“It’s Tough”

People come from many backgrounds and perspectives that we often do not understand.  I recently had an experience where one person’s perspective was different than mine.  It occurred at my office with a guy I don’t generally work with.  We were both in the washroom making small talk while we washed our hands.  The subject of him being exhausted came up and I told him he should try to get some more sleep.  Then he said “I would love to get a full night’s sleep but my daughter has been waking me up in the middle of the night, it’s tough.”  He was referring to his new baby girl that was 4-5 months old.  These types of comments use to really upset me, but not so much anymore, but for some he must have caught me on a bad day because his comment really pissed me off.  I wanted to respond with, “You think getting up in the middle of the night to care for your healthy daughter is tough, try burying two children.  I don’t even want to fucking hear it!”

I didn’t respond that way because I knew it wouldn’t be fair to him, he has no clue what it’s like to bury a child.  Nor do I want him to find out.  If you have not experienced the death of a child, you could not possibly understand how tough it is.  If you have, you know how deep this pain goes into your body.  There really are no words that can explain how much it impacts you in every single part of your life.

Have any of you experienced similar situations where people have said stupid shit and they have no clue they even said it?

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User Comments ( 34 )

  • Barbara A Primeau

    My great-granddaughter, Jadyn Bauer passed away on September 1st of this year. She was 6 years-old. Jadyn was born with several birth defects, and she was my grandson’s first born. He and his girlfriend, Sam, doted on Jadyn and gave her everything necessary for her to have a happy and fulfilling life in spite of her health issues. She played T-Ball with other children her age — with the other kids fighting over who would push her around the bases and help her swing the bat.

    Jadyn was enrolled in pre-school and had a health nurse at home. Every opportunity to enrich her short life was given to her. The doctors told the parents at birth they doubted she would last a week — and also that if she passed that one week date, her life-expectancy was not long — usually children with her diagnosis only lived to be ten. But because her parents took such excellent care of her, she might last longer.

    Jadyn beat the odds and became the light of the family’s life. She was especially a “daddy’s girl”. Sam read all that was available to her to help her daughter live a healthy, clean, and fulfilling life. Every procedure that Jadyn had to undergo, Sam and Jason memorized all the names of the drugs, surgeries, tests, and through it all, Jadyn remained a smiling and happy girl.

    My grandson, Jason and his girlfriend Sam are devasted and are having a struggle to move on. I am interested in purchasing a copy of your book to give to Jason. I will find another appropriate book for Sam.

    I am trying to hook up with Compassionate Friends for them — but with the COVID epidemic most meetings are virtual or on Zoom, — which I think would not be beneficial to them.

    I am familiar with the Compassionate Friends Organization — I lost two sons on the PanAm 103 flight in December 1988 — someone directed me to that group and I found them totally comforting and reassuring. Everyone’s life goes back to “normal” after the death of a child — but the parents and grandparents muddle through alone. Everyone in my family became uncomfortable when I mentioned the boys or cried over them — at Compassionate Friends, you can cry and openly feel your own pain and sadness without ANYONE trying to stifle you.

    Where can I get a copy of your book? The comments I have read on this blog are comprehensive and the book comments might just be the right “fit” for my grandson, Jason.

    Thank you.

    A sad Great-Grandmother Barbara, 9/13/21

  • upon hearing my son’s cancer was terminal, and learning I had spent lots of time at a major hospital with him – where this co worker would soon be going with her own child – the co worker asked me how many children did I have. I said, Two, my son and a daughter. She responded, Oh I don’t know what I’d do because I just have the one.

    As if my daughter were a spare, or something, and the loss of my son would be of no consequence.

    Thank you for your blog. I have hopes that it will be one place online that my husband will visit regularly.

    • Grieving Dads


      I read what you wrote and I just shake my head. She is obviously just scared to death of losing her daughter and not even think about how it inflicts pain on you. Since she knows her daughter is going to the same hospital, she is self absorded with fear of losing her daughter because like the rest of us, the reality of bad things can also happen to “us” has become a bigger reality.

      I am sorry for the death of your son, I know the pain you carry inside al to well. I wish I could erase it from every grieving parent, but as you know that is not possible.

      Feel free to have you husband contact me if he needs another grieving dad to speak with.



  • Jacquie

    Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is one of the best authors to read when you’ve gone through loss. I loved On Death & Dying and I’ve also read The Tunnel & the Light. How to Deal with Grief by Karen Colquhoun is a good read too. What I have found difficult is that people who havent gone through something big don’t understand. I have lost 2 close friends and many relatives. The one that hurt the most was losing my grandmother.

