The following was sent to me from a fellow grieving dad Kevin Black. I can relate with many of the same issues Kevin talks about in this posting.
The Unsociable One
My son, Mason, was born in December 2000 with HLHS (Hypoplastic Left-Heart Syndrome). He had his first open heart surgery at 6 days old. Second and Third surgeries at 5 and 6 months. When he was about 16 months old, we were told that he would need a transplant to survive. 6 months later he / we got the transplant. After he got the transplant, he was doing outstanding. He was doing well till April 7th, 2012. That morning, he just told his Nana that he was feeling dizzy. He vomited, laid back on the bed, and he was gone. That marks the beginning of our journey through life without my little man………
“Come on. Let’s go out to lunch, today.”
“No thanks, I’m just going to stay at the office today”
It’s been like that since I came back to work 2 days after burying my son. That in itself was a huge mistake that I wish somebody could have talked me out of, but that time has passed.
It’s not because I don’t like the guys at work, that’s not the case at all. They have all been real good to me. While most of them don’t know what to say, I know that any one of them would be there if I needed something. I know I could call on any one of them at any time, day or night, and they would be there. That is somewhat comforting.
For reasons that I cannot explain, I just don’t want to go out with them. Not just that, I don’t want to be in the office with them. I don’t want to be anywhere. Most of the time, I sit at work in a daze. I spend a lot of time searching the interwebs looking for other grieving parents; reading their stories so that I can relate to them. I do the bare minimum for my projects. I put in zero extra effort. I don’t have the desire to be the best at what I do like I used to. I find that I can’t concentrate on things anymore. My memory is just about completely shot. If I don’t write it down, I probably won’t remember it. I can’t perform like I used to. Bigger problem is that I don’t care. Coming back here so soon when I really didn’t want to be here has left me with a feeling of resentment toward my job.
Those that knew me before know that I was a pretty easy going guy. I never got wound up about anything. I was the first guy in the office every morning and the last one to leave. That guy is not here anymore. I hope that I will be able to maintain some sort of normalcy through this unending process.
I struggle to sit through meetings. I feel like I’m fighting off a panic attack while sitting at the conference table. That is so unlike me. I have found myself getting more and more aggravated with people in general. As Kelly has written in a previous entry, my filter is pretty thin. I don’t have any issues with speaking my mind anymore. Sometimes, it’s probably a little harsher than necessary. Still, I’m not going to apologize for that. This freedom of expression is kind of liberating, but the cost of getting to this point is way too expensive.
All that being said, I am truly thankful for my family and friends. I hope that none of them ever have to experience this. I am extremely thankful for Brandi and Isabella being here. If not for my two girls, who knows where I would be.
I also have experienced many of the things Kevin feels.
Our son Micheal was also HLHS born in May 1999. He had 4 early surgeries, at age 6 days, 6 months, 1 yr and two years. From age 2 until 2014 there were no more surgeries. There was pneumonia and a few other scares but nothing bad with Mikes heart.
In january 2014 my wife, an RN, diagnosed our son with Plastic bronchitis. She texted pics of the casts to our cardiologist who agreed. The only cure for plastic bronchitis is a heart transplant. Mike, 14 and full of life, was placed on the transplant list. He got his new heart the weekend before valentines day. His new heart worked perfectly and all was hopefull until he started having seizures 24 hours post surgery. A cat scan showed a bleed and the doctors did all they could. His brain continued to swell and on the evening of February 16th it started to hemorage. There was no hope from this point on and we let him go the following morning. He never awoke from the surgery and we miss him terribly.
I personally can attest to all the feelings Kevin described. I returned to work 3 days after burying my son. I have a very busy and stressful job in sales and for that I am thankful. The business takes up about 10 hours of each day and there is not time to think about anything else. When I’m not at work I want to be home or otherwise left alone. I am now and forever a changed person and I don’t value the things I used too. At times I am angry with God, while other times I am grateful to him for letting me have a wonderful son for 14 yrs. I miss my child terribly and parents who haven’t lost a child can’t comprehend the feelings. I don’t seek understanding or compassion I just dont want to be involved with lunches and other activities that I used to enjoy.
