All Articles Tagged "death"

Fatherhood: Mother’s Day As A Widower And Father

May 6th, 2016 - By Chad Milner
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Chad Milner and daughter, Cydney

Chad Milner and daughter, Cydney

The second Sunday of May is a very interesting day. While we should give roses to those who are living, Mother’s Day is a day in which we all give appreciation to the women who gave us life, as well as those we have created a life with.

In my household, Mother’s Day has taken on a very different meaning. Five months after my daughter Cydney’s mother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, my own mother was informed that she had a malignant tumor in her breast. While my mother was beginning her process, I was knee-deep into surgeries and living in hospitals in 2011 with my wife. I recall a conversation in which my mother was emotionally processing that her oncologist threw out the possibility of a mastectomy. In the moment, I had to do my best impersonation of my mom (who is known to take feelings out of the equation and keep it real for perspective’s sake) and tell her that while I understood, I wished that surgery was an option.

The fall of 2011 was very difficult for me. While having to hide around in Virginia because my in-laws knew Cydney’s mother was being put on hospice and trying to get rid of me, the only comfort I had was being there for my own mother (via phone) who was just beginning chemotherapy treatments. The last time Timile–my daughter’s mother–and my mom saw each other, my mom showed Timile her bald head and they bonded because they were sharing an all-too familiar experience.

After Timile passed away and my mother was finishing up her first round with chemo, I was neck-deep in custody cases in two states for my daughter against Timile’s parents. A week after major surgery, my mother did most of the driving from New York to Virginia for us to get my baby back. In a time where she needed to be resting, what was more important to her was that I had my little girl. I was just beginning to feel about this little baby the way my mom does for me.

Needless to say, hospitals make me uncomfortable, so I don’t do hospitals. When my mother had her second surgery, I didn’t visit and she understood. The only time that I did was to drop off my aunt who was visiting mom. I stayed in the room all of five minutes and spent the rest of the time in the parking lot. Most people would say “Chad, get over yourself,” but at 25-years-old, stuff got incredibly real for me and she got it. Before my grandmother passed, I couldn’t visit her in the hospital, either. I had to wait until she came back home before ultimately saying goodbye. The way that both my mother and grandmother just “got it,” is a testament to these women who literally held on to dear life until I was ready.

Cydney only experienced Mother’s Day once while Timile was alive, and she was only three-months-old. All she knows is making that day special for my mother and her aunt, who act as mother figures in her life. Listening to this week’s podcast, she’s more than happy to do so, as well.

Today, we have just entered a different juncture in Cydney’s life. For the most part, she wants to control the conversation about her mother. Even if I am on the phone with someone else and she is within earshot, she begins to feel a certain way when Timile’s name comes up. It has to be her who brings her mother up, or she begins to get a little sad. While she is perfectly fine with being different, I feel as if she is become more and more aware that it isn’t the norm to be missing a mother. Her friends in school don’t understand it. Yes, saying that my daughter is more than several handfuls is an understatement, she clings on to me because I’m everything to her…I can see it in her eyes. Hell, she has a mild form of separation anxiety when people she cares about leave and begins to cry, saying “I’m gonna miss them.”

Another interesting pattern of behavior that I have noticed in my daughter is that she sees parts of herself in women that she has seen me date.

Read the full article here at Single Dadventures.

Enough Is Enough! When Will People Truly Let Tamir Rice Rest In Peace?

March 20th, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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It’s been nearly two years since 12-year-old Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Ohio was gunned down by officer Timothy Loehmann while holding a BB gun, and his name is still making headlines. While some stories celebrate his life and use his story to advocate change in communities across the country, many others are for the wrong reasons. The fatal story of the slain teen has been an unsettling narrative to witness as someone looking for the outside in, which has had a thinking: When will people truly let Tamir Rice rest in peace?

Just last month, the city of Cleveland filed a creditor’s claim in the amount of $500 against Rice’s family for what was said to be an unpaid EMS bill. According to reports, the city stated that family was responsible “for emergency medical services rendered as the decedent’s last dying expense under Ohio Revised Code.” The bill was broken down into two parts: $450 in “advance life support” that was administered to Tamir and $50 in mileage driven by the ambulance to the hospital where he died.