    • Grieving Dads

      Jacquie – There are a lot of resources out there regarding grief. The one thing I find that most ae missing is the truama of losing a child and the impacts the trauma inflicts. My book talks about mens grief and the truama caused by the death of a child. I look forward to you reading it and hearing your comments.



  • Grieving Dads


    I am sorry for the delayed response. I am also sorry for the tough day you were having on Monday. Anniversaries are days that weigh heavy on our mind as they approach, but when they pass you have a tendenancy to feel a sense of relief that you actually survived it.

    I know it hurts like hell to write your story, but you have to, its another way to get it out. I use to write or tell my story with tears and snot dripping off of me (I know its gross, but its the truth) while I wrote those words. I hated doing it, but everytime I was done, I felt a small sense of relief from the pain I just released.

    I know my words cannot erase you pain Pat, but know that I am so very sorry you had to lose your son Graham. So very sorry.



    • Pat

      Thanks Kelly. We made it through the day…as well as Mother’s Day and our 31st Anniversary….which, unfortunately, is the day after he passed. This year those days fell in sucession…the 13th, 14th, and 15th, so it was a 1-2-3 punch, for sure.

      In the end, while tough, it was just 3 more days without him….plain and simple…..Dammit.

      thanks for the kind words……


  • Pat

    Today is the one year Anniversary of Graham’s passing. So unfathomable…yet…all too real at the same time. You know the drill, my friends.

    That day started out well. My wife and I worked all day at our cabin near Leadville, CO and had made substantial progress on a long-standing project we needed to get done on the house. We headed towards home about 3pm….stopping for something to eat and then driving on…in and out of cell service most of the way.

    When we started getting closer to home we came back into cell service and the phone beeped a couple of times that there were messages. We grabbed the first one….and it was friends wanting to maybe hook up for dinner later that night….

    and the THE call came that all parents fear. It was the los alamos, NM sheriff…and all the message said was “your son has been involved in an accident and you need to come to NM immediately”

    We were minutes from home….so we blasted in…told our youngest what had happened..grabbed some clothes….and headed south.

    I drove WELL over the speed limit for 5.5 hours…at times up to 100 mph…

    Unfortunately….we still didn’t make it before he passed. He had been Flight for life’d to Santa fe…never regained consciousness…and passed one hour before we arrived.

    It hurts like Hell to write all of this but I wanted you all to know just the same.

    here’s a link to the announcement we placed in the local paper if you care to read more about his all-too-short life…

    I love you my son. Thanks for listening, Dads….

  • Frank

    I really know what your talking about. My son Adam passed just over a year ago. What you said about the pain is what we are having and are unable to fight. People who hadn’t lost a child make certain comments that are anoying to say the least. I srug it off because I know they have no idea. It is a pain that cannot be described, and it will stay with you the rest of you life.

    • Grieving Dads

      Frank – Yoou are so correct when you say it is pain that you cannot describe. It goes to the vey core and to a depth one cannot possibly understand unless they themselves have lost a child. I have tried to explain it to non-bereaved parents, but its not possible. You are also correct that it will stay with you on some level the rest of your life. How can it not. My new book talks about the trauma we endure when a child dies. It is PTSD, no doubt in my mind.



  • John Geraci

    I haven’t written here for a while, but everyone’s experiences lit my fuse.

    Wow, Kevin, your son Shanon and my daughter Leslie are so close. Her birthday was June 1, she passed July 1. And as I get closer to those milestones, the weight of it all gets heavier and heavier. There are days when if I didn’t have another daughter and 3 grandchildren, I find myself thinking: What’s the friggin’ point? I hate this life as it is.

    And when I hear the goddamned stupid, moronic comments some insensitive people make — and I, too, have heard some of the same – “Oh, I know just how you feel. My dog died.” or hints that I “should be moving past it..” I want to kick the shit out of them. People don’t know how to handle death. And yes, it happens all the time and it will happen to everyone, still, one would think you’d know how to be careful and think before you speak. And when it’s your child, when it goes against the natural order of things — we shouldn’t bury our children — I find I have to walk away or I will explode.

    My heart goes out to all of us who are part of this damn society we barely knew existed, and certainly never expected to join.

    Thanks for sharing and listening.

  • Timothy Moran

    What bothers me is when I hear people complaining about their kids. They make comments like ‘just one more year and he’s out, he’ll be 18, time to get on with his life.” Take it from me, the less you see of your child, the less you know about what’s going on in their life. Regardless of their age. My youngest son Steven was 28 when we lost him to an overdose of methadone. He was living out of state with his grandmother. I had no idea he was involved with anything so deadly. I was oblivious and naieve. And I have questioned myself as a father and have hated myself since the day he died. How could I have not known? Looking back now, I realize there were signs, cries for help even, but I missed them. So when I hear parents complain or someone say something about someone who died from a drug overdose, I want to smack the shit out of them. I want to tell them, walk just one mile in my shoes, then tell me how you feel about those things. My son made his share of mistakes, and he paid the ultimate price, but my love for him will never waiver!

    • Grieving Dads


      I hear a lot of guilt in your comments. We as dads are masters at the guilt thing, I have to say the guilt almost destroyed me and it was tougher on me than the actual grief. I beat the hell out of myself for a long time. Easy to point finger at ourselves with the should’ve and could’ve questions.

      I dont blame you, I fell like smacking the shit out of people every once in a while myself.

      Thanks for sharing.


  • Kevin

    Kelly, I haven’t “Ranted” in awhile. I’m just going through some stuff in my head. I recently marked the tenth month since Shanon passed away. I finally forced myself to go into his room, I find myself looking for some kind of relief from the pain and misery that I go through on a daily basis. Sitting in his room looking around, he isn’t there for me and there wasn’t any relief. His things were all where he had left them the day they took him away. I’m constantly reminded that he will not be coming back. His high school friends post their Prom pictures and they are preparing to graduate on June 1st. Shanon would have been graduating on that day and celebrated his 18th birthday on June 2nd and then on July 3rd it will be one year since he passed away. I realize that I’m about to go through a very tough couple of months. The anxiety is building; I can’t stop the train wreck. Recently my wife mentioned that she wanted to attend the graduation in Shanon’s memory. Like all parents this is an event that parents live for. His friends have written her expressing their thoughts about this, sometimes I think that even though the kids mean well, it’s still a hurtful thing; I know it is for me. I have listened to so many people talking about some of the most trivial things that seem so petty, I really want to ask them, “Do you really think your problems are all that bad?”… I would love to trade places. Some of things that get said by people seem to me to be so ridiculous and insensitive..One that had I heard a fellow co-worker say among a group of other fellow co-workers in regards to my son passing… “I really don’t know what the big deal is…people die all the time”. Now that one really hit me, couldn’t believe such a thing could be said, I guess for me this person didn’t utter those words in my presence , so he gets a pass… for now. I recently called the high school nurse, because I knew from a previous job we worked at to ask what the school athletic physical process was, she said that she had heard that Shanon passed away but she didn’t know the reason why. So I explained that coroner believed Shanon passed away of ARVD (Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia) , she said that she wasn’t familiar with the term. I wasn’t surprised most medical professionals haven’t heard of it either. But when I asked about whether the school would consider making an ECG apart of their evaluation process, she said that she thought I was just more sensitive to the issue. You know what…I’m guilty as charged. But on the same note …What if the ECG was a part of the process? What if there one life saved? Wouldn’t it be worth it?…. Shanon had sports physicals to play baseball; I can’t help but wonder if they had given him an ECG would he still be with us. I find that even at a high school level the insensitivity of politics and money play a big role. It should make parents puke! I think for now I’m done RANTING, I appreciate all who read and especially thank Kelly for setting a site like this.
    Shanon’s Dad Kevin

    • Grieving Dads


      I applaud you for taking a step and deciding to go into Shanons bedroom fro the first time. Tough, tough step buddy. “Going through stuff in your head” is a normal part of this process even though its exhausting.

      Your coworker is correct, people die all of the time, but I can assure you he hasn’t lost a child, because if he had, he would say something so ignorant. Sometimes people just need to keep shit like that to themselves. I remember leaving the funeral of a friends son. He was lost at birth. I remember leaving the funeral and looking at my wife and saying “do you really think its that hard, they didnt even know the child”. Looking back, I know that was a stupid comment on my part because about 12 months later, I found out for myself. The answer is YES. Stupid thing to say, but I didn’t say it to the parent, I know better.

      Rant here anytime, it helps you and many others that read your thoughts and experiences. Peace.


  • Pat

    You are fortunate to have a sister to talk to, Dustin. My brother called me and told me he was “torn up” over my son’s passing a few days after the event…and I haven’t heard a fuckin word from him (or my parents) since. (almost a year now)

    Talk about people saying fucked up shit. My own dad asked me..2 weeks after Graham passed…”are you over this yet?” SAY FUCKING WHAT?

