• Kelley Eckhardt

I lost my Son and Found my Strength

Ron Michael Dolan II (RJ) 7/22/95 - 5/7/16

Devastation, shock, disbelief, deep sadness, and anger at the universe and my child were all emotions I experienced in the first 24 hours after my oldest sons passing in 2016. Some of these emotions happened all at once, it was like a hurricane inside of me. My friends and family rallied around me to support and love me. It was difficult. I felt detached from my body at times, as if I was watching this happen to someone else, not me, I just didn’t feel like I was present during the first few weeks after his passing. I had two other children, a husband and a business to take care of and I tried to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. The first year was difficult, I was so lost with out him. I felt like I had lost a part of me. And I had in some respects, he was my child.

Tomorrow is never promised, and this is a hard lesson to learn. I knew this saying before, I thought I understood it before. Now I genuinely know how true this statement is. I embrace each day with being more present and making the most of my time here. My other two children are getting older as well. We all miss my son and feel the deep loss in our family. It has taken time for us to assimilate to this new reality, I am not sure we will ever be OK with it, but we are learning to accept it.

What I have learned through the tragedy of losing my eldest son is I am stronger than I ever imagined. People move on and some forget, but not the people who knew and loved him. Death makes many people uncomfortable and nervous and that is not my problem. I don’t waste my time on drama or fake people. Love is beautiful, precious and so worth the risk and all the pain. Memories mean the world to me. I also learned that I could grieve, be sad, miss my son and simultaneously still live my life, love my life, move on, make new memories and be happy. As strange as that sounds, that is the only way I can describe how I cope with the loss of my son today. I have a new relationship with my son. I feel him with me daily, he visits me in my dreams and leaves me signs when I need them. I embrace this new reality with love and understanding.

I write about my grief and I share openly because this is who I am. I want people to know it is OK to talk about our loved ones who have passed, to grieve, feel your emotions, and miss them. I don’t want sympathy, condolences, or people getting uncomfortable when I get sad. Life is short, be present, make memories, feel your emotions, surround yourself with loving people who let you be you.

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