Thursday, May 17, 2012

Grieving Dads: To The Brink and Back.

When I lost Lilly two years ago, it was by far the most traumatic experience of my entire life. Physically and emotionally. I was super lucky that my parents were in town when it happened. They were able to stay with me while I was in the hospital, which was a huge deal for me. I don't even want to think about how differently it might have turned out if they hadn't been there.

My dad took it very badly. He wasn't sure how to process what was happening with his grandbaby. And he had no idea how to deal with seeing me, his own baby, in so much pain and not being able to do anything about it.

He's actually a very sensitive guy. More so than he sometimes likes to admit. (That's most guys though, right?) He had a lot of nightmares. And guilt. And stress about not being able to do anything. All added on top of a lot of stress at work. It got to the point that he started randomly crying at work. It got worse last year when I was pregnant with Brake. And then he had a nervous breakdown after we lost him.

I flew home later in the summer because he wanted to build a memory garden for the babies. The rest of the family tries to avoid talking about them, so the garden was their only real outlet. And it was something positive for them to relate to what happened.

Bryan wasn't so easy to help. I've tried to help him find positive outlets. I've tried to get him to talk about it. I've tried just giving him space. Guys just deal with these kinds of things differently than we do.

When I first stumbled into this blog world, one of the first blogs I found was Kelly Farley at the Grieving Dad's Project. After a long struggle with the loss of his babies, Katie and Noah, Kelly started reaching out to other parents. Especially dads. When there's a new baby on the way, everyone is so excited about momma and her belly that they often over look dad. And when a baby dies, everyone is so focused on what momma is feeling and going through that they forget dad lost a baby too.

Most dads get so caught up in trying to be strong for their wife that they neglect their own need to grieve. Kelly's project makes sure that other dads know they have somewhere to turn, someone who will listen and understand, someone that won't judge them as being "too weak" or "less of a man". Finding his blog actually helped me a LOT because I could see how differently guys see and deal with grief. I could understand Bryan a lot better, even when I still couldn't do anything to reach him.

Kelly has actually taken this project a step further, and he's turned it into a book. The literary agents and publishers that he pitched the project to didn't want anything to do with it because they didn't see it as profitable enough for them. So he's been working to publish it himself. The book is in its final stages, but the cost is a little more than he can do by himself. I personally love what he's done and continues to do for the bereaved community, and I can't wait to see this book in print. I hated the grief materials we were given at the hospital. I threw the whole packet into the wall and left it scattered everywhere because I hated reading that ridiculous bullshit. I wanted to read something real. I think this is about as real as it gets, especially for dads, and I think it's gonna make a tremendous difference.

If you have a few dollars to spare, that would be awesome. Every little bit helps. Even if you can't help with funding, simply sharing his project and fundraiser would be a huge help.


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