Really? After the young boy is killed on account of the city officer you charge the family medical expenses? Where they do that at? And although the mayor of Cleveland issued and apology and officials withdrew the request against Rice’s family, saying it was a mistake in terms of not flagging it, it doesn’t dismiss the embarrassment brought upon the family.

Not to mention, things were made worse when an officer from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District was suspended after it was discovered that he posted offensive comments on Facebook about Rice and his mother last month as well.

As if that wasn’t enough, earlier this week on Monday (Mar. 14), Captain Jamie Marquardt, a EMS supervisor, had the audacity to make disgusting and highly offensive comments against the 12-year-old via Facebook, as reported by Fox 8 Cleveland.

“Tamir Rice should have been shot and I am glad he is dead,” Marquardt’s post read. “I wish I was in the park that day as he terrorized innocent patrons by pointing a gun at them. I am upset I did not get the chance to kill the little criminal (expletive).”

After publishing his post, Marquardt later claimed he was not the person who wrote it. “Someone…picked up my phone and made some awful posts under my name. I want to apologize for those who thought it was me. I do not believe or stand for what was written.”

Fortunately, this time around, the city of Cleveland opened an investigation on Marquardt’s post by Cleveland City Hall’s Office of Integrity Control, which resulted in him being fired, but I do believe enough is enough. It’s apparent that the city of Cleveland has failed both Tamir Rice and his family, the least they could do is allow him to rest in peace and stop tormenting his death.

What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding Rice’s death and Marquardt’s comments?

Grow Trees, Not Graves: Would You Want To Be Turned Into A Tree When You Die?

March 3rd, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Would You Want To Be Turned Into A Tree When You Die feat

Source: Corbis

Just before I got my driver’s license, I told my parents that if anything should happen to me, I wanted to become an organ donor. My father approved of the decision but my mother was adamant that it wasn’t the right move to make. She was against it for several reasons really. She thought that if I were ever in an accident, paramedics and doctors would look at my license, see that I was a donor and not try their hardest to save my life. Then morally, she believed that you should leave the world as you entered it, with all of your body parts still in tact.

Personally, I don’t really see the point. At the end of the day, our bodies are the shells that house our souls. And while they serve an important function here on earth, in the spiritual realm they’re of no use. So I was always of the mindset that if my body, which I won’t be using, could benefit someone else, then go ahead and take what you need.

I really like the idea of shedding out outer skin and traveling light into the afterlife just as much as I like leaving something behind for the people who still live and move in the physical.

It’s the reason this idea of “becoming a tree” is so appealing to me. Technically, as the quotations denote, you’re not becoming an actual tree, your corpse is just being used to fertilize one. This video explains it much better than I could, so take a look it below.

For those who can’t watch, instead of being buried in a coffin, which is less environmentally friendly, your body is folded into a fetal position and placed in a pod. That pod is then used to fertilize a tree seedling. The video suggests that in the future, instead of visiting headstones, we’ll walk through forests. A tree, another living, breathing organism gives your loved ones something else to visit and touch and love. Plus, we all know that trees release oxygen into the air. So not only would you providing some sense of comfort to your loved ones, your choice to become a tree could be improving an entire community.

The project, developed in Italy, is still in its initial stages. But you can read more about it here.

What do you think about the idea of being turned into a tree after you die? Would you do it or is it still a bit too weird for you?

Do You Have A Will?

February 4th, 2016 - By Christine Mwaturura
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Shutterstock

Talking about death is never pleasant, and thinking about one’s own death is even more uncomfortable. I guess that could be why a quick informal survey around my office revealed that a lot of people have not yet considered estate planning. I was surprised to even find that some colleagues who own real estate or have children don’t have a will. 

What happens if a person dies without a will (known as dying intestate)?

