Grieving Dads To the Brink and Back Wed, 09 Jun 2010 19:31:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 130387889 First Posting for the Project Mon, 17 May 2010 01:30:46 +0000 This is officially my first posting to my blog.  I hope you will continue to check back from time to time.  I will be posting stories from bereaved father’s from all over the world that have found my project while looking for the support that all grieving dads are looking for.

I promise the stories you will find here will not only break you heart, but will also inspire you and shed some light on what men deal with after the loss of a child.  You may be surprised how forthcoming and honest many of these men are with their grief.

Stay tuned!!!

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August Storm – A Poem from a Grieving Dad Tue, 18 May 2010 04:00:48 +0000 I received this poem from a Ed Mann.  Ed is a grieving dad that lost his son to suicide. Thank you to Ed for sharing this poem.

August Storm

The sun burns hot above

melting dreams like golden love

Try your best to sing and laugh,

to make a perfect photograph


Soak up life and live the dream

Who cares what tomorrow brings

A brand new moon and its time to play

Drum circles on so jump in the fray


Then an August storm blew you away

You couldnt face another day

Once seeking friends so dear

And now youre no where near


You needed to be outside,

open up your eyes so wide

Beg for laughter, kill the pain,

let tomorrow vanish rain


Dark clouds, looming gray,

made it hard to see your way

A simple knot – not a hangmans noose

But we still cant seem to cut you loose


An August storm, a wake up call

Seems surreal but its not at all

A rolling thunder before the fall

A fit of rage that stunned us all


We lost you in an August storm

A love so bold, forever torn

Ripped away, left you hanging there

Feeling lost, thinking no one cared


Choices ancient, decisions bold

A leap of faith into the great unknown

Erased a love youll never know

had you decided not to go


An August storm I can’t forget

Love lost and full of regret

An August storm is raining down

Buckets of tears falling all around


Now your skies so dark have cleared

But where do we go from here?

No good-byes for all to hear

Just memories held so dear

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The Gift of Compassion Wed, 19 May 2010 22:59:06 +0000 The following is a poem/writing I received from a dear friend and angel that helped me through my dark journey after the loss of my son Noah.  Even though she herself was dealing with her battle with breast cancer, she was always there to reach out and listen.  As a grieving dad, she taught me how to grieve and heal.  She taught me how to listen and be there for others in need.  Not to run from the unknown because of our own fears, but to be there, even in silence for others that just need to talk.  She taught me that you dont have to fix peoples problems, just help them carry them until they are again strong enough to carry them on their own.  Lynda lost her battle to breast cancer in December 2009.  Rest in peace Lynda, I miss you.

  Life brings to each of us a time for quite reflection

Pain and loss touches the very essence of our existence

We look for the pain to end and answers to our questions

But pain does not end quickly and answers do not always come upon request.

In time, we find our way and are more able to participate in joy

For in the pain of our sorrow are the seeds of our growth

As the winter garden rests for the spring bloom

We too must wait in our winter knowing that our spring will also come. – Lynda McKay

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Surviving the Death of a Child Mon, 24 May 2010 04:08:30 +0000 I talk to a lot of grieving dads that experience severe psychological impacts after the loss of their child.  I too experienced many of the same impacts after the death of my children and it scared the hell out of me.

Not long after the death of my son Noah I noticed that I had lost my drive, focus, confidence and hope.  I also started to feel things that I had never experienced before, including despair, fear and depression.  Things that use to be important in my life became not so important.

I use to love setting goals and achieving them.  I did this to prove to myself and to others that nothing could get in my way.  I measured my success by how many deals I put together and how high I could climb on the corporate ladder.  How big my paychecks were compared to others around me, others that I considered my peers and my competition.  Many of my friendships became superficial and were based on what can they do for me and I am sure what I could do for them.  I never started out to be this person, but like many, I got caught up in the rat race of life.

