“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

Posted in Bereaved, bereavement, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads Words, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Kelly Farley | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 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


The following is a letter I received from Rob, a grieving dad who lost his 28-year-old son Ryan a few months ago. His son Ryan had special needs and was a medically fragile young man his entire life. He and his family devoted much of their lives to providing him all the opportunities they could.

Rob wrote this beautiful letter to his son. I wanted to share this letter because many of the words that Rob wrote in this letter resonated with me. I hope you too will find a connection in this letter.



I never wanted this to be a part of my life – who ever would? But, in a way, I guess I’m glad that it is because it means that the love I have always had for you is still a piece of me. That my love is stronger than losing you.

This is all so new; we are just now approaching the three-month anniversary of the last time I held your hand and kissed your forehead. Even though that was on the worst day I have ever experienced, I cherish the memory. How can it seem so long when it hasn’t even been three months?

I still have your Father’s Day card, unopened, sitting on my dresser. You signed that card a couple weeks before . . . well, “a couple of weeks before” is enough said and all I want to write. I want to open it but I don’t know if I ever can. I’ve picked it up several times and just had to put it back down. Father’s Day was hard; I suspect it always will be.

Sleep has been difficult. Just too many thoughts run around my head. I don’t remember too many dreams happening but I must be having them because I wake up in the middle of the night and I immediately have thoughts of you. Most of those are of good days, good memories. Holding your hand on a walk. Watching, and listening to your screams of joy, as you ran. Your laugh. Playing your songs for you during the long nights in the hospital room. Parts of almost every night I lay in bed awake, staring at the ceiling trying not to disturb your Mom or the dogs. Tonight I got out of bed and started writing you this letter. I just feel a sense of emptiness. One that I don’t know if I will ever be able to fill and not sure I even want it filled.

Oh, I’m keeping busy. It helps and hurts at the same time. I’ve spent a big part of the summer swimming with your friends. I’ve coached at some swim meets and I’ve talked to so many athletes and coaches from other teams who remember you. They all tell me they miss you, they almost all want to hug and a couple have even cried. It’s an odd feeling when you are trying to comfort someone when all you want to do is cry with them. With some of them I have. I guess I never realized how many people noticed you, respected you for your will to fight and loved you.

Tears continue to come easily. My eyes are full right now. It is still difficult to talk to people who are just learning the news or I am seeing for the first time since “that day”. Kind of weird, I try to fight them but I don’t hide them either. I have only had one day without them – and I can’t figure out what was different about that one day. I pray I didn’t not miss you that day even though I know I miss you dearly all the time.

I used to have my future pretty much planned out. Most of it centered around you. I really didn’t realize that until a friend asked me if I thought about how I would “move forward”. Right now that seems like such an odd term. Sometimes I’m not sure I want to “move forward”. It almost feels like I am betraying you if I do but I know I have to at the same time. Someone else said that I’d find a “new normal soon”. I hope so, I’m not really happy with today’s normal. Life with you was always so lively, so vibrant . . . now it mostly feels flat – like it’s all in black and white when you know there should be color. I’m not sure how to get that back again but I trust it will be here again . . . maybe not as vibrant but at least not in black and white.

People ask “how are you doing” and I don’t know how to really express my feelings. So I mostly answer with a shrug off my shoulders and tell them I’m just taking things hour by hour and day by day. That’s true but not really the whole story. Saying that I miss you doesn’t do my feelings justice. It is so much more than that. The closest thing I can think of – and it stills feels like an inadequate way to say this – is that I yearn for you to be here with me. I desperately want to sit next to you, to watch you enjoy a meal, to see you dance. So much so that, at times, the feeling actually hits me physically in a way I really can’t put into words. That has actually been frustrating me to no end. I want to be able to put this into words. I don’t think I can really process something I can’t find the words to explain. Maybe they will come to me . . . someday.


Photo Credit: Cara Frew via Compfight cc

Posted in Bereaved, Broken Dreams, Brokenness, Courage, Crying, Death of a Child, Death of a son, Devastation, Emotions, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Loss of a Son, Men's Grief, Survival, Tears | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Father’s Day Plans – Revisited”

In keeping with the theme of the week I am sharing the following Father’s Day post from 2011.  I plan on doing several past Father’s Day posts this week as we approach “that day.”  Feel free to weigh in on all of them.