The world is not a secure place but instead it can be a very unstable place to those who have lost what is most precious. We have a 25 yr old daughter and two grand kids we have custody of. I suppose it helps to have other children, in fact I know it does. However no amount of children will ever fill the void left by my sons death. I miss him every minute of every day.
First of all, I am so very sorry for the loss of your son, Mike. As you are very aware of, it is heart-wrenching. It is a physical pain, a real pain, that you feel way down deep inside.
“I miss my child terribly and parents who haven’t lost a child can’t comprehend the feelings. I don’t seek understanding or compassion…..” I know exactly what you’re saying. I don’t want them to know what it is like. I’ll disagree on wanting compassion though. At times, even over 2 years out, I still have my week moments and I want them to understand what it is I am still dealing with. When I tell them to leave me be, I want them to understand and just leave me be.
You are right in saying that the world is not a secure place. I thought it was. I thought I was doing a pretty good job in keeping control over everything. Of keeping my family safe. I couldn’t protect him. It became clear in that instant that I was not in control. I wasn’t in control of anything. All I had to do was protect him, and I failed.
I have been looking for days for a site for a Dad dealing with the loss of a child.
My 16 year old daughter passed away without warning on November 19 2012 and the nightmare began. I have found support with different groups and people but as we all know, we are the only ones that can understand what we are going thru. Unless you have lost a child this pain, this darkness, this life is not something that any can understand.
I searched the internet trying to find anything that would help me cope. There had to be something that would explain why my chest hurt, why my whole body was one big knot, why I could not breathe or sleep or eat. In my last search I found over 3,000 websites or blogs for mothers who have lost children, really try it.
Now I don’t want to take away anything from anybody. But until recently I was a single father, I do not need a mothers point of view. I needed something to help me. I did not give birth to her but I changed the diapers, I did the feedings, I drove the car at 2am because that was all that would put her to sleep. I bought her first bra, helped do her make up at her first formal. I did it all. So where was my help, my guidance?
I have started my own journal, and have felt the calling that this needs to be remedied. So maybe someday I will have the book or blog whatever it ends up being, so that another Dad can find a path thru this. Know that it is ok to cry, scream, be mad, rage at the world and feel like you just want to die because it doesn’t matter anymore. Know that it is ok to go to work when you just want to lay in bed and sob. That is ok to if you don’t want to go to work and stay home and sob. That there is no right way to grieve and if what you are doing is right for you, well guess what? Then it is the right way for you. There is no time limit on this. We will always feel the pain, the emptiness, the darkness. But we will go on, somehow, someway.
My daughter is safe and sound in Heaven, wrapped in love and happiness. Isn’t this what every father wants. It just hurts that it is not my arms that hold her, not my arms that keep her safe.Not my ears that hear her laughter or my eyes that see her smile. But one day I will and that is the day that I LIVE for.
Peace to you all
I wanted you to know that we are thinking of you, Mason, and the rest of your family today.
May love and light guide you and comfort you….
From my personal experience, the first year is the hardest. The phrase, “It gets easier after that.”, is relative to your particular situation since none of us grieve the same. In my case, I’ve learned to accept the passing of my daughter, because to do otherwise, FOR ME, would be disastrous.
20 days and counting to the 2nd anniversary. I find myself with huge mixed emotions, huge highs and lows.
One of the things that is keeping me (us) occupied right now is that we recently adopted an 8-week-old puppy from a dear and trusted friend. This is not really something we thought out, but went with our gut feeling on.
It’s proving to be a challenge for us, for me, but at the same time, there are a lot of similarities between raising a pup and raising a child. Constant vigilance and potty training are the two most obvious, but it amounts to much more than that. Both are fragile young things that are out to explore the world around them…and in the process make me smile and grimace at the same time.
My daughter was a dog person and she had two of her own. I’d like to think that in some unfathomable way, we are raising our daughter again…although this time she’s having the last laugh! 🙂
John and Kevin,
Thanks. Your replys help.
