Constant Mind F**K
A couple of weeks ago I interviewed fellow grieving dad, Bryan. Bryan’s almost 3-year-old son Charlie had died about 7 months prior to complications with the flu. I was interviewing Bryan for my upcoming Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back book due out in January. Bryan is one of the last interviews that I conducted for this book and I am glad we were able to speak. One of the many issues we discussed is how often times flashbacks to the moment occur out of no where and how as men we tend to beat ourselves up regarding the should’ve, would’ve and could’ve. Thoughts such as “I should have been able to protect my child and my family from this.” We tend to “run it through” our minds over and over again to try to find the answer of how we could have changed the outcome. If we were given another chance, we would have done something different. As Bryan so eloquently put it, “it’s like a constant mind fuck”. All of this “stuff” that rattles around in our head. It takes time to process all of these thoughts and second guessing that goes on inside of all of us. Comments we receive from others like “it was meant to be” is complete bullshit and most grieving parents will tell you that. It wasn’t meant to be, however, it still has to be processed.
As bereaved parents, I believe our brains and our nervous systems have been forever damaged on some level. That’s not to say we will not go back to a life in which we can function, but we will never go back to the person we were before. This is another issue that tends to mess with your mind. Along with may others.
One of my main issues is I should have never gone through fertility treatments. I should have just let it be what it was instead of trying to circumvent nature. That is one of many that I had to process/deal with.
What are the types of issues you are internalizing, second guessing or processing? We all do it, care to share yours?
Thanks to Bryan for being open with this subject and the struggles he faces as he travels this path.
*Note to my subscribers: I am sorry for the lack of posts in recent weeks. My blog had been hacked by a Turkish Terrorist Group (no, really) and I have spent a lot of time with help from other specialists getting this blog back up and running smoothly. Sorry to those of you who rely on this blog for support. Steps have been taken to avoid this in the future.
How can it ever get better. you just try to function best as can be.
Such Dreams and aspirations she had, starting College ,commuting with her older brother to college.
He lost not only his sister, but his Fiance.
He was 1 minute behind them when they left the house,, 2nd person on the scene,at the accident.
WHY,WHY.WHY. DID I DO SOMETHING WRONG TO PUT ME THROUGH THIS HELL THAT I AM LIVING NOW.
and most people say, how is your Wife doing,Dads don,t count I quess.
It’s been a little while, welcome back. I know all of those questions you have. I know the horrific trauma that your family has endured. I know you think you will never survive this on some days. I know this because I traveled a very similar path. I know its not fair and I know how the pain travels deep to your core.
Thank you for being here and thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I can relate to the “how is your wife doing?” question. It is as though the dads are just supposed to carry on with life and do everything as normal while our wives grieve.
I shared this thought with many people and a lot of them had a similar response: First of all the person asking is probably nervous or uncomfortable or probably both. They can not imagine the pain that comes along with losing a child. Asking you directly how you are doing may be too scary for them as they are likely to receive an honest answer and witness some raw emotion. While they do probably care about you, asking about your wife is easier for them.
When most people asked me, other than family or close friends, I would give the standard answer of “She is doing okay.” Explaining to someone I didn’t know all that well what really was going on took more out of me than I could give at that time.
Well, it has been over a year now since my Delana, an Rebecca. Daughter and future Dauhter-in law were takin from us 2 young ladys going to see a movie, 2 family,s lifes turned upside down in a heartbeat.
No drugs or alcohol involved, just a wet curvy road.
Along with the other posts, I too share the feelings/guilt of not being able to protect my child. As “the man of the house” our jobs are to provide for our families and protect them.
Unfortunately we can’t turn back the hands of time but I know all of us would do anything to do just that.
Jenna passed in July 2009 and while the feelings aren’t as raw as they were two years ago, they are still there. She is still part of our family – we have pictures of her around the house, my wife and I each have a ring especially for her that we wear and I also have a tattoo.
She will always be apart of your life. I have pictures of my babies around the house as well. Kind of freaks people out, but if the do not like it, they know how they got in then house. I dont sweat it anymore if people dont like it. Its my son and daughter I am love them and I am proud of them just like other dads are of their living children.
Been thinking alot about having some ink work doen on my forearm as a tribute to my children.
I sent you a response to your emai, let me kow if you didnt get it or would like to talk..
Jeremy, I am terribly sorry for your losses. I can not imagine losing 3 children at once. My heart and deepest sympathies go out to you.
Bob, I am sorry that Katie died way too soon and that the “prevention tips” really are nothing but ways of layering extra guilt on parents who did all they could but could not prevent that which is unpreventable. Please do not beat yourself up over not protecting her…I am sure you are a great Dad and did all you could to love and protect her. Sometimes, as we all here know, mother nature is just a ruthless bitch.
Sorry…date should read Oct. 18, 2010.
Steve & Jeremy,
I’m right there with you both. My Katie died Oct. 18, 2011 from SUDEP, (Sudden Unexplained Death from Epilepsy). I knew she was at high risk and if it happened nothing could bring her back. Yet, (like SIDS), there are ‘prevention tips’…what??!? Bottom line…Katie was mine to protect and I didn’t do it.
My triplet sons died in June from complications that originated with an E. choli infection.
It’s been nearly 5 months and it’s really only in the last few weeks that I’ve begun to feel mentally paralyzed by what happened. It creeps into my professional life especially. I have a job that requires that I attend a lot of meetings, make a lot of “pitches” and utilize my creative abilities, but the tape that plays in my head continues to tell me: “you couldn’t even protect your sons, what makes you think you can do this?”
It’s unnerving, as a man. In addition to the profound grief and sadness, it’s hard to continue to feel like I’m allowed to carry a “man” card. Protecting my boys was my most basic, central responsibility. It feels as much like failure as it does like grief.
I am sorry for the loss of your sweet babies. Heartbreaking.
Sometimes it takes a little while before you start to feel mentally paralyzed, as you put it. But when it hits, it gets your full attention. I can relate with the work issues. I had to run a lot of meeting as part of my job as well. Not to many pitches, but running the meeting for engineering design projects. I lost all of my confidence. One time I was telling by boss before we went into the meeting with a client thta I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pull it off. He is very cool and was able to calm me down with reassureing me that this was like any other meeting we had been to. Came out of no where and last for months.
I also understand failure all to well. I felt liek I failed my babies for a couple of years and it took me longer to forgive myself. Truth is I tried that best i could to protect them, it just took me a while to come to terms with that.
Thanks for sharing your story.
For those of you who read this blog or my own, you know that my son, Colin, died of SIDS on March 2, 2011. With the diagnosis of SIDS as the cause of death, the questions started flooding in…
“What could I have done right/wrong? not done right/wrong?”
“If SIDS is unpreventable, what are the preventions guidelines there for?”
“If another SOB tells me it was suffocation (which is ruled out in autopsy), I might choke them just because!”
“Why my son? Why me? Why us?”
I could go on and on, but we all have a million questions floating around all of the time. For me, I started my blog in part to get the questions and the thoughts “out there” and give my brain some peace and rest. The questions are still there, just not at the same volume as before since I have an outlet when the amplification become a bit too much.
Steve – Starting the blog to put all of those questions out there is great therapy for not only you, but the many other people that follow it. Keep using that outlet even on the days you really don’t feel like it. It helps get all that stuff out.
Thanks for sharing Steve.