There is no mistaking that it’s winter here in Chicago.  The blizzard of 2011 dumped 20” of snow in the last 24 hours and it’s about to dip down below zero with -20 wind chills.  I hated winter before the deaths of my children but for some reason winters have become even more difficult for me.  Maybe it’s the dark cold days.  Sunshine has been pretty much non existent for about a month and when it is sunny, it’s too cold to be outside.  However, I hold on to the fact that Spring is not far off.  Like clockwork, over the last 4 years, my winter crocus starts to peak through the ground and bloom around March 12th and the days start to get a little longer and the sunshine gets a little warmer.  The sound of snow melting off the roof of my house is like music to my ears.

Ever year at this time I ask myself why I continue to live in an area I despise, both from the weather and the overall number of people that live here.  Most people, where I live in the suburbs, are transplants from somewhere else and are here only to make money.  Like many of them, I moved here about 17 years ago for the allure of a career and the chance to climb the ladder and make money.  The death of my two children taught me a lesson that can only be learned from going through something so horrific.  It’s a simple lesson that we make so complex.  The lesson is that these “things” really do not matter in the grand scheme of life.  Yeah, I still have my “career” but it I don’t sit around thinking about my next raise or promotion or how I could go to work somewhere else and make more money.  I don’t think about them because first of all they cause me stress that my mind and body cannot handle anymore.  It’s now a pay check, that’s all it is.  I am not passionate about doing my work which makes it hard to show up everyday.  I keep telling myself just a little bit more.  I think I have reached my end of the road.

I find myself asking the question “how much is enough?”.  At what point in time do I just pack-up, sell my house and move somewhere that is much cheaper to live.  Buy a small house in a place where life is simpler, a place where the weather is better and not everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere else.  Does this place exist?  And if it does, where is it located?  I still hold out hope in my mind that it does and I will find it.  Problem is the thought of actually making it happen becomes overwhelming.  After the death of my children, I struggle to find the drive and energy to make these major changes in my life.  So I keep running the rat race.  A race no one ever wins, they just eventually burn out or cash in.

At this time in my life, the only thing that inspires me is the fact I am working towards changing it.  I know it will change; it is just taking longer than I would like it to.  I am taking classes to obtain a Masters in Counseling so I can help others through dark times.  This type of work is so far away from what I do now as an engineer.  I get excited thinking about having a small private practice somewhere that life is a little less fast paced and of course the weather a lot nicer.  This vision provides me with the hope I need to continue on everyday.  I never understood how hope can be sucked right out of you after going through some of life’s difficult challenges.  The death of my two children sucked the hope out of me.  I never knew what it felt like not to have hope until after their death.  Hope has since returned, but it is a constant battle to hold on too it.

This Grieving Dads Project is my way of trying to provide hope to the many grieving dads that visit.  A way to let others know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  It may be a different color of light than before.  It may be a little dimmer, but know that there is most certainly light.

What are you holding on to that is giving you hope in your life right now?

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User Comments ( 7 )

  • Thelma Rusteberg

    This is the most heart wretchng blog I’ve read!
    Yes all real women out there please realise Men Do Grieve!
    Don’t be afraid to shed a tear! You are all STILL MEN!

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  • ‘The death of my two children sucked the hope out of me. I never knew what it felt like not to have hope until after their death. ‘ I wonder if I have any hope yet. I was an eternal optimist, I believed in ‘Secret’ – that if we really desired something,the entire universe conspires to help us achieve it. Loss of Hope is difficult to live with.

    Maybe I do find some hope in writing about dealing with my pain on my blog and reading (for inspiration and hope) blogs like this one. I also hope to, someday, understand why God allowed my daughter to die at 19 when she wanted to live a long, long life… I am sure I will find some answers someday.

  • John Wolfe

    What gives me hope? Depending upon the situation and the time of day, lots of things and yet sometimes there is very little. It’s been a month since my daughter, Allison, passed away, and we still don’t know the reason why…she just suddenly stopped breathing. An autopsy showed nothing, but we’re waiting on toxicology results, so I suppose one hope is that the authorities will be able to determine the exact cause of death. She was only 23 and had been married for only 3 years.

    Another hope is that I will be hired back on by a former employer who was forced to close the plant in early 2010. Since then I wandered into a couple of different jobs and finally landed the one I’m in, but I don’t like it because everyone is so negative. They constantly whine about working there, management does nothing to fix the problems…it’s just not a healthy place to work. The former employer referenced above provided a very positive place to work, and has since reopened the plant. I’m hoping that as the economy improves, that I will be hired back.

    What really keeps me going through all this is Allison herself. She was an optimist extrodinaire. I’m an optimist, but she took it to another whole level. She was always thinking about the other person, whether it was her husband, coworker, her parents, her nieces and nephews, she was always more concerned about how others felt. An example of this would be during her high school years…when she came across a friend that seemed sad for whatever reason, she would throw a “Just Because” sleep-over for them. She would invite all the mutual friends over to her house and they would stay up until all hours of the night eating, playing games, and generally having a good time. I can’t tell you how many people that sent us cards and letters mentioned those occasions.

    Allison’s legacy is one of hope, not despair. I try to feed off of that as much as possible. And although my personal work situation isn’t the optimum, I have a wonderful and supportive wife, a great family, and Allison tapping me on the shoulder saying, “You’ll be alright, Daddy, don’t worry.”

  • Michael Florizone

    What gives me hope…. that’s a good question. It’s something I think about often since my daughter, Luka passed away 6 months ago. It’s been a very rocky road, but I’m determined to work at finding my way. Sometimes it’s not so easy. A few months ago, I pushed myself to go and audition for a show. I haven’t done it in years, but knew that I needed something different, something that would excite my spirit. So I auditioned and got a major role. It’s a big part and the show goes up in April and I’m still freaking out about it (in a way), but know it must be the right thing. Why I know it’s the right thing is because I come back home happier than when I leave for rehearsal. I guess I’ve realized I need a little bit of a gauge, where I check in with myself. But don’t get me wrong — this past month has been one of the hardest months since Luka passed away. I was wondering why — why now? I think it’s a combination of weather (I live on Canada’s west coast and it’s been raining non stop and gloomy), fatigue, and work. I’m a teacher and I wanted out of my current job before this all happened. Now it’s nearly intolerable. I’m very fortunate though — I have benefits so that I can take a leave with pay for 120 days. I’m seriously considering this. My wife is insisting it. She wants me back. My happiness. My spark. Yesterday, a parent from our school said I’ve lost my spark and today a young girl with Asperger’s told me I look really sad lately. I think I need to listen.

    What gives me hope is that I really do know what’s good for me, and that I need to follow that little voice inside me that says, “Go for it!”.

    Kelly, I encourage you to take the risk and move somewhere that brings you joy. Life is too short to be stuck. Thanks for your stories!

  • This blog gives me hope. The fact that the sun still rises gives me hope. The goodness I see in people more often than I see hate gives me hope.

    Thank you for asking the question.

  • Alwaysmomof4

    I’m so glad your blog is here. I passed on the link to my husband just yesterday. We lost our 19 yr old son Jordan in a car accident on October 12th, 2008. Writing is what gives me hope and knowing that there are other grieving parents out there doing the best they can and willing to share what they’re learning.