“Out to Lunch” by Kelly Farley

Out to Lunch

Last week I had an interesting experience when I took a lunch break from work and decided to go out instead of going home to eat lunch. Little did I know that I would get more than I bargained for when I stepped into the restaurant. I was standing in line getting ready to place my order to take home when I heard through the rest of the noise in the restaurant, “Noah, come sit over here”. Hearing those five words caused me to turn my head and take notice of the situation.

When I looked to my left there was a lady about my age with two children. A little girl and a little boy, which I assume was Noah. I would guess he was about 5 years old. He was trying to eat his chips and salsa while his mom was guiding him to her side of the table by placing her hand on his head. He was a cute little blond kid and his little sister was just as cute. I couldn’t help to think about my Katie and Noah and what they would be like today. What would they have been like? I’ll never really know for certain, only in my imagination.

I realized I was smiling towards these little kids and I then realized the mom was looking at me. I then it dawned on me that she is probably wondering why this guy is smile at my kids. If I was her, I would have been thinking it. But the reality was I was thinking about my children while watching hers and she could not have known or understood that I am a grieving dad and that I was just missing my kids at that moment.

I paid for my food and I left for home. It was one of those moments that just came and went, unlike the early days when this type of situation would stay with me for days. I wasn’t even thinking about it when I left. However, later that night I was sitting with my wife listening to music and enjoying a glass of wine. We were talking about our day and the conversation turned to my experience earlier while I was at lunch. When I was telling my wife about what happened, it triggered an emotional response I didn’t expect. My wife smiled at me and I said, “It’s hard” and she said “I know, it is hard.”

The point of this story is these types of experiences will come up and they will trigger certain emotions or thoughts. Even when you’re several years out from the death of a child, you are still vulnerable. It came and it passed a lot quicker than it did before, but it is hard.

Anyone have similar experiences that triggered emotions or thoughts?

This entry was posted in Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Emotions, Grief, Grieving Dads Words, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Pain, Smile, Triggers. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to “Out to Lunch” by Kelly Farley

  1. John Geraci says:

    For some reason this last post has triggered an emotional avalanche in me. It’s gotten extremely bad.

    In fact, dangerous.

    Two weeks ago, I was thinking about Leslie as I was going down the driveway, got tears and realized I needed to get some tissues. Accelerated going back and missed the gardener by an inch. Shit. I was so frightened; and so was he of course.

    Then today, I had another attack and thought I had stopped in the crosswalk, but didn’t and thank God, the teenager was alert and jumped back. I apologized profusely but she called me every four letter word in the book and I just smiled and figured she was right.

    I have decided, if possible, to only grieve when I’m inside my house. Or pull over to the curb if I can’t contain it. I don’t want someone else to join our group because of me: one tragedy is enough.

    Anybody have any other ideas? Thanks.

    • Grieving Dads says:


      I am sorry you are having a few tough days. I am also sorry this posting has caused you so much “emotion”.

      I do have a few ideas, I encourage you to grieve whenefer you need to. If you need to pull over, do it. I think holding it in causes more issues than not. There is a reason your emotions are being triggered at that moment, it’s your bodies way of saying, “it’s time to release all of the built up pain.” I would pull over and sit there. Some times, I would even pull over lay my seat back cry and fall asleep. This stuff is exhausting. There is no right or wrong way, just let it out when you need to. I use to cry all the way to work and my desk and a few times when I was with clients. Of course I was embarassed at first, but they were very supportive once I told them what i was dealing with. That is another thing I found helpful, is honesty. Tell people hey, I am sorry I am out of it or I am crying, I am trying recover from the death of my child. Most people are pretty understanding. If they are not, well you know my response to that, fuck’em.

      Thanks for sharing John. If you are ever having one of those moments and you need to speak with someone, call me. Put my cell in yours and you’ll have my number. I’ll answer if I can, if not leave a message I will certainly call you back ASAP.



      • John Geraci says:

        Thank you for your support. I couldn’t find your cell, so please send it to my email.

        I don’t like to impose, but it’s nice to have the idea that if things got really bad, there would be someone to call who knows what I am going through.

        I have a birthday coming up and I keep thinking how last year Leslie was here to share it with me and how wonderful and sweet she was, even though she was fighting for her life, doing chemo, etc. And how this year I won’t get that call, or even again, and why I have all these years and she didn’t get that many.

        Someone said, you will survive this. No. You don’t survive, you just endure.

        Thanks again. This community/site you’ve created is a godsend. Bless you and everyone who contributes their honesty … and pain.


  2. There’s a TV commerical (maybe some of you have seen it) with “My name is Nicole Johnson” across the screen. That is my daughter’s name.

    It freaks me out. I have to leave the room.

    Not only that, my boyfriend’s daughter-in-law is named Nicole. Every time he talks about her I flinch inside.

    • Grieving Dads says:


      I get the TV experince. Whenever I see newborn babies on TV it hits a sensitive spot with me. I never realized how many shows/commercials show new born babies until after our losses.

