Kitchen Table

The topic of this blog post has been on my mind for a while.  About 2-3 months ago my wife and I thought about remodeling the first floor of our house.  We researched different types of hardwood floors, new kitchen designs and furniture.  When we first started to look at all of this, we thought it was a good idea.  Now keep in mind that I am an engineer and my wife use to be an engineer (she is now a special education teacher), so nothing is easy.  I am also a real estate broker and I see things I like and don’t like in a house all of the time.  This task was not easy, every little detail had to be thought through and designed.

We pretty much had everything nailed down except the kitchen cabinets.  We kept going back and forth on whether to refinish the existing cabinets or completely replace them.  I was always skeptical if refinished cabinets could look good until I recently saw a kitchen project that done just that.  The results were great.

I decided to call a contractor to come over and give me an estimate to refurbish.  I wanted to see how big of a cost savings it would be versus buying new cabinets.  We made small talk with the guy while he was taking all of his measurements and discussing different finishes.  After he had taken all of the measurements he needed we took a seat at the kitchen table.  He sat at the end of the table and my wife and I sat across from each other.  We continued with our small talk and then I mentioned to him that I had just written a book.  He responded with, “Really? What is it about?”  I responded with “It’s a heavy topic; it’s about men that have lost a child”.  My wife spoke up and said “we have lost two children”.  As I looked back towards him expecting him to change the subject, I noticed he was looking down at his notes and was not making eye contact or saying anything.  I then realized he was weeping.  I ask him “Have you lost a child?”  he responded with “Yes, I lost a son about two years ago in a single car accident, he was driving and lost control.  I am sorry about crying, you took me off guard with the topic of the book.”  Of course my wife and I said “We were sorry for his loss and not to worry about showing his emotion.”  He and I stood out in the driveway for a while just talking about the pain of losing a child.  I gave him a copy of the book, but have yet to hear back from him.  I didn’t expect too, but of course I offered my time to help him if he ever needed another dad to speak with when he was having a bad day.

You never know what kind of pain someone else is carrying around with them.  I have tried to learn to be less critical towards others.  We all have our burdens to carry, some are perceived to be heavier than others, but they are still heavy burdens to the person carrying it.  I always try to squeeze into the conversation about my book.  I do it to let other know there is a resource if they know someone that has lost a child.  However, almost everyone I mention it to says they know a grieving dad that could use some support.  We all know someone, even before we were bereaved parents, we always now a friend or family member that has lost a child.  Even though we feel like we are the only ones carrying that burden at times, we are not.

We never did do anything with the first floor.  Nothing.  We decided we didn’t have the energy to take on such a project.  We use to, but ever since losing Katie and Noah, we have big ideas, but often decide not to do anything with the ideas.  Although excited at first, our energy levels often fade quickly.  Not to mention, our house is ok the way it is, it’s comfortable, clean, safe and simple.  I am all about trying to live my life simply.  However, there are times when I do things that would complicate it, but then catch myself and then take a different path.

How about any of you, have you changed your life to live simply?
Does the pursuit of material items seem “too much” for things that do not matter?
Has your energy levels dropped since losing your child?
Does the value of “peace” far outweigh the value of anything you can buy?

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User Comments ( 15 )

  • John Wolfe


    You may remember that we lost our only child to Sudden Death due to Hashimoto’s Disease in December 2010.

    During the first year we did absolutely nothing…chores went ignored ( but eventually done), projects put aside, etc. My energy for work left me. It was a struggle every night to just do the things I was supposed to. I cut corners when I could, I slept on the job when I could get away with it, I just didn’t give a damn.

    When we first moved into this house to be near Allison and Sean because they were having their first baby, I was ecstatic, because I had my first woodworking shop, something I had been looking for years upon end.

    10 months later, Allison was dead.

    Like I said above, pretty much things came to a halt, including my new shop. I almost got physically ill going out there.

