Archive for June, 2011
Written by Joe Dambach (2011)
“The parent child relationship never ends. A mother or father will always remain a parent regardless of the age of the child at the time of death or the reason the child is no longer present.
Time may bring more sophisticated coping strategies but the absence of the loved child lingers in the heart of the parent and remains there for their entire lives.”
-from Journey Through Loss by Julie Siri
So true. It’s been nearly 19 months since Luke’s passing. It might as well have been yesterday. We’ve been grieving ever since and it has not been easy, despite any outward appearances. Father’s Day (along with Mother’s Day) is one of the hardest days.
I find myself going into deep reflection; thinking of the good and happy times with Luke, but also the difficult times. Words cannot describe the pain since his death. It’s hard to separate the good memories from the pain, as if you can’t have one without the other. They are woven together, balled up into one big tangled mess of mixed emotions.
It’s 4:40am, and I’m listening to the birds talk and sing and play. I think about the difference between mourning and grief. Mourning being a public display of grief. I think about how everyone grieves differently and that there are no shortcuts. It comes in bursts and waves and sometimes I just want to wallow in its wake.
Grief cannot be avoided. Like the lines in the children’s book, Going on a Bear Hunt, where they say, “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it.” You have to go through grief, in order to be able to manage it. To deal with it. There is no way around it.
I think of the times I would sit outside with Luke, on the side of the house, in the shade, reading a book while Luke would feel the light breeze blowing on his face, his eyes squinting, hair flowing. He’d get that glow of happiness that could transcend his disabilities. I think of lying in bed with him, when I used to take him out of the crib and lay him next to me. We’d both sleep and wake and sleep and just enjoy relaxing together, suction machine always within arms reach.
I think of the painful and haunting memories. I think of the worst night of my life, when Luke died. I think about how we had to leave the hospital, leave without him. No going back. It was 3:30am when we drove off into the darkness.
We’re still in the darkness.
It’s 5:01am and I can hear the birds. A distant wah-hooo, hoo hoo – the call of the mourning dove. I can see the glow of the mourning light.
By Joe Dambach
Thank you to fellow grieving dad and friend Joe Dambach for sharing this piece with us. He was kind enough to share some of his thoughts, emotions and reflections regarding the loss of his beautiful little boy Luke.
This post is a continuation of my generated list of 30 words that could be used to describe grief. Obviously this list relates to my experience with grief, so I am interested to see if anyone else can relate with some of these words. I plan on continuing this series of postings that will not only define these words, but expand on why I thought they would be good descriptors.
The fourth word I chose is:
Exhausting: Defined as “tending to produce fatigue, weariness, or the like”
It’s been almost seven years since the death of my daughter Katie and just at 5 years for the death of my son Noah. I can honestly say that there are still days that I feel exhausted. I use to be able to survive 16 hour work days and feel refreshed the next day. I have lost my ability to work long hours, mainly because my ability to handle high levels of stress has also gone away. I would suspect that it also has to do with the fact I look at life differently now. I try not to rush through my day like I use to before the deaths of my children. My desire to get the slap on the back “at a boy” that I use to strive for has also disappeared.
I remember shortly after the death of my son Noah my wife and I took 3 months off of work to start the healing process. During this time, we would often fall asleep holding hands because we didn’t want the other person to let go of us out of fear of one of us slipping away. We were not sure we could survive the loss of another child. We were still dealing with the first death, and now we had to find a way to survive this one. When we did finally fall asleep, we would sleep for almost 10 hours every night. We woke up when we wanted to. We didn’t have to be anywhere in particular since we had taken the 3 months off. I really don’t remember a whole lot from the summer of 2006, but I to remember I wasn’t able to do much. The only thing I remember is that I would bike and run almost every day or take on a small home project that would take me days to complete. I felt exhausted most of the time. I suppose my body was using all of its energy to help me cope with the death of Noah and Katie and it didn’t leave me much energy to do anything else.
Another issue that I have experienced as part of this grief and I guess it could fall under “exhaustion” is the fact that I have a difficult time staying focused. I have always joked about having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but the level of my inability to focus has become a lot more pronounced since losing my children. I can sit at my desk for hours and go home at the end of the day and not know what I really accomplished at work that day. It has gotten much better over time, but I still have those days from time to time.
The good thing is that when I am working on the Grieving Dads Project or taking classes to become a counselor, it invigorates me. Mainly because I know that I am helping others that are trying to survive the death of a child.
Anyone else experience levels of exhaustion as part of grief?
I hope you can find a moment of peace today as you reflect on the child you have lost and the precious time you were able to spend with them. Know you are not alone in your pain today. If you have living children, hug them and love them.
Happy Fathers Day!
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