“There Isn’t Anything Worse”

One of my favorite quotes in my book is “there isn’t anything worse than the loss of a child and if there is, I don’t want to know about it.” I remember the moment I heard that statement. It was a beautiful summer day and I was interviewing a fellow grieving dad to include in my book. We were in Marshalltown, IA and sitting on a brick wall looking over the Maquoketa River enjoying a couple of beers after a long day of bike riding. Since we didn’t ride together in the event that day, it was the first time we had met, but like most of the dads I interviewed, there was an instant connection.

There wasn’t much small talk, just two dads sharing their story and experiences. We sat there staring out over the river taking turns sharing snippets of our horrific nightmare. The trauma, details we hadn’t shared with anyone else and both agreeing our lives had forever been changed.

One of the most important things I walked away with that day is the fact that the death of a child is the worst possible thing a human can endure. The aftermath takes you to places one cannot fathom until you have actually been there.

However, I am cautious about challenging my belief that the death of a child is the worst thing. I remember saying to someone after my first loss that “I’ve experienced the worst day of my life, there isn’t anything you can do to me.” Months later my second child died. So I am now careful how I say things. Although I don’t not believe there is anything worse, I am not looking to challenge that belief and like my friend said “I don’t want to know about it.”

What part of my book did you connect with?
Any stories that spoke to you more than others?

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User Comments ( 15 )

  • Wayne

    Page 2- “This wasn’t written by an Ophrah Winfrey book of the month club author”. Having struggled to find many resources that related directly to men it was this quote that hooked me in. What I most liked about the book was the fact that dads got to talk about their kids (something all dads love to do) which often prohibited by social norms.

    • Wayne – That’s the first I have heard on that line in the book, although its true. My goal with that was to let who ever was reading the book know this was written by a fellow grieving dad, not an “expert” on the subject. Someone that has walked the same path on two separate occasions.

      Thanks for the comment.


      • Kelly, we are all experts now. Far beyond any abstract study of grief, far beyond any research, or psychological profiles, or education. I have learned more about grief in the past four months than any Ph.D will ever learn by study alone. More than I ever wanted to know. And I learn more each day as I discover new holes in my life that Jake left. Simple acts, simple things bring memories flooding back. Each day brings new repercussions as the ripples from December 28th move outwards through our lives. We each must learn how to live with this, and no ‘expert’ can tell us how to do that.

  • Steven Stuart


    Feel free to email me. I will give you my number as well if you want to talk. Kelly and I go back a bit and I am one of the Dads in his book.



  • David

    I just lost my 14 year old son on February 26, 2014…the most horrific day of my life. I loved him with every ounce of my heart and soul. It killed me inside. It is now latter April and I still cry every day….sometimes multiple times. The pain is just too much. I would be lying if I said I had not thought about taking my life. I have a daughter though who still depends on my. She is 19 and she and her brother were very close. To boot, I had been laid off from my job a couple of months before he passed. So every day is pure misery…but need to find the strength to carry on.

    • David – So very sorry to hear about the loss of your son. “The Most Horrific Day of my Life” is the best statement that you can put into words, but we all know it doesn’t even come close to capturing the depths of pain. No words can capture that. Crying everyday is ok, you are only 2 months into this nightmare, I think I cried everyday for almost a year an a half and then it started to subside. You are not alone in your thoughts of taking your life, when I interviewed that grieving dads for my book, that was a very common experience with a lot of the dads. You are carrying the world on your shoulders right now with the loss of your son and the loss of your job. Keep spending time on this sight and connecting with other grieving dads so you know you are not alone in you feelings/thoughts. Try to find a support group and show up even if you don’t feel like it. Find a counselor or a close friend to confide in, if you have faith, turn to it. There is no wrong way to do this, you do what you have to do to survive. But you will survive as dark as it seems right now, light does start to show up at some point.

      We are here. Send me a personal email or call me if you need to talk to someone. Peace.


      • David

        Thank you Kelly. Your words of support could not have come at a better time. This morning has been extremely difficult as I am missing him more than ever. Those self destructive feelings were coming in again. I am seeing a therapist and have been to a grief group. While I have faith in God, it has been a bit shaken with all this. Trying to remain strong in my faith though. Thank you again Kelly.

        • Dave,

          Those feelings will come and go, and then come again. Its all part of this shit storm. I use to panic when it would roll in and finally my counselor said something to me the kind of helped. She said “don’t try and hide or run from those feeling, let them be what they are for the moment.” Easier said then done I know, but I learned to control the panics and convince myself that the storm will roll out again and I then tried to brace myself for the next one. Storms get weaker with time (long time), but they do gradually get a little easier if you do all the tough work.

          You wouldn’t be normal if your faith in God isn’t shaken. I was pissed off at him and felt bad about it, but couldn’t help it. A friend told me that it was ok to be pissed off at him and yell at him, he has big shoulders, he can handle it. I am sure many will disagree with me, but I’ve learned that God doesn’t protect you from the bad stuff, but if you let him, he does help you though it when it does happen. He placed a lot of people in my life, people I didn’t know before, that pulled me through. Find those people, be open and transparent with these people. Tell them your deep dark thoughts and feelings.

          Again, I am here when/if you need me brother.


          • David

            Again thank you Kelly. I will try to seek out those people you are referring to. I will say this has definitely separated out the true friends…those friends that stick by you even after the funeral service.
            I know my heart will never heal completely. I just hope the unbearable pain begins to subside at some point. Thanks again Kelly. Your words of encouragement, especially since I know you have been through it, really help.


    • David,
      I am so very sorry for the loss of your son. I lost mine a little over 2 years ago. We know what you are feeling.

      I wish there were some magic words to make it all go away; to make it all go back to when everything was right, but there aren’t any. As Kelly said, keep your faith. Find somebody to talk to. Find a support group. Just talking about it helps me. Listening to others helps too. Hearing from others the same crazy thoughts that are in your head makes you seem not so crazy at all. It has helped me.

      Feel free to contact me as well, if you would like. black.rkevin@gmail.com

      • David

        Thank you for your words of support. I appreciate it very much. I am sorry for your loss as well. You are right…there are not any magic words. I am finding my faith again and finally breathing again. Still cry every day but not quite as much. Thanks again Kevin. I will contact you by email as well.

  • Steven Stuart

    This isn’t from the book, but it is a quote I refer to when people ask me about the depth of pain I have experienced in having Colin die.

    “A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. There is no word for a parent who loses a child. That’s how awful the loss is.”

    ― Jay Neugeboren, An Orphan’s Tale

  • We can never really understand the depths of pain and torment in another person’s soul. But spouses die and the survivor most often remarries. Your parents pass, and while that’s terrible, it is, given the time continuum of life, “normal”. But when you lose a child, it is the ultimate, soul-ripping tragedy. That son or daughter can never be replaced. You will never, ever be the same.

  • Page 58 – “That’s a heavy load, brother”

    • Kevin,

      Funny you say that. I have heard from several dads that have referred to that same line. I know hearing first hand for me was a game changer. It was the moment I started the long road to recovery. Many steps back and very small steps forward, but there was forward movement that I could hold on to.