    To make a long story short, a year and a half later, I convinced my wife that we needed to upgrade the house to what she wanted and to that I wanted to upgrade the shop. So we upgraded the kitchen and the master bath, installed all new energy efficient doors and windows, including my shop.

    This was all possible because of my father, who passed in March 2012.

    Don’t get me wrong, I miss my father immensely. He was a man’s man, who took take of my step-mother for years while she suffered from Alzheimers. When she died in August of 2011, he was devastated.

    There are continuous good days and bad days…the pain of losing a child is immense, but the severity of the pain subsides after time. The pursuit of material things ebbs and flows, as do the emotions, and after time, we have created a “new normal”. It’s not as good as the “Old Normal”, but it’s about as good as we’re going to get.

    Embrace it!

  • John Geraci

    Hey Kelly,

    Every time I check back in to your site, I’m always amazed at the depth of feelings we fathers experience in our losses.

    And like several others who’ve said that your contractor was “sent” to you, you were “sent” to us. It’s a damn club none of us ever expected to join. But it’s been a soul-saver. And probably a life saver too.

    So along those lines and what I’m about to say may never come to anything…but…

    A few months after my daughter Leslie passed I decided to turn from writing screenplays to writing fiction. And somehow it “clicked.” And in winter 2013, I make my debut in hard covers when “Dead Man Talking” will be published.

    And I’ve just finished the second book , “Blond Messiah”, and sent that off to the publishers –

    And here’s where you come in:

    In the story, the hero private eye is tracking down a runaway daughter who gets murdered. And in talking about the loss of children, the private eye’s father tells him that he(the hero) had a baby sister that died at 3 months. Huge, life-changing news. His dad also tells him that he’s gotten through it with the help of a group called compassionate friends. And, recently, a guy named Kelly who has this terrific site —

    Who knows if the public will find the books. The market’s so competitive. But I’m hopeful that the few that do who are fathers like us, or know a father like that, will come to you and the group. And find some peace.


    • Grieving Dads


      Congratulations on writing your book(s) and getting them published. I know how difficult it is to make that happen.

      Thank you for thinking about me and the project in your new book. I am honored.

      I am also honored to be the guy the other dads are “sent” to. You would be surprised of the number of people I have spoken to that tell me they have lost a child or refer me to someone that needs help.

      Its now part of my lifes work. I can tell you, my only life work before this project was centered around me and making money with “doing the deal”. It thought that was the answer to happiness. I was wrong. Reaching out a hand and pulling people us is the real feeling of happiness. That in some small way, you made a positive difference in someone elses life.



  • Kelly:

    Its funny, we are re-doing our downstairs. It was suggested to change our home enviroment. Our contractor was almost embarrassed to move any pictures of our son. I believe your contractor was guided to you; it may have saved his soul.


    • Grieving Dads


      That is an interesting comment. A comment that others have made to me about people being guided to me. Not sure if thats the case, but I am honored to be the one to help.

      I do believe that I was guided to the strangers that helped pull be from despair adn I will always be grateful for them. Always. I can only hope that my work has that kind of impact on others.



  • Pat

    “Runaway Train never goin’ back
    runaway on a one way track
    seems like I should be gettin somewhere
    but somehow I’m neither here or there…”

    I heard this soul asylum track on the radio the other day and it has been reverberating in my head every since. Talk about hitting the nail on the head….

    I’m up early…again. Sleep is fleeting. If it wasn’t for the melatonin and the weed I don’t think I’d ever close my eyes. Even with “helpers”, getting a full night of sleep here is rare. I know the lack of sleep wears on me… and it contributes to the overall “syrup” I plod through daily that keeps my energy levels down and my desire to care about all of the bullshit that surrounds me at a minimum. My doctor told me I was “clinically depressed” and all I could think of to reply with was “Um… No shit?” Go figure, huh? He told me he could “give me something” for it….but didn’t think my reply of “how about an overdose of somethin fun and we just get this shit over with?” was all that funny….
    but dammit…I can’t help but feel that way sometimes.

    Living more simply is a huge desire for us but we are finding ourselves trapped by the past…and our past life. Caution in the decision-making process has been severely heightened by the intense grief…and whereas I first thought that things would change radically from Graham’s passing…I’m now finding that it is very hard to take even small steps towards change because each step brings about a new challenge that I just don’t know if I have the energy to take on. I want to “retire” and lose all the trappings and try to find the “fun” in life again but I have no idea where to start. All I really know is that the longer I stay in this zone…the harder it seems to be to break free from it all. It seems insane that we have great jobs and a couple of houses and want to just chuck it ALL when so many others are on the flipside…struggling…..but in the end none of it makes any sense or seems to have any real “meaning” anymore…

    People tell me alll the time how “strong” I am…but I don’t see it. Physically I’ve never been farther out of shape…which is another new challenge for me as I’ve historically worked physical jobs and never had to think about “working out”….and all of the other change laying before me that I need to face/deal with…I have no real clue WHERE to start…

    Crazy stuff. We faced SO MANY things that were not of our doing…and that were out of our control… yet now…when we CAN control things…we have no skill/patients/confidence to do so..or to even try.

    I feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff…. struggling to hang on…but really wanting to just let go and see WTF happens…

    Nope…it isn’t fair. Not even close.

    • Grieving Dads


      All I can say is hold on brother. As my book says, some of us have backed away from the brink while others are still standing there. Its okay that you are still there, its where you need to be right now to sort our all of the shit that has been thrown at you. Trying to sort out your emotions and the pain.

      We are not in total control, but we do have the control of decesion making and how you are going to respond to this loss. Yes, you are not yet to that point of being able to snap your fingers and make it all go away. I can assure you I have been where you are right now. I stayed there for a coupe of years. I eventually made the decesion to get pissed off and do something about it. The book and this project is my “do something”. I have gained so much healing by starting this blog and writing the book. It has allowed me to honor Katie and Noah while helping guys like you through another day. Find that one thing that makes you want to start getting out of bed everyday and before you know it, you will have a smile and you will laugh again and you will live again. It happens slowly…to slowly yes. But it does happen.

      Keeping hanging on brother. I am here for you anytime. Call me or email. I mean it.



    • John Wolfe

      Hang in there my friend, You’ll get through this. Keep talking to all of us through your posts. You have a LOT of support here! Guaranteed!

  • Hi Kelly,

    I normally do not comment.

    Most definitely our life is so much simple. After loosing Jayden, I stop working. I was terrified of leaving my girls anywhere with anyone, even though they are older I realize how suddenly you can loose a child. The pursuit of material possessions lost its meaning. I have received many offers to get back into the work force but my work involved product development for baby items, clothing accessories etc. How do I go to work and decide if a product is going to make it in the market when all I can think its this is the size clothing my baby would have been on now. As of loss of energy both my husband and I have a lack of energy. I didn’t understand why at first but I see more and more how commom it is among bereaved parents. I do miss that about us, the drive to go out to start projects and finish them to be active. It seems like we are living just because. Grieving its so hard. I appreciate so much your writing, it makes a bigger difference than you can imagine. I’m sorry about Katie and Noah, and I’m sorry to all the bereaved parents out there is not fair.

    • Grieving Dads


      I am glad you commented.

      You make excellent points. Pursuit of possessions does lose its meaning when you realize what is really important in life. For me it was happiness, hope and peace. I would have given everything I own to have regained these things in my life. If you don’t have these, you don’t have anything.

      Loss of energy is an interesting topic. I lost it for sure, but it has come back. The thing is I am not sure its now lack of energy that keeps me from getting things done or its the fact that I now know that most of the tasks I think I have to get done are really not that important. Its probably a little of both.



