“Slow Down”

I work about 3 miles from where I live, which is unheard of here in the western suburbs of Chicago.  However, the route I take to work is the same route that many people take to catch the commuter train into the City to work.  The road travels through a corporate park that is lined with large canopied trees.  I am not typically in a hurry to rush to the office so I actually try to enjoy my drive.

It’s not uncommon for many of these commuters to pull up real close behind my car and try to hurry me along.  That’s generally a mistake on their part since it usually pisses me off when they are trying to force me to rush through my day.  It pisses me off for a couple of reasons, one is the fact I am trying to ease into my day and their impatience is ruining that for me.  The second reason is that the only concern these people have right now if being late to work.  Late to work.  I could think of more stressful things in life to get worked up over, late to work is not one of those things for me.  I watch them throwing their hands up in the air and yelling at me to hurry up, which makes me slow down to the point they go around me.

Today on my way to the office, I happened to look over to the car next to me and this guy was shaving while he was driving.  His visor was down and electric shaver in hand.  All I could think of was dude you didn’t have 3 minutes to spare this morning before you left the house.  My guess is that this is part of his daily go go go routine.  Hurry up and check another task off my list approach to life.  I get it, I was once there.  I never shaved in the car, but I know the feeling of rushing around closing deals like I use to. 

My guess is that most of these people on this road rushing to work have never had the tragic responsibility of burying a child.  Having buried two children, I learned the hard way that I needed to slow down.  I really didn’t have much of a choice, I use to live in the rat race of rushing around all of the time, but really have no interest in that anymore.  None.  I try not to let mundane tasks get me worked up to the point that I am stressed out.  I know it’s easier said than done, but sometimes I have to take a step back and say look, “give yourself a break, you have buried two children, the fact you are still a productive member of society is a huge accomplishment considering there was a period of time you never thought you would be again.”  This little reminder quickly gets my attention.

Have you had a change in how you approach life since the death of your child?  Has it changed you perspective?

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User Comments ( 10 )

  • Pat Bultemeier

    I find myself giving folks more berth these days…like at the stop sign when the guy who pulls up just after you did and doesn’t completely stop before he cuts you off…or when the person in the line at the grocery only has a few items and my cart is full and I let them go ahead of me. In all of these instances Graham’s passing has me instantly wondering if the person I’m interacting with is just in a rush…or could they be like me…just coasting on autopilot at times because of some tragedy in their own lives?

    Coming here and going to Grief class has made me realize HOW MUCH baggage folks are carrying around..unbeknownest to most…and as a result…I find while I put up with less crap overall from people….those “faceless’ moments in the car or online just don’t call out to me for a response like they did before Graham passed. In short, I’ve come to realize that I need to live my life with more grace, less haste, and far more understanding.

    Graham was 22 last Friday. I MISS YOU MY SON.

    • Grieving Dads


      I agree with you, going through what I have gone through has opened my eyes to the pain that many people carry around with them. I never understood depressed people before, but I have a whole different perspective now. I try not to judge anyone anymore. You really do not know what others are facing everyday.

      I have to tell myself from time to time to slow down, be nice and offer compassion when you can.

      Thanks for sharing Pat.



  • Kelly,

    My heart goes out to you, because I too have lost 2 children. And Bruno: I used to work in a hospital and have been unable to go back to work. Thanks for sharing your stories.

    • Grieving Dads


      Thanks for stopping by the blog and your comments. I too am sorry for the loss of your two children. I know the pain you carry and the impact this has on your life. Going back to work is a difficult task after losing a child. My wife and I have said several times, I can we just find a way to cash it in and walk away. I would be happy working a low stress low paying job and doing without all of the material things we surround ourselves with before we understand the importance of feeling happy.

      Thanks Sue.


  • I would say I appreciate the little things in life even MORE now than ever before! Alexander was sick for 13 months (cancer) before he died unexpectantly. I find that people complaining about having to do “so much” bugs me now more than ever! One friend was complaining at Christmas, abotu having to WRAP all the Santa presents! I didn’t have a little boy to have Santa even visit! I suggested she have Santa write a note to tell the kids he was “going green and not wrapping presents” this year! It bugs me when people go on and on about silly things like that, when they should just be grateful they have children that are alive and well!

    • Grieving Dads


      I too have learned to enjoy the little things in life as well. I have always enjoyed cooking so I have spent more time relaxing and learning how to become better in the kitchen. I could go on and on with the “new adventures” or things I have always wanted to do but didnt make the time for. I know try to make the time and take in life.

      As far as your Christmas present story goes. Check out my posting last month call “Bad Day”. It talks about the difference between a bereaved parents bad day and a non-bereaved parents bad day.

      Thank you for the comments.



  • Kelly,

    Since Joe died in August, I have found it difficult to concentrate. As a result I have not returned to work as an ER nurse because I fear making a mistake and also fear an emotional breakdown (Joe died in the hospital after an auto accident).

    I have been working part time teaching, and find I am satisfied making less money and spending more time home. I am planting a garden and reading more (not technical reading). I find I am more available to those around me. Not so task-oriented.

    There are days when a profound sadness strikes unexpectedly, but they are less frequent, and last hours instead of days. My focus has changed from feeling sorry for myself for things that will never happen (graduations, marriage, grand-children) to appreciating the joy of spending twenty years with my son.

    In the past I was the guy in a hurry. Now I am satisfied letting them pass me by as I turn up the tunes and focus on the scenery.

    I too have gotten out of the “rat-race” mentality.

    • Grieving Dads


      I have always had a wondering mind and a day dreamer. Also thinking about the next interesting idea or concept on my mind at that moment, but it has gotten really hard for me to concentrate. It has gotten better over the last 6 years, but I still have a tough time with it. If its something I am interested in I am fine, but if it is something I have not interest in, I cant focus. I feel this a lot at work and often feel really bored. Not that I dont have work, I am just bored with the type of work. I use the saying “what was once tolerable had now become intorerable”. Referring to that fact I dont just suck it up like I used to if I dont like something. I also speak my mind more often know. Sometimes probably to honestly.

      I am with you on the making less money and more personal time. I work for a company that allowed me to go part time for almost 3 years and I loved it. I spent time with my wife (who also went part time), my dog and myself. I too started to read more books for entertainment. I picked up more hobbies and spent more time volunteering. 99% of the time I ignore those people, but sometimes they draw me back into the “rat race” mentality.

      Thanks for your comments. Great reminder to me to “slow down”.


  • John Geraci

    Yeah, although I never shaved in the car, I used to be impatient some times. Never honked, but got cranky. Now, since Leslie passed, and from this site and going to Compassionate Friends meetings, I have come to realize that there are so, so many of “us” out there. And if sometimes I “wake up” and discover that I really don’t remember driving the last mile because I was so lost in my feelings for the sadness of it all, that I tell myself, maybe that person is just like me. It tends to help; especially when you’re both moving forward and you understand that the delay wasn’t such a big thing.

    • Grieving Dads


      Early (first couple fo years) in my grief, I would do the same thing. I would drive and not remember the trip. Our mind has a way of slipping into the fog and the body just takes over and does the things that come natural. You are corect, maybe the person is life me and just trying to survive the day or what ever the hardship they may be dealing with. Or they can be like the old me and feel like I just need to hurry through life to get more accomplished. Hard to say but giving them the benifit of the doubt would be a better way to handle it on my part.