Mother’s Day Struggle

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Mother’s Day Struggle

Not sure about the rest of you grieving dads out there, but this weekend is usually more difficult for me than Father’s Day. I am never really sure how to approach it with my wife.

I want to honor her as a mother, but I also know it’s a tough day for her. Not only is it day for her to celebrate being a mom to Katie and Noah, it’s also a day that reminders her that she is a mother to two beautiful children that are no longer here. I don’t want to inflict pain by making a big deal over the day, but I also don’t want to ignore the fact that she is a wonderful mom to our children. I also know I cannot take away the pain from this day.

I know there are many grieving mom’s out there that follow this blog. To them and all of the other grieving moms, I wish you a peaceful Mother’s Day filled with warm memories of your child(ren).

I plan on planting spring flowers and relaxing with my wife this Mother’s Day weekend.

How are you going to spend the day?

 

 

Photo Credit: Monkiiiey Henry Clark via Compfight cc

Posted in Bereaved Parents, Broken Dreams, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Gardening, Grief, Grieving Moms, Mother's Day, Stillbirth | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

“Lost and Found” by Kelly Farley

Mountains

Lost and Found

This past Saturday my daughter Katie would have been 11 years old. In six weeks my son would have been 10. These days used to be very difficult, but now I find myself proud to be their dad. I only wish I can just hold them and let them know how much I love and miss them.

As I mention in my book, the first couple of years I carried a lot of anger inside along with great sadness and the need for someone to take the wheel from me for a couple years. I didn’t want to be the one that had to keep things going forward. I didn’t want to have to figure out how to pay bills, mow the yard or anything that landed on my “to do” list. I just wanted to be still and taken care of like a kid, but I knew that wasn’t an option. I had to move forward, because other than my wife, there wasn’t anyone there to care for me, to provide and make sure we kept a roof over our head. In some ways I am sure it was a good thing, being forced to move forward.

One of the best things I ever did after the loss of Noah was the 3 months I took off from life. When Noah died, I couldn’t function, I just needed to remove all other distractions in my life and deal with his loss and Katie’s loss because I had been running from her loss for about 18 months. It finally caught me.

Fortunately we had a small nest egg to live on so my wife and I took 3 months off during the summer of 2006 from work and we just lived. We went to bed when we wanted to and woke up when we woke up. We mourned, cried, prayed, smiled and even laughed at times. We held on to each other as if one would slip away if we loosened our grip. We were outside most of the days, sitting on our patio, staining the fence, doing yard work, biking, jogging, afternoon cocktails and grilling out. We were lost but not having the pressure of life allowed us to do and be whatever we needed at that moment. We unplugged from people and kept to ourselves for the most part.

As the 3 months started to wind down, my anxiety started to set in. How was I going to do my job? I needed to be with my friend, my wife. I wasn’t sure if I could make it through the day with the pressures of work, the expectations or being back in the grind. In the days leading up to the inevitable, my anxiety had gotten so bad, I just needed to take off so I started walking and thinking. After several hours of walking, I finally called my wife to come pick me up about 10 miles away.

The walk helped a little, but the next morning I had to report back to work. I was throwing up with the uncertainty of how I was going to get through the day. How will I face people I haven’t seen in 3 months? Will my projects still be waiting for me, piled up on my desk requiring me to work long hours? Will I be able to get through the day? I didn’t know the answers to these questions, but I assumed worst case across the board. I lasted about 5 months before I requested to go part time. I spent the next 18 months working 24 hours a week. It helped me tremendously because my wife was also able to change her schedule to 24 hours.

We spent our free time grieving and thinking about our next direction in life. We both were thinking about career changes that allowed us to have careers with much less pressure than the high pressure deadline driven engineering jobs we had at the time. I started pursuing a career as a professional counselor (180 degree turn for me) and my wife pursued her masters to become a special education teacher.

Fast forward 10 years and I’m back working full time as an engineer, but still searching for the right direction in life. The publishing of my book Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back provided me with the sense of making a difference and helping others. My book replaced my drive to be a counselor because I know it helps other grieving dads (and moms) every day. I know this because I hear from many of them thanking me for the book. This book will probably go down as one of my biggest life accomplishments due to the impact it has had around the world. I know Katie and Noah are proud of their dad and that’s what drives me.

My wife has been a teacher for nearly 6 years now and loves working with the kids as she says, “our kids would have been friends with.”

Ever since that summer away from life, I dreamed of doing it again under much different circumstances. As I continue to move forward in life, I still search to find my passion, something that makes me happy rather than pursuing the dollars. I am confident I will find it, eventually.

