Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday's Trust - Yet Another Parent's Child-Loss Tragedy

Coach Andy Reid lost his oldest son Garrett on Sunday, August 5th

Tuesday's Trust

Yet Another Parent's Child-Loss Tragedy

Six years ago today (written on August 6), we buried our precious 19-year-old daughter. A task a parent never has in mind in their wildest dreams for his/her child. Today I read about other parents called to the same unbearable task. Under somewhat different circumstances maybe, but same task. Each time I hear of it, another set of parents called to the same task, it breaks my heart all over again, a million times deeper than the angst I felt for parents before because now, I have lived it. And I know what's ahead for them: Deeper pain than they could ever imagine...

Tommy and I were impressed that the writer of the following article regarding Coach Andy Reid's loss of his son Garrett, Ashley Fox seems to really "get it" in regard to the devastation that comes with a parent's Child-Loss...



Reid Faces Most Difficult Challenge

Eagles coach, family undoubtedly are fiercely shaken by death of son Garrett

Originally Published: August 6, 2012
By Ashley Fox |

Eagles React To Garrett Reid's Death

Michael Vick and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie react to the death of Garrett Reid, the oldest son of head coach Andy Reid.

How's your family? It is a question I ask Andy Reid every time I see him. Friday was no different. For the past two years, the answer has been the same.

"They're good," Reid said, shaking my hand. "How are your kids?"

"Getting bigger," I said.

"That's what they're supposed to do," Reid said.

That is what they're supposed to do. Children are supposed to grow, get bigger, go to college, get married and have children of their own. That is the hope. They aren't supposed to die before their parents do.

AP Photo/Chris Post
Eagles players kneel in prayer at Sunday's practice after learning about the tragic death of Garrett Reid.

A parent is never supposed to bury a child. It is a life-changer. One minute, your world is good. The next, you have an unfathomable void, a never-ending ache and a sadness that won't go away and doesn't really ease with time.

That is what Andy Reid and his wife Tammy are facing now that their oldest son, Garrett, has passed away. Garrett was found dead Sunday morning in a dorm room at Lehigh University, where the Philadelphia Eagles are holding their training camp. He was 29 years old.

Andy Reid was so proud to have Garrett, his oldest son, at camp. He was proud of his older sons, Garrett and Britt. Each had served jail time for drug-related offenses and completed drug rehabilitation programs. Each seemingly had moved on. Britt is now married and working as a graduate assistant for the Temple University football program. Garrett was working for the Eagles as an assistant to the strength and conditioning staff. A third son, Spencer, is a running back at Temple, about to enter his redshirt freshman season. The Reids also have two daughters, Crosby and Drew Ann.

Now Garrett is dead. It is unspeakably sad, for Andy and Tammy, for their four other children and for the Philadelphia Eagles organization.

To bury a child is the cruelest part of being a parent, no matter the circumstances. Garrett was Reid's first child. Father and son were close. They had been through hell together. For 10 years, Reid had dealt with his son's addiction, and for nearly two years Reid had visited Garrett in prison. He went to drug rehab with his son. He was a rock, a constant presence, a loving father and a disciplinarian. Garrett's journey was ongoing. He was living at home, trying to make it.

Now hell is starting anew.

Three days ago, I sat with Reid at Lehigh for almost an hour. He dismissed the notion that this season, his 14th in Philadelphia, would be any bigger than the previous 13. He was talkative and funny, relaxed and at ease. He said he likes his team, particularly his quarterback, and joked that he is growing a long mustache because the hair on his head is thinning, another reminder that time continues to march along.

Mike and Mike in the Morning

ESPN reporter John Barr talks about the atmosphere at the Eagles' training camp following the death of Andy Reid's son. 
{Hear podcast by clicking on "podcast" in midpage of online article as found listed below my signature at the end of today's post.}

Two years ago, Reid was reflective and hopeful. Finally, his sons were on a straighter path, but it was a path Reid knew would be pocked with potential problems. Speaking to me in 2010 for the first time about the road he had traveled, Reid said he hoped the time between relapses with Garrett would grow longer, and that when he did relapse, he hoped it wouldn't kill him.

