Saturday, February 27, 2010

Six Months

It has been six months today…and I have kept my promise. I have not turned into a bitter and angry person. It has not been easy…but I have kept my promise. My intention was to write something very meaningful, significant or truly inspirational…but this is all I have offer.

I have so much to say…so much that I want to say…to you Jen. Honestly, it’s one of the hardest things to cope with. Their is so much I want to tell you. So many things I want to discuss, funny stories, something that happened at work, something that one of the girls did or said, or just discuss the day's events...but you aren’t there. I tell you anyway…but it just isn’t the same.

I have been doing a lot of reflecting and evaluating of many things. I feel like I'm searching for answers that I know I won't find. I feel sort of lost. My thoughts and emotions are all over the board.

At least with a divorce it's okay to be a little angry, or a lot angry depending on the circumstance, and disappointed. I can't be angry, who am I going to be angry at...cancer...God... and I know it's not healthy. I can't walk around disappointed because I know I have to go on.

Our future as a couple and a family was so bright. It was filled with so much potential for all of us. We had so many things we wanted to do and I don't know if I necessarily want to do them without was just be weird.

From what I can tell the girls are doing okay. I make a point to talk about you every day. It might be some silly story or memory or just to tell them "that's what your Mom would have done". I will never let them forget…as for me…I am doing my best to keep it together.

It’s been six months…

Friday, February 26, 2010


FYI…this entry is a little dark…


It burns a hole in your heart and your mind…

Grief is uncontrollable; you never know when or how it will hit you…

It makes your mind race…and you second guess anything and everything…

Straight from Wikipedia


Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions. Common to human experience is the death of a loved one, whether it be a friend, family, or other companion. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement often refers to the state of loss, and grief to the reaction to loss.

Bereavement, while a normal part of life, carries a degree of risk when limited support is available. Severe reactions to loss may carry over into familial relations and cause trauma for children, spouses and any other family members: there is an increased risk of marital breakup following the death of a child, for example. Issues of faith and beliefs may also face challenge, as bereaved persons reassess personal definitions in the face of great pain.


One thing you should never say to a grieving person…”it will be okay”…or at least to THIS grieving person. My reply – “how do you know it will be okay”…then comes the awkward silence when no answer is present.

Understand that I hate this…I hate feeling this way…this is not who I am…it’s not the person that I was…it's not the person I want to be.

I dislike feeling this way.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


So here is a recap of last night…our orientation at the Caring Place.

We arrived and parked in the parking garage and I started getting some serious feelings. It wasn’t a panic attack or anxiety it was more like…resentment. Why are we here? I never imagined being here…I certainly didn’t plan on coming here and now here I am. It’s hard to explain, but those who knew us well know that Jen and I planned everything. One thing I never planned for was losing my wife and attending the Caring Place.

After a couple of deep breaths I did my best to collect myself, get focused and remained positive. After we got settled in we went into a large room and ate pizza. I counted 12 families there in total. Everyone was sort of spread apart in this large room and you could feel the anxiety and tension. We ate and the girls wanted to go explore and play at the various stations that were setup within the room.

I stayed back and just observed and listened. Abbie and Allie were the only kids playing and I though to myself is this good or bad…I don’t know…I think it’s good, but I’m not sure. The other kids were sort of next to their adult and just sitting there. So Abbie walked up to a little girl, younger then Allie and asked her if she wanted to play. Abbie took her back to the station where Allie was and then Allie got the little girl all setup with a toy. Then Abbie went and got another little boy. Abbie was bringing kids over and Allie was handing out toys…quite a team. They are both amazing kids…and stuff like that makes me see so much of Jen in both of them.

After all the families finished their dinner the orientation started. Each adult from each family had to introduce themselves and tell why they were there (meaning who died in your family). Again, I thought this is where it starts to go bad. We were sitting in the middle so the first couple of people went and talked about their loved one who died. Abbie asked me why we were here and had everyone had someone who died. I did my best to explain beforehand, but didn’t want to freak her or Allie out. Allie chimed right in “so everyone here had someone who died?”

My reply “yep kiddo, everyone here has lost someone so they are families like us”, and with that Allie squeezed my hand and Abbie put her head on my shoulder. Honestly it was a moment I will never, ever forget.

We took a tour and then each of us went to our own room. Abbie went to the 6-9 room, Allie to the 2-5 room and I went to the adult meeting room. The girls each did an activity and I received more info about the group sessions. Afterwards we packed up and went home.

They are going to form groups based on types of loss (parent, sibling etc) and age. Group sessions start in March and May…I expressed a serious interest to start in March. Overall it went well and the girls both said that they wanted to come back. It was emotional…for me…the girls were fine. They (the girls) just never stop amazing me…they are so resilient and strong…so much like Jen. I believe this will be good for them, good for us…and good for me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Problem Solver Part II

So this Entry really relates to yesterday’s entry entitled “Problem Solver”.

