I have to be honest; it’s been a while since anything has “triggered” an intense emotional response.  These responses are much fewer and farther between than in my early days of grief.  After the death of my daughter, Katie, I wouldn’t even allow myself to respond to the triggers.  I had trained my mind to “change the thought or situation” immediately.  It was my way to control my feelings and pain, which, looking back, wasn’t the best decision on my part. 

After the death of my son, Noah, I had no choice but to allow myself to feel the full impact of not only his death, but also my daughter’s death that occurred just 18 months prior.  Having gone both routes (avoidance and engagement) in the grieving process, I now believe that suppressing one’s emotions goes against the body and mind’s natural processing of the events. 

Basically, I allowed myself to feel and process the triggers after the death of my son; after a couple of years, the triggers started to come less often.

However, that doesn’t mean that there are not times where my emotions are triggered by thoughts or actions by others.  It just means that it doesn’t happen as easily or as often as it once did.

The reason I decided to write about this topic is that I recently experienced one of those triggers.  It wasn’t brought on by a song on the radio or something someone had said to me; this was brought on by a dream I had.

Although I don’t remember everything about the dream, I do remember the specifics as to what triggered my emotions.  In my dream, I was having a conversation with someone I didn’t know and this person was telling me about a complex task that he wanted me to do (I don’t remember the specifics of the task). 

When he was explaining the difficulty of the task to me he stated “it’s almost as hard as burying a child.”  In my dream, as soon as he spoke those words, I started to weep.  I’m not sure why it triggered my emotions, but I think it had something to do with the fact that it bothered me that this person would associate the difficulty of a “task” with the difficulty of burying a child or the fact that he acknowledged the difficulty of burying a child.   

The dream went on for a while longer, but then I woke up and thought about what this person had said to me.  I then woke up my wife to tell her about my dream, and when I got to the point in the dream where I had to repeat the words “it’s almost as hard as burying a child,” I broke down and started to cry. 

It’s not like I have forgotten that I have buried two beautiful children.  I think my tears has a lot to do with the fact that reality is gradually setting in. 

Every once in a while, I will be driving or sitting at my desk and the reality of the situation will set in. It doesn’t cause me to break down emotionally, but I will catch myself shaking my head and thinking what the fuck. 

It will also trigger certain life questions like:  How am I still functioning?  How have I been able to continue on?  Why do I still tolerate certain things in my life?  Why do I still work so hard since I have no one to pass my life down to?  Who will take care of me when I am old?  Will anyone come and visit me or will I sit alone by myself?  Why am I not living my life to the fullest? 

The questions go on and on.  It’s not like I sit around all the time thinking about these questions, but they will occasionally cross my mind, some much more than others.

How about you?  What triggers your emotions or life questions?

Kelly Farley 2011

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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 www.GrievingDads.com. 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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