That was reality. That was the truth. There was rock bottom, and then there was hope. The Reids straddled that reality every day. They hoped for the best and feared the worst.

For nearly two years every Thursday night, Reid visited his sons in prison. For Garrett, Reid went to three facilities in the Philadelphia area. The prison guards said Reid was cordial, polite, open and amenable. Reid told me he tried to be accessible so his sons wouldn't face more problems. Being the incarcerated son of the Eagles' head coach was hard enough. Reid didn't want to add to it.

And he didn't. Once Britt and Garrett were out of one prison, Reid left a box of Eagles hats in the prison lobby, as thanks. He was grateful. He understood. The warden had Reid's cell phone number. Reid picked up whenever he called.

With Garrett, unlike Britt, the road to recovery was always rocky. He was an addict. There was no way around it. We don't yet know how he died, whether it was natural causes or something else, but we know how he lived.

On Friday, Reid told me his sons were doing well, but there was the sense that he was always worried. A heroin addiction is an addiction for life. It grabs you, rips at your insides, pulls at a family and scares you.

Money can't erase that or ease the pain Reid is feeling now. With a demanding job that requires time and energy, Reid wasn't around every day to usher his kids through their teenage years and beyond. That was his wife's responsibility. In 2010, Reid talked about how hard it was on his wife, how a lawyer told them parents of a drug-addicted child rarely stay together, how he had to let her vent and grieve, and how he had to send flowers. Lots of flowers.

Now, no matter what caused Garrett Reid to die, there will be flowers and tears and regret. There will be a funeral Tuesday and a sadness over a life lost too young. No one would blame Reid for walking away from football, for saying enough is enough. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie on Sunday said Reid will be back later this week, to grab hold of his team and make another run at a Super Bowl, one that many think could be Reid's last in Philadelphia.

It doesn't really matter now. What matters is that a family is grieving. A good man lost his son. It is tragic, and so, so sad. Reid will have to find it within himself to go on.

How's your family? For the Reids, the answer will never be the same.


Coach Tony Dungy's oldest son James, died in 2005

Here is another coach who had to encounter the same tragedy as Coach Reid, in losing his son.

Colt's Coach Tony Dungy Speech

Submitted by: PeaceOfMind
Author: This Inspires ME

Dungy Makes Super Bowl Stop to Speak at Athletes in Action Breakfast

They were there for breakfast, and they were there to
cheer New York Jets running back Curtis Martin.
And it was Martin who received the Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award
Saturday morning, but the hundreds who gathered in fourth-floor ballroom
At the Marriott Renaissance in Detroit, Mich., on the morning before Super
Bowl XL were clearly touched by the featured speaker.

That speaker was Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy.

Two hours into the breakfast, emcee Brent Jones introduced Dungy, who
was welcomed with a lengthy standing ovation. Dungy thanked the crowd,
shared an anecdote about Martin, then told the crowd he was going to speak
for about 15 minutes.

"It's great to be here," Dungy told the crowd, then adding with a laugh,
"I just wish I wasn't here in this capacity so many times of being just
that close to being in the game and just being an invited speaker.

"My goal is to have our team here one day and have a couple of tables
with all of our guys here. Because we have a special group of young men, a
great group of Christian guys. It'd be wonderful to have them here so you
could see their hearts and what they're all about.

"It hasn't quite happened yet, but we're still hoping one day it will."

He told them he was going to talk about lessons he had learned from his
three sons. The crowd fell silent. Then Dungy spoke.

And although this was a breakfast - and although at many such events
speakers speak over the clinking of glasses and murmurs from
semi-interested listeners - for most of the 15 minutes the room was
silent except for Dungy's voice.

He spoke of his middle son, Eric, who he said shares his competitiveness
and who is focused on sports "to where it's almost a problem." He spoke
of his youngest son, Jordan, who has a rare congenital condition which
causes him not to feel pain.

"He feels things, but he doesn't get the sensation of pain," Dungy said.

The lessons learned from Jordan, Tony Dungy said, are many.

