Tag Archives: death of a child

High Expectations and Lowering The Bar

I am not unlike any other parent who desires the best for their children. I try to do what ever I feel necessary to help them achieve that goal. It was important to me that my children succeed in this world.

When an old friend who I hadn’t seen for some time would ask, “how are your kids doing?”,  I actually thought they really wanted to know, so I would start with the most successful or those doing the best at the time then work my way down the ladder until I could see boredom mask their face. That was my cue to  stop before getting to some of my not as successful or those having a rough patch.

My bar was high but not unreachable. I wasn’t looking for any brain surgeons, Senators, elite athletes, or Albert Einsteins. No, I believed I had my expectations at a reasonable level although any of the above would be acceptable also.

A few months after Aaron’s suicide, Rhonda and I went to the States for a long over due visit. Prior to our leaving on our trip a dear friend organized for us to stop at her place, on our return. Staying with her in a  distant city for some relaxation and catching up with old friends. During our stay she put together a dinner party for us, inviting some close friends and some of our family who were living in the area.

It was nice seeing everyone and we really felt loved and cared for. It was special and we are eternally grateful. Just what we needed at the time.

During dinner I was having a conversation with a friend sitting opposite us. I said with a grin, “you know our expectations for our kids have changed over the years. At one time we expected great things from them, our bar was pretty high, maybe too high for some so we lowered it. Having a job or career that they enjoyed and being happy was where we placed the bar. But in the last few months since losing Aaron we set the bar even lower. Staying alive was our new expectation.” Rhonda and I laughed, an inside joke. We actually believed this, life became the greatest commodity for our kids as far as we were concerned.

Now I don’t know if I was speaking loud enough for anyone else at the table to hear what I said but I felt like everyone froze in place and stared. I thought my friend who I was directing the comment at was going to need a blood transfusion as I could literally see his face changing color.

I have thought of that scene many times over the years. It never fails to put a smile on my face.

Of course our kids don’t need our high or low expectations nor do we need to lower or raise the bar for them. They will do that on their own, its their life and they will succeed or fail without our help.

But my expectations on life and its outcome  for my children remains the same to this day.

Do what I have to do to keep them alive and trust God that He will help them with the rest.

The Funeral

For better understanding you may want to read About This Blog first.

I’m the organizer between Rhonda and myself so I took the reins in getting the ball in motion for all the work needed to be done to lay Aaron to rest.

My daughter Heidi helped me with the funeral preparations, Jesse put together a video memorial of Aaron to be shown at the service and our dear friend Rose helped put together the after party at our home.

And with family and friends arriving from interstate and overseas it turned out to be a welcome distraction. I had plenty to keep me busy so as not to miss Aaron too much. It turned out I would have plenty of time for that later.

I had only been to one funeral in my life. My grandfather died when I was seventeen. He was dying of lung cancer for many painful months before he died. It was more of a relief to everyone although his suffering was unbearable to some especially my mother. I don’t remember much of that day so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one.

All the men in our family wore black  at the funeral.I’m not sure if that was a conscious decision or just worked out that way. It turned out that black was a good way to describe the mood.

“Lots of grief” ,a friend posted on her Facebook page who was at the funeral. I don’t disagree.

I didn’t know what to expect at the funeral service. Our immediate family gathered before any guests arrived, so the immediate family could view his body that was lying in a room set off to the side of the front stage podium. I watched as his siblings along with his mum made their way to see, touch and say their goodbyes and have one final look at their brother and son.

I stayed in my seat in the front row of the podium where the service would be held. I wasn’t about to budge. I didn’t go to the morgue the night we were called in to identify Aaron’s body. I left that to Rhonda and two of my boys, Jonathan and Daniel who for their own reasons were eager to go.

To see my boy lying on a cold slab in a sterile room or lying in a casket fully dressed was not on my to-do list. I wanted to remember Aaron alive.

One of my girls came and sat next to me and encouraged me to go and see his body that it would do me good.

For what ever reasons she thought I needed to view his body and what good it would do for me I knew she meant well. I wanted to rebel like a two-year old who was being made to eat his broccoli.

To keep things civil I reluctantly dragged myself over with the others and stood before my son. I looked,I touched his hand, I said I love you and left to take up my position in the front row once again.

It was painless and took no more than ten seconds.

Yes I admit, he looked peaceful and he looked as though he went to sleep and never woke up. They did a good job. But when I touched his hand, it was cold and lifeless. I pulled my hand away quick smart lest I catch something I didn’t want.

The funeral service was a family affair.

Heidi took on the role as MC.

My youngest daughter started proceedings by reading a poem.

We allowed anyone who wanted to unburden their hearts or talk about their relationship with Aaron access to the podium. I smiled, cried, laughed and was touched by all who spoke.

The highlight was the video memorial of Aaron’s life. It touched us and helped us to understand regardless of how his life ended he will always be remembered as our loving  son, brother, uncle and friend in life as well as death.

The prayer duties were given to Aaron’s brother Brian.

After the service we laughed and cried with our guests before the casket was brought out to be taken to the cemetery for burial.

Watching the faces of Aaron’s brothers who were carrying out his casket brought me great pride. The survivors of a brothers bad decision.

These were now my heroes, those that would continue their lives with one less sibling at their side.

I was never so proud of these boys as I was at this moment. I would love and cherish them in a different way from here on out.

As we piled in our cars to follow the Hearst to the cemetery to lay Aaron to rest I had a sense of relief that we made it over the first hurdle.

It turned out to be one of the easier ones.

I Mean No Disrespect

For better understanding you may want to read About This Blog first.

Dear Reader,

Thank you for stopping by and having a peek at my site.

If you have read any of my posts you may express some concern over any humor I may put into my writings on such a sensitive topic as suicide. And if you are one who has lost a child or loved one to suicide or any other means I know it is an emotional and heart-rending experience.

I want to take the opportunity to say this, if you find my humor distasteful or offensive, I apologize.  I mean no disrespect.

I could very well be writing from a different vantage point in my healing process as yourself. I have had over six years to get to a place where I am able to talk about my experiences of my son’s suicide openly and hopefully as honestly as possible.

Adding humor to my posts makes it easier to write from my heart. Hopefully it makes the subject matter more palatable.

I know how hard it is to come to terms with such tragedy. I know the stigma associated with the way our son has died. I know the pain, the grief, the heartache, the anger, the confusion and all the other emotions that well up inside. Its like having our own personal tsunami building up and crashing on the shores of our hearts day after day.

It may seem like it will never end and I am not sure it does completely but I can say this. Time heals. I don’t think there is any other way.

It’s going to bed at night with a heavy heart and waking up in the morning prepared to fight the battle just one more day. You get through that “one more day” and you prepare for the next. You wonder if it will ever cease.

The good news is, there is relief.  I promise you, as long as you are willing to put one foot in front of the other, one day at a time and not give up you will be a survivor of your child’s death.

I know this because I am a survivor.

Bless you,

Sammy