Ground Hog Days: How it Really Feels to Lose a Child

groundhog

The   first   weeks   and   months   were   like   the   movie Groundhog Day. I began each day the same way. Waking. Feeling a free floating anger. Seeing his body on the floor and shuddering in the reality of his death.

Struggling to push myself out of bed. Not wanting to get up. The bed and sleep being the only place and time when I could momentarily forget reality.  Sleep became a blessing. A time when the horror of that day did not repeat itself endlessly like a looped bit of video.

Finally shoving myself to get up. Get dressed. Trying to remember  to  shower.  Cleanliness  seemed  such  a  small issue the first days against the enormity of what had happened.

Then go downstairs to drink coffee. Eat a little something. Take  my  meds  which  seemed  foolish  because  I  was  not fully sure I wanted to keep on going. In fact it seemed that the only way to stop the same day every day was to end them all.

I would push myself through the day. The first weeks just sitting on the couch trying to get some energy to do something. Not going to work which seemed so pointless now. Especially for people I did not like to work for.

And the day would slip by in people coming over to pay their condolences. Going through the same charade each time.  “Yes,  thanks  for  asking.  I  am  doing  okay” — when  I wasn’t. They should have known that and not even asked.

What a dumb question. Of course I was not alright. “I just lost my son. How the hell do you think I am. I really am?”

The finally going back to work. Pushing through the day with the image of my dead son ever-present in my mind. Not needing all the people asking how I was doing and forcing me to claim I was fine when I wanted to scream at them. “How the hell do you think I am doing? My son just died, you moron. I am doing horribly and your asking just brings it all back. Thanks for your faux concern.”

But  saying, “Okay, considering.”  Considering  that  my  leg was just ripped off and I can’t stand on the remaining one all that well.

Making it through  the day to go home where now there were  not  other  mourners.  Weeks  having  gone  by  and people dropping away. Staying away for fear they will get sucked into our grief. That death could be catchy.

Watching TV but not seeing or hearing it. Going to bed finally  for  some  peace. Falling  asleep  finally  after  laying there  thinking   that   my   son   was   dead.   Gone.   Finally sleeping. Waking. The free floating anger at waking and having to face another day. Seeing his body on the floor and shuddering in  the reality  of  his  death. Struggling  to push myself out of bed. Not wanting to get up… Life as Groundhog Day.

This is an excerpt from the book, Standing on One Foot. The author has a kickstarter campaign in an attempt to give away 450 copies of his book. If you’re interested, click kck.st/2b4PGnS.

Neal Raisman

More Articles Written by Neal

ost importantly, Dr. Neal Raisman is Emma’s and Jack’s “zaddi” or grandfather which he considers his number one job. But Dr. Raisman is also the leading authority and consultant on customer service and retention in higher education. Dr. Raisman’s best selling books such as The Power Of Retention: More Customer Service In Higher Education have been purchased by 63% of all colleges in the US. His latest book is From Admissions to Graduation: Increasing Growth through Collegiate Customer Service. His customer service and retention blog www.academicmaps.blogspot.com with its discussions of recent research and solutions to customer service issues is very popular and read by over 2,000 colleges, universities and business that work with academia each week He has two children. Isaac who died of meningitis at age 26 and Shana who is 42 and mother to jack and Emma. Neal is a highly sought after speaker, trainer, consultant, researcher, and marketer on customer service. His firm, N.Raisman & Associates is the leading customer service consulting group for retention, enrollment, morale and marketing for higher education and businesses that work with colleges in the US, Canada and Europe. He has a PhD from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in neurolinguistics, was a Fulbright Fellow in France; has published six books, over 400 articles and the blog www.academicmaps.blogspot.com; won numerous academic and marketing awards and accolades. But, little makes him prouder than his family and when his dog Hersch listens to him.

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  • Carol Cadogan says:

    I listened to your webinar tonight and it was really helpful. My son will was just 19 and a freshman at college. He died October 18, 2012 in his dorm room of an accidental drug overdose. He had a bad day. I am still haunted by overwhelming guilt that I didn’t go down and pick him up that day. I spoke to him on the phone at 10:15pm, but he was dead just after midnight. You said you’re wife felt guilt. I do too. My husband can separate and say it was the drugs–like you said it was the meningitis. I can’t really forgive myself. I’d really like to read your book.

    • Neal Raisman says:

      I am sorry for your loss. Your guilt is part of the new normal but you should not feel the guilt you do. You did nothing to cause your son’s death. Maybe you could have picked him up that day but if he were using drugs, as apparently he was, I am sorry to say that an overdose could have come at anytime. Give yourself a break and let the guilt fade out. You have enough pain to carry and don’t need the guilt too. You are only human and we do not have enough power to overcome fate.
      I hope you get a copy of the book. It can be obtained at http://www.standingononefoot.com. Enter the info asked for and then enter the promo code TCF to get a free copy.

  • Arleen Read says:

    Thank you Dr Raisman, I listened to the webinar last evening and I will read your book. My son Charlie died on August 15, 2016, just two days before you wrote this article. He was 16 years old and appears to have suffered a fatal seizure. The autopsy report is not yet back. I thought he was just sleeping in late that day, but went to check on him in his room at noon and found him. We are shattered. I know exactly what you mean by the Groundhog Day experience, and by the endless loop of video replaying that moment. We will never get over this, but we will get through it.