The death of my children brought all of this insanity to a screeching halt.  I fought it as hard as I could, but the reality was that both of my children had died and I was left standing with no one around me except for family, my wife and a few dear friends.  I came to the realization, like many of the men I have met through this project, that my life has been changed forever.  The old me died when my children died and the new me was going through some major growing pains.

The transition from the “old” me to the “new” me was tough to say the least.  At some point in time I had to come to grips that the old me was gone, lost forever.  I didn’t have the energy I once had; my nervous system can’t handle the stresses of life, like it once did.  I learned to cut things out of your life that add no real meaning and I try not to stress about things I can’t control.

If you stop fighting it and learn to accept it, I believe the growing pains go way after a while and the new you will start to emerge.  I am not saying that I don’t think about my kids and what I went through every single day, but I don’t let it take me to that deep depressed place I lived for a long time.  I fought hard to get out of that place; I don’t want to go back.

My mission is to let other dads know they too can get out of it.  It will be the toughest fight of their life and it’s scary.  Scary from the stand point that you have to learn to reprogram the way you think and how you want others to perceive you.  You have to let your defenses down and let yourself and others see you for who you really are.  You have to learn to talk about what’s on your mind and what’s causing you to have a bad day.  You have to realize that some days are going to be easier than others.  But tomorrow is a new day.  At the beginning and end of every day, you have to remind yourself that your child wants you to keep living.  They want you to learn to smile, laugh and love again.  They don’t want you to live in despair and depression.  They want you to live a life full of passion. 

This project is a result of my own realization that I must live a life of passion.  My passion at this point in time of my life is to reach out to other grieving dads and help them back on their feet.  Give them another grieving dad to talk to and relate with.  Although our circumstance for our losses may be different, I understand the guilt and the “should haves” we place on ourselves.

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My 16 Year Old Son Was Murdered Wed, 26 May 2010 02:41:45 +0000 I received the following from a grieving dad that lost his 16 year old son to murder.  He speaks with honesty:

I got the news that he was shot when I was at home. In traveling to my parents’ home, I got the next call that he had indeed lost his life.   I stopped the car and I, my wife, my daughter and my mother-in-law just started crying. I got out of the car and started to openly sob on the street.

I definitely can’t forgive the person that did it, or anyone who was there at the time. I want them dead in the worst way. The person who killed my son got life with no chance of parole.  This is not enough for me.  I want him to suffer each day a little more than each previous day. He killed my son because he was talking about something that happened previously.  To take a humans life is unforgivable. 

I sometimes find it hard to forgive myself because I should have done more in his life to help change his life. My son started to get away from me.  I knew this.  But I never thought it would turn out like this.  It’s heartbreaking.

I have become removed from everybody.  I don’t call anybody, I don’t return calls, emails, text messages, etc.  I don’t go to church.  I don’t socialize at all. I just do things that bring me joy around the house and that’s pretty much it.

I am now an advocate for stricter gun laws.  I also think that if a person takes another persons life needlessly, then capital punishment laws should be in place in all 50 states.  Don’t waste time or taxpayers money.  From sentencing to death chamber should be no longer than one year.  I miss my son deeply and feel ashamed that he had to go through such a horrible thing, but it just angers me so that, as a society, we have allowed ourselves to become such pushovers to criminals to take away the things that we cherish the most. Tougher laws need to be in place to protect the innocent and not the other way around.

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Loss of a Child: It’s Okay to Ask for Help Sun, 30 May 2010 18:09:47 +0000 Men are often times forgotten or ignored when it comes to emotional support after the loss of a child.  As a grieving dad myself, I didn’t receive support until I, as a man/father, decided to reach out for help.  The pain, anxiety and depression had reached a point where fear and panic attacks started to occur more frequently.   I couldn’t hold the pain in for much longer and I needed to find a way to let it out.  I finally came to the point where I knew I couldn’t do this on my own and needed help.  