Generally, when a person dies without a last will, the state’s intestacy laws determine what happens to the deceased’s stuff (the estate). Depending on the particular state, the estate may be distributed to a spouse, children, parents or siblings. Survivors have to go through the probate court system to have the estate distributed and this process can take months, and even years if the estate is complex or there are complicated familial relationships.  

There are countless horror story accounts of what some survivors have gone through when a loved one has passed away without a will: years of court proceedings to have the estate released, thousands of dollars spent on attorney and appraiser fees, stepchildren left out of the distribution, and sneaky relatives trying to claim a portion of the estate. One such story that I came across on the Huffington Post (My Story: Why People Need Wills), was about an estranged spouse who came out of the woodwork to make claim against the estate of his estranged wife. In the end, the estranged husband was able to get his hands on his deceased wife’s assets. The brother of the deceased woman, the author of the article, poignantly writes at the end, “People may think that wills and attorneys are expensive. In the overall scheme of things, they really aren’t. I gladly would have paid ten times the average cost for my mother and sister to have had wills.”

Good estate planning and an ironclad will or living trust can considerably speed up the estate distribution process and avoid a lot of the pitfalls that some survivors have had to navigate.

So when do you need to start estate planning?

At a healthy age 29, some would say it’s premature for me to consider my own death, but real talk — life is fragile. I’ve known otherwise healthy young people whose lives were unexpectedly claimed by freak accidents. It’s these types of stories that make me pause for a second and be thankful for the breath that fills my lungs, even on a sh-tty day. And then I also think about those who would be left behind to mourn me, and the unlucky ones who’d have to deal with my stuff: whose job would it be to pack up my things? who would be entitled to my stuff? would anyone know which banks hold my money and where my 401(k) sits?

I’m an organized person so the thought of leaving my loved ones to dig through my stuff after my death to try piece together bits of information about my bank accounts, insurance policies etc… almost seems like a cruel task to leave them with. This is one reason why estate planning — even for the single, relatively young and not so wealthy — is still important.

Estate planning is also more than just about what you own. Do you have a mortgage or student loans, and do you know what would happen to your debt upon your death? Do you have kids under 18, and have you thought about who would take on guardianship over your kids? These are all important questions considered part of the estate planning process. Other estate planning components include: a living will (also known as an advance directive), and establishing a power of attorney

Estate planning sounds like a laborious task, but certainly one that is worthwhile. I have estate planning on my 2016 to-do list, do you?

Children’s Grief Awareness Day: 10 Things Grieving Children Want You To Know

November 19th, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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One in 20 children will lose a parent by the age of 18. Most Americans will experience the death of someone close to them before graduating high school.

Death is a part of life, and loss is difficult for everyone, but children and teens grieve differently than adults. When a child’s grief goes unnoticed or isn’t properly addressed, the hurt can last a lifetime. Data indicates that without support, grieving children are at a much greater risk for depression, suicide, poverty and substance abuse.

“As a society we tend to overlook how grief affects children, despite the tremendous impact it can have on their lives,” said Mary FitzGerald, CEO of The Moyer Foundation. “But when we can provide the support children need, it’s truly amazing to watch them start to heal and learn to hope again.

The Moyer Foundation’s Camp Erin® Program is the nation’s largest network of free bereavement camps for kids, serving more than 3,000 children and teens annually in 46 locations.

Observed this year on Thursday, Nov. 19, Children’s Grief Awareness Day was established to draw attention to the unique needs and perspective of grieving children. Grief support organizations and families across the country mark the day each year as a way to remember loved ones and to raise awareness.

“We have been focused on leading a national discussion about childhood bereavement since 2008,” said Heather Nesle, president of the New York Life Foundation, a primary supporter of The Moyer Foundation. “We have made great progress, but this issue needs more attention, and we need to reach moregrieving children across the country.”

For those who have a grieving child in their life, here are a few insights into what they might be thinking and feeling, and how you can help, courtesy of The National Alliance for Grieving Children.

1 – I want to be told the truth.

Tell grieving children the truth, keeping in mind the child’s age and maturity level and the circumstances surrounding the death.

