I have been out in the ‘grieving parent blogosphere’ for a while now. There are a lot of mothers posting the most beautifully eloquent writings about their experiences, their lost children, the struggle to rebuild their shattered lives. So far, I have encountered a scant handful of fathers who have dared to bare themselves on the interwebs. I wonder why that is. Is it because Men are expected to “be strong”, bury our emotions for the sake of our families, employers, friends, the world at large? I can’t tell you how many times friends have told me, “You have to be strong for Terry now.” All well and good, but who is there to be strong for me? Myself? I guess so.
Real Men Don’t Cry. Seriously? I guess I must not be real, because I cry frequently now; my emotions run perilously close to the surface. To the contrary, Real Men do cry. Their tears, no less bitter, are for the same things all parents who mourn the loss of a child cry for: the emptiness where there was once so much life and joy, the longing to hold their children in their arms again, all the times they spent with their kids, now over forever, the bittersweet memories, the shattered future.
In reading these blogs, both women’s and men’s, so many of their words, thoughts, and feelings resonate with me. But men are different from women; our role in creating a child and bringing him (or her) into this world is different too. A father’s relationships with his children are different than a mother’s. Their roles are different in raising their children. It might not be politically correct to say so, but they just are. Each combination, father/son, father/daughter, mother/son, mother/daughter is unique. A father does different things with his son or daughter, has a different connection, different expectations than a mother does. It is only natural that our response, our emotions will not be exactly the same as a mother’s. There are few forums for Dads to share their experiences, but our grief is just as deep seated, just as agonizing, just as debilitating, yet so few of us dare to share that in public.
One of the Dads out there has written a book about his story, interviewed fathers who have lost children, set up his web page to allow others a forum to post their thoughts and feelings. Another one has a video seminar and workbook you can download to help with your process. They both have been on this journey for some years now, and are doing what they can to help others. I applaud them. They opened the dialog and encourage others to participate. I am new to the party, still only 10 weeks in; I have so much farther to travel, so much more to learn.
I began writing primarily as a means of processing my own emotions, but if I can help others find some common ground, that elevates this endeavor to another, higher level. It isn’t enough to rail and ramble, publicly or privately; we need to connect. I welcome comments from other fathers who are members of this ghastly fraternity. We cannot take away the hurt, cannot repair each other’s lives, but we can come together to reassure ourselves that we are not alone. Give permission for us to rant and rave, cry and scream, do whatever our ragged emotions dictate now. Even though we will never be the same again, there will be some kind of healing that takes place over time. Only over time. Or so they tell me. How much time differs for each person, father and mother. But this much is clear, we cannot do this alone.