Retired disc jockey, age 65, loses first son age 37 and in perfect health

by Dan McPhail
(Burton Michigan)

I'm Dan, an entertainer from southeast Michigan. Mary and i were 5 years without children and Todd came along in 1975. Never was a boy loved so much. All boy, mischievious, bright. Short like my wife all his life (4 ft.9 as an adult). Rough times from 14-17 the rebellious teen years. But from 18 on Todd became my best friend. He had hundreds of friends. Professional MRI tech. A beautiful 3 year old daughter from a brief now over relationship. Perfect loving dad. Life of the party positive thinking liked by everyone as close to perfect a son as could be. Our second son Troy, 34, was his best friend. Todd Troy and i were all literally best friends. Talk daily, rarely an argument. Both sons lived blocks apart in Mt. Morris Michigan. Troy was watching tv football with Todd in Todd's Mt. Morris apartment Sunday Nov. 18th.. Todd complained of "an odd" feeling in his stomach but they both turned in. At 7 Monday morning my wife throws open my bedroom door and wails "Todd is dead". I scream "it can't be lord". We drive the 8 miles to the apartment, medical and law enforcement there. Todd's on the floor,face purple, eyes open, obviously gone. I throw myself on his body hugging him screaming and wailing "it can't be lord". Troy through his tears says he got up to make coffee and noticed Todd still, couldn't wake him.
Paramedics took him away for the mandatory autopsy because no health problems and not a hospital death. My body felt numb. I felt like it was a dream i was going to wake up from. Death certificate says undetermined cause of death. Not a heavy drinker or drug user. Mortician at local funeral home did wonderful job. Beautiful natural peaceful expression. Being a broadcaster i wrote and delivered the eulogy along with a local pastor. Didn't blubber or break up, hardest thing i've ever done in my life. I still can't believe Todd is gone. That i won't have those 20 years i have left to share with him. That he won't see his daughter Savannah grow up. Emotions have swung from wishing i was dead to smiling at the hundreds of photos through tears to still thinking it's a nightmare, not real. Saw the local Compassionate Friends location here in southeast Michigan. Am going to a meeting soon. Am settling his finances and friends are cleaning out his apartment this week. Troy is such pain. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.
I'm somewhat religious but keep saying why would God take a healthy 37 year old man with everything to live for? I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy. But i'm going to just try to live my life the way i know he would have wanted me to. I know if he could talk to me from heaven he would say "dad, i know you all miss me but i had a good life. just take care of savannah and mom and troy and live a happy life for me. That thought is all that's keeping me sane. thanks for this site and letting me tell my story. As i said at Todd's eulogy, treat everyone you love every day like it might be the last time you see them.

Comments for Retired disc jockey, age 65, loses first son age 37 and in perfect health

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May 24, 2013
Sorry my friend
by: Gina SESSIONS Keitz

Sorry to hear about your son and sorry that we lost touch.... If you want to get back in touch with me, email me, Hugs my friend

Feb 18, 2013
Now members of the "sucky" club
by: Alison G.

Dearest Dan,
We are now members of the club so aptly named by a mom who comforted me the other day. Her boy passed at age 7 this last year, our Nickolas died while backcountry skiing in Wyoming. An avalanche slammed his perfect body into a tree on January 27, 2013. He had just turned thirty. He was to start his new job with Grand Teton NP on February 11. Just purchased a new truck, just was the happiest time of his life he told his dad the day before from a mountain top phone call.
What caught my eye Dan, was your comment on another post. The bit about "he's in a better place"...I know folks often think this is of great truly turns me inside out.
If there is a heaven , it was right here on earth in The Tetons for Nickolas. He lived his life fully engaged, getting others outside, showing his family and friends the great joys of nature. We are at a loss, now knowing the awful emptiness that you and so many other parents and siblings are living with. We can only hope we can turn our grief and sadness around to live fully for our dear sweet daughter who was on scene when her beloved brother died. Thank Dan for leading me here. I am truly grateful, Alison G. Eugene , OR

Feb 14, 2013
Your son
by: Kate

I lost my son in November 2012. I still can't believe it but I know it's true. No parent wants this pain and sorrow. I do
Feel your loss because my 39 year old son was healthy. A toxicology report is now near. Why my heart cries out. My whole family devastated hearts over this. We understand each other on here ,that's the good and bad of it. We need to know others make it through this tremendous loss so we can to. We are all sadly in this together . Thinking of you

Dec 07, 2012
I have been on this sad path of life
by: Louisa Okoro

I share your pain. I lost my daughter 10yrs ago, Alero was only 22yrs. I thought I would die, I wanted to die. Today I thank God I did not die but
the pain is still as fresh as when the plane crashed 10yrs ago. Time does not heal the pain, time only helps you understand how to manage the pain. I am pleased that you had a good life with your son like I had with my daughter, my sons and I all have great and sweet memories of her times with us and the wonderful love we share.

The bottom line is that we must learn to love and love affectionately because no one knows how short or long life will be. What gives me strenght to smile between my tears is sweet memories.

I discovered this website only a year ago and it has been a source of upliftment for me knowing I can talk freely about Alero and to share my pain
and frustration with others like me. YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ARE ADDED TO MY PRAYERS

Nov 28, 2012
loss of son
by: Anonymous

i too lost my son exactly one year ago plus 10 days.
he is on my mind constantly.I cry silently often.
he also was a healthy 44 year old, biked, ran and a fine athlete. never ever any problems. went to doc every year and still, he died one morning suddenly in the bathroom. his wife was there trying to help or do something as she was on the phone with the EMS people whom she called.
no autopsy, they dont prove much many times and it wont bring him back.
like your son, he was my first born and we got along famously.
he was a comedian by profession, never smoked, drank or took drugs.
my wife, his brother and I miss him so very much and I can tell you honestly, we are still in many ways in denial.
we also cannot believe this man, full of life, strong, happy with no problems whatsoever, financially or otherwise, just passed away one morning.
the pain will never go away for any of us and i include you in yours .
hopefully, one day we can get hold of ourselves and look back at the best of times we had together as a family, as a son and smile.
I wish you the best of everything from here on in.
with time, i hear it will get better.
maybe !!

Nov 27, 2012
I Understand
by: Diego

Hi Dan, I'm so sorry for the loss of your son…I understand you perfectly, my brother who was only 26 passed away in May 2012, no signs of warning, he was such a healthy happy young man, charismatic, with hundreds of friends, he had a beautiful son (9)…he died on his sleep, we believed it was a freak cardiac condition…until today I wake up every morning with the same question, Why? Why? I have no explanation, I feel cheated, it is a terrible feeling…..after these months I can say I feel better this web site has helped me a lot and also a local grief group, but what keeps me going is the promise I made to my brother some time ago that if for any reason he was not here I will take care of his son who was his most precious possession, and that’s what I’m doing, everything I do for my nephew it is like I was doing it for my brother , that is the best way to honor him…so I recommend you the same, look after Todd’s daughter was it was yours, it is the best way to honor him.

“If you are going through hell, keep going “ – Sir. Winston Churchill

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