“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 , , , , , , , , , | 39 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

“Someday”

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.

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Someday

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?

 

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“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.

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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.

 

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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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