The last two weeks have been hard because Thanksgiving was when Ben came home. The ski area where he worked was busy at XMAS and we really didnt mind him not coming home then as long as we saw him at Thanks. We had fun when he came home. So the last two weeks have really driven it home that he is gone. I knew they would be bad but I have to admit they did catch me off guard. It hurts as bad as the first few weeks after he died. Doesnt hurt the same. The pain is different, but it is just as bad. So anyway, now I have that first Thanksgiving behind me, I’ve learned alot and I’m pulling myself out of that hole (again). I expect I speak for us all when I say that it sure will be nice when these damn holes get shallower and less frequent.
We’re still in our year of firsts. Next Wednesday, Mason would have turned 12 on 12/12/12. It’s going to be rough, so I’ve already ‘planned’ a ‘sick’ day from work.
I’m very sorry for your loss.
We lost our son Ben in an avalanche on March 1, 2012. He was 29.
As Emelie and John said, your story sounds alot like mine.
At first I couldnt function at work at all. Now I have some days where I can function and some where I sit and look at the screen… so I guess its getting better. But everyday its hard to be here and to see much point in any of this. And that doesnt seem to be changing and it scares me.
While I know I’m not alone by a long shot, a good deal of the time it feels that way and so it does help to hear this from other grieving dads.
I can feel the pain in your reply, and I just want to tell you that it DOES get better, I promise. It may not seem like it now, but you’ll find, over time, that the pain will slowly subside.
One of the things my wife and I did was get counseling, and that helped a lot. But for me, the best thing was just sharing my story with other grieving fathers. Being able to talk to people that have been through the same experience was very helpful.
After almost two years, I still have those days where I feel hopeless and lost. but I come through them knowing that I still have people in my life that care very much for me…and some of those people are here in this forum.
I hope that both you and Kevin continue to share your stories with us, because it not only helps you to heal, but it helps the rest of us too!
I too am very sorry for your loss.
It looks like we are both pretty “new” at this game. I too am at the “what’s the point of this” stage.
I guess it is some improvement. I commute almost an hour and a half each way to work. Just recently I have made it all the way here without crying most of the way.
As I was reading your story, it felt like I was reading my story…exactly….to a tee. After our only child, Allison (25), passed away in December 2010, I went back to work 3 days later. At the time, I was working at a job I hated, but about 6 months later, my dream job came back to me.
Almost everyone came back to work after having been laid off two years earlier due to the economy. I think I truly thought that everything would go back to being “normal”, but reality soon set in. While I still worked with the same group of guys It wasn’t the same, and I soon came to realize that they weren’t acting different, I was.
Just like you, I just didn’t have the same drive that I had before Allison died. I would come into work and just sit there for hours on end. I got by, but with minimum effort. I used to be gung-ho about my job, but I found myself not giving a damn about anybody or anything.
But a year and a half later, I’m beginning to start caring about my job again. What I’ve realized is that as much as I care about the people I work for and with, my family…my personal life…is far more important to me. I also found that by concentrating on my personal life first, my professional life followed suit.
What has worked for me may not work for you, but I truly believe that by taking care of yourself and your family first, everything else will fall into place in time. I know that isn’t much to go on, but it’s the best I can offer at this time of the year.
Fortunately, I realized it as well pretty early on.
They haven’t changed, it is me.
They haven’t had the life altering tragedy, I have.
They don’t walk past their sons empty bed room every morning on their way to work, I do.
It’s not like I want them to know what it is like. I don’t. I don’t want anyone else to feel this. I just want them to understand that I’m not who I was before. I’m just not very sociable. Just the thought of sitting around the table laughing and telling jokes makes me sick of my stomach.
But, all in all, I have to admit that I really like my job. I enjoy the challenge of it. Every day is something new. I know that someday I’ll wake up and start to enjoy it again. It won’t be overnight, but gradually it will come around.
This is exactly how I feel about work, and pretty much my attitude towards everything. I don’t know where we would be without the connections we have made through our local SHARE group. It is sad, yet comforting, to know so many other parents that have lost.
Thanks for the comment. You’re right, it is sad that there are so many others who have lost children, but at the same time, I am so very grateful that they are out there to help us along the way.