I received the following from Michael Mayette who is a friend of a grieving dad.  He wanted me to share his perspective as someone that has supported his friend.  I found it powerful to read his words and feel the compassion and unfiltered love that he offers.

I too was lucky enough to have a dear friend that helped me through those very dark days.  He would take my calls anytime and no matter what he was doing.  He would even call me if he didn’t hear from me in a couple of days and stop by just to check in on me.  He even offered to help me finish my basement when I decided I needed to take on a “therapy project” at my home.  Often times we wouldn’t get a lot done, but it allowed me to laugh and cry with my dear friend who was never taken back or scared away by the intensity of the pain that would flow from me.

Thank you to my friend Brent for always being there for me and thank you to Mike Mayette for sharing his thoughts below:

 “I Will Not Abandon You”

My wife and I read about the death of Steve and Laurie House’s son Christian on the front page of the local paper the morning after it occurred. We immediately called them and asked in disbelief if it were true? Christian had just turned thirteen years old a few months earlier. A few days later his death was ruled a suicide. We never believed it. We never will. We’ll always believe it was an accident. Christian’s death evoked an enormous outpouring of sympathy from the community.  His funeral, although respectful, had an air of spectacle to it as it was attended by hundreds of his teachers and classmates and many of Steve and Laurie’s business colleagues and the general public.

Steve has been a good friend of mine for almost thirty years. I remember how excited he was when he learned he was going to be a Dad. He’s one of these guys that has “Dad” written all over him. He was crushed by the death of his son. I told him at Christian’s wake, “You will survive this. I will be there whenever you call. I will not abandon you. Only you can abandon me.”

It’s been just over two years now since Christian’s death. Steve and I speak several times each week. In the early days, we spoke once, maybe twice a day, often for hours on end. In those early days I would listen as he poured his heart out over and over trying to find a way to grasp his immeasurable grief in the loss of his beloved son; and each time we ended our conversation I would tell him that I loved him and that I would be there when he called again.

It’s only been just over two years now. I have watched Steve struggle each day with his grief. I have watched as he has carried himself with a dignity and courage that I can only hope I would possess if I were ever in his shoes in both his bad days and during his good ones. But I have also watched as that huge tidal wave of support he and his family experienced in those early weeks after Christian’s death has slowly ebbed away. After the first six months, one of Steve’s friends was heard to comment, “It’s been six months, you should be over it by now.” After eighteen months, another of his friends was heard to say, “You are broken, you need professional help.” These comments were made because the old person Steve had been and they had known had not yet returned and apparently was never coming back.

I have talked to some of Steve’s other friends and they have sheepishly told me that they haven’t talked to him since Christian’s funeral simply because “They don’t know what to say.” So they have said nothing. My reply to them has been that all they have done in saying nothing is deepened the dark and desperate grief and loneliness he feels; for in addition to losing Christian; he has also suffered the loss of the support of those friends he loved as well. So I tell them, “Tell Steve you don’t know what to say and begin there. But if you truly love him…don’t abandon him!”

It’s been over two years now. Only…. I have watched and listened as my beloved friend has wept an ocean of tears. Yet so few of his other friends have dared themselves to swim in that lonely ocean with him. I have watched him wander helplessly in an undiscovered country; a cruel wilderness of emotions few men will ever be cursed to know; and so I have chosen to wander beside him. Yet so few of his friends have had the courage of Spirit to even acknowledge that he wanders there still. In many ways Steve and Laurie are a parent’s worst nightmare. But they must live that nightmare day by day.

Steve called me again today. He thinks he has been a burden to me. He thinks all he has done is take from me in his grief. He says this just about every time he calls, almost as if he were apologizing to me for being my friend. As if somehow he has failed me in our friendship. We talked about his son. I reminded him once more that I would never abandon him or our friendship. I reassured him that in a world where nothing else seems real, our friendship is, and always will be; and that he has not failed me in it.  And I tell him over and over that as a father, he did not fail his child. 

What Steve does not know and perhaps never will, is that I feel I truly have been blessed to have met and befriended him.  In knowing him, it has been my great fortune in life to have witnessed one of the most beautiful, heart wrenching testaments to love that I have ever known. One that is beyond any measure, deeper than any ocean on God’s green earth. And having witnessed it, I learned and now I know, truly, for the first time in my life, how much I love my children. I learned and now I know how truly blessed I am. And I only learned these things because of what Steve has taught me in the infinite depth and absolute purity of his grief in the loss of his child. What Steve does not know is that I would not have missed a single moment of this journey beside him. Nor would I begrudge him a single tear in all that I have shed myself in my sorrow for him. Nor would I ever have thought to abandon him to walk alone in his hellish, anguished, solitary quest for peace had I been offered all the stars in Heaven as payment for what Steve himself my lesson paid.

