Find a Purpose
I am a grieving dad that has lost two babies on two separate occasions. My approach to these losses varied greatly and produced two very different results. After the death of my daughter Katie, I tried to be the pillar of strength for everyone around me. I was trying to fight the pain so I wouldn’t think about what happened. I tried to put the pain into a deep dark corner of my mind hoping to never see it again. I did everything to avoid this pain for as long as I could.
It turned out that “as long as I could” was about 18 months. It was the first time in my life I experienced episodes of anxiety and depression. I now know this was a result of not dealing with my pain and emotions brought on by the death of my daughter. Shortly after the episodes of anxiety and depression started, the unspeakable happened again, I lost my son Noah. I was sent into tailspin and found myself deep in the darkness of grief and depression. I finally gave in to the pain and decided to take a few months off from work to try to put my life back together and to truly allow myself to embrace the grieving process. I stopped fighting to become the person I use to be and learned to accept that I will never be the same person again. The pain caused by the death of a child never leaves you, but the sharpness of the pain can dull over time.
During the dark days of my pain, I knew that if I survived the despair I was feeling I was going to do something to honor Katie and Noah. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but clinging to that thought helped me through those dark moments. When the fog of grief started to lift, it became clearer to me that I wanted to help other grieving dads through this very difficult experience. To let them know they are not alone and to let them know that what they are thinking and feeling is a normal response to a not so normal situation.
I have spent that last two years blogging and speaking with men about the death of their child. One of the things I learned from these grieving dads is that there is a common theme between the dads that are doing “ok” and the dads that are still very stuck in their grief. The men that are doing “ok” have found a purpose, a cause, to honor their child. Some have created care packages to give to local hospitals for parents that have lost a baby. I interviewed one dad whose son loved to play hockey, so every year he organizes a fundraiser to purchase hockey jerseys for a team of less fortunate kids. Another dad provides food to needy families at the Holidays in honor of their child.
Living to honor our child’s life can take on many forms, the options are endless and it can be very unique and personal to the individual. Becoming involved and participating in important events like the Forever in Our Hearts Remembrance Day is another excellent way to honor your child. I remember the first couple of years when my wife and I walked in our local Walk to Remember in Naperville, Illinois. These experiences allowed us to spend time with other families that were coping with the death of a child while honoring Katie and Noah and remembering all of the other babies that had died. I encourage each of you to participate in the October 13, 2012 event. If you have the strength, I also encourage you to volunteer your time to help organize and plan for this walk. I never understood this before I lost two children, but I truly believe that there is healing in helping others.
I encourage anyone that has lost a child to find that one thing that honors your child and brings you hope. It’s a way to carry on your child’s memory while helping you out of the depths of despair.
Author of Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back (April 2012 Release)