I went to lunch with a coworker today who is also one of my best friends to the local Chinese / Japanese restaurant. We have a good lunch, we always seem to entertain each other pretty well, and it comes time to get the check. As customary the waiter drops two fortune cookies, one for each of us with the check.

Here was my friend’s fortune – “A beautiful person is with you, confide your problems”.

My friend reads my blog…needless to say we both got a good laugh from it.

Prepping for Tomorrow…I’m anxious about going to the Caring Place tomorrow…and I know I shouldn’t be. But this is what I do...

What if they tell me I’m a bad parent, what if they tell me I’m doing this wrong and that wrong…how will the girls react, how will I react, blah, blah, blah…sometimes I just drive myself crazy.

I build up expectations and always seem to be disappointed somehow…wish me luck…I hope it all works out well…

Monday, February 22, 2010

Problem Solver

Something really puzzles me…why is it that I can make others feel good but can’t make myself feel happy?

I am a Dad first thing in the morning, a software manager all day, a Dad again at night and a friend in the hours in between.

I listen to problems all day…all sorts of problems. Project related, budgetary, work issues, personality conflicts, personal employee issues etc. I listen, analyze, ask questions, break them down and offer “logical” points of view. People leave my office and thank me for taking the time to listen, for letting them vent, for lending a non-biased ear, for offering a plan, for making them feel better. Why, why, WHY can I do that for everyone except myself?

I have had coworkers tell me things that just “blow my mind” from both a business and a personal point of view. Yet I listen and offer advice and suggestions. I can make my kids feel better with a hug and kiss and some encouraging words. Yet no matter what I say to myself…it just does not take.

Maybe because I make a point to always make eye contact with people when they speak. Maybe it is because I am a good listener. Maybe it is because I genuinely like to help people. Maybe it is because I am willing to fix mistakes others have made, but cannot admit my own defeats…I do not know.

I am a realist. Maybe that has something to do with it. When people confide in me, I do not hold back any punches. I tell them what I think. I am not harsh about it, but I do not sugarcoat things. If I feel they are wrong, I tell them “I think you were wrong“. If they messed up, I help them devise a plan to fix the situation, but I am honest with them. People really appreciate honesty that is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned.

So, I am an honest realist who cannot make himself feel good or happy by executing on what I seem to be able to do easily for others.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Going to Be a Tough Week

So I’m just giving fair notice that the next few posts are going to be…“downers”. I don’t want to post a bunch of depressing stuff but the next week is going to be tough. It’s coming up on six months since Jen passed away...six some ways it seems like yesterday and it some ways its seems like years.

We (the three of us) start the Caring Place on Wednesday. It’s family therapy. It’s a place for families who have lost a parent to go and get some counseling. The program is only offered three time per year and we just missed it that last time. It’s a really good program and I’m looking forward to going. I’m also a little scared as well, but I know it will be beneficial and good for all of us.

Stay Tuned...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I told a friend of mine shortly after Jen passed away that I was kicking around the idea of writing a book. I started keeping a journal shortly after Jen was diagnosed and have continued with the personal journal and this blog. There are quite a few books out there for grieving wives, but not that many for grieving husbands, particularly “younger” grieving husbands. There are tons and tons of book about how to handle grief, the steps of grief, what do while grieving etc and please I hope no one takes offense to this but most of those books are very spiritual in nature and all revolve around finding religion.

Now, I do NOT want to go down the religious path…if religion works for you…awesome, that’s great. I am not a religious person, neither was Jen. I basically believe that one should seriously try to treat others the way that you would like to be treated in return.

If my experiences could help some younger grieving person, especially a younger grieving father, then that would honestly make me feel better. I’m a very emotional person and I most definitely wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s never difficult to tell what I am feeling, but I am also very strong and determined. I take my promise that I made to Jennifer very serious - that I will not become an angry and bitter person. If my experiences both before and after her passing could somehow benefit others, that would be good…and something good has to come from all of this.

The book would not be about finding religion - it would be about picking yourself back up and starting over. I’m not a doctor offering advice. I am an average person. I’m the guy you work with. I’m the guy that coaches his daughter’s soccer team. I’m the guy whose wife died and I’m the guy who has to go on. Believe me I have “googled” and searched and read a ton of book reviews – if this type of book is out there, I certainly haven’t seen it…maybe it needs to be written…maybe I’m that guy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Branching Out

I am taking the advice of a good friend and I decided to email some folks about my blog site. I did not email anyone that I work with because I really don't want those folks knowing what's going on inside my head. I hope that ultimately my blog helps me and helps others.