In the spirit of making a dream come true, my wife Christine, my dog Buddy and I will be spending a month this summer in a house we rented in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Hiking, biking, fishing kayaking, exploring, drinking craft beers, reading and relaxing is our plan. It’s a way for me to get away, do some thinking about my future path, celebrate our 20 years of marriage and reflect on the 10 years since we lost Noah and the summer we held on tight to each other.

If you are going to be anywhere near Steamboat Springs, CO this summer, stop by and say hello.

 

Photo Credit: Dr Anirban Ray via Compfight cc

Posted in Anniversary, anxiety, Death of a Child, Debilitating, dog, Dreams, Friends, Grief, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Happiness, Hope, Inspiration, Kelly Farley, Living Simple, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Peace, Perspective, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“Coming Home” by Kelly Farley

This video is about the feeling of comfort I get when sitting with other grieving parents.  I don’t necessarily mean in a support group or having a discussions about losing our children.  I mean in just general conversation at work or wherever, if I know the other person has been through the loss of a child, I get the same feeling as being in the comfort of my own home.  Just knowing the other person has an understanding of what I’ve been through takes away any walls that I have built up.

What is your thoughts on this subject?

Posted in Bereaved Parents, Counseling, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Homecoming, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Perspective, Uncategorized, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Laying Low” by Kelly Farley

I have had a lot of positive feedback from others that have watched some of my previous impromptu videos that I have posted so I decided that I would start doing more of them.  I often will be driving or out on a run and a subject/idea enters my mind as a good blog post.  The problem is, by the time I get to a place to type it up, I forget about it.

If you have time check out my latest “video” blog.  When you are done watching it, hit “subscribe” to Grieving Dads YouTube Channel so you will automatically get a notice when a new video is posted.  Let me know what you think of the topic of Laying Low.

Posted in Bereaved, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads Words, Living Simple, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Men's Grief, Perspective, Rat Race, Restless Soul | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

“Forgotten Footage” by Kelly Farley

Forgotten Footage

It’s been almost 3 years since I recorded this video.  However, I never posted it on this blog.  It was recorded as a favor for a fellow grief survivor who had lost her husband.  She had written a book and wanted a collection of videos from other people that had experienced a profound loss for her book release.

I’ve been wanting to post it for a while because I think there is good content and discussion points.  However, it required me to do some editing, but I didn’t have the software, until now.

Watch it and let me know your thoughts.

Posted in Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads Words, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Kelly Farley, Uncategorized, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

“Grieving Dad Interview”

For the Dads

“Grieving Dad Interview”

I was recently approached by Elisabeth Stitt of Joyful Parenting Coaching who wanted to interview me for an upcoming event that she has developed called  “Let’s Hear It For The Dads!: Conversations About Fatherhood”.  The program is a series of interviews with 20 different dads on all topics related to being a dad.

I was a little concerned about the title of her business “Joyfull Parenting” because I, and most of you, cringe a little when I read those words.  We all know that there isn’t much “joy” in what we’ve all been dealing with after the loss of our child.  However, she explained to me that she wanted to get the perspective of a father that has experienced the death of a child so others will have a glimpse into the aftermath and pain of burying a child.  Being someone that feels it is my responsibility to continue to bring awareness to what grieving dads (and moms) deal with, I said I would “absolutely” do the interview.

She will be discussing fatherhood issues with me along with 19 other dads.  If you are interested in registering for the event, click http://goo.gl/qoBUxv.  An interview a day will be emailed out.  I am sure most of the topics will be painful to listen to since most interviews are going to be about being a dad in general.  I don’t plan on listening to any of the interviews, but it you are interested in hearing my interview and perspective on being a dad, please sign up and just delete all emails until the day my interview is played.

I will also post the interview when it is officially available.

Peace.

Kelly

Posted in Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads Project, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Kelly Farley | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

“Push Present” by Kelly Farley

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Push Present

I heard something today that I just had to comment on. I was at the doctor’s office this morning getting an MRI done on my knee and they gave me headphones to listen to the radio station. The station was set to very popular morning talk show personality here in Chicago.

I was laying there relaxing when I heard the term “Push Present” for the first time in my life. The personality was asking another person (female) on the program their thoughts on “push presents”. She responded with “they are a great idea and something that men/husbands should certainly do.” Still trying to figure out what the term meant I turned up the volume.  They now had my undivided attention.

I continued to listen for a little while longer and then realized a “push present” was something that a husband should give to their wife for delivering a newborn baby. Some of the gifts discussed were expensive pursues, rings, earrings, necklace, car., etc. Although I should have been shocked to hear that our society has now found a way to “expect” something materialistic in return for bringing a healthy baby into this world, but I wasn’t surprised. However, I was disgusted by the thought.