      My wife still turns the channel if a show is about babies or has pregenant women.

      Thanks for sharing.


  3. John says:

    My experience is similar to Tim Hayes’ in the respect that my daughter was 24 and married. What makes it especially tough for us is that she found out she was pregnant just one month before she died, but miscarried just a couple of weeks later.

    What will quite often get my attention are young mother’s about Allison’s age with children. These days I will go through a whole range of emotions in what seems like the blink of an eye. From wondering how Allison would handle that bratty little tyke begging and pleading to have that piece of candy or that toy, to knowing that we’ll never, ever have any grandchildren to call our own, (Allison was our only child).

    I used to think that those thoughts and feelings would eventually go away, but after reading so many posts from so many parents who have lost children on this and many other web pages, I have come to accept the fact that no matter how long it’s been since Allison’s death, I will watch her grow up through the people around me. I will always make comparisons and think those “what if” questions…

    and I will always believe that she could have handled “that situation” with her child better than the person I’m observing.

    (Never underestimate the power of positive thinking!)

    With respect,

    John Wolfe
    Sanger, Texas

    • Grieving Dads says:


      As my post says, this happens to me all the time. In the back of my head I always know how old they would be and I’ll catch myself wondering what they would look like and what they would be doing at that moment.

      Thanks for sharing John.


  4. John Geraci says:

    Thanks, once again, to everyone who posts here. Just yesterday, I had a similar golf experience like Dan: At the turn, I checked my messages and one of the caller IDs was right next to my daughter Lelsie’s, whose ID will always be on my phone. When I saw her photo again, I had to pretend to need to visit the men’s room because the tears were flooding my eyes. Needless to say, I didn’t play the back nine very well — not that that matters anyway, given the scheme of things. But it helps to know that other fathers get felled by these small things. I will try to remember the positive things next time.

    • Grieving Dads says:


      These are not small triggers, do not underestimate them. These are normal responses to a not so normal situation. I am sorry that it happened when you were trying to have some time to relax, but triggers know no boundries. I dont blame you, I would keep her photo on your phone as well. There will come a time that when that photo pops up, you’ll smile at her and nothing else in the world at that moment will mean anything.



  5. Pat Bultemeier says:

    After 8+ months some of the triggers of everyday life don’t send me into a puddle anymore, but we live in a small/active resort town and my son spent his entire life growing up here. EVERYWHERE we look there’s a memory. We’ve been in just about every building in town together at one time or another, skiied every run, hiked every trail. When we head out of the house we inevitably see someone we know or end up somewhere where the memory flow is fast and furious. The good thing is that they are all good memories, though that doesn’t make it a whole lot easier in the long run.

    If it is OK to recommend reading/books here I would suggest checking out The Grief Recovery Handbook. For SURE it addresses the feeling you described above Tim about “betraying his memory” and how to place that in proper context. A very good read that picks up on the fact that people do NOT know how to act when dealing with folks like us…

    love and light


    • Grieving Dads says:


      Thank you for sharing the resource. It sound like the memories are a blessing and a curse. Cherished for the good times and cursed because its a constant reminder that he is no longer with you.

      Thanks Pat.


  6. Tim says:

    Sometimes i’ll just be washing the dishes or folding some clothes or some other mundane thing and I’ll start crying. I don’t have a clue why I started. I’ll think about him in the car, or the grocery store, wherever.

    I also have started grieving the grief: even phrases like ‘it gets better’ seem to drive a wedge between his memory and my life. I am not sure I want “it” to get better.

    Triggers are reminders that he’s still inside of me wanting to get out….i cannot wrestle these thoughts down, nor can i change the feelings that bubble up…but i suppose, someday, i’ll have to decide whether choosing a brighter future is a betrayal of his memory.

    Thanks for sharing your stories.

    • Grieving Dads says:


      I too use to start crying for no apparent reason that I could see. The reality is I think the body can only hold the pain in for so long so it jsut releases when it needs to to protect itself from nervouse breakdown and other health aliments.

      Only you can come to terms with the whole betrayal thing, I use to feel guilty when I would have a good day. Trust me, it took years to get to that point, but I must say that after 5 years and 7 years since my losses, goods days are about 80% of the time and the bad days are nolonger as bad the the “early on” bad days. It comes from a shift in how you start to view things. What you allow to stress you out what you no longer allow. It is a major process to redefine who you are as a person.

      Thanks for posting Tim.