  • Tim Hayes

    Kelly –

    When reading this, I was struck by the reaction of this fellow, bereaved dad sitting at your kitchen table. He would never have anticipated the emotion that seemed to overwhelm him in the moment. It is honestly nice to see that, after nearly two years since the loss of his son, he is still caught unaware by his tears. As I draw closer to the two-year anniversary of my son’s death, I seem to feel as if I should have so much more self-control than I do at times. Grief does not seem to be respecting my timeline… dammit!

    Everyday is different than the one before. Some are good; some are bad. Life is both simpler and complex – all at the same time. I am so tired of reminding myself to take it one step and one breath at a time, but how else can one live when the heart merely wants to stop altogether?

    Thanks for the reminders that we are not alone. Thanks for the encouragement to not take it all so seriously. If the tasks are not completed today – if the kitchen is never remodeled – it does not change the fact that there are others who can sit at my kitchen table and understand my pain.


    • Grieving Dads

      Tim –

      Grief does not respect timelines, no doubt. I remember sitting in a counselors office trying to get her to assure me that I was going to survive this and saying to her, “its been a year, why am I not feeling better, I thought grief only lasted a year”. I laugh now, but I was serious when I asked it. Most grief books say grief goes away after about a year. I now know thats bullshit, but I was hoping it was the case and it was something I held onto. I kept telling myself, “only a few more months and I’ll hit a year and feel better”. I was disappointed when that didnt occue and it also force me to ask the question, will I ever feel better again. I now know that answer is absolutely YES. It just takes time and a lot of pain. Its different for everyone.

      Take one breath at a time is great advice.



      • John Wolfe

        I too kept questioning, “when is it going to end?” My counselor said it would take time and that time is different for everyone. I think I’ve healed a little faster than my wife, but like you and my counselor said, everyone’s different.

  • Andrea

    I always follow you, but when it comes to responding, I’m always so hesitant. So much of what you write resonates with me, a BLM, that I have to speak to it anyway.
    Living simply couldn’t be more of an understatement in our household. We struggle to do the basics, dishes, dinner, mow the lawn, grocery shop, etc. All else has gone to the weighside. At times we feel guilty about it, then we have to remember that its OK and that’s the hardest part some times. Leaving the laundry sit never happened in our house “before,” but now between the two of us we manage to get it done…eventually.
    Pursuit of material things is a joke to us now. We’ve recently been told that I can never carry my own child to term. After losing 6 angels, now we are looking at surrogacy in our dreams of having a family. So, yes, after all we’ve been through, now we have to come up with a ton of money just to have a child. I can’t even buy a pack of mints anymore, all I think about is coming up with the money to have my child. So, yes, I couldn’t care any less for material shit. Just another blow to the soul.
    Energy levels? I’m lucky to shower and brush my teeth each day…guess this goes along with keeping things simple. Ridiculous really, but reality often.
    Finally, peace. Yes, peace. How I long to truly feel that again.
    So much love goes out to you and all families effected by the loss of their child/ren <3

    • Grieving Dads


      It is ok to acknowledge you pain and take a break from all of the “stuff” we used to put such an importance on. In the big scheme, most of what we stress about isn’t important at all.

      I sued to have 3 different “To Do” lists that I ran for work, Real Estate business and home projects. I used to pride myself on “checking” them off the list. After our losses, I stopped those lists for about 4 years. I have to admit that I have started them again, but only one list. And I get to the stuff when I feel like it. Writing my book was a major undertaking, but one I felt like I was ready to do. I am someone that feel like I have to be doing something or nothing is changing.

      I also have to admit that when writing the book, I sliped back into a depressive episode because I was taking on to much. I thought I was healed and could go back to the old me. I couldn’t. I now have to recognize when things are becoming to much and then step back and put things on hold. Its been a challenge trying to understand the new me.

      I do love peace. You dont know how important it is until you lose it. I have made the following statement to a few people of the last couple of months, “I feel more peace in my life right now than I have felt since I ws a kid”. The secret is removing conrollable stresses and managing others expectations.

      Thank for stopping by and yes, I wish you peace.