The Anniversary of a Son


 The anniversary of my son, Dan, brings back many memories BUT mainly sadness that he and his father are not here to enjoy life with us. The journey without them has been difficult, sad and lonely.
Today, as usual, I rang my sons and chatted with them about Dan and the death of Graham two years later. It is the first time that we have been able to even mention the ramification of Dan’s death in our lives. It was a short chat that was halted by individual, personal pain.

The Coincidence

It is a coincidence, that today; I spoke with a parent of a little boy who suffers from a congenital heart disease. She expressed her concerns about her son’s inability to express his feelings before the pressure led to a verbal explosion. This made me think.

Help Boys Express Their Feelings

What are we doing to help our boys talk and express their pain/ fear before it is too late? I feel that we still haven’t let go of the myth that men are strong, resilient and invincible. It is the action of the boys as well as the demands made on them by society. Countrymen appear to show more of the above traits than city men who tend to be less outwardly hardened. This is obviously a generalisation that I have made. Our boys need kindness, support and a tender listening ear.

How Can we Change ?

How can we help our men to express themselves? We have to give them the opportunity to talk while listening in silence to their struggle with their inability to express what most women do easily. Boys will talk more freely when active, so when walking, fishing or cooking they tend to find it a lot easier to talk.   Improved communication will not happen overnight. It requires time and constant engagement to better what has become a silent death in relationships and the life of men in Australia. Men are wonderful human beings who provide so much love and fun in our lives if we give them the chance. Open your heart and know that behind the hard exterior is a loving, lonely man trying to escape.


Most boys are gentle human beings who are often teased in the Aussie style by other men who also have been teased. What damage is happening below the surface? We really don’t know what damage occurs long term. The short duration of teasing leaves lasting effects. While teaching kids to read, write and spell, I notice the facial expressions and the remarks when some child is failing or falling behind. These verbal and non verbal comments are not acceptable. Teach your child to honor the struggle that we all take in different areas and at different times in life’s journey.
Today, on the anniversary of my son, I put out the challenge, think before you allow your mouth to run away with disparaging words. Take care, the small remark could be a painful wound that may never heal and could easily lead to another boy taking his life and leaving behind a pain that will never cease.

Ann foster is a mother who has experienced the loss of a son through suicide. Her life’s work is in Special Needs in Education where her major input is in identifying underlying issues that impact on a child’s ability to access the curriculum. This is where she is able to support those children who need special care and attention.