2 – I want to know that there will always be someone to take care of me.

Grieving children spend a lot of time worrying about another person in their life who might die. To help alleviate this fear, it’s important to reassure them that there will always be someone in their life who will take care of them.

3 –My grief is long lasting.

Children will grieve the person who died for the rest of their life – they don’t “just get over it.” As a result, they will often be bewildered when other people in their life have seemed to move on.

4 – I often cope with grief and loss through play.

Typically, children cannot sustain prolonged grief, so they use play as a way to cope with and to take a break.

5 – I will always miss the person who died.

Love doesn’t die – grieving children will miss the person they lost for as long as they live.

6 – I probably want to share my story and talk about the person who died.

Telling their story often helps a child heal. Grieving children don’t want to forget the person who died. They also worry that others will forget their person, so it’s important to share memories about the person who died.

7 – I might grieve differently from other kids.

Some children might be more expressive with their grief; some might keep it all in. Even siblings grieve differently, and it is important to honor each child’s story, even if it differs from their sibling’s.

8 – I probably feel guilty.

Grieving children will often feel pangs of guilt, even if it is not justified and has no basis in reality.

9 – If I’m acting out, I’m probably feeling intense emotions of grief.

Grieving children frequently feel sad, angry, confused, or scared. Because they might not know how to express these emotions, they often end up acting out instead.

10 – If you’re not sure what I want or what I’m feeling, just ask me!

When in doubt, ask a grieving child how you can help. They want to talk about the person who died, or maybe not. They may want to write about their grief or do some other activity to express their feelings.

Learn More: Get educated about how grief impacts children and teens, and what you can do to help, starting with the following links:

Moyer Foundation: www.moyerfoundation.org

New York Life Foundation – A Child in Grief: http://www.newyorklife.com/achildingrief

National Alliance for Grieving Children: http://www.nationalallianceforgrievingchildren.org/

Can A Child Choose Heaven Over The Hospital?

October 28th, 2015 - By Clarissa Joan
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CNN

CNN

Do not resuscitate (DNR), or no code, is a legal order written either in the hospital or on a legal form to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), in respect of the wishes of a patient in case their heart were to stop or they were to stop breathing.

Each year more than 100,000 people are given the choice to refuse medical treatment in the event they become ill and cannot breathe on their own or their heart stops working. In most cases, the option of DNR is given to patients who painfully suffer from terminal illnesses, are above the age of 65, and the chance of regaining an optimal quality of life is slim.

A DNR patient chooses to die peacefully at home with their family or in a palliative care/hospice facility where their comfort and cleanliness while dying is the only attended concern. Families across America have conversations with ill loved ones every day to determine their status on receiving medical treatment. It is a hard conversation to have, but what if you had to have this conversation not with your elderly parent or adult spouse, but your young child?

Meet Julianna Snow (Insert Pic)

Julianna is a five-year-old girl with a severe case of an incurable neurodegenerative illness called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. CMT, is a group of inherited disorders that affect the peripheral nerves, which are the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. CMT is just one kind of neuropathy (also called peripheral neuropathy), meaning simply that the peripheral nerves are damaged. It affects about 2.8 million people worldwide, of all races and ethnic groups.

This is an excerpt from a letter Michelle, Julianna’s mother, sent to their family and friends on October 28, 2014.

“Dear Friends,

 You may or may not know that Julianna was hospitalized almost 3 weeks ago for another respiratory problem. She is better now and will come home tomorrow.

 In 2014, Julianna spent 66 days in the hospital. This was her third PICU [Pediatric Intensive Care Unit] admission in ten months. We tried so hard to keep her out of the hospital, but it seemed like nothing was working…

Julianna turned 4 in August. She is a bright, kind, funny and amazing girl who happens to have an awful, debilitating neuromuscular disease. The worst part of her disease is that it affects her breathing and swallowing – these are the things that ultimately shorten lifespan in people with neuromuscular disease… 

We don’t know how much time we have with her – it could be months, it could be years.”

 

Julianna has been lucky. Most children with her condition do not live to see their second birthday. She has made it to age five. However, it has not been an easy fight to stay alive. From the age of two, her muscles have been getting severely weaker and the slightest sickness i.e. your common cold ushers her to the hospital where she cannot be sedated but must painfully endure NT, Nasotracheal suctioning, the process of extracting mucus from the lungs with tubes through the nose.

Julianna cannot swallow so she is also fed through a tube in her stomach. She wears a breathing mask 24/7, and she is bound to a electrical wheel chair that her hand muscles are too weak to operate.

Last October, doctors told the family Julianna’s chances of survival post another infection were highly unlikely especially with any level of quality living. It was then that the family began to consider if any further painful medical treatment was worth it.

Mom Michelle shared the conversation they had with Julianna on her blog.

Michelle: Julianna, if you get sick again, do you want to go to the hospital again or stay home?

Julianna: Not the hospital.

Michelle: Even if that means that you will go to heaven if you stay home?

Julianna: Yes.

Michelle: And you know that mommy and daddy won’t come with you right away? You’ll go by yourself first.

Julianna: Don’t worry. God will take care of me.

Michelle: And if you go to the hospital, it may help you get better and let you come home again and spend more time with us. I need to make sure that you understand that. Hospital may let you have more time with mommy and daddy.

Julianna: I understand.

Michelle: (crying) – I’m sorry, Julianna. I know you don’t like it when I cry. It’s just that I will miss you so much.

Julianna: That’s OK. God will take care of me. He’s in my heart.

 

This is every parents worst nightmare. No one is suppose to bury their child. For most it happens suddenly without choice or consideration, but for this family it is happening painfully and slowly. Are they doing the right thing? Should a child be allowed to make decisions about his or her own quality of life and medical treatment?

The Snow family has chosen to honor their daughter’s wishes and not subject her to any further hospitalization should she get sick. They believe that Julianna is well aware of her own suffering and what options she has in the after life as well as those on earth. The next time Julianna gets sick, what happens next will be up to God, not a doctor.

Can a child choose heaven over the hospital? Would you let your child make that decision?

 

For more information on The Snow Family’s Story see CNN’s series coverage “Heaven or Hospital.”

Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia, Pa with her Husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing. She is the Communications Associate at Impact America Fund.

 

The Window Has Closed: Joe Biden Announces He Will Not Run For President

October 21st, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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FayesVision/WENN.com

FayesVision/WENN.com

Today Joe Biden announced, to the chagrin of many, that he will not be running for President. Today, in the Rose Garden, standing next to his wife Jill and President Obama, Vice President Biden explained why he would not be running.

“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along…that it may very well be that that process-by the time we get through it- closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for President. That it might close. I’ve concluded, it has closed. I know from previous experience that there is no timetable for this process. The process doesn’t respect or much care about things like filing deadlines, debates and primaries and caucuses.

But I also know that I couldn’t do this if the family wasn’t ready. The good news is, the family has reached that point. But as I’ve said many times, my family has suffered loss and I hope there would come a time that–sooner rather than later– when you think of your loved one, it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. That’s where the Bidens are today, thank God. Beau is our inspiration. Unfortunately, I believe we’re out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.”

Still, Biden did say that while he is not running, he will not be silent. He praised the progress President Obama made during his two terms and suggested that instead of running from it, the Democratic candidates should embrace his record and attempt to expound upon it.

Many believe the only reason Biden was considering a third run for presidency was because his late son Beau made a plea for him to pursue the highest office once again.

This announcement is bittersweet to me. While I certainly believe that a Biden campaign run would be great for the country, I respect and appreciate him taking time to be human and grieve.

Sadly, he is no stranger to the process.

In 1972, soon after he won his Delaware Senate seat his wife and infant daughter were killed in a car crash.

Now, politically, he will most be remembered for the service he provided to President Obama and to the nation as the Vice President of the United States.

Medical Examiner Holds Bobbi Kristina’s Autopsy Results Per Court Order

September 27th, 2015 - By Ashley Monaé
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Image Source: WENN

WENN

Nearly two months after her untimely death, Bobbi Kristina Brown’s controversial cause of death has finally been determined.

