“Release” by Kelly Farley


 “All sorrows can be borne if we put them in a story or tell a story about them” –  Isak Dinesen 

This quote captures the essence of my new book.  It’s important to find a way to release the pain all of us grieving parents carry inside.  It’s even more important for us grieving dads because most of us men have a problem telling our story because it triggers emotions we are not comfortable with.  Emotions that we are taught to keep to ourselves, so we do.  The problem is, by keeping the emotions to ourselves, we cannot allow ourselves to tell our story.  Something has to give, either we tell our story and allow our emotions to come out or we do not tell our story which helps keeps the emotions concealed.  It’s a viscous circle that must be broken if we have any hopes of some sort of “recovery”.

Although this blog focuses on grieving dads, this approach by men pretty much applies to a lot of the things us men endure in life.  When a man says “it’s too hard to talk about it”, it generally means “if I talk about it I may cry or show vulnerability”.  This is a place a majority of men do not feel comfortable with.

I spent the last two years interviewing grieving dads for this new book.  During these interviews some men would breakdown and cry and others would try to fight it off by apologizing to me for their moment of “weakness”.  However, the one thing I noticed during these interviews is that when they were over, the men appeared to have released a small portion of the burden they have been carrying.  I think this occurred for a few different reasons.  One, they were sitting with another grieving dad telling each other our stories and the other reason is we each shared a moment were we allowed ourselves to become vulnerable.  There were bonds formed, we were part of a bigger brotherhood of grieving dads.  A sense that we were not alone but we were in it together along with thousands upon thousands of other dads (and moms).

It took me years and a lot of pain to finally get to the point of telling my story, but when I did, things started to change for me.  Very slowly, but they did change for the “better”.

Have you started to tell you story?
How do you tell your story?
Do you notice a sense of release when you do tell your story?
Who do you tell your story to?

This entry was posted in Agonize, anxiety, Bereaved, Crying, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Debilitating, Despair, Devastation, Emotions, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Words, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Healing, Hope, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Men's Grief, Men's Issues, Survival, To the Brink and Back, Truisms, Words of Encouragement. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to “Release” by Kelly Farley

  1. Pat says:

    Our sons were very close in age, Jennifer. Words cannot express my sorrow for you and yours. I’ve learned through all of this to not say “I know how you feel” because even though we have experienced the same magnitude of loss the circumstances and parameters surrounding each of
    our losses play out so very differently in all regards

    One would hope that your school principal/administrator will help you as much as they can in your transition back to work. Again, I cannot tell you what is best for you, but when my wife returned to the office our therapist suggested that she gather all of her employees/peers together at once so that she would not have to go through the individual face-to-face meetings and “explain” anything further about the tragedy for weeks on end to each person she encountered. This worked as well as we could hope for…and she later said that she felt like she avoided a lot of reoccuring pain and yes…the dread of seeing >this person or that person<….most likely…in an awkward situation/place/time by doing this.

    Either way…know that everyone who comes here is standing behind you in support.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Keep writing…and we’ll keep reading. I don’t know what anyone can do to help us right now. I’d like to crawl into a hole and stay there right now. But I have to return to work on Monday (I’m a school librarian).
    This will be the first time I’ll have to face colleagues as well as facing students.
    I am dreading it.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I just found your website today and I have already shared it with my husband. Our 23 year old son died 9 weeks ago and we are still very much in a state of shock. Every day is a struggle, every minute is painful.
    I agree with you that writing is important, but we are not quite to the point of being able to write yet….
    In the meantime, I’ve been reading the writings of as many bereaved parents as I can find. I’ve been putting all the blogs and websites together into one site.


    I’ve added your website – for myself and for other bereaved parents.

    • Grieving Dads says:


      I am sorry for the loss of your son. I understand the “everyday is a struggle” statement. I lived there for a few years. You and your husband are still in the very early days of this horiffic journey. Thank you for sharing this blog with others.

      Please let me know if I can be of any support to you or your husband as you continue along this path.



  4. Matt Thursby says:

    I tell my story to anybody who will listen, and I don’t care if it makes them feel uncomfortable because I’ve become selfish in that regard. I talk about my son Adam as often as I can, sometimes I think it’s just so I don’t forget him but that could never happen. It’s nearly 16 months since Adam never woke up and I still cry daily, struggle to run that straight line and doubt I will ever get back on course.
    Thanks Kelly for your support and thanks for the support of the many brothers of a club we would all rather not be members of.

    • Grieving Dads says:

      Matt – I applaud you for taking the stance of “I dont care if you dont like it or not”. This is a time to be selfish. You have to be in order to allow yourself to let it out.

