"Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim." – Vicki Harrison
I’m a member of a fraternity no man ever wants to join. Membership lasts a lifetime, and although there are no dues, the cost to enter comes at the heaviest emotional price.
No matter what good things may happen in a father’s life, the sting of losing a child never goes away. It can be soothed or put aside, but it’s always lurking and will resurface and kick you in the gut whenever it chooses.
Each of my frat brothers discovers that after a period of time things become less intense. But just as each of us made a lifetime commitment to our child's well-being, the loss also lasts a lifetime. We all arrive at the realization that how effectively we process our loss and the choices we subsequently make will determine how rich and rewarding the rest of our lives can be.
My frat brothers and I know that words and explanations mostly fall short. Just as a woman can try to describe the joy and pain of childbirth, a man can never really know how it feels. And just as we can all come up with a definition of "loss," unless you’ve experienced the loss of a child, words can never pass along how it truly feels.
As hard as I’ve worked to understand and accept my child’s suicide, from time to time I’m still struck by a sense of disbelief. Every now and then, out of the blue, the thought pings me again: "Really? She did?"
As the time between "then" and "now" extends, those of us who lose a child don’t share how awful it felt as much as we share revelations of personal growth that have served to reshape the new and oftentimes positive lens through which we now see our world.