Grieving dad urges parents to put family before work after son's death
A grieving dad has written an open letter to other parents after losing his eight-year-old son suddenly. "Hug your kids. Don’t work too late," he advises...
A heartbroken father has written an open letter to other parents after losing his eight-year-old son suddenly.
J.R Storment was a self-proclaimed workaholic who lived and breathed his job running a tech start up.
But everything changed three weeks ago when one of his twin boys died suddenly in his sleep.
Storment opened up on LinkedIn about how his son’s tragic and sudden death had pulled everything into sharp relief.
He began his company the same month his twin boys were born and admitted he has been consumed by work ever since.
“Eight years ago, during the same month, I had twin boys and co-founded Cloudability. About three months ago Cloudability was acquired. About three weeks ago we lost one of our boys,” he wrote.
“When I got the call I was sitting in a conference room with 12 people at our Portland office talking about PTO policies. Minutes earlier, I had admitted to the group that in the last 8 years I’d not taken more than a contiguous week off.
“My wife and I have an agreement that when one of us calls, the other answers. So when the phone rang I stood up and walked to the conference room door immediately.
“I was still walking through the door when I answered with ‘Hey, what’s up?’
“Her reply was icy and immediate: ‘J.R., Wiley is dead.”’
And that was the moment his world came crashing down.
He went on to describe the excruciating minutes after learning of his little boy’s death.
“‘What?’ I responded incredulously.
“‘Wiley has died.’ she reiterated.
“‘What?! No.’ I yelled out, ‘No!’
“‘I’m so sorry, I have to call 911.’
“That was the entire conversation. The next thing I know I’m sprinting out the front door of the office with my car keys in hand, running ferociously across the street and muttering ‘oh Fuck. oh Fuck. oh Fuck.’. Half way down the block I realise I don’t have the opener to my parking garage. Running back into the lobby, I all but shout ‘Someone drive me! Somebody drive me!’ Thankfully, a helpful colleague did.”
Wiley had died in his sleep after suffering a rare complication of his mild childhood epilepsy, called SUDEP, or Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy. Storment admitted he left the morning of Wiley’s death without checking on the boys.
“Late that morning, Jessica had thought Wiley was simply sleeping in. He loved to sleep, he loved his bed, and it had been a big week of late bedtimes and fun daytime activities with visiting friends. Eventually she got the sense it had been too long and went in to check on him.
“He was cold. The Medical Examiner later estimated he had been dead for at least 8-10 hours by the time she found him, indicating he passed early in the night.”
Storment describes the scene at his home when he arrived a short time after his wife had called.
“By the time I got home twelve minutes later, our cul-de-sac was packed with emergency vehicles. I sprinted through our open front door and ran straight towards the bedroom that the boys share. One of a half-dozen police officers there stepped in front of me blocking the way. When a child dies suddenly, it becomes a potential crime scene.
“It was 2.5 painful hours before I could see my boy. After an hour of waiting in shock out front, I told the armed police officers guarding the doors that I couldn’t wait any longer. They allowed me to go out to the deck facing the kids room to peer through the sliding glass window. He lay in his bed, covers neatly on, looking peacefully asleep. I put my hand on the glass and lost it.
“When the medical examiner finally finished his work, we were allowed in the room. An eerie calm came over me. I laid down next to him in the bed that he loved, held his hand and kept repeating, “What happened, buddy? What happened?”
“We stayed next to him for maybe 30 minutes and stroked his hair before they returned with a gurney to take him away. I walked him out, holding his hand and his forehead through the body bag as he was wheeled down our driveway. Then all the cars drove away. The last one to leave was the black minivan with Wiley in it.”
Storment has a very simple message for other parents.
“Many have asked what they can do to help. Hug your kids. Don’t work too late. A lot of the things you are likely spending your time on you’ll regret once you no longer have the time. I’m guessing you have 1:1 meetings on the books with a lot of people you work with. Do you have them regularly scheduled with your kids? If there’s any lesson to take away from this, it’s to remind others (and myself) not to miss out on the things that matter.”
“Wow, I’m terribly sorry for your loss, JR. This is absolutely crushing news. Thank you for reminding me of what’s truly the MOST important in my life. I’m sorry you and your family are facing this new reality. Sending prayers and thoughts,” one person wrote.
“So sorry to hear of your loss, and thank you for sharing an extremely touching recount and the advice. I have taken a lot from it, and many others will too. Running my business can become all too consuming and you lose track of the things that really matter. I will be playing the board games with my family tomorrow, that they always ask me to play,” a father shared.
“I cried after reading your post . Thanks so much about reminding us about our children. Wiley was an angel meant to give a new meaning to your life. I hope you have a wonderful journey . Lots of love and support,” wrote another parent.
This article was republished with permission from KidSpot.