Grief 3 years after losing child

By: John Fahey We lost Emily three years ago. How is this supposed to feel after three years? I got my an answer eleven years ago when Emily first got diagnosed with the deadly cancer that took her life. I spoke to a mother who had lost her child at age 7 to the same cancer and we spoke about it. She said through tears that after losing her child that "your life is never the same and you are always nervous". As a general statement that sums it up, subject to a lot of personal interpretation. Funny thing is after being part of a bereavement group and speaking with a few friends who have lost children I realized over time everything they said was true. In the beginning we were just lost in pain, submerged in a heavy sludge that took every ounce of energy to push through from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day. As one bereaved mother said, I don't want to kill myself but I don't want to live either. Unbearable. I shifted from keeping myself totally busy with work and home projects to periods of depressed inactivity. From taking up running in the freezing winter nights with my dog on a leash, practically pulling his head off his neck, to binge watching Breaking Bad. Just surviving, trying to keep the kids moving and not overwhelm or harm them with this cloud of despair. Seems that is the way with a lot of this, the need to put on the smile that died with Emily to the outside world in direct contradiction to the internal carnage. I am reluctant to write this blog because it seems idiotic for me to complain about our pain when Emily endured the unbearable. Two battles with cancer, the second time a living nightmare of ineffectual chemo and futile operations serving only to prolong her life for the sake of more suffering. Fighting to the end, mentally unconscious but physically unwilling to give in, life ripped callously from her weakened grip. But to go on we must remind ourselves that our loved ones are no longer enduring their pain so we must find a way to let it go, or at least live with it. After three years the memories are less frequent visitors. Now they parasitically attach themselves to life's important moments to haunt you. Her Birthday, the day your son gets his license (how ecstatic she would have been when she got hers!), holidays, graduations, weddings.... After three years the hardest pain is still the absence of her presence. To not be able to see her reactions to life's gifts and challenges , to not hear her laugh, her insatiable drive to get to a place she had not defined yet. This borne through her friends and family. For me I struggle with how I can communicate with Emily, thinking of her and speaking to her in my head. If she hears me doesn't that mean there is a God? If there is a God how could he have allowed this? For me to believe she can hear me I must believe in him. How? Presumably God teaches us through pain, prepares our soul for Heaven with pain. It is truly difficult for me to accept that Emily was taken to teach me something. I never agreed to that deal, and never would. If hope you as a bereaved parent can find solace in these thoughts. As I look them over I do not look at them that way, but perhaps they will help you along your path.

Fahey Foundation Mission

Many times seriously ill children feel abandoned and alienated from their friends while in the hospital system.  We believe that comfort, love, and a support from one’s family & friends is a critical part of their recovery.

Our Mission at the Fahey Foundation is to provide those children with a support system and any means of emotional and mental health support.  Entering our third year of building the foundation, we are now close to starting Phase I of this endeavor, which is to help provide hospitalized children in the Boston area with relief from the loneliness and boredom of life in the hospital system.  We will do that by bringing “home” to the hospital.  Logistics and transportation will be organized by our launching of the “Emily Van.”  

The Emily Van is a coordinate shuttle for family and friends of the ill who otherwise could not visit their sick friends.  The charity will also work with the social worker and administrative staffs of the hospital to gather the most eligible family and patients.

Help us raise the spirits and the resilience of these brave children in their fight against adversity and donate or get involved today.


"Cancer" by Caroline Fahey

We laugh
We cry
We play
We train
We take life day by day

We had no warning
We had no signal
We had no time
And time’s running out

They left they said
Just a check-up
No big deal
Not a dress-up

They don’t come home
No laughing matter
They had to stay the night
I was not much gladder

No idea what’s going on
Can you tell me now, what’s wrong

Cancer’s what’s wrong
Cancer’s the matter
But you wouldn’t tell that to a little girl
And make her sadder

Night time comes
Not fast enough
To fall asleep was very tough
Finally deep into the night
Thankful to escape to my dreams
To take flight

They’re not back yet
Not in the morning
It was fairly uneventful
But not very boring

Tell me where they are
Can you tell me now
I’m not ready for the truth
Not here anyhow

We go to the hospital
Can’t even explain
The pain of the sight
Of my sister completely lame

Months pass
Feels like years
They’re not home
They’re not here

But that day comes quickly enough
For I
Not I
Will never bluff

Cancer is here
In the air
It’s the loudest sound
Beyond compare

She’s home in bed
Not awake
Alone with her
Our final take

Time’s almost out
It’s my final chance
To stroke her unhealthy hair

People come rushing in
I don’t know what’s happening
Trying to take it all in
My visions blackening

Why are we crying
I don’t understand
Can you tell me now
From across the land

The message sinks in
It’s clear to me now
But why her
Why now

So many questions
Rushing through my head
Should I ask now
Should I put them to bed

She’s gone now
She was taken away
But I
Yes me
Said the final goodbye
Of her final day

Cancer, cancer
Go away
We’ll find a cure

A huge thanks

Thanks for everyone who turned out for the Emily Fahey 5K.  We're working on an update with full coverage including Photos and Race times!