26389736750_d6c715420d_bFather’s Day Plans – 2011 

Last Friday night I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at a local chapter of the Compassionate Friends. I conducted my “Father’s…..The Forgotten Parent” workshop in front of about thirty bereaved parents. Although I speak to bereaved parents quite often, it still breaks my heart when we go around the room for introductions and each person tells their story. The pain is raw and it is real. These people are just looking for some sign of hope. Maybe it is words someone speaks that evening that will give them something to hold on to until the next meeting. These are people at their most vulnerable moment. There is no ego or one-upmanship going on. Just people who are sad and hurting and wanting someone to help them out of the despair they find themselves in.

My workshop is set up to be interactive so it is not just me speaking.  The goal is to get others comfortable with telling their story and to talk about some of the issues they are dealing with. However, in order for people to become comfortable with me, I have to be transparent with my thoughts and experiences. So I will often tell my story, some will bring tears and other will bring a smile or laughter when I talk about some of the crazy things I did during the really dark days. Things most people in the room can relate with on some level.

As part of this workshop I will usually have a “discussion” session about a particular topic. At this particular workshop I asked the question “What are you plans for Father’s Day?”  I was surprised to hear silence in the room. Many of the parents are newly bereaved and this happens to be their first Father’s Day without their child. A lot of them haven’t allowed themselves to even think about that question. While others haven’t given it much thought, hoping the day will just come and go.

The discussion then unexpectedly turned to me. An elderly lady that was there said that was a great question and then ask me “what are you doing for Father’s Day?”  It kind of took me off guard and I laughed and told her “only I can ask the questions.”  I really didn’t have an answer other than just spending time with my wife. I personally want people to acknowledge me as a father on this day, but I know most people (other than my wife) will not. I don’t expect them to since most people are afraid that a “Happy Father’s Day” wish will upset someone that has lost a child. This could be the case with some, but not me.

Here are a couple of questions for you to think about as we approach Father’s Day. Please share your thoughts.

What do plan on doing for Father’s Day?
How to you want others to handle you on Father’s Day?
Do you want a card and well wishes?
Will you go to breakfast with family?
Do you want to embrace the day as a father or try to avoid the pain of the loss?
Will you do something to honor your child?


Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

Posted in Fathers Day | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Happy Father’s Day? – Revisited”

I often like to go back and read some of my past posts, especially this time of year as we get closer to the dreaded Father’s Day.  I wrote the following Father’s Day post in 2010, about 5 months after I started this blog and started writing my book.  I plan on doing several past Father’s Day posts this week as we approach “that day.”  Feel free to weigh in on all of them.


Happy Father’s Day? My Child Has Died

It’s that time of year again, Father’s Day. It’s hard to get excited about this day if you have had a child die. For this father, this day is more about remembering the children that are no longer with me in the physical sense.

I’ll be spending this Father’s Day out on the road interviewing other grieving dads for this project. I am trying to bring some sort of awareness to the many dads that have lost children and struggle everyday to get out of bed and do something positive to honor their child that has died.

Many of the fathers I meet that have lost children feel like they let them down as a father. They should have protected them. That’s what a father does right? Protect. We are also “fixers” and we like to fix things, but we couldn’t fix the problems that were wrong with our children or the situation our children found themselves in.

Many of these dads struggle with seeing the words “Happy Father’s Day”. Seeing that statement gnaws at the already festering wound that has yet to heal, it’s a wound that never completely heals. Over time you can get through the loss of a child, but you never get beyond it. Can you eventually get back on your feet and learn to enjoy life again? Yes. Will you life ever go back to the way it was? No.

Is it possible to have a “Happy” Fathers Day after a loss of a child? Yes, but for very different reasons than most people think. The happiness comes into play when you reflect on the time you spent with your child, although you wished you had more time. You’re happy because it was an honor to be their dad. The love you feel inside for that child makes you smile and hurt at the same time. The happiness for these fathers does not come from a gift that was wrapped up real nice and given to them on this day. The happiness comes from the gift of being their dad.

