According to the National Center for Child Death Review Policy and Practice, about 53,000 children die in the United States every year. That means every year, 100,000 parents are faced with the unimaginable pain that comes with losing a child.
Scientists who study grief have have said losing a parent, spouse, and especially a child can have serious impact on someone's health. According to research done by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine grief increases blood pressure and the release of stress hormones, which can lead to conditions like heart attack, stroke, and “broken heart syndrome,” where the heart muscle suddenly weakens following an intense stress.
Our affiliate WKRC News shares the story of five fathers in Ohio trying to figure out how to go on with life after losing a child, together.
“Unless you've experienced the loss, you really don't understand the depth of the pain."
On a Tuesday evening in Ohio, five fathers gather around a dinner table at the home of Doug Eisele. The men are all different, but they share a common bond. The pain of losing a child.
Each of their children holds a special place in their hearts.
“My daughter, Katrina, was a beautiful, young, 24-year-old, vibrant," said Doug Eisele.
Bruce Brumbaugh described his daughter, Erica.
“She was 5' 2", red hair, blue eyes and a beautiful little girl. If you ask me at any age, what was my success in life, she was it," said Bruce.
Doug needed a way to walk through his pain after losing Katrina to an overdose three years ago. She was studying nursing, was talented, and worked with her father in the family art gallery. Doug and his wife were dealt a second blow when they lost their son, Logan, who battled a heart condition and immune deficiency.
“Unless you've experienced the loss, you really don't understand the depth of the pain," said Doug.
Doug and the other men were part of a group for grieving parents, but Doug wanted to start one specifically for men. It was clear to him that they were grieving differently.
“The guys in particular just kind of sat back and supported their wives and their mothers, but didn't say a whole lot and I noticed that the guys had a tendency to hold their feeling pretty close and they weren't really comfortable or willing to really, truly express themselves," said Doug.
Some come to talk about their feelings, others for the company and bonding.
When asked what he wanted other parents to know, Doug shared this powerful message: "Don't take for granted the time you have with your child. Embrace every moment. Tomorrow isn’t promised."