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User Comments ( 11 )

  • What a loving soul! One of the most powerful stories of love and friendship I have ever read. What a blessing he has been to his friend. Priceless!
    You have so many wonderful resources on your blog. Thank you for sharing your story and the stories of other men that are grieving. We have added your blog to our Grief Support Resource list on our website http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com. And will be sharing this post and many others with our readers.

  • John O'Malley

    Steve and Laurie have both been blessed by God, in so much as he gave them this Beautiful man as their friend. For someone to remain so close and to be there to understand, is truly a Godsend for Steve. Wish I had friends close enough to help me deal with my son’s death just over two years ago.

    • John,

      I know what you mean, I had “close” friends and family disappear after what had happened. I was no longer the guy that made them laugh. I was the guy that only wanted to cry and talk about the intense amount of pain I was feeling. I had a young empoyee (27 years old) that worked for me and he would come in everyday and ask how I was doing. I would start to cry and he would listen and some times cry with me. He was a God send to me. He helped me get through the rough part of my days and was always there for me. He didn’t get much done at work, but man was he there for me in ways he’ll never understand. I had gone through a lot of people before I found him. Keep trying to find someone that can be there for you. If you allow yourself to be open to it, they will find you. There may not be jsut one person, there may be several at one time or a series of them. I have met life long friends during my journey that taught me to help others in need.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  • What an asounding person. His words and deep seated feelings are unique.
    Yesterday a young woman we know who has been fighting cancer for the last 10 years and is very ill at present lost her beloved Dad in a horrific Road accident. We also knew her Dad(Tony) a lovely smiley young at heart man.
    I can’t explain what we feel but I do know I didn’t know what to say to Tammy. Michael has helped me with the above story.
    I hope each member of the Amos family find a true friend that will say to them “I will not abandon you”

    • Chatty54,

      Thank you for stopping by this blog. I am glad Michael’s story of selflessness has helped you. Stop back anytime.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  • Pamela

    Thank you for such an insightful writing. As a Bereavement Counselor & Educator I will be sending all my “grieving dads” to this wonderful website, that I unfortunately didn’t know existed. Keep up your great work!

    • Pamela,

      Thank you for stopping by this blog. I am glad you found it. And yes, please send the grieving dads (and moms) to this site. The bigger the community, the more the support. I know when I was in my depths of pain, I couldn’t always wait to the next support group to talk. There really wasn’t anything out there to find support. I decided I would create it. It will always be evolving so it can help as many people as possible.

      Thank you for the work that you do!

      Peace.

      Kelly

  • John Wolfe

    I am blessed enough to have a friend like Michael. I’ve considered him my best friend from 5th grade in 1968 to the present. Rick’s been there for me for my mother’s death, my brother’s death, and honored my request to be a special speaker at my official retirement from the US Navy in March 2000. To put it in a nutshell, he’s just been there. I’ve always felt I could call him whenever for whatever reason. Then our one and only child, Allison died on 29 dec 2010.

    I pretty much shut down. I notified all those concerned on my side of the house, but that was it. When I notified Rick, he was devastated, but offered to help in any way he could. Having several children of his own, I limited my calls to him, so as not to upset him further as I was sure he was thinking of the mortality of his own kids. Understandably so. We made an arrangement where I would call him every other weekend, but I haven’t kept that up. I don’t want to put him out…it’s a heavy burden to carry.

    And yet when I read Michael’s words, I immediately thought of Rick. While Rick may not be as proactive as Michael, he is just as supportive, and will be there for me when I need him. To be able to have a listening board like that is just a tremendous relief.

    I’m still in auto-mode. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m doing what needs to be done. in order to survive. Plans that were, aren’t anymore.

  • Maia Dalma

    Poignant. And beautiful. To have friends in life who understand is important, yes? But who understands the death of a child except the parent who loses one? He has stood by his friend. Measure that in gold! I doubt they care about gold anymore. Maia.

  • I wish my husband had a friend like this…

  • I wish I had a friend like this…