Monthly Archives: January 2015


Moving. What a broad subject. Not moving on, or moving up, or moving others with your words. Just moving. Packing up everything you own, everything your family owns, your pets, your possessions, packing it all into a truck, and moving. Shutting down and leaving the home that you have known for so long and going to a new start. We all do it a few times in our lives, some more than others, others only once or twice. Sometimes we move for work, or for a larger place, or for downsizing. But where I am now, my mental and emotional place in life, moving has different meanings. Moving becomes emotional.


Andrew’s shelves. His snowboarding glasses, his many hats and sunglasses, pictures of Daisy, the manual to his car, Jovi’s birthday gift, and so much more of him.

Every day, every single day, I visit Andrew’s room. It might be for just a moment to touch something, smile, and leave. Or it might be for a few minutes to look at his belongings, do some remembering, and then get back to my day. But every single day I go into his room – I am with him for that moment. Sometimes when i am lost, I sit on his bed and ask him for advice. I think about what he would say to me, think about what his thoughts might be. I might just think about him, about his smile, about what his life could have been. It gives me great peace and comfort to have that place I can visit. His room. His stuff. His memories. It is such a large part of my moving ahead with my life.

DSC_1377Sometimes it is sad for me to go there, sadness beyond belief and something that no one can ever put into words. But those days are getting fewer and further apart as I learn to deal with this loss. But they are still there once in a while. The days that I go in there and smile and recall the good times, recall the blessing that I had with my son for twenty one years are getting more often. I look at his guitar and think about the joy and pride he had learning to play it. It still sits on his bed where he left it. I look at his high school yearbooks and read what his friends wrote to him, and I smile. I look at his team jackets and how honored he was to wear them and be part of the teams that he was on.

Then there are the things that only those who knew Andrew would appreciate. There is an arm rest from the high school auditorium. Why would someone want that? Who knows, but Andrew had it – and was proud that he had it. There are his pads of late passes and hall passes from high school. I don’t know, but I am sure his friends know why he had them. And his sneakers – for someone who never wore shoes, he had a lot of them.


His Ranger and Titans Jerseys, his hoodies and jeans. This is what we remember him in.

When I go in there, I connect with him. Much of his clothes are still where he left them – although cleaned, folded and put away. Some of his books, some of what he collected, some of him, is still there. And I need that, I need to know that and see that to get me through each day and to keep moving my feet forward. I can not see that day in the future where I can box it up, store it away, pack up what is left of Andrew and move away. Maybe one day it will happen, but maybe it won’t.

But for others it is different. And I understand that. For others, the site of their children’s room, seeing their empty space, seeing the toys that lay collecting dust, the clothes that will never be worn again, the books that will never be read, is just too much. The searing pain of their loss is brought back to them every time they pass that doorway. Sometimes the door is kept shut, so they do not have to see inside the bedroom. Other families keep the door open, and bear the sight of the room. Their loss is tied to that place, tied to that house, that used to be a home. For those parents, a new beginning, a new place, a fresh start, is what they need. They need new surroundings not tied to the past. Simply put –  a move.

They have to put their sons or daughters belongings away. They have to box up the memories, box up the clothes, the toys, the books, and prepare to move. They might sell the furniture, or donate it, or pass it along. But it does not go with them. It is too hard to keep it. They are downsizing, they are relocating, they are moving to a new place where the memories of raising their wonderful child do not exist.

One day they will open those boxes again and sort through what was their loved one. They might cry over a toy, a book, or a piece of clothes. But it is not an entire room of overwhelming memories. It is not the entire home where the spent so many loving years before that fateful terrible day. These tears might be of the happy times, the happy memories. These tears are the good ones that moved along with them.

Don’t be mistaken – when they moved they took their children with them. The memories, their love, all that was their child, all that they had, moved along with them, but they are moving. We never forget our children. No matter where we go, or where we stay, what we give away or what we choose to keep, our sons and daughters are always with us. But some of us have to move away and start over, while others chose to stay.

Why the difference? Why the irresistible driving force to stay put or move away? Just like all grief, just like we each handle our grief our own way – no one knows why, it just is.

This journal is written in honor of Emily, and in memory of Daniel, as a thank you for all of the parents that she has helped move ahead in their lives and all of the souls she has healed.



It has been sixteen months now that we have begun this terrible, tragic journey, and almost every week, like clockwork,  Dorothy and I go to our bereavement group meetings.

