Many of the posts I write are triggered by thoughts that come to me throughout the day or they are generated by conversations I have with many of the grieving dads I speak with. A few days ago I was having a conversation with a dad that lost his daughter to murder. We were discussing how going through the death of a child changes all aspects of who you once were and it changes many of your core beliefs, some for the better and some for the worse. There is a sense of naivety that you lose after the death of a child. The fact that bad things only happen to other people is one of the beliefs we tell ourselves before tragedy strikes. But we now know that bad things can happen to anyone at any given time and there is not much you can do about it because it comes out of nowhere.
We also discussed how not everything that changes after the death of a child is bad. One of those things is that we have experienced the worst day of our lives (I want to preface that comment with, “that is not an invitation for a test”. I made this statement after the death of my daughter Katie and then 12 months later my son Noah died. I learned not to say that out load without prefacing it first with I am not looking for another challenge to see if my worst day can be beaten by another bad day). After you go through something as profound as the death of a child, you start to not really give a shit what others think or say. There is not much anyone can do to you that is much worse than the death of a child.
I see people at work running around trying to hit deadlines and stressing out like it’s the worst possible things they have to deal with. I don’t let work get to me like I use to, I still do my job, but I don’t stress about letting my boss down or anything along those lines. What’s the worst thing that can happen, I get fired? Let’s see “getting fired or the death of a child?” I am going to go with death of a child for the worst possible thing that can happen.
I use to get pissed off when people would say, “I am having the worst day of my life; I got a flat tire on the way to work.” Or something along those lines. Now I just kind of laugh to myself and say, “you really have no idea what a bad day is.”
We were discussing how this way of thinking is liberating, because you are not out to impress anyone. When you don’t care, it removes the stress of trying to impress others. Actually, this new change in perspective (some would call it a bad attitude, it’s not, and it’s an adjustment in how I see things) has actually made me better at my job. It’s also made me a little more honest than I use to be. I have always spoken my mind, but I tend to do it more now. I see so many people around me afraid of confrontation or having a difficult conversation, but it doesn’t bother me, it’s almost like that filter has been removed. I don’t look for confrontational discussions, but I do prefer honest conversations. I call people on their bullshit (and expect others to do the same to me) or call them out if I don’t like something. I am not trying to be an ass to others, in fact I do it in a very calm and professional way, but I refuse to take shit from anyone else, regardless of who they are.
I hear this issue a lot from other grieving dads. Have you experienced anything similar?