This is an excerpt from Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, which is available at Amazon.

Fathers aren’t supposed to grieve the same way that mothers do. Society has placed certain demands on men that preclude them from dealing with loss or disappointment by wearing emotion on their sleeves or even talking about it openly. For sure, men aren’t supposed to lose control. They are expected to toughen up, get back to work, take it like a man, and support their wives.

And if they must cry, by all means they should do so in private.

My own journey through these dark expectations began with the crippling anxiety that comes from losing not one, but two children. If I thought that the death of Katie, the cherished little girl that I would protect and love forever, would be the worst I’d have to deal with in my life, I stood corrected just 18 months later when my son, Noah, died, too.

After Noah’s death, I could no longer hide behind the denial that sustained me through Katie’s passing. In dealing with the loss of Katie, the luxury of plunging myself into my work and the needs of my wife insulated me from my own buried emotions, as I told myself above all else to simply keep moving. There was no time to stop and think about things or allow myself to feel anything. If a chink started to appear in my carefully constructed armor — if I began to “let my emotions get the best of me” — I just hit the gym or dove into a home improvement project.

And of course, I never, ever talked about how I felt.

But when we lost Noah, my body and my mind completely shut down. None of the things that helped me to reject the reality of losing a daughter would suffice in the wake of losing a second child. Forget the gym — I barely had the energy to get out of bed. Forget work, too. I saw no point in it, and couldn’t have completed the most mundane tasks even if I could have made it to the office.

Forget everything.

For the first time in my life, I really didn’t care if I lived or died. In fact, in the three months after Noah’s death, the greatest effort I exerted was making a phone call to my office to take a leave of absence. I wasn’t asking for permission, either. I was making an announcement, and if the job was still available should I decide to return — fine.

If not, I couldn’t care less.



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Kelly Farley

Kelly Farley is a bereaved father that has experienced the loss of his two children over an eighteen month span. He lost his daughter Katie in 2004 and son Noah in 2006. During that time he realized that there is a lack of support services available to fathers suffering such a loss. As a result of that realization, he is working on his first book as a resource for Grieving Dads. He created and maintains a website for this project at Kelly has also written several articles on the subject of men’s grief and has traveled throughout North America to interview other grieving dads in order to create a resource book that captures the experiences of other men on this journey. His book will be completed by the end of 2010 and is expected to highlight 30-40 real life inspirational stories from dads that have survived the loss of a child. He is on a mission to bring awareness to men’s grief and provide hope to the many men that often grieve in silence due to societal expectations.

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