We all look for some sort of “closure” when it comes to comprehending the death of our child, but some of us never get it or struggle to find it.  My guest blogger this week is still trying to sort out the circumstance surrounding the death of his child.  The following is his story and the ongoing struggle he faces.  I am sure many of you can relate with this topic.



My name is John McCaffrey and Kelly has selected me to be one of the bloggers on his, our (all grieving dads) website.   My son Kieran McCaffrey died in the early morning hours on February 3, 2008.  He had severe ADHD and was quite a handful his last few years.  I would take an eternity of dealing with his problems than 5 more seconds of being without him.  When he got to high school he started to smoke pot.  He said it helped with his anxiety, the therapist’s tried different medications to try and get his behavior under control.  His drug of choice became oxycontin.  He got into trouble with the law for stealing from unlocked cars.  We wouldn’t give him money because we knew he would buy drugs, so he started stealing.  The last 2 months he was alive we thought we were making progress.  We were in therapy together and he was being drug tested weekly.  Things were looking up.  I even told him in one of our last sessions was that I worried I would get a knock on the door one night saying that you were dead.  He told me not to worry that wasn’t going to happen.

The last day he was alive he went around to the stores in our area to see if he could get a job.  It was Saturday night and he was hanging out at his friend’s house.  He called me about 1:00am to say he would be staying at his friend’s house and that if he wasn’t his friend’s mom would drive him home.  We told each other we loved each other and that was the last words he spoke to me.  The next day was Super Bowl Sunday and every year our family would get together and watch the game.  Late Sunday afternoon we hadn’t heard from him.  We called his friend’s house and he said Kieran left his house at about 1:15 AM right after I talked to him.  His cell phone was dead.

We called every one of his friends, no one had heard from him.  My wife called his friend’s house and spoke to his mother.  Initially she acted annoyed then realized the situation.  I went to the police and reported him missing.  They said he probably ran away and didn’t take the situation seriously.  Five weeks later his body was recovered from a canal near our house.  The homicide detectives believed it was probably an overdose.  When the autopsy report showed he was sober and according to them there was no evidence of foul play they were closing the case.  When I had to go to identify him he was so badly decomposed I had to get his dental record for them to make a positive ID.  Ever since, we have been fighting with the authorities.  Kieran’s story was the subject of an investigation that was aired on TV.  A few months ago we finally got the DA’s office to review the police investigation.  That is still ongoing.

The affect this has had on me, my wife and 2 daughters is beyond comprehension.  We are still struggling to make sense of this.  One thing I can say we are all still in this together.

I have come to hate the word closure.  I won’t have closure until I am with Kieran again.

Kieran’s death certificate states his manner of death is “Undetermined”.  4 years, 7 months and 10 days later and his death is still “Undetermined”.  I still wake up every night around 2:00 AM, knowing that this was probably that last hour he was alive.  The nightmares are too much to bear.  The horror he experienced during his death, no child and no parent should experience that.  Kieran was only 17.

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User Comments ( 9 )

  • Mo

    Couldn’t imagine the pain you’re in , it’s ten years later and I’m thinking of Kieran and saying a prayer tonight .

  • Steve Christen

    Thank you Jerry, for sharing Kieran and your story with us. You are a powerful example of courage and honesty for those of us who grieve deeply.

  • We hate the word “closure” as well. There’s no such thing. We also hate “at least.”

    I’m sorry you have had to deal with this.

    I wish you strength and peace,

    Roger Reynolds
    CJ’s Daddy

  • I also lost my 33year old son to an apparent drug overdose. I still have don’t know what happened and have not received a cause of death. He was always in trouble and had just gotten out of prison 6 weeks prior to his death. He was my first born son and I love and miss him so much. He was also my best friend and we shared a lot of interests. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • John McCaffrey

      Jerry thanks. I think I saw your story in the “tell your story section”. Kieran was my best friend. I think we may have alot in common. The greatest thing was no matter how bad things got we would end our talks by telling each other we loved each other and hugging. Not too many teenage boys would do that.
      My email is jmccaff2@optonline.net if you want to talk.

  • Steve Brackett


    I just wanted you to know I read your and Kieran’s story. Quoting the Stevens Minister from Kelly’s book “that is a hell of a load to carry brother”. For whatever good it does, there are many of us here with you. You’re in our thoughts and prayers.

    • John McCaffrey

      Thanks Steve, I appreciate your thoughts. About carrying that load I paraphrase that old song “He ain’t heavy, he’s my son.”

  • Pat

    Your story touched me deeply, john. As often happens on this crazy journey, I see others with loss mirroring mine…but with “added” layers of question/doubt/regret/responsibility/guilt/etc..etc..etc. that magnify the loss and make the ability to place any sort of bookends around the event nearly impossible. It’s insane to say “I’m fortunate” in conjunction with ANY parameter surrounding my own son’s death, but when I read the pain you carry from not knowing…I can say that I >am< fortunate to at least know "what happened" to my son.

    I wish I could look into your eyes and give you a hug.
    (that goes for all of the dads/parents here as well)

    It's damn hard to go on, but what else can we do?

    thanks for sharing your story… you'll be on my mind. Kieran will be on my mind. Graham is always on my mind.


    • John McCaffrey

      Thanks Pat, I can feel your hug. Just the fact that you acknowledged my pain is uplifting. Hopefully Kieran and Graham are hanging out and looking forward to the day when they will see us again.