"That sounds like it's good at the beginning, but I promise you it's
not," Dungy said. "We've learned a lot about pain in the last five years
we've had Jordan. We've learned some hurts are really necessary for kids.
Pain is necessary for kids to find out the difference between what's good
and what's harmful."

Jordan, Dungy said, loves cookies.

"Cookies are good," Dungy said, "but in Jordan's mind, if they're good
out on the plate, they're even better in the oven. He will go right in the
oven when my wife's not looking, reach in, take the rack out, take the pan
out, burn his hands and eat the cookies and burn his tongue and never feel
it. He doesn't know that's bad for him."

"Jordan," Dungy said, "has no fear of anything, so we constantly have to
watch him."

The lesson learned, Dungy said, is simple.

"You get the question all the time, 'Why does the Lord allow pain in
your life? Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is a God of love,
why does he allow these hurtful things to happen?''' Dungy said. "We've
learned that a lot of times because of that pain, that little temporary
pain, you learn what's harmful. You learn to fear the right things.

"Pain sometimes lets us know we have a condition that needs to be
healed. Pain inside sometimes lets us know that spiritually we're not quite
right and we need to be healed and that God will send that healing agent
right to the spot.

"Sometimes, pain is the only way that will turn us as kids back to the

Finally, he spoke of James.

James Dungy, Tony Dungy's oldest son, died three days before Christmas.
As he did while delivering James' eulogy in December, Dungy on Saturday
spoke of him eloquently and steadily, speaking of lessons learned and of the
positives taken from experience.

"It was tough, and it was very, very painful, but as painful as it was,
there were some good things that came out of it," Dungy said.

Dungy spoke at the funeral of regretting not hugging James the last time
he saw him, on Thanksgiving of last year.

"I met a guy the next day after the funeral," Dungy said. "He said, 'I
was there. I heard you talking. I took off work today. I called my son. I
told him I was taking him to the movies. We're going to spend some time and
go to dinner.' That was a real, real blessing to me."

Dungy said he has gotten many letters since James' death relaying
similar messages.

"People heard what I said and said, 'Hey, you brought me a little closer
to my son,' or, 'You brought me a little closer to my daughter,'" Dungy
"That is a tremendous blessing."

Dungy also said some of James' organs were donated through donors

"We got a letter back two weeks ago that two people had received his
corneas, and now they can see," Dungy said. "That's been a tremendous

Dungy also said he received a letter from a girl from the family's
church in Tampa. She had known James for many years, Dungy said. She went to
the funeral because she knew James.

"When I saw what happened at funeral, and your family and the
celebration and how it was handled, that was the first time I realized there
had to be a God," Dungy said the girl wrote. "I accepted Christ into my life
and my life's been different since that day."

Added Dungy, "That was an awesome blessing, so all of those things kind
of made me realize what God's love is all about."

Dungy also said he was asked often how he was able to return to the
Colts so quickly after James' death. James died on December 22, and Dungy
returned to the team one week later. Dungy said the answer was simple.

"People asked me, 'How did you recover so quickly?"'' Dungy said. "I'm
not totally recovered. I don't know that I ever will be. It's still very,
very painful, but I was able to come back because of something one of my
good Christian friends said to me after the funeral.

"He said, 'You know James accepted Christ into his heart, so you know
he's in heaven, right?' I said, 'Right, I know that.' He said, 'So, with all
you know about heaven, if you had the power to bring him back now, would
you?" When I thought about it, I said, 'No, I wouldn't. I would not want
him back with what I know about heaven."

"That's what helped me through the grieving process. Because of Christ's
spirit in me, I had that confidence that James is there, at peace with
the Lord, and I have the peace of mind in the midst of something that's
very, very painful.

"That's my prayer today, that everyone in this room would know the same


Tony Dungy's Super Bowl Breakfast ~ 2006
What Coach Dungy learned from his son James, who was almost 19 years old when he took his own life

Coach Reid article:

Coach Tony Dungy's Athletes in Action Speech:

Tony Dungy's Super Bowl Breakfast, 2006 part of speech on youtube:


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