    I responded to him that IF i ever tell you that I am “over this”…you should COMMIT ME TO THE NEAREST INSANE ASYLLUM IMMEDIATELY…cus FOR SURE I’d be insane if I said such a thing….

    Other times where the words have crushed us are those times when other parents talk about their kids coming home from Spring Break or for the Summer from school. One lady even said “you just don’t know how hard it is to be apart from him for so long”… and NEVER caught herself or registered that WE will NEVER have our son come home again.

    crazy shit. Like a bad dream…..

    Can I wake up now?

    Thanks for sharing, everyone. Dustin…. when/where will the road trip happen?


    • Grieving Dads

      Pat – I am sorry that your brother and your parents have abandoned you during the worst time in your life. My parents were the same way from the persective of they never brought it up. It was like if they didn’t talk about it, I wouldn’t think about it. As you know, thats not possbile, its always on your mind. You cannot ignore or run from this.

      I suspect you brother and dad both are trying to run from this pain and they don’t know what to say to you so they say nothing. Not right, but thats just the way it is. I told my dad “look, I dont need you to solve this problem, I just need to someone to talk about with.” He got the point and never tried to change the subject from that point forward, but he never started the conversation topic.

      It is crazy shit and I wish we could all wake up about right now. But we can’t. Thanks for sharing.



  • Dustin C. Duncan

    It kick,s my ASS, everyday,I come home from work,the first thing I do is say hello Delana, hope your day was good. Then call my son.how was your day.He not only lost a sister, but his Fiancee.
    YOU want to talk about tough, both in College.
    See how it works out for the other.
    Delana was only 18.Rebecca was 20.
    Me and my sister talk about old times.
    My son said he will never have that with his sister.
    RAMBLIN again.

    Please forgive me.
    Kelly, peace man, it is TOUGH though
    Dustin C. Duncan

    • Grieving Dads

      Dustin – As I said before, ramble/rant/vent here anytime you want. Thats why we exist.

      It is tough brother…….it is tough. I know what you mean be that statement all to well.



  • Kelly,

    My 4/12 year old son Noah, died of complications of a tonsillectomy almost 13 years ago. I too have had many people say things that they did not truly understand the implications of.

    Shortly after my son died I was back a work and managing a group of people and our group had a project that required and all hands on deck and I told my group we would need to stay late. One of the ladies that worked for me was in a divorce situation and her son lived with her x-husband during the week. She was to get him that night and the fact that I had told her she needed to work late would delay this by a few hours. She, in front of the whole group, said to me “You do not understand what it is to not see your son for a week” At that point I was about six weeks in to a lifetime of not seeing my son, and as you know I knew all too well what it was to not see my son for a week. At the time this angered me and I turned and walked away.

    I am at a different place now and when people say things like that to me I now see that they see me the way that they see the rest of the world. They are not trying to hurt me, they are sharing their pain, pain as they understand it and are looking for human compassion. I feel “Normal” that they are sharing with me what they would with the rest of the world.

    In grief, it is the people that avoid me and who I am that annoy me , not those that do the best they can, in their imperfect state to treat me just as another person on this planet with them.

    As part of project I am working on we have a short video that may be helpful to your readers, please take a look at it . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmdjVGAdR7M

    • Grieving Dads

      Glen – First off, I am sorry for the loss of your beautiful little boy Noah. As you probably know, my son’s name is Noah. I love that name and it makes me smile.

      Yoou are correct, MOST people are not trying to inflict pain. They are sharing their pain, as they see it and thats all anyone can do. I can’t say I fully understand another grieving parents pain, because circumstances are different. I can say I have a pretty good idea of what the pain feels like and what the journey looks like. Were all different and have a different view of the world based on what we experienced.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this issue.



  • I had a coworker who got pissed at me because I guess I did not move fast enough to support her issue say “I can see why your son killed himself” and that nearly sent me into a full blown rage…I am forever amazed at how insensitive people can be. That was a horrible thing to say to someone who lost their child to presumed suicide? Someone for whatever reason also said my son was abused even though he lived on his own for 4-5 years before his death. He had some horrible girlfriends that tore his heart out. May have been one of those who is saying something like that is my guess.

