Category Archives: Death of a Father

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The Innocence of Babes

I had the privilege recently of speaking with a man who, once he learned of my work, told me a very interesting story.

It seems that both he and his father had been veterans and it had been many years since he was able to visit his father’s grave several states away.

During that time he had finished his deployment overseas, had married and seen the birth of his first child, a daughter who was now 3 and a ball of energy.

It was a melancholy trip since neither his wife nor daughter had ever met his father when his Dad was alive and that saddened him.

But the true joy came when they were walking to the gravesite and as they got closer their little daughter started to wave to the sky. This caused both he and his wife to look at each other with quizzical looks on their faces.

His daughter started to say “Hi…Hi…Hi.” And she nodded her head and seemed quite happy.

This veterans asked if I thought she was seeing her grandfather and I replied that I definitely believed that was the case.

I have personally, as have many I have known, witnessed what others would call ‘strange’ situations when you know the spirit of those who have died were kind enough to visit to bring comfort to those of us who are still living.

He told me that, yes, both he and his wife were thinking that too and it brought them such joy to know that his daughter was able to see his father after all.

When things like this happen, we might find ourselves questioning and perhaps even afraid. But if you look at it in a slightly different way, it can bring you a sense of comfort and confirmation that they are doing well and have come to let you know this. Consider it a beautiful event, similar to when you dream about your loved one. An event that can bring comfort to your soul.

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Review: May He Rest in Peace

menorah-star-15686513There are a lot of sites online dealing with grief; some are written by people who truly have lived through a personal crisis and will share their experiences, and others who just try to teach you in a professorial mode.

When I found www.mayherestinpeace.com, I was so happy to see that here you are welcomed to make a memorial website for your loved one. And I was additionally grateful to know it was created by a man who has experienced grief on several levels.

David Goldshtein began this site about a year ago to help others through the grieving process. His father, Michael, died at the age of 84 after ten years of illness, having struggled with cancer, kidney disease, etc. And although the doctors told him several times he was at the end of his life, he never gave up, instead pressing on. As a holocaust survivor, he understood the meaning of fighting to live.

His mother has been struggling with Alzheimers for the past ten years. At the young age of only 17, her parents were sent to a labor camp in Siberia by the Russian Government, leaving her to learn to survive as the daughter of political prisoners.

David’s family’s journey has made him sensitive to grief and as he moves into his forties, he had a desire to celebrate their lives and the challenges they overcame by building a wonderful website that would not only house his memories of his Dad, but to give all of us a place to honor our loved ones who had died or were killed.

I am delighted, as Hanukkah, the festival of lights, begins for the Jewish people this year, to share May He Rest In Peace, for you to honor your loved ones.

In addition, David shares articles (which I will contribute to), books on grief (he’s graciously added my Understanding Your Grieving Heart After a Loved One’s Death), and several other areas which will help you on your journey.

Take the time this weekend to visit his site and look around. David Goldshtein has developed a lovely place to not only learn about the grieving process, but to share the life of those we’ve lost and loved.

My newest book, Holiday Grief: How to Cope with Stress, Anxiety and Depression After a Loved One’s Death is now available on amazon.com.

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Why Murder Never Goes Away

I can’t help but think about all the families affected today by the media reports that the Libya’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi is dead.

All the families around the world whose lives were irreparably damaged by the commands and actions of this man will once again be thrown into the past revisiting horrific memories of sorrow and loss.

The closest to me, as fellow memories of survivors of homicide groups at the time, were the families of the Syracuse University students who were simply returning a few days before Christmas on Pan Am 103 in December, 1988. These young people had enjoyed a wonderful semester abroad and were coming home for the holiday season through New York’s JFK airport. But they never made it.

It took decades for these 270 victims’ families to get the cooperation of our own government to press for those responsible for the downing of this aircraft and it all led back to Gadhafi. And little justice was ever achieved.

Only months ago, the man supposedly responsible was released from prison because he was terminally ill. After all, we must be compassionate, now shouldn’t we?

As the news of Gadhafi’s death starts to move onto the airwaves, it will only be a few hours until the famous picture of the nose of Pan Am 103 will be up in all forms of media, thus bringing back the sad memories for these families.

I remember specifically one mother whose son was killed on Pan Am 103 and also a student at Syracuse University in upstate New York, telling me how every time she saw that picture of the plane’s nose, it pierced her heart. It brought all the pain and memories back again. It just never seemed to go away.

Well it’s been nearly 23 years since she and the other families both in the United States and those killed on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland have memorialized their loved ones.

Today, all that pain, all those memories will rush back in.

But I’d like to believe that instead, these US families and families all around the world who were affected by the orders of this ruthless killer, will finally feel some sense of justice, relief and satisfaction today, with the death of this vicious man.

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Father’s Day 2011

I wondered what I might write today on Father’s Day. It’s not like Mother’s Day. If you forget Mother’s Day, you’ll never live it down. But for some reason, Father’s are more forgiving if you don’t attend their day. Just acknowledging it, often is enough to satisfy a good man.

But what I’m reminded of today are the many men who are grieving either their spouse and are left to raise children alone, or the Dad who have lost children along the way. I’m also thinking about the many children whose Dads are no longer alive to celebrate this day with them.

I recently met a man whose child died in a pool drowning at the age of 5. His son would have been around 40 now and he told me the story as if it happened a few months back. He faced pained with sorrow. I could tell he missed him to this day and thought often how life would have been so different had this young son grown up to be a man and enjoyed many happy memories with his Dad. But that didn’t happen.

I also met many men whose younger wives died or were killed and they were left to raise their children on their own. Men don’t do grief in the same way women do grief. They struggle with it and beat themselves up because they think they were unable to protect or fix their wives’ problems. But they are not supermen, although they haven’t figured that out. Some things can’t be fixed and some people cannot be protected from the evils and pains of the world no matter how much we’d wish we could do so.

There are no many men who have little ones at home with no mother. They struggle to play the role of Dad and Mom. They need to learn so many new skills they never thought they’d need because their wives had naturally handled more tasks so they could simply go to work and build a career and financially take care of their family.

But once a Mom is no longer alive, everything changes and the burden of multitasking is extremely difficult for men. So when a man finds himself in a position of Mom, Dad, sole financial breadwinner, teacher, coach, chauffeur, cook, cleaner, etc. he is overwhelmed.

So today I applaud all the men, especially my friend Mark, who raises his three young ones with such devotion. It isn’t easy but his dedication amazes me.

And lastly, I remember all the boys and girls, men and women whose Dads are no longer around to celebrate this day. There is so much to miss. So much to remember. And sometimes, there are melancholy moments for all the years they didn’t have with their Dad, especially if he died young.