      Its been several years for me and I still have days where I struggle running a straight line as you call it. The days are few and really far between, but they still exist and probably always will.

      Thanks for sharing Matt.



  5. John Wolfe says:

    I’ve never been a very social person, meaning I don’t go out with friends, don’t throw parties, don’t join groups, etc., at least not very much. Everybody I associate with knows my story and if the opportunity arises to tell it to a stranger I have no hesitation in doing so.

    However, it’s the reaction I get from those strangers that bothers me. I sincerely don’t like making people uncomfortable, and telling my story makes them clearly uncomfortable, so I now pick and choose those I’ll share my story with. It’s more intuition than anything else.

    I lost my daughter in December 2010, my step-mother in August 2011 and my father in February 2012. My mother-in-law is 81, and although in good health and spirits, so was my father…I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    I don’t think I’ve achieved the “release” that Kelly refers to because my emotions seem to be constantly on the move…and they’re slow-moving. I will feel really great for weeks at a time (life is good) and all of a sudden I can’t accomplish anything (and don’t care). I don’t know if this “release” will ever happen, or if I’ll even recognize it when it does. Time moves so slowly. I just want it done and over with so I can move on with my life.

    I know, I know, unrealistic expectation, but it’s how I feel. I can’t bring my daughter back. Her ashes are sitting on our mantle and that’s about as close as I’m ever going to get to her in this life.

    As for crying, I haven’t, at least not like I think I should’ve. My wife was absolutely hysterical at the hospital, but I guess I was in a state of shock, because although I knew I should be crying, I wasn’t. Maybe the “male thing” kicked in, I don’t know, but my world was rocked beyond recognition after that. In the ensuing time afterward, I’ve shed a tear here or there, but nothing like the uncontrollable sobbing I expected myself to do…like I did when my mother passed away in 1982.

    Just for the record, my wife and I saw a counselor for a year after our daughter’s death. It helped, but probably her more than me. I think that enough time has passed that I think she’s come to grips with what happened, and only now am I allowing myself a little latitude. It really seems to be the only logical explanation as to why I’m all of a sudden getting these feelings and the need to talk.

    Well, I’ve prattled on for too long, and I apologize for that. But I do thank you all for listening and to Kelly for providing this forum where I can vent.

    In the words of Kelly, Peace! (Okay, word.)


    • Grieving Dads says:

      John – Those waves or flow of emotions you mention is exactly what I felt. I wasn’t able to accomplish anything at times. To be honest I can’t believe I was actually able do all of the work for the book. A lot of it was the fact I had a purpose, that help me. However, other things in life like work or home chores often suffered.

      Keep in mind John its only been about 18 months since you lost your daughter. It didn’t hit me hard until about the same time frame. But man when it hit, it took me to my knees. Take the feeling you have now and embrace the process of telling your story and express those feelings.

      Thanks for sharing John.



    • Grieving Dads says:

      John – Those waves or flow of emotions you mention is exactly what I felt. I wasn’t able to accomplish anything at times. To be honest I can’t believe I was actually able do all of the work for the book. A lot of it was the fact I had a purpose, that help me. However, other things in life like work or home chores often suffered.

      Keep in mind John its only been about 18 months since you lost your daughter. It didn’t hit me hard until about the same time frame. But man when it hit, it took me to my knees. Take the feeling you have now and embrace the process of telling your story and express those feelings.

      Thanks for sharing John.



  6. John Geraci says:

    Every time I log on to the site, I find something good to reflect upon; even if it’s revisiting older emails.

    My heart goes out to Tim, and, of course, to every other father who has lost a child(or more). I think telling your story or writing it out does help, but only a little .. and really only other grieving fathers can truly understand the harrowing pain and futility you feel. Because at the end of the day, your son or daughter is gone. We who are left behind grieve and suffer at our loss, but it is our child who has lost far more: — not only for the loss of his or her life, but the potential for what the life could have been. And that’s probably where fathers feel the most pain — that we couldn’t do anything to stop it.

  7. Tim Hayes says:

    My situation is a bit different than other men I have encountered. I was in a long-term counseling relationship when my son was diagnosed with cancer in March 2010, so I have been telling my story to someone else every step of the way. It has certainly been beneficial – especially since February 2011 when my son died. At times I feel as if I should be doing better than I am – since I have had solid support throughout the journey. I am not sure where I would be without him. There is relief in having a sounding board who is unafraid of my tears and my anger, but even having someone does not change the reality that I must grieve. I must feel the pain before I can experience any healing from it. No amount of talking will get me around it.

