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Mom vs. Dad
Page Two

Editor: Sonya Marvel
Contributors: All Members of My Mom Is A Survivor

Since the responses to this subject have been so many, we now have page two. Please continue to read, because you may identify with any and all of these *Moms vs. Dad*.

This is a very touchy subject indeed. But it is worth mentioning for sure.

My husband and I were very close throughout the first part of loosing our daughter. Through the news at the hospital and planning the funeral and even about 3 weeks after. But we were home together and he took time off work so we were together working through the feelings. It was going great and we really felt strong as a couple. But as soon as he went back to work and I was alone with our other children I started to deal with it alot differently. It was in my face constantly where I would have to think of her every minute of the day. The empty chair, her empty room even hearing the school bus drive by our house. I really took those few months hard. Now on my husbands side he would get home from thinking of work all day and being tired would NOT want to talk to me about our daughter. He would totally avoid it and me when I started talking about her and how I was feeling. So of course I would feel isolated and lonely even more so. Until one day while I was crying on the floor over some spilt water that my 2 yr.. old dropped, I realized that I am sinking. I saw my self in my mind that I was drowning in my sorrow. I literally seen myself emerged in water. My daughter was on one hand pulling me down deeper into the darkness and my young boys and my husband on the other hand pulling me up to the surface. I had to make a decision. I seen myself as painful as it is even today, letting go of her hand and reaching up to my husband and boys, swimming upward to save myself. So I did. Since then I have been able to understand more that my husband has to have one of those times where he will know when he is ready to "deal with it " or to let go (if you ever do). I don't push him or make him feel like he is doing something wrong. I really tread lightly on what he is ready for. Because I had to become OK with it in a hurry, all at once, you might say, I feel I have gotten farther with it than he has doesn't mean he wont meet me there someday. I know when he wants to talk about it with me he will. Then there are some days he is stronger and I lean on him and back and forth. It is a good thing that one of us is sane at one time. I keep in mind that together we can go through anything. Because look at what we have gone through so far. God Bless.

Thank you Sonya for allowing me to share my experience. In a small way it makes me feel like this whole bad thing will have some good after all.

Tessa Flannery

Two years ago this April, my son was killed in a traffic accident on his way to school. Although my son is not the son of my husband, the two of them were tremendous friends. I know that when my son was killed it affected my husband deeply. There is no doubt in my mind that the pain was tremendous for him. After a short period of time (3 months) my husband wanted everything to be as it was. He couldn't take my constant crying and depression. He felt he HAD to fix my grief - no matter that I told him over and over all I wanted was for him to understand I couldn't 'just get back to the way it was'. He told me he hated coming home at night after work because I was crying. So I made the decision to move into an apartment for a few months. Not to leave him, but to help myself and make it easier for him. This was in July, in December I found out he had been seeing an old girlfriend. After weeks of talking and promises made, I went back home. Within months I was back in an apartment, this time because of him. That was about 9 months ago. I know that I love this man, and I know that if my son hadn't been killed we wouldn't be where we are now. We are working to get back together. We are at a very delicate point in our relationship. One that requires forgiveness, communication, commitment and understanding. I constantly remind myself that his straying was due to the loneliness he felt after the death of my son and not something he was doing on a whim. I often wonder, in situations when a child is killed due to the negligence of another person, if that person ever realizes that the damage they've caused goes way beyond the day they killed our child.

Kelley

My experience with parents grieving different is a difficult one as my pregnancy was unexpected and we were both young.

I was 20 when I got pregnant and my boyfriend was 21. I loved my daughter from the start. My boyfriend on the other hand started drawing farther and farther away. We lived together, but he was always at work. He wasn't really there during the pregnancy. My last visit to the doctor I knew something was wrong. I asked that my boyfriend go with me, but he couldn't. He had to work. I went with a friend instead. We found out that my daughter had died and that I would have to have a D&E. We called my boyfriend and he rushed to the office. He told me how much he had loved our daughter and how much he was going to miss her.

After the funeral he went to work. I was left alone to grieve. I was crying all the time and feeling like dying too. My boyfriend went to work. I guess that was his way of dealing. I tried to talk to him. It never really worked. We would go to the cemetery together and end up fighting. He only showed his feelings about our daughter one time. I wanted the world to know about Whitney, and he just wanted it to go away. He told me I had been sad long enough.

We never got back to the way things were. We had been together for 3 years, and in just a few months all that was gone. He found someone new who "didn't have any problems" and went on with his life. Two years later I am still grieving my daughter's death and he has tried to contact me recently to talk about her.

In my experience, the key to keeping a relationship strong is to talk about your loss. If you don't talk it's not going to work out. Go to a local support group or seek counseling if you have to. That's what I regret most. We only went to a support group once. He never wanted to go back. I tried to go to counseling with him, but he refused.

Jaimie

When Matthew first died, my husband and I felt we should go to counseling together. The counselor immediately went after our marriage. We went to him three times. At the time, it was early in our grief and we felt that our marriage was fine. We wanted grief counseling, not marriage counseling. Our grief is different. He grieves but inwardly. He doesn't show any of the pain. So when I'm feeling "nuts" it’s difficult for me to explain it to me. On one of my bad days, he looks at me and says, “What is your problem.” I think that after 3 years, he sometimes feels I should be okay now. I find that I don't feel close to him like I use to. I think our marriage is strained since Matt passed. I find it difficult to be as close to him, even though I love him. I keep my distance somewhat now. It's difficult to explain. I think he senses things aren't the way they use to be and we are both trying hard to recapture it because we love each other. We've often talked about going back to a counselor, but have never gone through with it. We have two other children. It's funny, I'm not afraid to love my kids with all my heart and soul but somehow, I'm afraid to feel that close to my husband again. I'm hoping time will help. I'm hoping that Matt will help.

Anonymous

This new topic is quite interesting..and as a single mom, I have of course a different view.  And actually something I wanted to suggest we explore as a group. Glad the topic came up. My ex-husband was informed first of the brutal murder of Tarik, because of the same last name.  I claimed back my maiden name shortly after Tarik moved out of my home. The first few weeks, we were there for each other, comforting and helping each other, every day, day and night. He even moved in with me for a week. We said very little but each other's presence seemed at first very comforting. As weeks rolled on, I realized that we were indeed on different wave lengths which created bitter resentment between us.

Whenever I tried to talk about Tarik, he would clam up. If I suggested any mourning rituals, he would just refuse to participate. He would not talk to any of our son's friends. When I cried he would leave the room. I bought books on grief that he refused to read, where I poured over any literature concerning this subject. His therapy was to go into his garden and work by himself., and not talk to me or his girlfriend, or if he talked it was about trivial subjects but NEVER about his loss. I tried to get him to verbalize his agony, to see a therapist or talk to his male friends. I sent him articles about grief, suggested numerous websites in Internet dealing with the male side of grief. Nothing worked, in fact he got so resentful that he stopped all communication between us. I have not seen him since the Candle Memorial Day on December 12th., our telephone conversations are very scares. We probably spoke 4 times in the last 2 months and every time, it is with great pain.

I hoped to find comfort in him, and him in me. But it is not the case for us. We resent each other's pain, we blame one another for Tarik's tragic end. I hoped also that this tragedy will bring some sort of  supportive  friendship between the mother and the father of the dead child. After all, we are the only two people in the world responsible for his upbringing, with all the mistakes and the pitfalls that parents encounter along the way. I thought we could talk about the good times and the bad times, resolve some issues of guilt towards our son and just be there for each other.  Sometimes I think he is totally insensitive. I'd be enraged to hear that he was seen at a party or at a club, when he should have at home grieving for his son. I'd get resentful to see him with his girlfriend, because it meant his life is going on, when mine has stopped the day Tarik died. But lately I have not felt any resentment anymore. In fact I am glad I am no longer in touch with him, it is just too painful . My life is my own, my grief is my own, my relationship with my son is only particular to me. Therefore I have given up on my ex-husband for support. And now for the single hood part and its benefits: When I get home at night, I only have to deal with my own needs. I cry as long and as loud as I want to. I can get up during the night at any time, I can leave the lights on, read, write, watch TV, smoke, pace, without fear of disturbing my partner. There is a lot more time for reflection, for grieving , for healing. I can hold wonderful conversations with my Tarik without fear of being judged insane. I have learned a long time ago to rely only on myself. This terrible time in my life is no different than any other. Yes, sometimes I wished I had another pair of hands to push that heavy stone that rolled over me that fateful Sep13th day. Yes, it would be nice to have a pair of arms to fall into when I can't take it anymore. But at the moment it is not the case, but that's ok too.

Manya
Tarik's loving mom
12/01/1975-13/09/1999

I have found that my husband and I are very, very different in our grieving processes (even though he was her step dad) he looks at death, any death as "ok, I have dealt with it, it is over, it is in the past" and he doesn't want to talk about my daughter, isn't really too happy to have her things and pictures left out either as it bothers him.  I on the other hand, WANT to talk about her and I guess I WANT to dwell on her and her short life (14 years) and the good along with the bad.  It is my way of keeping her memory alive.  It has caused a tremendous amount of stress in our household.  He has gone so far as to say "it is time to get on with your life". When, we all know our lives are changed forever.

Angel Hugz,
Karin Tyra

The grieving process is not only hard for yourself but mom and dad can be very  difficult. My husband and I have been married 28 yrs. and after Keith died we underwent changes that went from simple to the extreme. There were days when I would  want to talk about Keith and it upset my husband terribly. I did feel as if he wasn't hurting as much as I was. Then there were days when I would try and get a grip on myself and try and be positive and those were usually the days that Keith (my husband) wanted to talk about Lil Keith.  So I would try and be helpful to him as he does not show his real deep feelings too often and he would get resentful that I could let my feelings show more because people tend to accept a mothers tears and emotions more than a dads. Which is pretty sad in my own estimation. Society has put blinders on too certain subjects and it is hard to break through that barrier. Even our family and friends don't want to touch on the subject with us. We had been to the edge of a divorce (to the point of consulting an attorney) because I blamed him for everything (from not noticing that Keith had gotten sick to making me come home from the hospital at nights) and he blamed himself for letting me talk him into getting Keith to sign the papers to put him on a ventilator. I also have a tremendous amount of guilt (even now) over Little Keith's death and but my husband thinks that is ridiculous. But we have definitely shown progress though towards each other though. It has been 21 months since Keith died and divorce is not an option for us anymore. We give each other space to grieve alone if we want and also grieve together. And we have began to talk to each other a little more. He doesn't get  angry at me anymore when I start crying for no apparent reason, and I don't harbor resentment toward him for something that he couldn't have prevented anyway. We have learned to try and be patient which other. It is so hard to try and work together though, but we feel that as much as we have been through together, we would not be able to weather the storm separately.

Love to everyone,
Janie Wilson


Immediately after Kyle died, both my husband and I were so distraught that we were afraid to spend time together alone, so we made sure we each had a friend we could be with for at least until it was time to go to sleep (not just bed). During our time apart, I made a resolution NOT to let our child's death be the cause of our marriage breaking up. The doctor may have taken our child, but he was not going to take another thing that was also precious to us..our marriage. I cried outloud more, talked about our child more and worked on positive ways to grieve over him than my husband did. I realized our grieving was individual and I respected my husband for respecting me with my grief as I did him. I know that a man/father cannot possibly grieve the same as a woman/mother does as I carried the child in my womb, I was there every day/night at the hospital while he had to work, but nevertheless I know he grieved and at different times than I did. He was my rock on bad days as I was his and we both agreed that we would give time a chance first to help us heal rather than give in to hatred, and anger or give up on each other. We also agreed to not let what that doctor did to us come between us..that we would work together even harder to make the doctor's existence a thorn in our side rather than as a thorn in our marriage. We practiced on not blaming one another when there was doubt. We promised not to let this interfere with our other children's lives in a negative way.

Along the road, we lost many friends because we had lost ourselves when Kyle died...we lost a part of us that we'll never be able to bring back..so we have lived our lives in a way we can be more comfortable with rather than reaching for straws from those that simply refused to understand or felt uncomfortable being with us.

Today, it's wonderful when I hear my husband still thanking me for all I've accomplished and done to keep Kyle's memory alive which also has enabled me to help change a small area of our healthcare (which I'm still working on to this day) as well as making me the person I am today! We survived the horrible first years together rather than apart and that we have God and all our newfound friends to thank for..including you Sonya!

Joni

March 2000 Editorial
By Milo Tsukroff

In the little town of Norfolk, Connecticut, nestled at the base of Haystack Mountain, lies the Norfolk Cemetery. The two children whom I have lost are buried in the "new" section. When we visit, I often wander among the graves. It is not surprising to see the number of children's graves from the 18th and 19th century.

I am drawn again and again to the unique four-headed memorial in the Robbins family plot. There lie four children, all listed on one headstone. I have not seen another headstone like it anywhere. It shows that the Robbins family lost 4 children in 4 years, the last 3 in a single year.

A few years ago, I finally knew enough about Bible history to understand what the name of the last child meant: She was named "Mara". This is most disturbing, once you realize what it means. The name "Mara" is not used often in our society. As a matter of fact, in over 30 years, I have met only one other person named Mara. The reason for this is its terrible connotation. It comes from Ruth 1:20 - "And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me." "Mara" means "bitter" in Hebrew.

The terrible meaning of the little girl's name is emphasized by the doleful verse on the bottom of the stone. I wasn't able to read it all, because the headstone has worn and sunk and been partly overgrown with lichen, but it starts with: "When flames of wrath shall burn ye seas..." This is indeed an awful headstone. It speaks to me of a woman who was fiercely angry, angry at God, and wanted the world to know of her overwhelming grief.

But it also speaks of a husband who supported this angry woman through her grief. He allowed her to express herself, and that is a powerful expression of his love for her.

Here is a little bit of history that I have been able to piece together with some research. I apologize for not having more facts; I'm certain that the Norfolk Congregational Church and the Norfolk Historical Society have more information, but I haven't had the time to contact them.

Ammi Robbins was only 21 when he was called to be the pastor of Norfolk Congregational Church, in 1761. He was to live and serve there the rest of his life, passing away 52 years later at the ripe old age of 73. Shortly after settling in at Norfolk, he married. His beautiful bride, Elizabeth, was only 18 years old.

Elizabeth and Ammi settled into the pastorate in Norfolk. Within a short time, Elizabeth became pregnant with their first child.

When the child came, a boy, they named him Philemon, after Ammi's father. Then tragedy struck -- he died a week later, on the 20th of March, 1763. This must have been a bitter blow to them. Certainly, it affected them so much that they did not immediately erect a headstone.

Losing a child was quite common in pre-revolutionary America. Medicine was primitive, and life was often harsh. Elizabeth seems to have not given up. She became pregnant again soon after that. Slightly less than a year later, she gave birth to another boy. This one thrived. Ammi and Elizabeth named this child Philemon also.

Almost two years later, on the fifth of January, 1766, Elizabeth gave birth to a girl. She was named Elizabeth after her mother. But she only lived 5 days, and died on the 9th of January.

Elizabeth conceived again in March. Toward the end of September, as she began to really show, little two-and-a-half-year-old Philemon died. This was the third of her children to die, and now she had no children except the one which was on the way.

The fourth child must have been eagerly expected. She was born almost exactly a year after Elizabeth had lost her first girl, a little gift from God. Finally, they had another child.

Then, on the next day, the first anniversary of losing little Elizabeth, this child also died. Now Elizabeth had lost all four of her first children, the last three in the last year.

I believe that Elizabeth was very upset after losing that last child. She must have been, to name her daughter Mara. I think that she must have been very bitter about what God allowed her to go through. But the interesting thing is that her husband Ammi seems to have supported her through her public expression of her grief. Certainly he allowed her to erect that strange little four-headed memorial stone, and to put the dreadful verses on it.

It is common to say, "Oh, it was God's will that such-and-such happens." I'm certain that people kept saying this to Elizabeth. But she must have answered, Is it really God's will to torment me by killing my children? I think that Elizabeth's public statement of her bitterness towards God, by naming her daughter Mara, showed how much she grieved her lost children.

Around ten years ago, a grown-up neighbor passed away. He had been very popular in our city, and was sorely missed. His mother came over to the apartment where he and his brother lived. Being from Puerto Rico, whose culture is much more expressive, she let her feelings out instantly and intensely. She screamed and wailed, threw herself around, and tried to beat her head on the floor. The men of the family had to hold her back.

The Bible counsels, "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them." (Col. 3:19) Those of us who as men must endure the loss of our children must also endure the grieving of our wives. Men and women grieve in different ways. Us Dads must remember to not be upset at the ways that they choose to express themselves (or sometimes, how they choose to not express themselves). We need to be there for their grief: Help them through the hard times; talk about it with them; watch them closely and get them help if they become self-destructive; and above all, help them simply by being supportive of their expressions of grief.

My wife Karin and I discussed how our neighbor's mother had grieved so loudly and violently. It was so different from how we had grieved for our daughter -- we tended to hold our emotions inside. Karin especially had a completely different perspective on the grieving process we had gone through. I had to listen very carefully to her, and ask her a lot of questions, in order to know how she felt about things. There were some aspects of her grief that I had no idea still hurt her. Some of these were spiritual questions (Did Katrina go to Heaven? Did we do the right things for her?) and some were practical (Was it okay to have another child? Was there a possibility of another birth defect?).

After losing our four-year-old Danny, we once again went through grief differently. I found myself barely holding back the grief, often overwhelmed. Karin has been quieter about it, and I still don't know when she will finally say, "I'm done." I am still watching and supporting her and doing my best to be there.

We have only lost two children, and those separated by almost twenty years. I cannot imagine how much it would hurt to go through Ammi and Elizabeth Robbins' loss. This story was so compelling that just had to share it.

It seems that God relented and gave Elizabeth better days. This story has a better ending: Elizabeth Robbins had many more children. Little Ammi Junior was born the next year, and he lived to full manhood and was married in the Norfolk church. Another child was Elizabeth, who lived to full womanhood and was also married in the same Norfolk church. Ammi Robbins saw many members of his congregation go off to fight for liberty in the American Revolution. He lived to a ripe old age, and his beloved Elizabeth buried him in the family plot in Norfolk Cemetery in 1813. She finally passed away in 1829 at the advanced age of 84.

Fathers, Dads, Husbands, love your wives, and help them bear their grief. If it may turn to bitterness, help them through that also. You have to give them room, watch them, love them. It's your duty, your job, your joy, to help them through.

Recommended Reading

Families Are Forever
By Karen Garnier
Book Description An intimate look into the life of a family dealing with the terminal illness and death of a child, and how their faith helped them cope with the pain and challenges brought on by this tragedy. Told by the child's mother based on her journals kept throughout the ordeal, this is a poignant account of emotional turmoil and faith.

Help Your Marriage Survive the Death of a Child
By Paul C. Rosenblatt
Book Description
Many parents who have experienced the death of a child struggle with painful and at times almost overwhelming marital problems. Grieving can create great marital distance, and it can magnity couple problems that existed before the child died. Grieving parents often fear that they will divorce. Most books that have been written to help grieving parents focus on individual, personal grief. This book focusses on the couple relationship. Based on intensive interviews of 29 couples who experienced the death of a child, the book offers perspectives, insights, powerful and moving interview quotes, and advice dealing with common marital problems experienced by bereaved parents. Commonly the problems are connected to couple communication, differences in grieving and how those differences are interpreted, sexuality, parenting of other children, the use of alcohol and drugs, blaming, differences about whether to have another child, differences in whether to go outside the marriage for support, and what to do with things and spaces that were the child's. This book discusses hard realities but offers a message of hope. Grieving parents can and do overcome marital difficulties and achieve a strong and loving marriage based on resepect for differences, mutual understanding, and their shared history.

Moms vs. Dads Page One

Copyright/Disclaimer

This has been written by the members of My Parents Are Survivirs to help us to get through the worst time of our lives. Every word of this information and feelings is copy written by the writer. That means that you can NOT use this material in any way, shape or form. Please do not ask, because permission will NOT be given. This has been written from our hearts and will not be duplicated.

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