Feel the Emotion

I know this is a few days late for a Thanksgiving posting, but I think it applies regardless of the holiday or not.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and over the last several years I have enjoyed sharing my joy for the day with others in need.  Each year I post a brief ad on Craigslist asking for families in need to contact me if they need help providing a Thanksgiving meal for their family.  I usually hear from a family within minutes and generally a couple of families prior to pulling the ad.

I do this because it brings me great joy and it’s a way for me to honor both of my children, Katie and Noah.  I know they are smiling down on their dad and that makes me proud to be their dad.  There are some strings attached to my offer, the first is I get to go shopping for them with their list of needs, second string is I get to meet them and the last string is they have to listen to is me tell them that I do this to honor my kids.  I also give them a copy of my book.

The whole experience is emotional for me and for them.  Last week I had the privilege of helping two families.  The first family was a couple that had two children and the dad recently lost his job.  As I was loading the groceries into his truck, I was telling him about my children and do this to honor them.  They both hugged me and they went on their way, but this time was a little different for me.  Once I got into the car I started to tear up and at first I was trying to fight it but then decided to put my car back into park and sit there for a few minutes to feel the emotions.  It made me proud to be Katie and Noah’s dad and I was proud of the guy I have become as a result of knowing them.

I met the second family the following night.  It was a single mom with three children who disclosed to me that they have not had a Thanksgiving meal in three years and they live on ramen noodles.  Although it wasn’t as emotional for me that evening, the mom sent me a photo of her children the next day.  When I opened the photo it was obvious that one of her sons had some major medical issues.  I instantly knew why Katie and Noah sent this family to me and it made me smile.

I was hesitate to tell this story because I don’t do this for people to tell me how nice of a person I am, I do it for me, Katie and Noah and the families that need it.  However, I thought there was a lesson for other grieving dads and moms to learn.  The lesson is one that I write about in my book, that lesson is “there is healing in helping others.”

Prior to the death of my children, I was the guy who never made time to help others because I was so absorbed into my own life.  There were a lot of people that helped me through the aftermath of my children’s deaths, people who made time.  I now try to make time to help others when I can because I realized how much healing I receive in return.

Have you found a cause to honor your children?

Have you given any thought to what that cause would be?

Tell us about your experiences in honoring your children.

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User Comments ( 3 )

  • Our 24 year-old son Jake was a passionate and insightful boy. He was a big thinker, a builder, a chef, an inventor, an artist, a photographer, a fiercely loyal friend, and most of all, a voracious reader. He died just before New Year’s in December of 1023. We buried him on New Year’s Eve. For the past month, we have struggled with what we were going to do to honor him: donate books to a library, create scholorship somewhere, plant trees in his name? We have decided on a course that can encompass all of these and more. We are going to create a children’s library in his name. A place where kids can find a safe haven, a place to read and be read to, a place that may inculcate a life-long interest in reading, and the world beyond video games and iPods. But beyond that, we envision a place where things will happen. A place where kids can participate in some of the activities Jake loved most: reading, building, painting, creating, cooking. We are starting small, first at our local synagogue, but from such small seeds grow great trees. Our vision includes creating such places in cities all across the country, places where we might be able to pull kids back from their own brink, and give them a new direction in their lives.

  • Donnie Pate

    I have lost both of my children also. My son Kevin in 1989 at the age of 16, and my daughter Kim at the age of 39 (2010). I honor my children by speaking to small groups concerning the grief of loosing a child. Also two weeks ago in Ville Platte, Louisiana I was one of the two guest speakers at the dedication of “Pathways of Hope.” A place where you can honor the memory of a child and not have to go to the cemetery. My wife and I donate to needy family’s and organizations, but between ourselves we do it in honor of my children. Yes, they were my children. Before I met my wife I was a single parent that raised both of my children out of state with no family support. It is hard being a father & mother and then loosing both of your children. But I must say that God has taken my mess and give me a message to help others. Blessings to you and yours during the Christmas holidays and the new year.

  • I have done similar things, although I don’t get closely involved with the individuals. I’ll make donations to different organizations in Mason’s name. I don’t say it’s “in memory of” or anything liek that. Just Mason as the donor. To me, it helps. Somebody, somewhere, will see that doantion and wonder who Mason is. To know that his name will cross someones mind makes me smile a little inside.