No Easy Day
As all grieving parents know, there are some days in this journey that are more difficult than other days. Today is one of those days for me. November 12th marks 8 years since we lost my beautiful daughter Katie.
There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about her or her brother Noah. However, these kinds of days are more than just psychological, I also feel them physically. Although I don’t feel the intense pain I use to feel as these days would approach, I still feel them. I have noticed over the last two weeks that I have been feeling agitated. People have been really getting under my skin in ways that force me to lash out.
One of those events was triggered by the Pastor at a church I attend on occasion. I didn’t care much for the tone and judgmental nature of his sermon last weekend, so I sent him a pretty honest email, and I mean honest. To give you an idea, here is a small sample from the email I sent him:
“The respect I had for you was erased yesterday, all of it. The man I thought you were (caring, loving, forgiving, welcoming) was erased while you revealed your true self (elitist, judgmental, ruthless, fake, hypocrite). What I saw yesterday was a man that was all about him and growing the church, not for helping people, but for his own ego.”
Was it harsh? Yes. Did I mean it? Yes. You see, one of the things I have noticed since becoming a grieving dad is the fact that my filters have become a little thinner. What I mean by that is I don’t always blurt out an unfiltered response if someone pisses me off, but sometimes I do.
My point is, the last couple of weeks, I have been pretty honest with others if I feel like I am being attacked or belittled by someone. Some of it is probably fabricated in my own mind. However, I refuse to let others treat me, family, friends and fellow grieving parents with anything other than respect. Since becoming a grieving dad, I also think before I speak to others, careful not to say or do anything that hurts someone else feelings or makes them feel bad in any way. So, when I see others doing these things as a form of manipulating, belittling or bulling others, I will call them out on it.
The death of our children has changed us all in various ways. Some I am proud of and some I am not. But I do try to live my life so my daughter and son would be proud of their dad. A dear friend of ours and a fellow grieving parent sent us an email this morning letting us know she is thinking of us. In her email she added the following quote she recently read in a newsletter:
“Just as parenting a child in your arms takes a lifetime of adapting to a changing relationship, so too does parenting the memory of the child you hold in your heart. This is a journey that lasts a lifetime.”
This is a journey that lasts a lifetime, not always full of pain, but it’s always with you on some level. It’s a path you cannot possibly understand unless you too have walked the path.
If you read this posting today, I ask that you keep sweet Katie in your thoughts or light a candle for her.
I love you my sweet sweet Katie.
Hi, your posting spoke to me. I lost my daughter Jeanne a year ago August. She was my introverted starving artist. Full of creativity just oozing out, didn’t care about money, even hardly jobs. Hit her stride when she moved to Berkeley a couple years ago. Just loved life – and underdogs. Your story about the range of emotion you feel was so dead on. Therapy has not helped much. i still go to a parents grief group monthly. It is a very sad place to go. But I feel that as sad as it is, it is also a safe place where most people don’t say stupid things – but are caring and sensitive and allow you to be wherever you are at the moment. I am all over the place. So hard to sleep even with medication. It is just so very sad. When my Dad died at 70, I felt like he had a good life and died too young. But i did not feel that i had any unfinished business with him, or got cheated out of desired experiences. with my lovely daughter – it is just the opposite. I so looked forward to continuing to relish enjoying her and watching her go through life i her chosen manner. I worked very hard to help her learn to navigate confidently herself towards her dreams and loves. At least I feel that she lived her life congruently with her dreams and beliefs – even in spite of many times, those being opposite of my chosen paths…. i am proud of her, and am also proud of me for being a good dad. But it is just so hard to navigate much of the insensitivity and trivia that comes ones way – my daughter new the important things in life – relationships, honesty, trust, love and true friendship. She was so much more than these words. i have hesitated to write or journal as it seems so inadequate to try to capture her in mere words…. or capture my grief in words. It’s just so painful losing her……
Thank you for sharing your thoughts here on this topic. I know the pain you carry all to well and you are right, “its just so painful”. Those words do not capture the pain, but for all of us that have lost a child, we understand the depths of those words.
