Notes for the dad who's lost a child

grieving dad

In the grieving process for a child, men are generally misunderstood.

Photo credit: Samuel Muigai | Nation Media Group

This goes out to my high school buddy, Peter Karuru and other men who are facing - or have faced - the biggest beatdown most men will ever have; the death of a child. Karuru's son died in a house fire several weeks ago.

In an episode on the popular podcast, Hotboxing, Mike Tyson was uncharacteristically vulnerable as he shared his toughest test.

Tyson has exchanged haymakers and head butts with some of the world's most battle-hardened pugilists, where, at times, he's bitten more than he can chew. He's been in prison 40 times, by the time he was 12 years old. He's suffered massive financial losses. He's been there and done that.

However, Iron Mike threw a psychological spanner in the works when he opened up about an unseen unending fight, inside an unseen ring, watched by a crowd of his heartstrings.

Check this out …

Co-host: What's the biggest beatdown you've ever had, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually?

Mike Tyson: I lost my four-year-old daughter. She accidentally killed herself. She jumped on a treadmill and didn't know how to work it, and she got hurt. I didn't know what to do. (Shrugs shoulders in resignation). I just didn't know what to do.

Co-host: How do you recover from that?

Mike Tyson: I haven't. I just know, in order to make her happy, I have to do good things and be positive.

 I have never buried a child. And, even if I may have gone through this traumatic experience, grief is such a unique beast. It hits different for different folks.

I think that, in the grieving process for a child, men are generally misunderstood.

A Mother's Grief Observed by Rebecca Faber is a personal account of how God brought hope and healing following the devastating loss of Rebecca and Bob's son through drowning. In the book, Rebecca shares how her man dealt with grief.

“Bob says he still stops, almost daily, and cries before work. He says he pulls over at one particularly beautiful place on the highway and bawls. Why can’t he cry here at home? Why can’t he tell me what he's thinking and feeling? I only find out when I yell at him and press him to the wall, accusing him of not caring, not feeling. Only then will he acknowledge that he likes the escape of work. This house is a house of death to him.”

A long road to recovery

Many of us will recover from a failed marriage and, hopefully, go on to live happily ever after on the next try. We'll recover from a business that's gone bust.

How does a man recover from the death of a child? I don't know. I think that's one of the questions which will be answered on the other side of eternity when the Father shares what became of Him when the son gave up the ghost.

“The death of a child is an amputation - forced removal of a limb, an organ,” Rebecca Faber notes.

“How does a person learn to live without a leg or an eye? You can. You must. But it is not normal. What you move toward is a new definition of normal. But normal now includesun-normal twisting, crippling; a truncation felt minute after minute, hourafter hour. Enormous adjustments are required.”

Men, let’s talk to other men about their grief. Use words, but only when it is necessary. At times like this, silence may speak louder than words. Because it's in such moments when our heartstrings intertwine and minister to others' voids and needs.

Let's talk to God about that man who has lost a child. Don't tell him, "I'll pray for you". Do it now over the phone. Or on the road. Minister to that need right here, right now when it's raw.