If you know a dad that has experienced the death of a child, don’t be afraid to reach out to him on this day or any day for that matter. As difficult of a day it is, he would love to hear from you. Someone acknowledging that he is a dad, a dad that has experienced the death of a child.


Photo Credit: karolinecamlaay via Compfight cc

Posted in Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Fathers Day, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads Words, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, To the Brink and Back, Tough, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“10 Years – I Remember” by Kelly Farley

10 Years – I Remember

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of my son Noah’s death.  10-years.

I’m not really sure how I survived for this long, but I have.  In some areas of my life I have thrived, others not so much.  Early on, the despair was so profound, I didn’t think I would survive the next 10 minutes.  Despair so deep that it can only be understood by those that have experienced it.

I can remember everything that happened that day like it was yesterday.  I remember driving to the hospital.  I remember being in the hospital room.  I remember watching as he stopped breathing.  I remember the look on my wife’s face.  I remember the kindness of the chaplain that was there with us.  I remember the feeling of my heartbreaking.  I remember holding Noah.  I remember saying goodbye.  I remember handing him to the nurse.  I remember watching as she walked out of the room knowing I will not see him again here on earth.  I remember knowing that my life would never be the same again.

I deeply miss my baby boy.  My beautiful baby boy Noah.

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“Survival” by Kelly Farley



I received an email over the weekend from a fellow grieving parent that wanted to know if I would consider doing a live 30-minute interview. I went to their website to learn more about them and while I was searching through their bio, I found this quote:

“Child loss is not an event it is an indescribable journey of survival”  – Author Unknown

I must say, it hit me on several levels. Of all of the grief quotes and articles I’ve read over the years, I’ve never seen this quote before and if I had, it didn’t hit me like it did today.

I think it really captures what this whole journey is about, survival. Not only are we all trying to survive, it’s an indescribable journey that cannot be conveyed in words to people that have been fortunate enough not to have to walk it.

It is not an event that happens and then you move on like nothing happened. It’s profoundness to the nth degree.

It rocks everything in your life.  It goes to the core of your being. It redefines everything you thought you knew. Everything you thought you were.

It truly is an indescribable journey.



Posted in Agonize, Bereaved Parents, Brokenness, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Death of parent, Despair, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Profound Life Experience, Survival | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Mother’s Day Struggle


Mother’s Day Struggle

Not sure about the rest of you grieving dads out there, but this weekend is usually more difficult for me than Father’s Day. I am never really sure how to approach it with my wife.

I want to honor her as a mother, but I also know it’s a tough day for her. Not only is it day for her to celebrate being a mom to Katie and Noah, it’s also a day that reminders her that she is a mother to two beautiful children that are no longer here. I don’t want to inflict pain by making a big deal over the day, but I also don’t want to ignore the fact that she is a wonderful mom to our children. I also know I cannot take away the pain from this day.

I know there are many grieving mom’s out there that follow this blog. To them and all of the other grieving moms, I wish you a peaceful Mother’s Day filled with warm memories of your child(ren).

I plan on planting spring flowers and relaxing with my wife this Mother’s Day weekend.

How are you going to spend the day?



Photo Credit: Monkiiiey Henry Clark via Compfight cc

Posted in Bereaved Parents, Broken Dreams, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Gardening, Grief, Grieving Moms, Mother's Day, Stillbirth | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

“Lost and Found” by Kelly Farley


Lost and Found

This past Saturday my daughter Katie would have been 11 years old. In six weeks my son would have been 10. These days used to be very difficult, but now I find myself proud to be their dad. I only wish I can just hold them and let them know how much I love and miss them.

As I mention in my book, the first couple of years I carried a lot of anger inside along with great sadness and the need for someone to take the wheel from me for a couple years. I didn’t want to be the one that had to keep things going forward. I didn’t want to have to figure out how to pay bills, mow the yard or anything that landed on my “to do” list. I just wanted to be still and taken care of like a kid, but I knew that wasn’t an option. I had to move forward, because other than my wife, there wasn’t anyone there to care for me, to provide and make sure we kept a roof over our head. In some ways I am sure it was a good thing, being forced to move forward.