Once I made the conscious decision to not let myself be defined by the losses of my children, I began to open up and the law of attraction allowed compassionate people to enter my life.  I met with counselors, pastors and other angels God put in my life to help me pull out of the despair.  I found strangers who had the courage to reach out and help with no agenda. 

Women typically have this type of support from the beginning where men are often times forgotten.  Men need support as much as women, regardless of how tough and strong they look on the outside.  I considered myself pretty tough, but I couldn’t fight it alone.  As men we are always taught to be the strong one.  However, on the inside we know we are living a lie because the pain is festering.  A lot of guys find “alone time” to cry.  The pain impacts the ability to function in life, the ability to go to work and focus on your job.  Men try to push through it and try to go back to the person they were before, but that is not possible.

My mission is to let them know that it’s okay that you are not the same man as before.  You have to find a way to embrace the person you are now and become the best person you can become now.

As a result of my losses, I have become a much more tolerable, compassionate and loving guy than I was ever before.  I see the pain in others eyes and reach out to them where before I would run away because I didn’t know what to say.  I have learned that you don’t have to say anything, just give others the permission to grieve and talk.

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I Cremated My Mother and Buried My Daughter (Part 1) Tue, 01 Jun 2010 23:38:09 +0000 The following is a story I received from a dad that experienced two losses over a 2 week period.  First his mom and then his daughter.  This is part 1 of a 3 part series.  As he puts it “in about a month-and-a-half, I cremated my mother and buried my daughter”

I had been working on finishing the basement and kept getting interrupted with calls of how mom’s either a little better or a lot worse.  Swine flu put her in the hospital for two weeks in November.  She was sent home on oxygen for a week or so, and then had to go back in the hospital with pneumonia.  I got to the point where I yelled to no one in the basement, “Don’t call me again unless she’s getting better or clearly dying.”  I should have been more careful what I asked for, because on December 28th, 2009, I received the call from her doctor.  “We need you to make a decision,” he said.  Mom had been on a ventilator for two weeks and the hospital gave me two options: 1. Give her a tracheotomy for her ventilator and start a feeding tube and move her to a nursing home and wait to see if she gets better in a couple of months, or 2. Take her off the machines and see what happens.  Mom had long said that she did not want to be kept alive by machines, so I figured I’d take her off them, but I wanted to see her and evaluate her condition myself in person.  I spoke briefly with mom’s boyfriend about the situation, and he seemed prepared for me to fulfill her wishes to not be kept alive by machines, no matter what the likely (and inevitable) costs.

I was using the shop vacuum cleaning up the basement when my wife got home.  I was wearing hearing protection so I didn’t hear her until she yelled at me just to get my attention.  Like a royal asshole, I threw down the vacuum nozzle, shut off the vacuum, and yelled, “What!?!”  She was just trying to let me know she was home.  I told her, “I got the call,” and she asked if mom had died.  I said, “No,” but that I had a decision to make and that I needed to go to Kansas City to decide what to do.  We talked about whether she and our son should come with me and looked at the internet for flights and prices.  I didn’t really want her (being 21 weeks pregnant) and my son exposed to hospital germs anyway, but she wanted to be there for me.  I found one ticket far cheaper than I could get per ticket for two on the same flight and didn’t want her exposed to all the stress either, so we decided I would go alone.  By the time I reserved my flight for 8 p.m. and reserved a rental car, I was left with one hour to prepare and pack.  I was on time to the airport with time left to spare, so I went to the club lounge for a snack and to try to relax.

I arrived in Kansas City about 10 p.m., got my bag, and selfishly went straight to my hotel to check in.  I then dropped my stuff in the room and headed for the hospital.  I arrived in mom’s room in the intensive care unit at almost exactly 11 p.m., December 28th, the same day I got the call.  My decision wasn’t quite as obvious as I had hoped.  When I saw mom, she did not look like herself.  She was fat like me, and she just looked like a swollen blob.  The skin on her hands was stretched so tight I was almost afraid to touch them.  But still, she only looked a bit uncomfortable.  I quickly figured out, though, that she was miserable.  She was (I think) both glad and relieved to see me.  She could not talk because of the ventilator, but I could communicate with her some.  As soon as she became fairly lucid, she started swiping her left hand from right to left.  It was something she had always done when she was talking about wanting something to stop.  I asked her several times if she wanted the tubes out, and she nodded yes every time.  Then, she would pat my hand and open her mouth trying to say, “It’s okay.  It’ll be okay.”  Removing the tubes was what she wanted.  So, I told mom’s nurse around 2 a.m. that I had made the decision to remove the tubes.  She asked if it could wait till “morning,” and I said yes.  At some point, I told the doctor, and he warned me that her death might not be pretty, but violent in her gasping and fighting for breath.  Sometime around 10 a.m., I finally got to speak with mom’s primary doctor.  I told her my decision, and she warned me that mom might die quickly in a somewhat violent manner gasping for breath or that she could hang on for a week or more, but that if I removed the tubes mom was going to die.  I told the doctor I was prepared for either and my decision stood, so she started the process.  About two hours later, mom’s respiratory doctor finally came in to remove the tubes.  Mom seemed awake, aware, and relieved that they were taking out the tubes.  As soon as they came out, the respiratory doctor put mom on oxygen.  She breathed in her mask like she had just walked up a flight of stairs, and with every exhale said, “Water.”  It was 12 p.m.  After what seemed like far too long, the nurse came with a cup of water and some swabs.  As soon as the nurse swabbed mom’s mouth, she felt better and stopped repeating, “Water.”  Then later, mom started asking for water again, and my biggest regret is not simply getting the cup and swab and giving her some water myself.  Eventually, mom stopped talking and her breathing slowed, and at 2 p.m., she went to sleep for the last time.

I spent the rest of the week going through mom’s stuff, and taking care of business.  Mom always said two things about her death: 1. “Do whatever’s cheapest,” and 2. “I don’t want any funeral or service or viewing or anything.  If they can’t come see me when I’m alive, they don’t need to see me when I’m gone.”  Per her wishes, she was cremated on Thursday, December 31st, 2009, with no viewing or funeral.

I flew home Saturday, January 2nd, 2010 first thing in the morning.  On Sunday, after discussing it with my wife, I decided to take another week off to recover from mom’s death.  Little did I know that more tragic events were about to unfold in the days ahead.

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I Cremated My Mother and Buried My Daughter (Part 2) Thu, 03 Jun 2010 17:48:08 +0000 The following is Part 2 of the 3 Part story I received from a grieving dad that lost his mom and daughter over a 2 week period.  I must admit this part of the story was very difficult for me to read and it triggered some tears.  It is very similar to my experiences during loss of my two children.  It is kind of graphic, but I think its important to understand the trauma that people experience during such an event.  Many peole expereince this but never have the opportunity to express how they feel since a lot of people feel uncomfortable hearing such a story.

A few days after I cremated my mom, my wife’s bleeding started.  She was now about 22 weeks along in the pregnancy.  She talked with the doctor and we went to the ER.  The doctor put Mary on bed rest and observation.  Once the bleeding slowed and seemed to stabilize, we felt a little more at ease, but started to dread the possibility of up to four months of bed rest in the hospital.  Since I was already off work for the week, my days consisted of getting up, taking my son to daycare, driving 45+ minutes to the hospital to spend the day with my wife, leaving around 4 p.m. to drive 45+ minutes to have drive thru dinner and get my son and head back to the hospital so my wife could spend some time with him, and then driving back home at night.  I usually was able to sneak a shower in there somewhere each day.  I was putting about 120 miles a day on the truck and, especially after the loss of my mom, began to feel I was wearing very thin – I was so selfish.  So, since my wife’s bleeding was almost stopped by the end of the week, I started pressuring her and the doctor to get her home so my life would be easier and I could have much more time with her and my son.  I just didn’t think I could handle that for four months, but now wish I had because we would probably have my daughter today if it were not for my selfish pressuring of my wife and her doctor.

We got home about noon and I had to turn around at about 5 p.m. and go back to the ER with my son since he had a high fever that neither Tylenol nor Motrin would touch.  He had pneumonia, which was extra unsettling at the time since mom had just died of complications from pneumonia/H1N1.

The next day I ordered a Doppler fetal heart rate monitor so we could listen to my daughter’s heart.  That night my wife passed a large clot and we called the doctor.  The doctor asked a few questions and said she did not need to come in to the ER.  I had ordered the monitor with overnight shipping, and we got it and used it to listen to my daughter’s heart.  That night my wife’s water broke.  By the time we got into the triage room in the maternity ward, there was no heartbeat and no movement.  My daughter had died in utero two weeks to the day after my mom.

My wife had been having regular contractions since we had left home for the hospital, so she was contracting for about four hours.  Just after midnight, I was alone in the room with my wife when she said she felt like she needed to go to the bathroom.  So, I helped her to the bathroom and waited outside the door in case she needed me.  Fairly soon, she groaned, and then said, “Something came out of me.”  I stepped in immediately and could see the fear of the indignity that she had just delivered our baby, so I held my wife with one arm and pulled the emergency cord with the other.  Two nurses actually ran into the room closely followed by a third.  They got their gloves on, retrieved my daughter and took her and my wife to the bed still connected.  This all happened so quickly.

My daughter died in utero and was delivered on January 13th, 2010.  She was 11 ½ inches long and 1 lb. 2 oz.  One of the nurses cut the cord and took her away to clean her up and dress her so that we could see her, hold her, and spend some time with her before taking her away.  The nurse that dressed her also made clay imprints of her hands and feet, made ink footprints, and took a few pictures of her for us before we saw her and while we were holding her.  While the nurse was working on my daughter for us, I left the room and called our former priest.  He gave me explicit instructions on how to baptize my daughter and said he would come see us immediately.  I went into the side room off the maternity room where they store the baby warmer and where the nurse was still working on dressing her.  I asked the nurse for something to put some water in and she gave me a clam shell.  I put some water in the shell and poured the first water saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father,” poured more water saying, “and the name of the Son,” and pouring again saying, “and the name of the Holy Spirit.”  Then, I dipped my finger in the remaining water and put a cross on her head, blessing her in the same way.  Because of her appearance, I expected her skin to feel dry and scaly, but it was soft as a baby’s skin should be.  Then I left to let the nurse finish preparing her.

Soon after, the nurse brought her in to us wrapped in a pink blanket dressed in a small white gown and bonnet.  My wife held her held her and looked at her for a while, trying to etch our daughter into her memory.  Later, my wife offered our daughter to me and I held her for a while as well-doing the same.  We both touched her little hands and face and told her how sorry we were that we were not going to be able to be with her and raise her and hear her laugh and cry.  At some point while we were with her, our priest came in and baptized her again (just to be sure).  Later, we let the nurse take our daughter, and eventually we were moved a recovery room, still in the maternity ward on the side with the new mothers.  We finally got to bed about 4 a.m.  Later that morning we had some visitors and our friends brought our son back to us around 11 a.m.  Most of that day is really a blur to me because of the hours we kept and the extreme devastation.  That afternoon, we wanted to see our daughter one last time, and one of the nurses went and got her for us so we could hold her one more time before we left.  Both of us still wish we had spent more time with her.

Our hospital offered an option to have our daughter buried with several other babies who had died in utero during the last quarter in a place called the Garden of Angels at no charge, and we thought that, since she wouldn’t be alone, that would be a nice option.  However, we also wanted to have a service of our own for ourselves and our family, so we called our priest.  We had a full Catholic funeral for her on January 28th.  She was buried on the 29th.  We also went to the multi-family service at the Garden of Angels where she is buried on February 13th, 2010.

