley | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

“Don’t Ask” by Kelly Farley

This video is about a recent conversation I had with a doctor.  I know its his job, but he was asking questions about why I took Lexapro.  I told him it was for the depression that I was diagnosed with after losing two children.  The tone of the conversation changed from formal to more sympathetic.  I appreciate that he didn’t run from the conversation.  In fact, he shared with me that he lost his wife 5 years ago and that it was a hard time in his life.  He also shared with me that one of his friends has lost two of four brothers in their mid 40’s to heart disease.  The dad of all 4 of the sons is still alive at 87 and struggles with his losses.  I told him it doesn’t matter what age, it hurts.  I gave him a copy of my book to give to the 87 year old grieving dad.

Have you ever been in a situation where people ask questions regarding your loss that you really don’t want to answer?

I don’t mind talking about my losses, but I do get embarrassed a little when I mention I take an antidepressant, even after all of this time, it still bothers me.   I feel like I have to justify it by saying I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression due to the loss of my kids.  I know I shouldn’t feel that way about it, but I do.

 

Posted in Anti-depressant, anxiety, Bereaved, Brokenness, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Depression, Despair, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads Words, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Medication, Men's Grief, PTSD | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment