I met Tom at the 1st Helping Parents Heal Conference in Phoenix this past April. He is the author of Permission to Mourn; "The death of someone we love cracks us open inviting us to become the person we were born to be." This is the book Tom wishes he had read after his 18 months old daughter Erin transitioned and after his wife Trici transitioned. It's the book he wishes he'd been handed following his 13 year old son Rory's transition. However, Tom had to live it FIRST before he could write it.
Tom actually experienced the first transition of a love one very close to him when he was only six years old. His baby brother Daniel Patrick transitioned suddenly during the night from an undetected heart defect the night after his baptism.
In the beginning, Tom did grief the old way; repressing, denying, pretending, numbing and stuffing every feeling and every emotion that arose. He created pain on top of pain until he began searching for a new way. A new way to do grief; once he gave himself permission to mourn, healing began. Along the way, Tom discovered that: "Grief is not the enemy. Grief can be one of our greatest teachers. It's the stories we tell that determine whether or not we will heal. " We will always have a relationship with the people we love that have died. We were not born to suffer. We were born to be radiant. There is a new way to do grief."
After his daughter Erin died he was broken, shattered, lost, confused, angry, shaken, sad and many, many other things for many, many years. His foundation was destroyed. Nothing he had held to be true stood firm. He had no way of knowing if there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It took him a long, long time to discover that "YES" indeed there was a light.
When his wife Trici died eight years later, he knew he would survive. He had done this before. He knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. This time, the tunnel had parts that seemed familiar. This time, the tunnel also had parts that were new and different, oftentimes overwhelming, frightening and confusing. This time, his 3-year-old son Sean, and his 7-year-old son Rory were staring at him. They were looking up at him to create a new life for the three of them.
And when his son Rory died in 2004, he knew he would survive. At first, he wasn’t sure he wanted to. What was the point? But in time, he realized that not only was there light at the end of the tunnel, but this time the tunnel was the light. This time he was able to observe his journey... not simply feel victim to it. This time he learned so much about grief, about mourning, about the gifts of denial. This time he realized that he could consciously participate in his own transformation. This time he gathered tools to make the journey easier – for himself. He look forward to sharing those tools with others.