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Fourth Anniversary of the Death of My Sweet Baby Boy Mon, 07 Jun 2010 03:13:03 +0000 This posting is a writing from me (a grieving dad) and not from one of the grieving dads that reach out to me.  I wrote this one for me and my son Noah.  I released a lot of tears writing this brief posting; mainly from the reality that sits in from time to time.  I hope it sheds some light on some of the things that bereaved parents go through after the loss of a child.

The four-year anniversary of the death of my sweet baby boy Noah is tomorrow.  I really don’t know how to handle the day.  He officially died on June 7th and was born on June 8th.   We try to make it a special day for baby Noah with a balloon release and a birthday cake.  I know it’s kind of fucked up, trying to do “normal” things on a day that isn’t normal.  I really don’t know what else to do.  I just want him to know that I miss him dearly and that I haven’t forgotten about him, so we sing him Happy Birthday and blow out the candles in hopes that he is watching and understands how much we love him and miss him. 

Although he wasn’t alive when he was born, the time I spent with him was awesome.  He was so tiny he didn’t even fit into the preemie outfit we had bought him in anticipation of this death.  We spent 6 hours with him before the nurse had taken him away.  Those 6 hours were the worst and best time of my life.   I knew he wouldn’t be coming home with me, like most parents are fortunate enough to experience, but that didn’t stop me from being a proud father.  He was so beautiful. 

We are fortunate enough to have his hand prints, photos, his outfit and the blanket the nurses had wrapped him in, but it will never be enough.  The hole in my heart will not be filled until I am holding him and my daughter Katie in my arms again. 

It took me a couple of years to be able to function in somewhat of a normal way again.  The grief and sadness of losing Katie and Noah has taken a major toll on me mentally. 

The next couple of days will come and go and most of our family (and certainly friends) won’t remember to call or check in with us.  There will be excuses like “I didn’t want to remind you or bring you down”.  What they are really saying is “I forgot” or “I didn’t have the courage to actually have a heart to heart conversation with you about the death of your child”.  Most people don’t like the felling of being “uncomfortable”.  However, the parents that have lost a child must live with that “uncomfortable” feeling every day.  It’s a reality in which we live. 

If it weren’t for some dear friends that have also experienced a loss of a child, we wouldn’t hear from anyone on Noah’s birthday.  The cards and gifts that we receive from these friends are truly heartfelt because they understand what its like to be alone in your thoughts on these difficult days. 

In closing I want to wish by beautiful son Noah, Happy Birthday!  You will always be with me and I will always miss you.  I look forward to the day that I will get to hold you in my arms again.  Please know and remember that your daddy loves you so very deeply.

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The Aftermath: I Cremated My Mother and Buried My Daughter (Part 3) Wed, 09 Jun 2010 19:31:18 +0000 The following is “Part 3” of a 3 part series I received from a grieving dads that faced the loss of his mom and daughter over a two-week time frame.  This one is appropriately called “The Aftermath” due to his attempt to get back to “normal”. 

In about a month-and-a-half, I cremated my mother and buried my daughter.  My life will certainly never be the same.  Things that once seemed so important couldn’t be more trivial to me.  All my other problems seem very small next to what my family has gone through.  For a while, I turned all my attention to supporting my wife.  Once she seemed to be getting significantly better, I turned inward and have gone through a great bout of depression.  I am starting to come out of it, but I am still always either very sad or on the edge of going off on whoever says just the wrong thing to me.  I find I am productive at work, but I don’t care about it.  I maintain a semblance of productivity to support my family.  I’ve never been a workaholic, but now it all seems that work is very trivial to me.  I have a lot of anger for the person I have chosen to blame for the death of our daughter, though it may be misdirected.  I’ll probably never tell her anyway, so I don’t suppose any harm is done as long as I can also get past it somehow, someday.  Mostly, I am just sad and miss my mother who I knew very well and my daughter who I never got to know, but love just as much as if she were here with me.

We have begun the process of healing, but I have come to realize that waiting for things to get back to normal is futile.  Things will never be “normal” again. 

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