However, the Fulton County Medical Examiner is not revealing the results per a judge’s decision and court order that the results be sealed, as the police are still searching for evidence that could result in a homicide prosecution.

“The Fulton County Medical Examiner has classified the cause and manner of Bobbi Kristina Brown’s death based on information available as of September 25, 2015,” the office said in an online statement. “However, a Fulton County Superior Court Order dated September 25, 2015 has been received Sealing the Autopsy Report and ordering the Medical Examiner to not release any further information to the public. The Fulton County District Attorney and Roswell Police Department have been informed of the Medical Examiner’s findings.”

As the investigation continues, TMZ reports Nick Gordon, Bobbi Kristina’s boyfriend, has been a suspect cops have been looking at since the beginning of the case.

We will continue to keep you posted as new details emerge.

How Someone’s Last Words Gave Me Peace

September 23rd, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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I’ve been very open with my recent struggles with accepting my mortality.  For a long time, it was never even a second thought to me.  As I grew up, in my traditionally Christian home, we were taught that it’s not “goodbye,” but “’til we meet again.”  With that knowledge, and the advantage of youth, I didn’t think about my own inevitability.

But the first moment of being aware of my own mortality happened in college when a few people I was close to in high school died.  But, though I felt that emotional trauma, youth allowed me to separate my mourning from my own vulnerability, and after a while, things went back to normal.

Then, the last four years happened and people who seemed so happy and healthy began to wither away, sometimes right in front of me.  Some of them were older, some were younger, some were my age and that’s when I knew that this was a fate I couldn’t escape.

All the years of thinking:  “’til we meet again,” were gone, and were replaced with “what happens afterward?”

It was hard trying to know that someone in the past, who felt like the world revolved around them, was now being relegated to past tense verbs, and aging anecdotes.  Then I began to question the idea of how death, though sad, should be the joyous occasion that I was raised to believe it was. If that were the case, then why were so many people crying?  If we knew we would see them again, why be sad anyway?  If the promise of a new life allowed us peace, why were our self-preservation instincts so strong?

My head was beginning to feel heavy with all my morbid thoughts and instead of cherishing each day, I began to worry when and how my “time” would come.

But recently, a memory of one of my loved ones’ last words has been able to cease my fears, if only momentarily.

She’d struggle for so long, and was in a hospital at a different state.  This surrogate family member had been so strong, but we knew that the inevitable was happening.  When I got the phone call that she passed, through tears, I was told that she actually passed twice.  The first time, for a few moments after being taken off of a ventilator.  But when she came back, she turned to her family and said:  “I’m not afraid of dying anymore.”  A few moments later, she finally passed.

I didn’t think about what she said for a very long time.  I focused on being there for my surrogate family and trying to be as much of a comfort as I could.

But nights later, I found myself thinking about the inevitable. I’ve been thinking about those final words.  I don’t know what she saw but it was enough to give this person peace before passing. And if it was enough to cease her anxiety, then it should be enough to cease mine.

Those words have been able to encourage me to not dwell on the possible but to enjoy the present.  I no longer have that dread of “what/when,” but now feel peaceful.

I’m not going to lie, there are moments when my past thoughts begin to arise, but during those times, I remember those words, and I’m able to finally find peace, regardless of my understanding.

Daddy Speaks: My Experience With the Five Stages of Grief

July 3rd, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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In the book “On Death and Dying,” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined what is generally accepted as the five stages of grief. They make perfect sense theoretically and sequentially: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Whether it is how we are biologically wired or classically conditioned, this is a process that we all go through when we lose someone we love.

After three and a half years, I finally visited the grave of my daughter’s mother. While talking with a friend, I began to have clarity about the relationship with my daughter’s mother and the others that have followed. I went through the five stages; but in a different order than Ross outlined in 1969. To some extent, that made all my other relationships very complicated.

Daddy Speaks: My Experience With the Five Stages of Grief