It's Fall -- here we go again?

I think about "grief triggers" every year at this time because Kathleen died on September 27. The combination of that date along with the beginning of the Fall season always brings both Monica and I down a little. This year there are the added factors of my Dad's death in June and the fact that our youngest child went off to college Labor Day weekend. For the first time in nearly 29 years, we are without kids in the house! (don't do the math)

So, what do you do when you think time has passed, you are doing quite well with your sadness, and then something comes along that makes you feel like you just took a giant step backward?

First of all, I think you need to be able to recognize what is happening. Even after all these years, when Monica and I get a little sad around the time school is starting, I still fail to catch on right away as to what might be adding to that sadness. I guess it seems like it shouldn't be happening any more.

Once you recognize what might be triggering your sadness, the next step is to acknowledge it and know that it's ok to feel that way. It does not mean that you are starting over in your grieving and all the progress you have made is going down the drain. It certainly does not mean that you are losing your mind. But, it also doesn't mean that it's the last time it will ever happen.

I have come to realize that these moments are not only gifts because they make me pause and reflect, they also continue to teach me something.

When Kathleen died, our priest let us down in ways that were nearly unforgiveable, and I have never since set foot inside the church we were members of at that time. Even though we made the move to the suburbs years ago and no longer live near that building, it's not far from my office. Over theyears I have tried to avoid it when I drive down the beautiful street it is located on. This summer, due to road construction, I had to alter my route to work and drove by the church every day. To add to my dilemma, there is a stoplight right in front and I often find myself sitting at that intersection longer than I wish. At first, I did not turn my head. Soon I was glancing that direction but not letting myself really think about it. But then, as the weeks went by, I started letting myself feel my anger and soon realized that it was time to let go of it. Not only is that priest long gone from the parish, I realized how silly it was to not let myself see the beauty of that massive building and recall the positive things that happened when we were members. I had to ask myself who I was really hurting?

I guess my point is that if we remain open to letting ourselves both recognize our grief as well as acknowledge it, there is still room to both grow and heal.


  1. I just found your blog :) My wife and I just found out this week that our baby boy who is 22 weeks old will not be able to survive outside his mamma's belly. We are both in total shock over the devastating news. I'm so happy to find a space to communicate with other people that have experienced a loss....

    thank you Tim :)

  2. Hi Matt --

    I am very sorry to hear about your son. I can only imagine the shock and sadness you and your wife must be feeling. I hope you will find comments on this and other blogs that will help you through this time. Do stay in touch and know that if there is anything I can do to make it any easier, I am more than willing. I'm sure that I am speaking for many other dads who have been there, as well. Take care.

  3. I needed to read other parents stories of survival after my toddler died. Mine is available here
    I know you will find the strength to reach a depth to life that only some of us ever do.

  4. Hi Tim
    I just found your blog and everything you wright touched me. My wife and I had a still born daughter at 39 weeks with no indication of any problems. November 6, 2010 so for me its way to fresh and still hard to believe it happened. I found a poem that some one wrote.
    A Father's Grief

    It must be very difficult
    To be a man in grief,
    Since "men don't cry"
    and "men are strong"
    No tears can bring relief.

    It must be very difficult
    To stand up to the test,
    And field the calls and visitors
    So she can get some rest.

    They always ask if she's all right
    And what she's going through.
    But seldom take his hand and ask,
    "My friend, but how are you?"

    He hears her crying in the night
    And thinks his heart will break.
    He dries her tears and comforts her,
    But "stays strong" for her sake.

    It must be very difficult
    To start each day anew.
    And try to be so very brave-
    He lost his baby too.

    Author Unknown

    I thought you can post it on your blog if some people have not read it.

    But I totally get the triggers for me because its so fresh it everything. I thank "God", hard to do in its self. That I have a 5 year old daughter. Right now that is the only thing that's helping me.

  5. It's hard to feel grateful for anything when you are hurting, but I think it is helpful for all of us to remind ourselves of the good in our lives. I wish you the best and am here to help if there is anything I can do. Sharing this poem was wonderful and I am sure the author (I was told it is Eileen Knight Hagemeister)is grateful that her words were healing for you, and undoubtedly others.

  6. Hi Tim, hi everybody. Many greetings from Germany, many greetings from Europe. Thank you, Tim, for this blog, we couldn´t stop reading it. Dimitry, I feel sorry about you and you wife. You must have a hard time, and you propably still have.
    We lost our fouth child, a girl we baptised "Valentina" due to anencephaly on 13th of January. She died in my arms, only 35 h after birth. 35 h in definetely enough to miss her now.