June 2019

Father's Day Grief

Men are often expected by society to be the strong ones.  They tend to view themselves as protectors.  And when they have a child who has died, it is easy for them to spiral into deep feelings of guilt or failure.  They may put on a tough face and just focus on getting things done.  They may to take on projects or more work to stay busy and distracted.  They will often focus on caring for the mother of their child rather than caring for themselves.  But they are not always as strong on the inside as they project themselves to be.  Men grieve.  And we could definitely be better as a whole in supporting grieving men in our circles.  With Father's Day just a couple weeks away, we could all make it our mission to take away the stigma that men don't want to talk about their hurt; we could all tell a man in our world who will be grieving either the death of his father or his own child that we acknowledge his grief this year.  All of our strong men deserve to be supported too.

This month, we start by sharing an article by Kelly Farley in which he discusses the many dates that trigger fresh grief for him each year; the last of which being Father's Day.  He admits that Father's Day is hard, recognizes that he won't be acknowledged by anyone but his wife as a father, and he confides that he still doesn't know how to celebrate (or not) even after a number of years.  Then we share a short article by Tim Nelson about facing a new grief on Father's Day.  Though he has been dealing with the grief of Father's Day following the death of his daughter 25 years ago, he now is dealing with the death of his own father this year as well.  We hope that by sharing these men's stories, it will remind other men that they are not alone in their grief.

Journey Towards Fathers Day

by Kelly D. Farley

It’s that time of year again, a time for renewal.  It’s time to say goodbye to the dark, gray, cold days of winter and hello to spring.  In late February/early March I start to search desperately for the first signs of hope; hope that spring is right around the corner.  The first Winter Crocus to peak through the ground or spotting the first Robin after a long winter is a welcoming sign that winter is leaving ever so slowly.   By the end of March, the days become a little longer and a little brighter, bringing with it new growth and color.  I love the smell of spring in the air, the beautiful spring flowers, fresh cut grass and the sound of a spring thunderstorm washing away the winter gray.

However, for me, the excitement of spring turns to uneasy anticipation in April as I face a series of dates I don’t really want to deal with.  The days of naively enjoying the spring are gone, they have been gone since the spring of 2004.  Can’t I just enjoy the spring for what it is?  Unfortunately, the answer to that questions is “no”.  

With the arrival of April comes Easter and the reminders; the reminders that my daughter Katie and my son Noah are not here.  No Easter dress for my sweet Katie and no smiles on Noah’s face as he finds the Easter eggs hidden around the yard.  I was never fortunate enough to have experienced these events with my children before they died, but they do play out in my head as to the “what if” and “what should have been”.  I keep most of these thoughts to myself and don’t really say much about them to anyone else.  I don’t want to upset my wife by saying them out loud, even though I am sure she is thinking the same things I am during this time.

Late April brings Katie’s original due date.  This year would have been her fifth birthday.  As we do every year on her due date, we order a cake, sing her Happy Birthday and blow out the candles.  Then we head to the park to release balloons and watch them until they disappear.  Some would think this is a sad and depressing way to remember your child’s birthday.  But for me, it isn’t, it’s my way to let her know that I love her and I miss her and look forward to the day of holding her in my arms.  

I am sure that many of the people that know my wife and I think we should just move on, to let her go, but I really don’t take much stock in what they think because it wouldn’t be fair of me to ask them to understand.  How could they unless they themselves have lost a child?

The month of May brings another uneasy day, Mother’s Day.  Though I still go through the motions of calling my mom to wish her well, I have been given the burden of watching my wife’s face turn to sorrow as this day approaches.  It’s just another reminder that she doesn’t have a living child to call her mommy.  She never got to experience the love and hugs of a living child, only the heartbreaking feeling of being a mom to two beautiful babies that have died.  As her husband, I want to take away her pain and replace it with all of the joys of motherhood, but that’s not possible.   Read More...

