“It Gnaws At Me”

Is it just me or is there anyone else out there that finds it difficult when another dad (or mother) talks about how they are expecting a beautiful healthy baby or when they parade the newborn baby around the office to introduce their new bundle of joy to the world or they talk about how they spent the weekend at the park with their child or how they just love coaching their child’s sports team?  I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Today I was walking through the office and one of the guys in my office that I occasionally speak with says “Hey, have you heard the goods, my wife is 10 weeks pregnant”.  Please do not get me wrong, I am happy for them (for the most part), but I do not want to hear about it.  Most people in my office know what I went through with the loss of my two babies, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from sharing the “good news” with me.  I try to chalk it up to ignorance on their part because they are naïve to how quickly things can change or the pain that others are experiencing after the death of a child.

Maybe they just think that since it’s been 6 years and 5 years since my children’s deaths, they think that I am “over it” and that their “good news” doesn’t bother me, but it does.  It bothers me every time I see a dad holding his little girls hand or playing ball with his son in the park.  No, it doesn’t send me into deep depression, but it gnaws at me.

Anyone else experience similar thoughts or feelings about this subject?

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This entry was posted in Death of a Child, Emotions, Life Lessons, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Pain. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to “It Gnaws At Me”

  1. I have been reading and recommending your book to other parents in a Grief Support Group we have created. It’s mostly moms who have said they would like to buy the book for their husbands.
    Thank You for writing this book.

    • GrievingDads says:

      Indian Homemaker. Thank you for recommending my book. I believe the more people who read it (women and men), the better job we can do in bringing awareness to what men (dads) deal with after a loss of a child.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  2. GrievingDads says:

    Like isn’t fair. That’s a fact. I didn’t realize this until I lost my first child. Before that I wasn’t aware of what others were dealing with around me. I was selfish and didn’t get it. I now try to make an extra effort to “be fair”.

    Peace.

    Kelly

  3. John Wolfe says:

    I heard a great statement today.

    “Life isn’t fair, but you can be.”

    It ties in directly with what I said before. Although it may be uncomfortable for me hear about other people’s new beginnings, I must be respectful of their happiness and joy in spite of my loss. In my case, to do anything less would be disrespecting my daughter.

    I didn’t realize just how much she impacted the local community until the memorial service…it was standing room only! Yes, there was a lot of family there, but by far the attendees were coworkers and friends. While most of the comments were the normal, “Sorry for your loss.”, there were many that actually shared stories of how Allison had changed their lives.

    I am not a religious man, but I am a faithful man, and I believe that Allison was taken for a reason. One that I do not understand or like, but one that I must live with nevertheless.

    “Life isn’t fair, but you can be.”

    I hurt and I grieve in my own way, but I try not to let it interfere in my everyday life, even though it does anyway. When things aren’t quite going my way at work, I think, “Why can’t you be more forgiving of me, considering my loss?”. Then I realize that I’m in a different universe than they are…and it’s time to come back down to Earth.

    “Life isn’t fair, but you can be.”

    Think about it.

  4. John Sommerfield says:

    I think everyone agrees with you. Yes, it is extraordinary painful on a deep level. It was horrible until about 3-4 years after my six year old boy was killed. Every time I saw and see a child, I am reminded of my little boy and how the hope and joy in our lives was snuffed. But he has a younger brother, and I had to swallow all the sadness to be happy for him. He has his own (though very difficult) childhood to enjoy, friends to play with. So I had to jump in and experience it with him. It was hard until he turned six and was older than his brother, having new experiences.

    Then I realized that the pain was never going to go away, but that if I wanted to have a “normal” life after the accident and after the suicide attempts of my wife and our divorce, I had to move on on some level. So I tried the best I could, and I tried to fit into society and what was expected, while at the same time grieve and honor my child and what happened to me. The other “normal” people live a life and in a society that expects that. And so do we, if you choose to do so.

    So the last comment by John Wolfe in this thread is true. “So when a coworker or friend shows you pictures of their child, , or shows the newborn off, whatever the occasion, be sure to remember what it was like when you were in their shoes… when life was limitless and death was not an option. It’s the right thing to do.”

    I see no other choice but to live with sadness and try to celebrate life too. Everything tastes different now. Remember when life was limitless and death was not an option. It is the right thing to do. But you always have to remember your child and your grief. It is the bittersweet reality that is at the center of our lives.

  5. John Wolfe says:

    I think I have to side with everyone on this issue. I lost my daughter, my only child, a little more than a month ago. I feel more than a little tug at the heart strings when I see other children playing as my daughter did at their age, or when someone announces birth/marriage plans for their children. Actually, what I think about are two different things; what Allison was like at that age, and the fact that she was never able to experience motherhood and see her own children grow up.

    But I also remember what it was like as a dad to announce the birth, and the marriage of my daughter to my friends. While I will never be able to brag about grandchildren being born, I can’t, in good conscience, begrudge another dad his bragging rights because I’m feeling sorry for myself. It’s important to me to make sure that the new proud parents understand that I am happy for them, because I want them to have the same enjoyable experience I had in making the same announcement almost 24 years ago.

    I’d like to address this quote about being “…naïve to how quickly things can change or the pain that others are experiencing after the death of a child.”

    I have to admit being in that naïve category back on Christmas, 2010. Four days later my baby was gone.