I applaud you for going to the parents grief groups, they are tough to go to and yes, theya re a very sad place to go. But of until you think you have had enough. There will be a time when you feel its time to go. You are still early in you grief (about one year out) but I ask that you start thinking about ways to allow your daughter Jeanne’s creative spirit to live on by helping others. If you get a moment, Google “Ben’s Bells” in Tucson AZ. Its a very cool organization started by a grieving mom and dad to honor their son. For some reason, its speaks to me in regards to you and Jeanne.
Thinking of you & Katie too as the date passes. I lost my 20 yr old son Daniel on Nov. 3, 2009 so just re-experienced some of the painful memories too. I also have been less than kind in some of my responses to others but I try to keep quiet first when situations arise that seem to piss me off. I’m now attempting to be of help to hurting people when the occassion comes up.
I really appreciate your site and comments as I can so relate to many of your posts.
I also get a lot of things to think about from other posts by other parents, especially dads.
Take care and remember to be gentle with yourself too.
Thank you for the kind words regarding Katie and my blog.
I hope November 3 was not to difficult on you as your relect on your son Daniel.
Most of the time I keep quite when something is bothering me, but I couldn’t let this one go. Not to mention I had a lot on my mind and the anger does still show itself from time to time.
Kelly – Didn’t get the chance to reply yesterday, but you were on my heart. Thank you for being real. I am curious to know what kind of response you receive from the email to your pastor. The church SHOULD be a place of healing for those who are hurting. Sometimes, it is far from it. If only there were no humans running it…
Thank you for thinking about me yesterday. Although it was tough, for some reason i woke up in the dumps today. I think its the weather here in Chicago, cloudy and cold. Need a few days away in the sunny desert.
Your welcome for being real. I try to provide that on this blog. Some people dont want to hear it and thats ok, I get it. Its not for everyone. As far as a response, I never received one directly from him. I did however hear from another pastor in the church that I am meeting with later this week.
I AGREE with you 100%, it should be a place for healing for those who are hurting. I completely understand that they are lead by humans, and we all make mistakes and act in ways we shouldn’t. I just felt like I had to speak up for the demographics of the people his was attacking that day. Viciously, I might add. Right or wrong, I felt like I need to speak up on their behalf.
December 29th marks our 2nd anniversary of Allison’s death and I too, find myself with conflicting emotions.
On one hand, I fully don’t give a shit about anyone or anything. All I want to do is to crawl into my little shell and let the rest of the world rot in hell.
On the other hand, I realize that that is not the solution. As desirable as it sounds and as close as I come to doing that, deep down I know it’s wrong.
Have I changed? Certainly…I am much more vocal in my discontent about many things. But I am tempered by my upbringing, my 20 years of Naval service, by my wife, family, and friends (not necessarily in that order).
My filters are definitely thinner, but somehow I manage to keep them in check. Can you call me out on a lot of my rhetoric? Absolutely, but it just friggin feels good to get the emotion out.
I’ve taken the liberty to use the quote of your friend as my tagline on my email. I’d really like to give the author credit for it. it really says a lot to me, and may touch a few other lives in the process.
Thank you for your thoughts on this issue. I am glad you acknowledged that you too have “thinner filter”. Its does feel good to get the emotion out. I dont always speak my mind, but some times one slips through.
Curling up is not the solution, nor is islolation, but its easy to get to that place. I believe that spending time with other grieving parents as a community is an important part of the healing process.
Thanks again for sharing.
I think about Katie (and Noah) nearly every day. This site is one of my home pages, so every time I open up my browser, I am reminded of you and your family.
I want to thank you again for everything that you have done and continue to do.
Kevin – Although I have not commented there, yours is one of the blogs I follow. There are those out here who also think of Mason nearly every day. Thanks for sharing your heart. It is so nice to not be alone in all this mess.
Thanks Tim. I write there not so much to keep people informed, but I think it does me some good as a way to let it out. Sometimes it may feel like it, but we are not alone in this mess.
I appreciate you reading, feel free to comment on whatever you like. Thank you for keeping Mason in your heart.
Thinking of Katie on this difficult day for you and your wife.