merely the acknowledgment that someone is suffering becomes
even more important than the actual words spoken. For example,
what words of comfort could possibly ease a parent’s
pain after losing a baby to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)?
This concept weaves itself throughout the book, The Forgotten
Father: Coping with Grief (in hardcover and ebook).
The author relates through a free-form prose poem how his
own blended family became complete upon the birth of his baby
– a family consisting of himself, his wife, two step-children,
and a perfectly healthy new boy they named Michael David.
At two and a half months and without warning, Michael died
in his crib for no apparent reason. In the following swirl
of emergency technicians, nurses, doctors, friends, and family,
the mother was recognized, comforted, soothed, and validated
for her grief. The father and his feelings were marginalized
by society, if not completely forgotten.
Color photographs – clearly intended as symbolic representations
rather than actual depictions of the author’s story
– portray babies, toddlers, children, fathers, and a
nurse. Roen’s poem ends on a note of hope “maybe
/ some day / like the seasons / he will pass our way again.”
A short poem titled “The Still Side of Midnight,”
by lawyer/poet/songwriter Jesse Sam Owens, follows Roen’s
piece. Owens, who lost his adult son to an accident, writes
of the sadness he feels, the rush of memories, and his inability
to sleep. His grief permeates the poem and ends with a less-optimistic
final line: “But I’m lost in the truth that when
morning is through / I’ll just spend my time lost in
dad-dreams of you.”
At just 24 pages, this tiny gift book presented to a grieving
father may provide more comfort than any “I’m
sorry for your loss” ever could, simply by acknowledging
that grieving dads need to cry, mourn, and share their feelings,