SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY NOTE: The following piece is directed to men and the importance they can play in helping young boys who are grieving over the loss of their father. This is the first blog entry about grief in a series on the subject which will be published every other week. It is designed to make each of us sensitive to the needs of many different groupings of people suffering through a family loss.
Imagine being a young boy summoned to the school principal’s office on a Friday afternoon.
You were day dreaming in class about the upcoming weekend and now you are worried about
being in hot water for something you don’t even remember.
Reporting to the office, you find your next door neighbor waiting for you with the principal.
You also notice that the principal looks sad, not her usual stern self. Something strange is going on.
The school administrator asks you to be seated and begins softly telling you to be brave and you
think to yourself, brave because of what? Then, suddenly, she whispers that the lady you’ve
known as long as you can remember is here to take you home because your daddy died about an
As your mom’s good friend helps you put on your warm jacket, she puts her arm around you and
leads you out into the cold. You feel numb and confused and don’t know what you should do.
You want to cry but the tears don’t come.
That night when all of the friends and neighbors have left for the night and you are alone in your
bed, you face the dark truth of what has happened. Your father, the man who was always so
strong and took care of the family was gone and you didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.
You also know that you will never see him again in this world.
In the quiet of the night when you can hear a pin drop, you hear your mom softly sobbing from
the bedroom she shared with your dad for your whole life. You decide to get out of bed and go
to her for you know she feels alone.
Knocking on her door, you enter when she answers and ask, “Mom, are we going to be okay?”
She smiles through her tears and says, “We’ll be okay, Son, but the next few months are going to
be difficult. God will help us but he also expects us to be strong. Each of you children is going
to have to help me be strong, too. Can you do that?”
As she hugs you close, you respond, “We all will, Mom, because we love you”, and the tears
finally begin to roll down your cheeks.
The above situation actually happened, but it was over fifty years ago. I was that nine year old
boy and I can remember it as vividly today as that day long ago. I was afraid and worried about
what would happen to me, my mom and my siblings, but little did I know that there would be
one extremely positive outcome that I could have never imagined.
A retired man in our neighborhood, the father of one of my older brother’s good friends, became
an unexpected father figure for me. I didn’t find out until much later that he had called my mom
to check on how I was doing and asked if he could “take me under wing” if I needed a man’s
Mr. Floyd and I had much in common. We both loved trains. He retired from the old
Chesapeake and Ohio rail system after having spent many years traveling over the company’s
rail network. I loved trains as well and had a complete miniature railroad assembled in my
We both also shared a love for baseball. In his earlier days he was a top notch semi-pro baseball
player. He might have had a shot at pro ball but fractured his leg trying to steal home, leaving
him with a permanent limp. I was a young player, learning the game and playing every chance I
got both in organized and pickup team fashion.
Over the next ten years I spent many a Saturday afternoon watching the Saturday game of the
week with Mr. Floyd and his wonderful wife, Nell, who was one of the best cooks in town.
On game day she usually prepared a fresh baked ham and served it on homemade bread, still
warm from the oven. Accompanied by a slice of one of her gourmet pies or cakes and iced tea I
normally didn’t need any dinner when I went home.
Mr. Floyd gave me great pointers on the game, railroad memorabilia and, more importantly,
important things about life which would be with me forever. His counsel was always timely and
sound and I have never forgotten what he did to help me develop into a good citizen and decent man.
I still even have a couple of items that he gave me which I will always hold dear. These include an
official C and O Railroad engineer’s cap and a top of the line black Louisville Slugger, a surprise
gift he gave me on my tenth birthday.
After going away to college across country, I didn’t see Mr. Floyd very often anymore but I
always paid him a visit when I was in town. Even as he aged and had some health problems
he always remained cheerful with a wonderful outlook on life. His knowledge of baseball and
trains never waned. Even then my time with him was valuable and memorable.
He died while I was overseas in the Army but I have always remembered his guidance,
friendship and fatherly advice. It was something I needed and he always provided it with candor
but never harshly.
I tell this story because I think it’s important for all of us to understand the impact that the death
of a father has on a young boy. When you are faced with giving moral support to a family in this
circumstance it is important that you recognize the needs of that boy and offer whatever moral
support you can. It doesn’t have to be as extensive as what Mr. Floyd did for me, but whatever
you can offer will be appreciated. The boy is going to need a masculine influence in his life and it will
play an important part in his healthy growth into manhood.
Jesus Christ expects us to serve Him in all that we do on this earth. Nothing could be any more
worthwhile than providing a portion of your time providing a helping hand for a sad, lonely little
boy. Just give it a thought, won’t you?
God bless you.