    • Grieving Dads

      Lee – I have to say that comment from your coworker would have sent me into a full blown rage. It was intentional and meant to inflict pain. Which I am sure it did. Someone probably would have had to step in on that one for me. Pisses me off just hearing your story and I wasn’t even there. 🙂

      People can be truely selfish.

      Thanks for sharing that with us.



    • Bob Hunter

      I am so sorry for the loss of your dear son. I’m pissed-off just hearing the story, too.

      I guy I work with had an old dog that died 3 months after I lost my 19 year old daughter. One of the women at work said to me, ” that’s just like losing a child”. Her remark wasn’t meant to be mean, but I felt like throwing-up it hurt so bad. I love dogs and have had several in my life. NOTHING is like losing a child.

      May the peace of Christ be with you and your family.

  • John Wolfe

    Yeah, that happens quite often, really. But like you, it depends on what type of mood in at the time. I’m mature enough to understand that people are not doing it to intentionally hurt me, but sometimes they’re words hit at just the right (wrong) time and at just the right (wrong) angle and my blood begins boiling. I recognize the danger signs and immediately go somewhere else for fear of saying something I’ll regret deeply later on. Sometimes the comments come from friends and colleagues, other times it’ll come from complete strangers such as in a checkout line at the grocery store. Strangers having an innocent conversation that I, a person they don’t even know exists, happen to overhear.

    This past year and a half has been extremely tough for my wife and I. First we lose our precious 24-year-old daughter in December 2010. Then my step-mother passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s in August 2011, followed by the death of my father in February 2012. While the death of my step-mother wasn’t as big a blow for obvious reasons, she was still a very much loved part of my family. But the death of my father came as suddenly as the death of my daughter…one minute they’re there, and the next they’re not.

    Each time I thought I was getting over the sense of vulnerability and sensitivity to remarks made innocently by other people and after each death it was like starting all over again from square one.

    But responding to ‘perceived’ inappropriate remarks made by anyone, with inappropriate behavior just makes the situation worse. I applaud Phillip for his tactful and graceful way of handling an uncomfortable situation. Handling a potentially explosive situation, where WE are the ticking time bomb, is not an easy thing to do sometimes, but handling it in a manner such as Phillip and Kelly have done is not only the proper thing to do, but ultimately makes us better human beings as a result.

    The world around us is constantly changing and the people around us are talking more “freely” than ever, regardless of the feelings of those around them. Unfortunately, WE are the ones that have to adapt to that change, not the other way around.

  • Chris

    That same type thing happens to me a lot too. I struggle inside with it, but I also keep my mouth shut.
    I used to say the same thing….

    • Grieving Dads


      I too use to say something but now I try to realize that it wasn’t intentional.

      If is intentional, thats another story. I would certainly not keep my mouth shut.

      Thanks for the comment.


  • Grieving Dads

    Phillip – Sorry to hear about youor experience. It would anger and hurt me as well.

    You are right though, people (especially kids) have no idea what they are saying most of the time. I applaud you for letting them know it is not OK to talk about this in you classroom, they need to learn that their words/actions have impacts on other people.

    I am certain there are things that I have said in the past that has caused pain to someone else without even knowing it.

    Thanks for you response.



  • Yup!! The wife Of a friend of mine was writing about their son that had fallen and hurt himself. He is 2, they spent 6 hours in the ER and he got 3 stitches. While I am sure it was upsetting she stated “the phone call was every parents worse nightmare and it was the shi&@$ day of our lives!!”.
    Yeah, how about sitting in the ER , having them tell you your 8 month old has cancer and having him die in your arms 13 months later?!?! She should pray that that day really is the worst!!!

    • Grieving Dads

      Nancy – It really is all about perspective isn’t it? For them it probably was the “shi&@& day” of their lives. I wish that was my worst day ever. That would be awesome. Maybe I wouldn’t still be wierd inside after all of these years. Maybe I wouldn’t have lingering mental issues that show up from time to time. Maybe the trauma of what I experienced (and all other grieving parents) wouldn’t had paralized med for a few years after the death of my children.

      I am sorry for the death of your little boy and I am sorry for the impacts this loss has had on your life.

      Thank you for sharing your story.



  • I love my job as a high school teacher, and I love my students. But they are clueless about a lot of things. The toughest one for me is when otherwise good kids make jokes about dead babies. I gotta tell you, hearing that kind of insensitive joke both crushes me and makes me crazy angry. I compartmentalize it of course, and I let them know in no uncertain terms that such talk is absolutely not OK in my classroom. But the fact is, they don’t understand what they are saying or how devastating it is for someone who has lost children.