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Robert Owen Davis Jr

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I have been reading the posts on this site for several days and up until now could not bring myself to tell my story. My anger would only allow me to grieve in privacy because nobody really understands, not unless you have walked in my shoes. Those that post about not being able to understand what the loss of a child feels like are correct. You have no imagineable idea. I have lost many people in my life, and I have grieved with my children when they lost young friends. The loss of my son is not comparable in the smallest way.

Saturday, December 22, 2007, was a beautiful day. My boyfriend and I went to meet friends for lunch. Robert was supposed to join us but decided to go to his girlfriend's birthday party with her family. Later in the day we pulled into the driveway and Robert followed close behind. Robert had his girlfriend Bianca and another friend Ashley with him. At home we went in the backyard and played with his new puppy. I'm not a dog lover so I was joking about how the yard was going to get trashed and the puppy was going to chew up all my furniture. Robert assured me he would take good care of his new dog, and I believed him.

A few minutes into the evening I noticed Ashley crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said she was having a problem with a boy. I gave her my 46 year old advice and told her things would work out ok. The girls and Robert decided to drive to the next town over so Ashley could try and talk to "Donnie". After the discussions they proceeded home. Robert never made it home.

My two daughters and I have had our lives shattered. I raised my three children alone so we were the circle of four. We are all so very close and have a hard time trusting people and letting newcomers in. Now our circle has a hole. We walk without our youngest, our only son/brother, our future. There is certain music we can no longer listen to. My daughters are afraid of normal occurrences, which now seem like signs from the dead. Nobody is sleeping. Our future plans now seem a waste. The holidays will never be celebrated again. We are empty, sad, distraught, and so lost. I even begged my daughters to never have children, just so we won't ever have to feel this pain again. Over time this might get easier but our lives are changed forever. There is only day-to-day, there is no future.

Robert Owen Davis Jr.

November 21, 1989 - December 22, 2007

We will be with you soon, we promise.


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My dear Renee,

Like everyone else reading your tragic story, I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of your precious son Robert and the horrifying circumstances of the automobile accident that killed him, just three days before Christmas. That your son paid with his life for his failure to buckle his seatbelt this one time is beyond understanding, and I cannot begin to imagine how devastating this loss must be for you and your daughters.

In addition to coming here to our Loss of a Child Forum, I hope you have found someone to talk to face-to-face about this, my dear. The mourning that accompanies the death of a child is particularly intense, complicated and long-lasting, and it is difficult enough without having to do it all alone. Sharing your feelings, reactions and experiences with another (a trusted friend or family member, a bereavement counselor, a clergy person or in a support group) gives you a safe place to express yourself, helps you understand that what you're feeling is normal, and may give you the hope that if others have found a way to survive an unspeakable loss like this, then you will find your own way, too.

If you're willing to consider joining an “in person” support group where you'll feel welcome and understood, I can think of no better place than The Compassionate Friends, because it is comprised of other grieving parents. You might begin by contacting your local library, mortuary or hospice organization to find out what bereavement resources are available in your own community. See if there is a local chapter of The Compassionate Friends where you live; you can do so by clicking on TCF's Online Chapter Locator.

I don't know if you've had an opportunity to explore my Grief Healing Web site, but if not I hope you will do so -- it offers further information, comfort and support to those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, as well as links to many other wonderful sites, each of which I've reviewed personally. See especially the sites listed on my Death of an Infant, Child, or Grandchild page, many of which were developed by parents whose feelings and experiences may be similar to your own.

Many bereaved parents have their own stories to tell, and in recent years, dozens of books have been written by those whose children have died. These outstanding sources of hope and healing are as near as the Bereavement section of your local library or bookstore. Below are some I’ve read myself and personally recommend. Clicking on the titles will take you to a description and reviews of each:

And a Sword Shall Pierce Your Heart: Moving from Despair to Meaning After the Death of a Child by Charlotte Mathes

A Broken Heart Still Beats: After Your Child Dies by Anne McCracken and Mary Semel (Editors)

Dreaming Kevin: The Path to Healing by Carla Blowey

The Lively Shadow: Living with the Death of a Child by Donald M. Murray

Love Never Dies: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Love by Sandy Goodman

No Words: A True Story of Love, Tragic Loss, and Ultimate Survival by Renee Kimberling

A Season of Grief: A Comforting Companion for Difficult Days by Ann Dawson

Tough Transitions: Navigating Your Way through Difficult Times by Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PhD

Much of the work of grieving involves remembering – but when remembering produces only traumatic images such as the tragic auto accident that took your son’s life, the value of remembering is lost. Specialists who work with trauma survivors tell us that effective grief work cannot begin until the trauma is dealt with first. If you or your daughters are still experiencing anxiety, sleeplessness, intrusive images and nightmares, I want to encourage you to seek the help of a trauma specialist – a therapist who understands that trauma work must be done before you can begin the grief work that lies before you, as you come to terms with this horrible death of your son. Go to the TRAUMATIC LOSS page on my Grief Healing Web site for a list of suggested resources.

You say that your lives have been shattered, your daughters are “afraid of normal occurrences, which now seem like signs from the dead,” that no one in your household is sleeping, and the future looks hopeless and bleak. I hope that you are keeping your primary care physician informed as to what's going on in your family’s life, following his or her advice, and doing all you can to take good care of yourselves physically as well as emotionally.

I have no profound answers as to how you live with this, Renee, other than to encourage you not to try to travel this grief journey alone. And as you say, we bereaved mothers do this just as you are doing it now: day-to-day, one day at a time, and if that is too much, one hour or even just one moment at a time. I’ve said it elsewhere, but it bears repeating: I believe that someone in your shoes deserves a medal of honor just for having the courage to get out of bed in the morning.

Please know that we're all thinking of you, pulling for you and holding you gently in our hearts.

Wishing you peace and healing,


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I will be going through your reply very slowly and carefully. It looks like you put in a lot of helpful information, which I am extremely grateful.

Compassionate Friends did not reply to three of my requests for a local chapter here in Ocala, FL. I did however, find Berieving Parents here. They meet the third Tuesday of each month. I do plan on attending. Compassionate Friends did have local chapters near both of my daughter's homes, which I was thrilled about.

Thank you for the information. I will make good use of it.


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Renee, It was my oldest child who died. And it was cancer that took her. So I do not know the agony of such a sudden loss, but I do know the pain a mother feels when one of her children dies before her. It has been almost a year since my daughter died, and I can tell you there were days I didn't think I could get out of bed, eat a meal, do anything. By taking it moment by moment as Marti suggested, I survived those moments, hours, days, months. I cannot tell you that the pain is gone, but I can tell you that is has become more bearable. I am still finding my way back to some semblance of a "normal" life. And having other children keeps me working at that for their sake. Your daughters need their mom, so keep putting one foot in front of the other through the weeks and months ahead.

Holding you in my thoughts and prayers, Deborah

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I would like to add a book to Marty's list. After the Death of a Child, by Ann K. Finkbeiner has revealed many a-ha moments to me. The author lost her own son in an accident and interviewed many other parents whose children died in different ways. What I find comforting about reading this is realizing that I am not alone in some of the things I feel. It isn't just me being dramatic (as I think some people believe). I am not crazy.


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I am sorry about your daughter. The loss of a child at any age, and in any way, is so devastating. <BIG HUG>

I am learning about things I never dreamed of knowing. My heart is so tender now, I'm almost thankful for this rude awakening although I wish I learned it in a different way. I'm also learning how many lives my son touched. It has been amazing how much love and support has poured out from people I never even knew. As I'm working through this I am realizing how great my three children are, what a great mother I am, and how many lives we've enriched. I never even knew this before. Another thing I learned was how many lives we've changed because of what they saw through our loss. My sister is changing the way she prioritizes her life and raises her children. My brother told me he loved me for the first time in my life. I was never an affectionate person but I now hug my boyfriend every time he leaves or comes home. I feel Robert inside me, walking and living, with each step I take.

Tonight is our first group meeting. I'm hoping this works for my family and me. We need the help.

Try and find one good memory today so you can smile just for a moment.

-- Renee

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  • 4 weeks later...

It has been seven weeks since Robert died. I can't say today is any easier than it was the first week. It just all seems so impossible, so unbelievable. I can't say whether the group meeting helped or not. All it showed me was there were so many other grieving parents around me. It is all so sad. Since Robert's crash there have been 17 more people who died in crashes in my county. Some were complete accidents and others by stupid mistakes. Nine of them were under 20 years of age. All in all none of them deserved to die.

I have read all of the books everyone suggested. They helped explain a lot of what I've been feeling and what is to come. I personally am not going through different phases of grief. I have no guilt, anger, or any other emotions. I'm just very, very sad and have been since day one.

I hope all the other mothers, fathers, and siblings are doing the best they can. Nobody has posted in this forum lately so I'm hoping that is good news.


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