One of the best things I ever did after the loss of Noah was the 3 months I took off from life. When Noah died, I couldn’t function, I just needed to remove all other distractions in my life and deal with his loss and Katie’s loss because I had been running from her loss for about 18 months. It finally caught me.

Fortunately we had a small nest egg to live on so my wife and I took 3 months off during the summer of 2006 from work and we just lived. We went to bed when we wanted to and woke up when we woke up. We mourned, cried, prayed, smiled and even laughed at times. We held on to each other as if one would slip away if we loosened our grip. We were outside most of the days, sitting on our patio, staining the fence, doing yard work, biking, jogging, afternoon cocktails and grilling out. We were lost but not having the pressure of life allowed us to do and be whatever we needed at that moment. We unplugged from people and kept to ourselves for the most part.

As the 3 months started to wind down, my anxiety started to set in. How was I going to do my job? I needed to be with my friend, my wife. I wasn’t sure if I could make it through the day with the pressures of work, the expectations or being back in the grind. In the days leading up to the inevitable, my anxiety had gotten so bad, I just needed to take off so I started walking and thinking. After several hours of walking, I finally called my wife to come pick me up about 10 miles away.

The walk helped a little, but the next morning I had to report back to work. I was throwing up with the uncertainty of how I was going to get through the day. How will I face people I haven’t seen in 3 months? Will my projects still be waiting for me, piled up on my desk requiring me to work long hours? Will I be able to get through the day? I didn’t know the answers to these questions, but I assumed worst case across the board. I lasted about 5 months before I requested to go part time. I spent the next 18 months working 24 hours a week. It helped me tremendously because my wife was also able to change her schedule to 24 hours.

We spent our free time grieving and thinking about our next direction in life. We both were thinking about career changes that allowed us to have careers with much less pressure than the high pressure deadline driven engineering jobs we had at the time. I started pursuing a career as a professional counselor (180 degree turn for me) and my wife pursued her masters to become a special education teacher.

Fast forward 10 years and I’m back working full time as an engineer, but still searching for the right direction in life. The publishing of my book Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back provided me with the sense of making a difference and helping others. My book replaced my drive to be a counselor because I know it helps other grieving dads (and moms) every day. I know this because I hear from many of them thanking me for the book. This book will probably go down as one of my biggest life accomplishments due to the impact it has had around the world. I know Katie and Noah are proud of their dad and that’s what drives me.

My wife has been a teacher for nearly 6 years now and loves working with the kids as she says, “our kids would have been friends with.”

Ever since that summer away from life, I dreamed of doing it again under much different circumstances. As I continue to move forward in life, I still search to find my passion, something that makes me happy rather than pursuing the dollars. I am confident I will find it, eventually.

In the spirit of making a dream come true, my wife Christine, my dog Buddy and I will be spending a month this summer in a house we rented in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Hiking, biking, fishing kayaking, exploring, drinking craft beers, reading and relaxing is our plan. It’s a way for me to get away, do some thinking about my future path, celebrate our 20 years of marriage and reflect on the 10 years since we lost Noah and the summer we held on tight to each other.

If you are going to be anywhere near Steamboat Springs, CO this summer, stop by and say hello.


Photo Credit: Dr Anirban Ray via Compfight cc

Posted in Anniversary, anxiety, Death of a Child, Debilitating, dog, Dreams, Friends, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Happiness, Hope, Inspiration, Kelly Farley, Living Simple, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Peace, Perspective, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“Coming Home” by Kelly Farley

This video is about the feeling of comfort I get when sitting with other grieving parents.  I don’t necessarily mean in a support group or having a discussions about losing our children.  I mean in just general conversation at work or wherever, if I know the other person has been through the loss of a child, I get the same feeling as being in the comfort of my own home.  Just knowing the other person has an understanding of what I’ve been through takes away any walls that I have built up.

What is your thoughts on this subject?

Posted in Bereaved Parents, Counseling, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Homecoming, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Perspective, Uncategorized, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments