A Letter to Grieving Fathers



I am writing to you, the grieving ones—you, fathers, who have experienced the curse of a child loss. I am writing to you, the suffering ones—you, fathers, who have tasted the bitterness of that damned moment.


Suddenly.

Slowly.

Precisely.


I am writing to you, the mourning ones—you, fathers, who looked the giant of Death in the eyes. You faced the enemy with tears, fists clenched, jaw clamped. I am writing to you, the bereaved ones—you, fathers, who watched that mortal thief steal your child's life.


Suddenly.

Slowly.

Precisely.


I am writing to you, the victorious ones—you, fathers, who fought courageously but lost the battle. I am writing to you, the living ones—you, fathers, who died together with your child.


Suddenly.

Slowly.

Precisely.


It happened suddenly.


Car accident, a fatal crash, a phone call from the doctor. You stand unmoved, can't speak, can't breathe. You know not what to do. You want to run, but thinking, Where to? Your body's screaming, sweating, swelling. The world is spinning, the brain is swirling. A myriad of different ways this could have happened, but it happened this way: so suddenly.


You are in shock, blindsided, caught off guard. The car came out of nowhere, the birth went wrong, she slipped and fell, he's fallen in Iraq. This avalanche–you didn't see it coming. That bike–you weren't there to catch. That pool–you turned away for just a moment. It happened so abruptly; no warning, no prior notice, no going back, no time and no exceptions. You wish you got to meet your baby. You wish you had a chance at least to say goodbye. You wish it didn't happen, but it happened, suddenly.


And then it happened slowly.


It's been a while since the doctor broke the news. You distinctly recall the day when you heard so greatly dreaded words: "I'm afraid, but there's nothing we can do." A few months later, the pain's no longer sharp; it's dull. For a moment, you think you can survive. But then you hear another tragic "We're sorry, your son won't live." You wait, wait for a miracle; you pray, and then you cry. And as the tears are falling down the tired face, you're slowly giving up.


You watch your little boy who suffers for no reason, the feeble body leaking life. You feel so helpless; you're losing hope: My God, have mercy! I'm undone! You have exhausted all your options, tried all known treatments, resources, routes. Still, unsuccessful. The future, in your mind, is like a broken jar of clay—it's shattered into a million tiny pieces. Some days, it seems, you're simply waiting for your child to die. You are a jar of clay. You're falling apart on the inside. You wish you could take his place, die on his behalf. You wish it didn't happen, but it happened, slowly.


And then it happened precisely.


Precisely ten years, three months, two-hundred sixty-five days ago, it happened. It's as real as if it all transpired yesterday. You remember the place, the time, the when, the who, the how. You won't forget that fateful night: the roadblock, the sign, the blue-and-red flashing light. The moment, the second, that changed your life. You wish it didn't happen, but it happened, precisely like that.


And now it hurts, the pain is real. But pain is also your companion; it's here to remind you, lest you forget. Your pain is there when you need it, exactly when you need it. Don't hide your pain; don't hide from pain–instead, you feel it. You are a grieving father, so grieve.


Suddenly.

Slowly.

Precisely.

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