    Speaking for myself, (but I believe it’s true for most of us), we KNOW that death is out there, but we never acknowledge it until it happens. I don’t believe there’s a parent out there that believes that they will outlast their children in life because most of the time, children outlast their parents. Are they naïve to think that? I think not.

    Once my daughter started getting growing up and spending the night at a friend’s house, or particularly while I was away at sea when I was in the Navy, this thought would cross my mind, “When am I going to get that call saying something bad has happened to Allison?” It got worse as she grew into a teenager, then moved out on her own after high school. I would get a call out of the blue in the middle of the night and all I could think of before I answered the phone was, “Is this the call?”

    I finally got that call on December 29, 2010 at 7:30pm.

    The point is that we aren’t naïve about how quickly a situation can change, especially when it comes to losing a child. But we choose to look the other way because it’s too unfathomable to think about it when it comes to our children.

    Therefore, it stands to reason that when a friend or loved one loses a child, and one has not experienced that tragedy, one becomes uncertain about how to treat you…they don’t know your emotional state and they don’t want to say the wrong thing that could hurt you. If they are a parent, they are probably more attuned to your grief than they are comfortable with and tread with soft feet. It’s not that they’re naïve about the pain that you’re experiencing, but rather experiencing a sort of pain themselves.

    So when a coworker or friend shows you pictures of their child, , or shows the newborn off, whatever the occasion, be sure to remember what it was like when you were in their shoes… when life was limitless and death was not an option. It’s the right thing to do.

    • GrievingDads says:

      John

      Thank you for sharing your story and thoughts on this subject. It’s a good reminder to realize you were also that person before. There really is no since in not denying someone else of lifes celebrations.

      Thanks for your insights.

      Kelly

  6. I try and see how painful each such experience is. If it is bearable and if I feel facing the pain might eventually help face it better, and if it doesn’t trigger days and days unbearable lows for me, I accept the unavoidable.
    But if an experience is too traumatic I feel it’s okay to isolate oneself from whatever/whoever causes it. Anyway they say grief gives us a whole new set of friends and also makes us leave behind some old friends who can’t deal with our pain.

    • GrievingDads says:

      Indian Homemaker:

      Grief does give us a new set of friends. Friends that also have been though the pain you too have endured. Many old friends have fallen by the wayside. Not by design, but by circumstances. I enjoy spending time with friends that understand what we have been through because they too have been stricken with the unthinkable.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  7. sangeeta says:

    Hi GD ….
    I am a mother who lost a 9 yr old daughter last year after a prolonged and very painful neurological disorder, i am telling you this fact just to let you know that it hurts and gnaws my heart every time something reminds me of my loss . And my husband , the dad, is equally traumatized and i have seen him diverting his eyes whenever he sees a young kid playing and running (which our daughter could never do) …. it makes both of us very disturbed and disoriented for a while … every time it happens but the question is , can we allow ourselves to suffer like this , and for how long?

    i kept asking myself this question many times since my daughter was diagnosed with Frederick’s Ataxia , why it gnaws my heart whenever i see a happy parent n child ….. was it self pity ??
    To a certain degree it certainly is and we learnt to deal with it every time it happened ….it still happens and we still deal with it although it takes lessor effort now ….when we expect others to be a part of our grieving it is not fair and somewhere we are indulging in self pity and it ( the feeling of self pity) keeps gripping us till we choose to break free …. please stop torturing yourself and be a happy Dad…the way your daughters would have loved to see you…they still are watching you and are waiting for the day you would be at peace.

    The dichotomy of the thought … feeling self pity being angry with everybody to be not sensitive enough and feeling why everybody should be a part of my grief at the same time is really sad … but a part of life that we need to learn to live with.

    • GrievingDads says:

      Sangeeta,

      Thank you for your comments. 99% of the time, these types of things do not bother me. I would be lying if I said it never bothers me. Self pity was and has been part of my pain. Sometimes I just want people around me to feel the pain I have experienced. Just for them to feel it for a few minutes so they are sensitive to what others go through. I was that person before, but I am now very aware of what people deal with and try not to speak about the things that may inflict pain. Courtesy.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Kelly

  8. Michelle says:

    I don’t believe anyone would ever think you are “over” the death of a child, let alone two children, but it does sound like the people in your office are choosing to be inclusive of you rather then isolate you from what is happening in the world. People will get pregnant, coach little league, deal with homework & parent teacher conferences, weddings of their children, etc…for all eternity and rather than these people not talking to you for fear of saying the wrong thing, they are still talking to you. In my limited experience with tragedy and grief, inclusion is hope, and hope is healing. I understand that this is something you learn to live WITH and not totally heal from, but you cannot put yourself in a bubble either. You are doing a very brave thing with your blog…it is beautiful and haunting and I wish you all the healing your heart can take.

    • GrievingDads says:

      Michelle,

      Thanks for your comments on this post. I agree, people will continue to live their life and good and bads things will continue to happen to the people around me. For the most part, these things do not bother me as much as they used to. I wrote the post because many people I speak with still stuggle with it. I thought I would give them a voice and talk about issues that they think about.

      I agree inclusion is hope. But it takes time to get to that point.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  9. Brian Burton says:

    I couldn’t agree more! We lost our daughter 4 years ago. You have summed up my feelings exactly. Thank you for sharing your feelings, it is nice to know I’m not alone.

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