Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are You Sad?

Preoccupied - Portrait of Jared

Last night was a nice evening. My son and I arrived home from our day at work and school a bit early, which made the evening feel less rushed than usual. Abel was there, and had done some cleaning, which made me smile. After checking in with the my daughter, her boyfriend, and a visiting friend, I went to my bedroom to have a bit of quiet time with Abel.

Those of you who are parents know there isn't too much quiet time when arriving home from work. There is homework to be supervised, dinner to be made, mail to be read, and whatever chores you had planned. While my son was at the table doing some reading, my daughter, Abel and I were busy getting dinner started. In between checking on the food I was running outdoors installing more landscape lighting which needs to be done in the dark to know what I want to highlight.

At some point I came back into the house, finished preparing dinner, then sat with my family to eat. When we were done there was the usual kitchen clean up, then back to my bedroom to change out of my work clothes. It was at that point that Abel asked, "are you feeling sad?"

My children know my moods very well. They are also very protective of me since Michael died. They have seen me at my worst, especially those early days when I would be down on the ground crying with no end. Those severe days of grieving are far behind me, but what continues are the various layers that continue to be experienced. Sometimes those days of sadness are clear to me, and I can pin point the reason. Other times my sadness goes unrecognized by me or others. Yet, my sadness is always clear to my children.

No dear, why are you asking if I am sad?

"Arianne said you looked sad tonight."

I responded that I just had many things on my mind, and was likely preoccupied with many concerns. I told Abel not to worry, yet he still put his arms around me to show that he cared, and that I had someone there to support me.

What came to mind wasn't whether or not I was truly sad, but how much all this loss has affected each of us. Driving home yesterday my son Remy was talking about how the kids as school joke about things. He said they often play a game where they call out that someone has died. Remy said that while he gets that they are just playing, and that they obviously have not been touched so closely by death. He said that if they knew what it was like to have their father die they would be less likely to find this type of humor funny.

Death has greatly impacted my family. Death has brought each of us a deeper sorrow than we had ever experienced before, even through the death of many extended family members. When death comes to your door, and takes someone from their bed at home, you are never quite the same.

I don't think I was sad. I think my daughter recognized a pattern of behavioral responses by me, and attributed them to sadness. I believe it will take some time before my kids see me with a host of expressions and moods, and not connect them to grief. Loss has been with our family since my children's birth mother was taken away by circumstance, and then by death. Loss has been with us since Michael was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and then by death.

Loss is being experienced by us with a new person in my life, who is now sharing a space in my heart with Michael. Yes, even with the joy that Abel brings me I am always aware that his presence is because Michael was taken. Even though the kids see how happy Abel makes me, they experience loss by seeing a new man occupy the space in our lives that Michael used to occupy.

No, today I am not sad.


  1. Dan. I'm sending much love to you,, to,Abel, to,Arianne and to,Abel, you are all inspirational to me. I don't have children but yours sound perfect. xxxx

  2. Dan, this is such a beautiful post. It captures the complexity and the simplicity that permeates my life. The depths of our families sorrows will always be sewn into who we are as families. As will the depths of our caring and worries for each other. As always, thank you for sharing your journey-

  3. Dan, been reading your blog, and this post does a really captures how you and your kids relate. Sending you a hug.