    Interesting… as I wrote that last sentence, I saw a picture in my mind of traveling down a road and coming upon a washed out bridge. At the gorge is a sign proclaiming, “NO DETOURS ALLOWED.” I have no choice on this journey but to brave the treacherous rocks of the cliff down one side then up the other. It sucks. There is no way around it. Also interesting to me… This is essentially what my son faced. He had no choice but to endure the pain of the high-dose chemo in order to undergo the stem cell transplant that was his only hope. It sucked. There was no way around it. Unfortunately for us, when he arrived on the other side of the gorge, he received the ultimately healing, and we must wait to see him again.

    Now, I am not afraid to die. In truth, part of me would not mind the pain of falling upon the rocks – at least I would feel something. Until then, I am still trying to understand new ways to tell the story and survive today. Thanks, Kelly.

    • Grieving Dads says:

      Tim – It sucks, but there are no detours around this. We all must walk through it. I wish we could run through it, but it is a slow slow process that doesn’t go away on command. I wish it did though.

      As far as not being afraid to die, I hear this from almost every grieving dad I have met. It takes away fears of all kind.

      Thanks for sharing.



  8. Sheldon Zimmerman says:

    I saw a counselor for a couple of sessions for my grief because I kept playing the scenario of the deaths of my Mother and Daughter within two weeks of one another. I was seeking help to stop replaying the whole thing over and over. The counselor told me to write it down – physically, by hand, not typed. For me, that was the greatest first step to my beginning to heal because it allowed me to no longer try to force myself to remember all the vivid details. The fact that I had that record of my story allowed me to begin to move forward with my life. Kelly, you may recall I did share that story with you, and that helped because I felt it might help others. So that is how I have told my story and it definitely provided some release/relief from the pressure I was putting on myself to remember these important events. I still talk about our daughter to anyone who will listen. Her name is Leyna.

    • Grieving Dads says:

      Sheldon – Excellent point. Sitting down and writing it out triggers emotions. Hell, I now cry at sad movies Hallmark cards. I don’t care what anyone thinks about it. If they don’t like, they know what they can do. Its now about me, not about them and how uncomfortable they are. Their problem not mine. Kind of makes me sound selfish doesn’t it?

      Thanks for sharing.


  9. Steve Graysmark says:

    How can I move forward ? I want to cry but I can’t ! I have so much anger within….I miss my son so much.

    • Tim Hayes says:

      Steve – It is refreshing to hear another man admit his anger. I never anticipated how very much I could miss my son, Keith. Although the shock and trauma from his death have softened, the amount I miss him seems to grow exponentially. The pain of missing him adds to my anger. My son died after a yearlong cancer fight, so most of my anger is directed at God. I cannot fully imagine what it is to lose one’s son due to the recklessness of another. This is a safe place to express exactly what you are feeling. There are men here who understand the pain that many will never comprehend.

    • Grieving Dads says:

      Steve – I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard that question, “how can I move forward?” My wife and I often say, “you can get through this, but you never get beyond it”. There is lot of truth to those words. It will always be a part of your life. I know you miss your son and I know you are angry about what has happened. You have every right to be angry.

      I also hear from a lot of dads that tell me that can’t cry. I use to think I was one of those guys. I fought if for a long time. But after my second loss, I learned to surrender to the pain. Not an easy task, but you must find a way to let your guard down. The walls that many of us men build up in order to create this hard shell that others cannot get through. It takes years to build them and years to tear them down.

      Here is couple of ideas that might help you with crying:

      1. Write a letter to your son. Not just a I miss you letter, but a deep down letter about the truth of what you are feeling. Tell him how much you miss him, but also tell him how you miss his smile, playing ball, and spending time with him. Anything you can think of that reminds you of him. I would start my letter by saying “Dear sweet baby Noah” and I would start bawling before I even got all of them written down. Make sure you do this off by yourself so you don’t worry about others seeing you release. Try to do this every time you start to feel it building up. Once you learn to cry, you start to realize how much better you feel letting go of the pain. It will come back, but you start the process again. It is better than letting it stay inside.

      2. Go to a counselor: This helps tell your story and has the same effect as writing a letter, but its just another way to hear yourself tell your story.

      3. Find a support group and participate. Tell your story, talk about your son. Make connections with others that are there.

      4. Surround yourself with people you meet at these groups or other grieving parents. They are the only ones that get it.

      5. Find a way to honor your son. Start a cause, organize events, the list can be endless. It allows you to do something to carry his name on while giving you a purpose to help others.

      At the end of the day, you have to find a way to keep telling your story. All of it. The stuff that is deep down must find a way out to the surface. Things you would generally never tell anyone else. I hope this helps a little.



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