We belong to a few groups.  They are all over the calendar.  One meets every other Wednesday, one meets the second and fourth Tuesday, and one meets the first Thursday. On average, we go to one meeting a week, two some weeks, and no meetings other weeks, but over the months, it all works out. Each group is very different and there is almost no overlap among members. The locations are all different–one meets around a dark brown conference room table, one in a cluster of comfy seats and couches in a church library, and one meets in a church meeting room dominated by generic 3′ x 6′ tables.  One group charges a few bucks per person per meeting, while another serves us free pizza at every meeting. One is run by a professional therapist, the others by trained group leaders. One is part of a national network of bereavement groups that holds national and local events, one is run by a local bereavement center, and one is affiliated with a local hospital. All of them so very different.

But the meetings all have one thing in common:  they are gatherings of parents–and, in a few cases, siblings–of lost children. We come together to talk about and honor our children, to talk about everything that is going on in our lives, to support others who have recently joined the group, and to come to a “safe” place. What we talk about and what we say in the group stays in the group. We sometimes share photographs of our children–we want the others to see what our beautiful son or daughter looked like. We share songs they might have written, or poems that we found that help us and might help the others, or mementos that meant a lot to someone. But we mainly talk.This is a gathering of our a special group of people. These are the people who “get it.” Even though they think they do, or as hard as they try, no one else really does.

Sometimes there is a topic that we talk about. In November and December we talked about the holidays, how they are without our children and what we do to honor our children who are not with us anymore during the holidays. In the spring we talk about new life, new beginnings, Easter and Passover: and how they relate to what we are going through.  In June we talk about graduations:  that some of our children never made, or that their friends graduated and what it means to us that our children did not walk down the aisle that year. Sometimes we talk about what we constantly are doing to honor our children and keep our relationship with them alive. Sometime we just start and can talk non-stop for ninety minutes; other times the leader has to keep us moving forward, because we all are frozen in our thoughts and pain.

If new parents come to the group for the first time, something we all know too much about, we listen patiently as they talk about their loss. Sometimes it is too raw for them to share, too soon for them to open up, and they say just a few words, tear up, cry, and they tell us to move on. We understand where they are at, we all have been there. We see them over the weeks and months come out of their painful shell, come out of their shock.  Eventually they tell us about their son or daughter. Sometimes they can’t use the word died, or passed, or lost. The first time a parent says that in front of a group is a huge realization for them. We all know why they are here, and we all know that they lost the most precious thing a parent can ever have, but the first time they say it out loud, even in a whisper, is a milestone for all of us. To this day, all  I can say is that I lost Andrew. I can’t describe it any other way.  It’s just too hard to say any other words.

Some families and parents come to the groups for years–once, maybe twice a month. Their children died five, seven, ten, or more years ago. They find peace and comfort in coming to the meetings. It is a safe place where they can go and talk about their child. They can cry openly and not be judged, they can show pictures and tell stories to people who are genuinely interested. They are never asked if they are over it yet, or whether they have moved on. They are around those people who actually know what they are going through, unfortunately. They are around their peers. They are with the other members of a club that no one wants to be in, but we are forced to be in by circumstances.

There are those who, like us, have been going for a much shorter time, maybe a year or two. We are still learning to deal with our loss. We look forward to going to the meetings, for it is our safe place, as well. We can openly cry there–we are actually expected to cry at the meetings, as most of us do at one point or another. We regularly see a few other families who lost their sons about the same time we lost Andrew. We went through the holidays for the first time together. We went through the process of picking out a headstone together, and so much more–but we went through them together with people who understood. We had people whom we could lean on over the year who were going through the exact same thing we were, and it helped us so much. We were there for them, and they were there for us.

Some people come to the group once or twice. The can tell their story, they can listen to what we have to say, but they do not return. Talking about it, or listening to others, just hurts them too much. They have to deal with their loss in a different way. We don’t know why they don’t return, they just drop out, and they are gone. But we hope that they are, in their own way, dealing with their loss and their grief. We intend to stay, for now. For another year? Two years? Five? Neither of us really knows. Do we want to be going every week in five or ten years? I don’t think so, neither does Dorothy. Will we be cured, will we be better, will we be over it? Absolutely not. But we hope to one day be at a point where we know how to deal with our loss and out pain, where we can talk about it and not cry so much, where we can help others through the pain.

We were helped by some of those parents who have been in the groups for years. A few months ago, Pam, who lost her son several years ago, gave Dorothy a little piece of paper on it that simply said “It will get better, I promise.” Dorothy was having a very tough time and this little piece of paper, these simple words from someone who had gone through the feelings and pain Dorothy was feeling now, helped her so much. Maybe one day we can help someone else in this same simple way.


He always had a smile on his face.