People have emailed me and asked how I am doing, how are the kids etc. I hope that the site helps answer those questions and more. I ask that you do not take offense to things I write and post. I am not the best writer and some of my English grammar teachers from my past would be mortified.

The entries are candid... real...honest... and where I am at right now.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Let me just come out and say it...I don't like being alone. Don't get me wrong I like my alone time, but I do not like being alone for long periods of time. I grew up on only child and never liked being alone. Let me offer some additional background for perspective...

I took Jen to all of her chemo treatments, appointments etc. We were always the youngest people there. Whether it was sitting in a waiting room, or in the treatment area, we were always the couple that looked out of place. I can even remember an older woman asking us one time if we were there to pick someone up because Jen never looked sick. Jen had very thick hair and was able to cover up the areas where her hair fell out while she had radiation and chemo. She often joked how the chemo diet was really working for her because even though she was fighting a serious condition, she looked awesome.

We both absolutely dreaded going to Hillman for her treatments. To clarify, the Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh is a total first class establishment. The staff and the facility were always so nice and courteous to both of us, but sitting there surrounded by sick people was hard. For the most part everyone was 20+ years older than us, coughing, hacking, vomiting, it was a ward of sick was tough.

I went to every session because that is what a husband does. I never felt like I had to go, I just went because no way was I going to let her go through this horrible experience with me being there...that's probably another whole blog entry.

Anyway, every time we went to a treatment we would be there all day. I would mostly sit and offer support and get anything that she needed. After a while my mind would wander...and start to think. What happens if I get cancer...who will take me for treatments...who will take care of me? I don't want to sound selfish, but I would be lying if I said that I didn't have those thoughts.

I'm a firm believer that their is someone for everyone in this whacked out world...and that most people do NOT find that certain someone (hence the high divorce rate, the cheaters, infidelity, etc). Well, I did, I found the person that I was supposed to be with, and she's gone. I found her, we fell in love and she died...and when she died so did a huge piece of me.

I dislike being alone...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Life is a lot Harder without Mommy

Kids are funny. They say things at times when you just don’t expect it. Mornings during the week at our house are…pretty much a circus. Getting ready for work and also trying to wake two kids who are NOT morning people up is always very interesting to say the least. Getting them out of bed, dressed, fed a decent breakfast, teeth brushed, hair brushed, suited up for winter, back packs on and at the school bus stop is usually pure pandemonium.

In the middle of the chaos this morning my five year old said to me, “life sure is harder without Mommy here”. My heart sort of jumped into my throat. I stopped rushing and talked to her about it…some things are more important this missing the bus and I knew this was one of them. I told her that she was right, it was harder, but that’s why we all need to look after each other. We are a family and we all take care of one another. She looked at me with that inquisitive look that she has, her finger strategically placed on her temple as in deep thought and said “you’re not going to die are you Dad?”.

Second frog in my throat…”no kiddo I’m not going anywhere”. With that she continued brushing her teeth and told me to hurry up so we don’t miss the school bus.

It sort of puts things in perspective for me…I can’t wait to get home just to hug both of them.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Random Thoughts

So I feel that I need to write inspiring things on my blog site, meaningful things that will trigger thoughts or emotions…well I’ve got nothing. I mean, I literally have nothing to write. Then a friend of mine said to stop feeling pressured to be creative, or witty or inspiring…just write. Anything, random thoughts…moments of anger, moments of happiness etc…so here it goes.

The Stupid Things that Make Me Angry...

Facebook has a status of “Widow” but not “Widower”, WHY? WTF is up with that?

I wish people would be more sensitive to the fact that some families such as mine have lost a parent. The world is best for four…and we are a family of three. The world is not built for three.

I’m still pissed…and getting more pissed all the time that I don’t dream of Jen. The other night I actually woke up from a dream that I was having about some friends from high school. I mean I had a dream about a girlfriend from high school that I haven’t seen or talked to in 20 years, but yet I don’t have my dreams of my wife. I have tried everything from thinking of nothing but Jen as I drift off to sleep to taking the opposite approach and not thinking of anything and I still don’t dream of her…frustrating!!! I need to know that she is okay wherever she is! Jen wasn’t baptized as a child – does that have anything to do with it…I don’t friggin know and it’s driving me crazy.

I feel unfulfilled. I feel like I could…should be doing more with my life. I just don’t what to do. Volunteer, teach, travel, something else…I just don’t know.

Inside Bill's Head -- Previously Known as (Inside the Head of a Grieving Single Dad)

In August of 2009 my wife Jennifer passed away from an Anaplastic Astrocytoma Brain Tumor. She was only 38 years old. She left me and our two little girls Abbie and Allie to continue life’s journey.

I promised her that I would NOT become angry and bitter about what order to do that I am attempting to write to express my thoughts and feelings.

This site is a place where I can express my thoughts, feelings and rants...