Grieving Dads

by Kelly Farley with David Dicola

This book is a collection of survival stories by men who have survived the the death of a child and lived to tell the tale. They are real stories that pull no punches and are told with brutal honesty. Men that have shared their deepest, darkest moments; including thoughts of suicide, self-medication and homelessness. Some of these men have found their way back from the brink while others are still standing there, stuck in their pain. The core message of Grieving Dads is “you’re not alone.”   Shop Here...

Swallowed By A Snake

by Thomas R. Golden

Discover new and powerful ways to heal, how the genders differ in their healing, greater understanding between partners, examples of successful and unique healing strategies, new ways to understand your grief, and ways the individual’s loss can impact the entire family.   
Shop Here...

A different kind of loss...

by Tim Nelson 

To get to my age and have both my parents still living is a gift I never took for granted. But it was not until my Dad's death last week that the true impact of my good fortune really hit home. I have spent a good deal of my adulthood talking about the death of my daughter and the loss of my future that event represented to me, but I am now feeling what many others have felt before me -- a sense of losing my past.

I believe it is wrong to compare losses or try to debate which one is "worse," so I won't even go there. Pain is pain, and when you are hurting, it doesn't matter what the cause is, it hurts. It also doesn't matter whether someone has felt a similar pain before you or how many blessings the life that is lost may have brought you. During those moments of grief, it hurts bad.

To be honest, I thought I was somewhat prepared for this loss, and to a degree maybe I was. A parent's death fits more into the scheme of how life evolves so I guess that from that standpoint it was something I knew would likely happen at some point. What I did not anticipate is the emptiness that comes from knowing that someone you have counted on your whole life is no longer a phone call away. My Dad's death came after a brief illness, but we did know the last week of his life that he was dying, so we had some time to bring closure. It was a treasured time that I did everything in my power to avoid, because I did not want to be confronted with having to say goodbye. Now that it's over and I can look back, I know it was the right thing for me to do and I'm glad the decision was not totally left to fate.

Rather than ramble on, I will just say that even after all my talking and preaching about the importance of "being there" and the lessons I tell others Kathleen's death taught me, I still did a lot of the same avoiding I did 25 years ago. I could even get real down on myself for that, but instead I am going to concentrate on the fact that, in the end, I stepped outside my comfort zone and did what I knew I would regret not doing. That feels good, and I have Kathleen to thank.

The lessons just keep on coming............ 

Tim and his wife suffered the full-term stillbirth of their second child, Kathleen. While that was a number of years ago, he has stayed connected to the issue through writing and speaking on the topic of father's grief following the death of an infant.   Check out his book here...

Strong and Tender

by Pat Schwiebert

A book especially for fathers, this is a collection of insights, helpful hints and tender thoughts to give a father strength during the dark times of grief following his baby’s death. For too long fathers have been the forgotten grievers. By giving him this special book you tell him you also recognize his loss.   
Shop Here...

Men, Grief, and Solitude

By Daniel R Duggan

When men experience a loss, their first step may be to move inward into their solitude, where they can express themselves, confront what has happened, deal with feelings, and begin to sort out their next steps. Typically, this process helps them to eventually move beyond their solitude and into relationship again with the significant people in their lives. This book explores why this process may be important for men, tells stories of men coping with loss, and looks at gender difference in grief and the various doors into the core of grief.   
Shop Here...

Quote of the Month

You can not die of grief, though it feels as if you can. A heart does not actually break, though sometimes your chest aches as if it is breaking. Grief dims with time. It is the way of things. There comes a day when you smile again, and you feel like a traitor. How dare I feel happy. How dare I be glad in a world where my father is no more. And then you cry fresh tears, because you do not miss him as much as you once did, and giving up your grief is another kind of death.   Laurell K. Hamilton

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MISSION: The Grief Watch mission is to offer spiritual, emotional and other support to persons who are grieving and the professional caregivers who assist them.  For more information about us please visit our info page.

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