Dedicated to the memory of a dad and his son and trying to understand the why.

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Kristoff and Julian St John

I had written another article to start my new blog, but felt a hungering urge that I had to address another celebrity tragedy that really hit home with me.

Well here I am at 4:20 am in the morning wide awake staring at the ceiling after my dog Herbie bit my toe. My wife and I have 3 dogs and Herbie and I share a king bed because he is my second wife and he has some type of foot fetish. Therefore, post bite. I am laying here and can’t fall back asleep because I cannot stop thinking about the recent passing of the young and the restless star Kristoff St. John at the young age of 52. Sources are stating that it could be suicide. Kristoff’s sons Julian passed away couple of years ago.

My wife first told me about this tragedy yesterday afternoon and we chatted for some time about how we could relate so much to Kristoff’s agonizing pain because of his son’s passing.  As bereaved parents we walk on that tightrope of life where a memory can sway our emotions from happiness to sadness in a blink of an eye. You can never prepare for that moment when a song that your child loved plays on the radio, eating a meal he or she enjoyed, reliving a memory of a magical moment you shared with them and knowing that there will be no more new memories. The emotions that come with these experiences range from sadness to pure happiness. It is something that can’t be controlled now matter how much control you think you have. That is one of the biggest illusions of life…Thinking that we can control so much. That is BS. The reality is that we can only control a few things and coming to grips with this reality is the first step in discovering happiness.

If Kristoff’s passing is determined to be suicide, he will be severely judged by society. Not for being an amazing actor, father, son, husband, friend and co-worker, but for being weak because he took the easy way out. That he should have fought harder, he should have seen a therapist, he should have talked to someone. There is something he could have done instead of taking his own life and create more pain for his family. Those are what I called the shouldhaves (I just invented this word so it is not in the dictionary yet) and they should try to see things from another person’s perspective. During my journey of grief, I came across a lot of these know it all’s that had all this advice but had not experience. I discuss this in length in my book, the chapter called whose got your six. More about that later.

I am here to tell all those shouldhaves that they should have taken a course in compassion. I am Kristoff, along with almost every other bereaved parent out there that is a member of this community that we didn’t want to be a part of. The loss of a child is the most traumatizing experience that a parent can have. It is not natural, it is beyond comprehendible and the biggest question we have is WHY.  We as bereaved parents fully understand what stories were playing in Kristoff’s mind and what he thought about every single second of every single day since his son’s passing. It is almost impossible to think of anything else. It consumes every thought from the moment you open your eyes until the moment you try to close them at night. Then you have the shouldhaves that said you should have gotten over it.

What is life going to be like now? How could I have let this happen? My only job was to protect him or her and I couldn’t even do that. I am a failure as a parent. Why wasn’t it me?  Why did God/universe do this to me? How can I keep going on? Questions like this haunt our minds because we believe that there is such a finality of death. Our minds will tell us that there is no escaping this loop of grief that is constantly beating us down and pushing us deeper into the darkest hole of depression. We lose hope and when hope is lost the alternatives are very few. Hence the word hopelessness.

After the loss of my son Richie, I spent a year and a half keeping myself numb. I didn’t want to face the reality of his passing.  I called this my mask of society. The consequences of living with the reality was something that I couldn’t comprehend and couldn’t even begin to understand. The constant stabbing into my heart that felt like I was having a heart attack 24 hours a day. The empty feeling knowing that I would never give my son a hug, hear him laugh or see his beautiful smile again tortured my already weakened body and mind. The pain was constant and horrific and the only way I could avoid it was to keep it at a bay by any means possible. Which usually meant alcohol and a lot of anti-depressants. You will also have the people that will judge us for this as well. I say that I was being resourceful and did whatever I needed to do in order to survive in that moment. Because that is how one survives an unexpected tragedy that drops a ton of freaking bricks on your head when you though life was amazing. Moment by moment, step by step, that is what it takes to keep going and to find the happiness you once enjoyed.

While I was living in my world of numbness there were moments of contemplation where ending it would have been a viable option to stop the constant stabbing in my heart, alleviate the emptiness, eliminate the loneliness and to once and for all power off my mind.  This conversation with myself would continue at length about the pros and cons of this decision. I am wondering if Kristoff had these same conversations going on in his head. If I had to guess I would say yes. Because on my journey of grief that was the consensus for most parents that lost children. It is hard to find a way out, when the only thing we want is to have something that we can never have again in this physical world. This is one thing that we can’t fix, no matter how popular you are, how much money you have and not matter who you know. The finality of this loss cannot be undone. However, to move forward through grief there must be a glimmer of hope. For hells sake it is not easy. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is my hope that if you lost a child loved one or are feeling sad you will find some of that hope here in this article.