  7. Dan says:

    Hi Kelly,
    This post reminded me of my “out to lunch” experience too. I was on the golf course which my son Daniel & I often had played together before. I wasn’t actively thinking about him on that day but on previous days the sight of a young man golfing with his dad or mom would bring waves of grief to me. Anyways, playing alone I got to the 4th hole tee which was located right next to a private residence where some people were playing live music hooked up to speakers that made it very easy to hear on the golf course. As I teed up my ball they started playing “Oh, Danny Boy” & I began to cry. I can’t remember how many holes it took before I stopped crying but there it was right out of the blue-another reminder that my son wasn’t with me in body and we wouldn’t be enjoying a round of golf together ever again.
    Of course I stll get other reminders from time to time but that one particularly stands out for me. I also try to recall some of the silly and fun things he said & did while we golfed as I find it sometimes is easier on my emotions to hold on to the good memories. At least now I can try to focus on them whenever I’m feeling sad & it helps me get out of the grief mode. It certainly wasn’t like that at first though as I often felt I would never get out of grief mode.
    Thanks for your post, Dan

    • Grieving Dads says:

      Dan –

      Thanks for this story. I could see how your experience would trigger the emotions on the golf course. I like your technique for changing your “mind set”. But you are right, early on, you can’t do that. You are just in it until it passes, which take days.



  8. Dan Richardson says:

    Hi Kelly,
    I can relate as well. It was just the other day when a truck driver came to our plant with his son who couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. While walking through the parking lot, the man was leading his son while holding his hand. Then, as I watched, the man had to check behind his truck and asked his son to wait. His son stood there as his father did what he needed. The son watched his father with interest and I could “feel” him begin to worry that his father might travel out of his sight. His father did not and returned shortly. Dad reached out his hand, the child lifted his arm up to grab his and they went off on their merry way.
    I just had to stand there for a momen – in the moment. I was smiling as I watched, just like you did at the restaurant and for the very same reason. One of the things I miss most of all with my little Dylan is when I had a Friday off of work, I would be there waiting outside school when he got out and he would hold my hand as we walked back to the car.
    You and your wife are correct, it’s hard, very hard., And, you never know when a “moment” will happen.
    God Bless.

    • Grieving Dads says:


      Just reading the story of the little boy holding his daddys hand makes me smile. You do never know when those moments will hit you. They are random and I am sure there are several things a day that could hit you, but it takes the right mood and situation for the triggers to occur.



  9. Elaine says:

    I’ve been on this long, rough road for 10 1/2 years now. I didn’t work until about 3 years ago, but now I work in a middle school (cafeteria) and there are two boys named Dylan that come through my line every day to pay for their lunch. I have to look at the students photo on my computer (register) screen while I ring them up, and usually I will say , “Thank you, John, have a nice day, etc. But with these two boys with the same name as my child who I don’t get to call by his name out loud, I just can’t say their names. I do say Thank you, or have a nice day but I don’t say Dylan. I just want to be able to say it here, in my home while saying goodnight to my boy or good morning, and it hurts like hell to not be able to

    • Grieving Dads says:


      I must admit, your story made me smile a little. The fact you call these kids “John” problaby throws them off a little 🙂 But I don;t blame you at all. I think one has to do whatever they need to do to protect themselves.

      Thanks for the story.



  10. Bryan says:

    When I saw the title of this post, I initially thought it was a description of your mental state due to the loss of your children. I guess I was projecting my mental capacity of late onto this post. It does feel like my body is here but my mind is out to lunch.

    I find myself watching children the same age as my Charlie all of the time. Two weeks ago I walked into a coffee shop and was floored by the sight of a little boy wearing the exact same winter coat that Charlie had worn. That triggered an avalanche of emotions and buried me for the rest of the day.

    • Grieving Dads says:


      You are correct, that would be a great title for the mental state one often feels after the death of a child. I remember those days all to well. Lips would be moving, but I never heard anything they were saying. I would just shake my head and try to get out of the conversation.

      That coat expereince is tough. I bet that did trigger some pain. Did it take you a moment to even hit you? Or did you know if right of way?

      Thanks for the story.


      • Bryan says:

        It knocked me down immediately. I saw him as I was opening the door and I turned around and went to a different place for coffee.

      • Grieving Dads says:

        I think avoidance is a good appraoch. No since in self inflicted pain. I try to do that when I see new born babies. I ahve gotten better at it, but it still hits me from time to time. I know find myself seeing the innocense in children taht I never really noticed before.

        Thanks for the comments.


  11. Tim Hayes says:

    I quite often find myself watching young children and smiling, exactly as you did. Since my son was nearly 26, my experience has a different slant. My son and his wife made a decision to wait for children, and this is the year I expected to ready myself for the role of grandfather – not grieve my son. It is especially challenging at times because I am surrounded by co-workers and friends with new grandchildren. I sincerely try to be enthusiastic for them. They should be excited! But their joy is a reminder of what will never be. Fortunately, it does not seem anyone has noticed how I often fade out of conversations or put on a smile to hide my sadness.

    I try to remind myself that I have a daughter, and although there are no real prospects of a son-in-law apparent on the horizon, I truly do not know what God has in store. Embracing the unknown and living for today… sounds like grief… sounds like life. How can something get both easier and harder at the same time?

    • Grieving Dads says:


      I stuggle with the same thing at my office, guys having new babies and then bringing them into the office to show them off. I know they don’t do it on purpose, but its hard to see the newborn babies. They are just proud to show them off and depedning on the day, I may “disapear” for a while until they have cleared out. Just trying to protect myself from the triggers.

      Thanks for sharing Tim.


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