Earlier this year I was approach by my friend Dianne Gray to write the following article and create a corresponding video for a new project she was working on. Dianne is a fellow grieving parent and Board President of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation. In addition to all of the great work Dianne does from those that are grieving the loss of a loved one, she also worked with Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman & Amy Sky to create a the new album “LIV ON” – The new album was designed to aid & comfort those experiencing grief & loss while using the power of music to heal. The song I was asked to write a piece for is called “Stone in My Pocket”. Although I had not heard the song prior to writing my piece, I found the title very fitting. Check out article below, my video and the LIV ON album (which is now available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify).
In My Pocket
I don’t intentionally keep it a secret, but I also don’t advertise it to everyone; it’s kind of personal. Just knowing I have it with me makes me smile, and it gives me a sense of peace and comfort throughout the day. When it’s not in my pocket, it can be found in a small decorative plate near the back door of my house with a pile of the other everyday things I take with me. Other things include loose coins, keys, wallet and my phone.
The song “Stone in My Pocket” instantly made me think of the item I’ve kept in my own pocket for nearly ten years. This item serves as a reminder of what I’ve been though, and the fact that I have survived the death of my two children. More importantly, however, it reminds me of my Katie and Noah, and how they are always with me and looking out for me as I make my way through this life. They guide me to be the best dad I can be.
The item was originally a heart-shaped pewter pocket coin with the words, “May the Spirit always guide you” inscribed on the front, and the words, “May the Father ever watch over you, may the Son ever bless you” on the back. I say “originally” because it has dramatically changed throughout the years due to the abuse it has taken while living in my pocket. The coin has worn to the point where the words are hard to read, and about five years ago, I noticed a small crack starting to appear at the top where the heart comes together. At the time I thought it appropriate, because I did have a broken heart.
I still do.
As time progressed, the size of the crack increased until the coin completely broke in half about two years ago. I carried both of those pieces in my pocket for nearly a year, until one of the pieces went missing. I didn’t panic right away because the coin has occasionally fallen out of my pocket throughout the years, but it has always made its way back to me when I retrace my footsteps. However, this time I couldn’t find the other half. I looked everywhere for that piece, and I still keep an eye out for it in hopes that it will show up some day.
I don’t remember how this coin made its way into my life all those years ago, but I am sure glad it did. It has served me as a trusted friend by providing me comfort in times I needed it.
The item in my pocket and I have both changed throughout the years, but I find it fitting since both of us continue to move through life with a piece of us missing, a piece of our heart.
Although a piece of my heart is missing, I know I still have to find a ways to survive the impacts of losing Katie and Noah. Does a heart shape coin in my pocket help me survive? In some ways it does. So does the black silicone band I wear on my wrist with the words “Grieving Dad – Love is Forever” engraved on it.
They both serve as reminders of my children and what I have gone through. They remind me that life is bigger than myself. They remind me to live my life in a way that would make Katie and Noah proud of their dad. I do that by trying to help other dads through the aftermath of losing a child. When I was at my lowest, I felt alone. I felt alone because there were very few resources for men that have lost a child. I made a commitment to myself at that time that if I survived the nightmare, I would do something to help others.
The good thing is, I did survive and I wrote my book to serve as that resource. I interviewed hundreds of grieving dads as part of the research for my book. The one thing I noticed as part of my conversations is the fact that I learned the difference between the dads that were doing “ok” versus the dads that were still very stuck in their grief. The difference is this, the men that are doing “ok” have found a purpose that allows them to honor their child. They live their life helping others in a way that would make their child proud of them.
My advice is to find a cause related to your child and make it your life purpose. It will allow you to feel close to your children; knowing that they are smiling and saying, “That’s my dad.”
Kelly D. Farley
Author of Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back