I am sure there are people reading this that will say that thinking about taking yourself out to end the pain is the weak person’s way out. Are those shouldhaves still reading this. They probably should not be reading this.  I say to them, in those moments of irrational thoughts we become selfish and can only think about our own pain. Not the aftermath and debris field of life that will lie in the wake of another tragedy. We only are thinking of 2 things. One, ending the pain and two, laying with our child. I can guarantee that Kristoff was thinking about these two things for the past several months since his tragic loss.

I understand what Kristoff was going through because as bereaved parents we have all been there and have had those moments of irrationality. I am here to tell let the world, all bereaved parents and anyone else that is struggling that there is a way through the grief and struggles of life.  The key I found was being able to master the one thing that was at the root of my depression and hopelessness. Yes, the thing between our two ears…our mind.  By giving your tragedy a different meaning. To redirect your mind to focus on what you have instead of what you have lost. I know it is a huge step, but this not only goes for bereaved parents but for anyone out there that is depressed and struggling to find the light. In the end, all we really want is some relief, someone to understand us and some hope that there is a life and happiness on the other side of the horror story we are currently living in. The world doesn’t need any more labels and judgement from the shouldhaves. We clearly have plenty of that now. Now is the time for compassion, understanding, connection and love. That is what we are here to do and to provide to each other as human beings.

When my son passed the meaning I gave his passing was, why did this happen to me. This meaning kept me in the darkness when all I wanted was to see the light. I finally found hope and the light when I began to give his passing a different meaning. I began to ask myself questions. How can I create something meaningful out of this? What can I do to take this tragedy and reframe it into something that will not only help me but serve others? I found that when I took the focus off myself and put it on others, like my wife, my other son, my family and the world; that is when my eyes began to open, and a small glimmer of light started showing through the darkness. That is when I began to see things in a different perspective, that is when I discovered the true gifts that I have been given in this world. That is when I realized that my wife and I had an angel in our presence for 27 years and he provided us the gifts that we are sharing with you in this moment and will continue to do for the rest of our lives.

I know this a sh*t ton to swallow right now. Small steps. That is what I found was so helpful. Not thinking about tomorrow, just thinking about the next couple of seconds. As time goes on the small steps will help you find the path through the grief and on the other side of what I call rediscovered pure unfiltered happiness. I am a better person, husband, father, son and friend as a result of the journey that I have been on. This is possible for everyone out there and getting in the right frame of mind is the key to discovering the light and happiness. For now, the biggest thing you need to understand in this moment is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

There are resources and incredible people in the amazing world that can help you get through that grief, emptiness and loneliness and find the light. You just need to be resourceful and think about what your child would have wanted for your life. Would they want you to be unhappy? Would they want you to be angry? Would they want you to live the rest of your life carrying around the burden of their loss? What do you think?

If you don’t make a change, things won’t change. Therefore, what can you do today to make things a little lighter in your life? What can you do right now to help yourself?  Who can you talk to? What book can you read? How can you find a resource that will help you on your journey to rediscover happiness that you once experienced? How can you discover more happiness in life? It’s out there and you just need to have the determination and grit of a warrior to seek it out and grab it.

I find Dr Google an amazing resource for finding people, support and books to help people on their journey. You can also pick up a copy of my book that benefits my son’s foundation, The Richie Pryor Foundation. The warriors of life, “Conquering grief and battling your way back to happiness” .  This book is filled with the resources and experiences that helped me rediscover happiness. If you cannot afford a book, please send me an email at whatsup@richiepryor.com and I will email you an electronic copy of my book.

I also found when bad things happen to good people a great resource in my darkest of times. Because I wanted to know why.

Here are a couple of amazing resources to help you on your journey

The compassionate friends
Bereaved parents of the USA link.

I also conduct online grief workshops a couple of times a month. Check here for workshop dates and times.

I am also doing research for my next book about happiness. I call it the happiness experiment. It consists of a happiness quiz to measure your own happiness as well as 3-week challenge to discover more happiness in your life.

If you are interested in participating and helping with my research for my book. Please click on the link below to participate in my happiness experiment and make happiness contagious. Like any experiment it is a work in progress. If you run into any challenges, please hit me up at Whatsup@richiepryor.com

The Happiness Experiment

Please stay tuned for my Discovering Happiness workshop…. I know but I am only a mortal and as such only have 24 hours in a day.

Please remember to take some action now. Remember small steps and at all costs be resourceful and think with your heart instead of your mind.

Click here to subscribe to my articles of happiness blog. This is it. I promise I don’t spam anyone. That doesn’t make anyone happy.

All my love and support.

Just Smile

Richie