I laid there thinking about all of the people that I have met through the Grieving Dads Project and through my book. People that are heartbroken because they can’t conceive a child, continue to have miscarriage after miscarriage or have delivered a still born baby at full term. People that would consider a live, heathy baby a true miracle and the ultimate gift.

Am I off base on this or do others find this to be a disgusting trend for people who obviously have no idea that a child IS the gift?

Here is what I found on Wikipedia regarding the topic:

A push present (also known as a push gift, baby mama gift or baby bauble) is a present a father gives to the mother to mark the occasion of her giving birth to their child. In practice the present may be given before or after the birth, or even in the delivery room. The giving of push presents has supposedly grown in the United States in recent years.  A push gift is any type of present loved ones give to a woman who has recently given birth to a child. It is considered a nouveau riche practice in Britain.

History

There is no conclusive evidence that the present was invented by the jewelry industry to sell more goods, and until recently it was passed on largely by word of mouth or peer pressure among both mothers and fathers.  According to Linda Murray, the executive editor of BabyCenter, “It’s an expectation of moms these days that they deserve something for bearing the burden for nine months, getting sick, ruining their body. The guilt really gets piled on.” Other sources trace the development of the present to the increased assertiveness of women, allowing them to ask for a present more directly, or the increased involvement of the men in pregnancy, making them more informed of the pain and difficulty of pregnancy and labor.

Frequency

A 2007 survey of over 30,000 respondents by BabyCenter found that 38% of new mothers received a push present, and 55% of pregnant mothers wanted one, though fewer thought it was actually expected. About 40% of both groups said the baby itself was already a present and did not wish an additional reward.

The popularity of push presents has been attributed in part to media coverage of celebrities receiving them. Examples include a 10 carat diamond ring given to celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe by her husband Rodger after the 2011 birth of their son, a Bentley given to reality TV star Peggy Tanous of The Real Housewives of Orange County by her husband Micah after the 2007 birth of their daughter, and a diamond and sapphire necklace given to singer Mariah Carey by her husband Nick Cannon after the 2011 birth of their twins.

The trend has generated a backlash, as some couples dislike the implicit materialism of push presents, and would prefer increased help in chores or baby care, or save the money for the child’s education.

According to etiquette expert Pamela Holland, there are no set guidelines for push presents. “The standard is that there is no standard,” she said. “It does make sense to have etiquette around wedding or baby shower gifts because you’re inviting other people into it. But this is far too intimate to have a rule.” In general it is the woman who lets her man know about push presents, not the other way around, although there can be peer pressure from friends to buy one on either the man or the woman.
Photo Credit: Carmen Veronica Abasolo via Compfight cc

Posted in Baby, Child, Push Present | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

“‘Tis the Season – Revisited” by Kelly Farley

I wrote the following blog post 4 years ago, but because of its popularity and the fact it still holds true today, I thought it would be good to share it with all of the new grieving dads that have followed this blog since 2011.  Wishing you peace.

Santa 

‘Tis the Season

 It’s that time of year again, the time of year that bereaved parents struggle with all of the anxiety from the anticipation of what the Holidays will bring in the way of unwanted gifts, Holiday memories.  For some it’s the past Holiday memories that cause the pain while others, like me, it’s the lack of memories since both of my children were babies when we lost them.

I come from a Christen background so for me it’s the not knowing what it’s like to take my children to church service on Christmas or watching the excitement from your child as they open gifts on Christmas morning.  Since many of the followers of this blog come from different religious backgrounds, I am sure many of you have similar types of Holiday traditions that cause you to reflect more during this time of year than other times.

Regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof, this time of year is tough because it also brings the end of another year without your child or it marks the first year without them.

I get a lot of emails from grieving dads this time of year telling me how hard it is or emails asking me for ideas on how to navigate through these 2-3 weeks.  I wish I had all of the answers.

The one thing I have learned from the hundreds of conversations I have had with grieving dads is that many of the dads that have found hope in their lives again are doing something to create a legacy for their child as a way to honor them and their life.

Living to honor our children’s life can take on many forms.  The way we honor our children is very unique and personal to the individual.  It’s important to do things to honor our children throughout the year, but it’s especially important during the holiday season.

I remember the first Christmas following the death of my son Noah; it had been about 6 months since he had died.  I was at a locals Macy’s department store when I had a meltdown that came out of nowhere.  I found myself hiding amongst the fake Christmas trees.  I was hiding because I was unable to control my crying and I didn’t want others to see me.  What triggered it were the pink and blue baby ornaments that they had displayed on the tree.  My mind was thinking about the “what if’s”, the “what could have been’s” and the “what will never be”.

Over the years, the holidays have become easier for me.  Not easy, but easier.