Andrew and Mom


They enjoyed playing together all the time. he looked out for Nicole and made sure she was safe all the time.


The second year

“You’ve made it through the first year, the worst is over.”

Every grieving parent has heard that, numerous times. Whether it be from a friend, family member, colleague, client, or customer, we have all heard it, Dorothy and I included.  It might be worded a bit differently, might be said at different times, but we have all heard it all several times. When it has been said to us, we have smiled, we have been courteous, said thank you, finished the conversation, turned and walked away. We know the person saying it has such good intentions and means it to help us, but where they draw this idea from we don’t know – and we hope they never do know our pain. We listen to what they say, make eye contact, and smile at them, but inside we cry a little more. Inside we hurt a little more. Inside we know that is the furthest thing from the truth.

Last year during Thanksgiving, we sat at the table without Andrew. It was the first holiday for which he usually came home from college. It was his senior year and all of his friends came home to their families. Nicole came home. And yet…no Andrew. We had our turkey dinner, we had desert, we talked a little, but there was nothing to be thankful for.  Our Andrew was not with us. It was the first holiday without him, the first of many. We were realizing that this was our new reality.

Then it was Hanukkah and soon after my birthday. Both very empty. Then Dorothy’s birthday, Christmas, and his twenty-second birthday, and New Year’s Eve, and Nicole’s birthday. He was not here to celebrate any of them with us. We tried to make these special days as normal as possible, we tried to be with family and friends as much as we could. We tried to celebrate in ways that we could. But it hurt. It was always the first time.

It was the first Christmas tree at grandma’s house without Andrew putting on his favorite ornaments. It was the first year Dorothy and I went holiday shopping for one child, not two. It was the first birthday in so many years that my son did not call me to wish me a happy birthday. There were no gifts for Andrew anywhere. There were no cards for him, no calls, no nothing. And it was the first time. Everything was different. Everything was hard. But we made it through that season of firsts.

There were other firsts and events as well. It was the first Mother’s Day on which my loving wife’s only son did not call her. We sat at the Passover table for the first time and he did not participate in the four questions – for the first time. We went on a small vacation over the summer, for the first time, just the three of us.

Everything we did, everything we saw, everything in that first year was a first. And it was so hard to get through them. The first this, the first that. Every time anything happened, or we did something together, we realized Andrew was not there with us this year. We realized we were alone, the three of us.

People tell us that we made it through. Of course we did. We had no choice. We had to keep our feet moving, our lives had to go on. We still had to work, Nicole still had to go to school. We placed his headstone at the end of that first year with many of our friends, Andrew’s friends, and family by our side.The first year was over.

Then in September the second year started. And people told us that we made it through the toughest times of our lives, and many said it would get better. Even though they never experienced what we are going through, and hopefully never will, they reassured us that things get better. They never experienced their child’s birthday – AFTER their child was gone. We very much appreciate people talking to us, calling and visiting us, going out to lunch or dinner with us, and helping us. Without our great friends and family that we are grateful for, that first year would have  been so much more difficult. We are very grateful for the special people in our lives. Without the conversations we have had with them, the healing conversations, the stories we share, the sympathy that they show us, we don’t know what we would have done this first year.

That first year taught us one thing – over and over again. That Andrew was gone, that he was no longer with us. We cried a lot, just about every day. We looked at pictures of Andrew every day; they are all over the house, our computers and our phones. The shock wore off after the first few months. Then the pain set in. The realization that he is gone cut deeper every day.

But now we are in our second year. And it is worse, but in a different was. Here’s why:

Through the High Holidays, Thanksgiving, birthdays, Hanukkah, and so forth, Andrew is STILL not here. We know that. But we now have to face the cold fact that he will never be with us again. Ever. He is gone…forever. He will never help us carve the Thanksgiving turkey, or ever smile when he opens his Hanukkah gifts. He will never have dinner with Uncle Roy, or go skiing with Todd and Greg. He will never again help decorate or see a Christmas tree. He is gone forever. In year three, and four, and five and for the rest of our lives, he is gone. And that hurts more than the first year when he was just not here. We went from the deep pain that he is not here, to the searing realization that he will never, ever, be here again.

Yes, the first year was difficult – missing Andrew at every holiday, birthday and family gathering. But the second year is harder. We now have to face the reality that he will never again be with us for the rest of our lives. And that hurts.


I could not find any places in this post to appropriately put pictured of Andrew and the family, but I think the pictures I post are an important part of each post. So here they are at the end of the post. All showing how happy Andrew was all the time.



CCI09272014_00005 - Copy

Apple picking – lots of fun






Showing surprise and awe at Bubby’s 65th.