I have a large pine tree in my yard and one of the things I do every year is decorate it with blue and white lights as a way to let Katie and Noah know that I am thinking about them.  It’s the only thing I decorate on the outside of my house.  However, the Christmas tree on the inside of my house is decorated with ornaments such as those pink and blue baby ornaments that use to trigger many emotions.  No, the Holidays are no longer the same.  I have no living children to enjoy the holidays with.  All I can do is find ways to let Katie and Noah know that they are with me.

I have spoken to many grieving parents regarding how they handle the holidays.  Some of the ideas that they have given me include:  donating gifts to less fortunate children, sponsoring a family in need, volunteering at a food kitchen, visiting a children’s hospital or a retirement home.  These are all excellent ways to honor your child.  Some may appeal to you while others may not.  If you can, try to find a cause that reminds you of your child.  If you’re not feeling strong enough to take on big tasks, you can do something as simple as lighting a candle in their honor.  Try to do something.

Wishing you and your family a peaceful Holiday Season!

What are your plans for the Holiday Season?

 

Photo Credit: Alan Schaller via Compfight cc

Posted in Christmas, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Grieving Dads, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Holidays, Inspiration, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Words of Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Book by a Grieving Dad

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I think its always important to share resources for grieving dads, grief therapists, counselors and anyone else who is personally or professionally involved with a grieving dad.  I wrote my book because I couldn’t find any resources for men when I was dealing with the aftermath of losing my children.  I felt alone and isolated and I didn’t want anyone else who follows in my footsteps to ever feel alone in this nightmare.

I recently had a grieving dad reach out to me and inform me of his new book called “A Girl Named Dennis: Find a way through losing a child: a fathers story”.  The following was sent to me along with the book that gives a brief overview of his story and why he wrote the book.

“After I lost my daughter to Spinal Muscular Atrophy in 2009, almost immediately I began writing a book about the experience. At first it was just for me – my way of expressing myself, of making sense of what had happened, and maybe starting to heal very slowly.

It wasn’t until much later, when the book was first being read, that people began saying how helpful it could be for others, but particularly for men – the dads, the husbands, the guys who try to be the rock when life is crumbling around them. Who ever tells their story?    

Now the book is out there, I’m often contacted by people I’ve never met, but it’s always especially gratifying to hear from a fellow dad. “You helped me to open up – thank you” – “It was uplifting and reassuring to know someone else had been through it” – “It gave me a more positive view of my grief.” Whenever I read something like that, it feels like my daughter is still giving to the world even now.”

If you think this book could be a resource for you, check it out.  To provide full discloser, I have yet to read the book, so please let us know what you think if you do decide to read it.

A big congratulations and “thank you” to Matt for having the courage to put his story out there so others can learn, connect and hopefully not feel so along on this path.

Seeing these new books often inspire me to start working on my next book.  It’s been rattling my head for a while.  Writing a book is a huge time commitment and the process is daunting.  Who knows, maybe in the next year or so.

Peace.

Kelly

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“Calloused” by Kelly Farley

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Calloused

I’ve wanted to write this article for a while because the topic has been on my mind, but to be honest; I’m also a little embarrassed to admit it.

I’ve become calloused as a result of losing my kids and writing my book. There, I said it. I’ve become emotionally calloused.

How did this happen? I believe it’s a defense mechanism I developed to protect myself from additional emotional impact. It’s not that I don’t care, I do. I just think it happened because I lived in such a state of emotional distress for years after losing my children and it’s going to take A LOT to trigger my emotions. Not to mention, I have heard some of the most horrific stories from thousands of bereaved dads. After a while, nothing surprises you.

I have friends that have asked me, “How do you sit and listen to all of these heartbreaking stories?” My response to that question is generally “I don’t know. I don’t take their emotional pain home with me. I listen and care about what they have to say but it doesn’t put me into a tailspin.” I think a lot has to do with the fact I cried so hard and for so long during my pain.

I’ve lost two grandparents and a co-worker over the last couple of years and I didn’t feel the level of grief that I think I would have experienced under “normal” conditions. I started to question if there was something wrong with me, has the anti-depressant caused me to become numb? Have I become cold hearted? Is this what doctors/nurses experience as a result of their line of work?

I have sympathy towards what others deal with, but I seem to have lost the ability to have empathy. Some would say I’ve become cold-hearted, but I would disagree only because I do care about others and their struggles.

Has anyone else experienced this after losing your child?
Have you become “calloused” in some way?
Photo Credit: AmyGracePhotography via Compfight cc

Posted in Anti-depressant, Bereaved, Bereaved Parents, Brokenness, Compassion, Death of a baby, Death of a Child, Death of a daughter, Death of a son, Emotions, Grieving Dads, Kelly Farley, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Daughter, Loss of a Son, Men's Grief, Trauma | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments