My Son Todd and My Guardian Angels: How I Learned to Cope With the Death of My Only Child

My Son Todd and My Guardian Angels: How I Learned to Cope With the Death of My Only Child

It was 11:00 pm when the news just came on TV – tomorrow is the Fourth of July and I was thinking about a cookout in the back yard. My son Todd was at a picnic, and should be home soon. My wife was in bed sleeping.

I heard the sirens of emergency vehicles in the distance, and then as the vehicles got closer to my home, the sirens got louder and louder, I looked out the window and saw emergency vehicles – police, ambulances, and a fire truck rush past my home.

I felt a strong knot in my stomach. Little did I know that they were rushing to the scene of an accident that took my only child’s life. In a split second our lives would change forever.

Within a five-year period, I lost my son, my job, my mother, my father, my house, and my wife.

A child represents your future, your spouse connects with your past. When you lose them both, you have no future, no connection to the past, only the present, and the present is dark and filled with dismay and uncertainty.

It took ten years to write this book. I wrote the first part after three years, because I wanted to remember my son, but all I could write was about his death. Three years later, I wrote the second part, because I felt well enough, I thought, to be able to finish the book. Another three years would pass before I could write part three, and another year to complete the book.

My life has taken pretty much the same course, in three parts. The normal years before Todd dies, the grieving years of uncertainty and healing, and part three, a new life has emerged.

This book describes what I went through when I lost my only child. It describes a period of time I call the “Five Years of Hell”, and how I coped with it. I also explain my recovery period.

Fortunately not everyone takes it as hard as I did, or may not show it, and not every one goes through every thing I did. But I believe there are a lot of things that happened to me, that you will be able to recognize and understand. I hope the book finds its way into the hands of people who want to understand what it’s like to lose a child, or help someone who has lost a son or daughter to cope with the loss.

The Guardian Angels I speak of are people and spirits that helped me back to an existence that I never thought I could achieve again. It is nice to be back. And I often wonder if Todd is up there watching me, and saying “Atta boy, Dad!”


  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Trafford Publishing (September 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412037646
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412037648
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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  1. Three years ago, my sister Bonnie passed away at the age of 56 years after a one year battle with cancer. My parents who were in their 80’s were still alive and buried their daughter. The way its suppose to go is that children bury their parents. I recently lost 2 of my dearest friends and a sister in-law so I have needed to read about how other people process and recover. Tom Santos’s beautiful memoir about the loss of his only child AND a child who is in his early 20’s comforted me. Tom writes with brutal honesty about the aftershocks of falling into a deep depression and clawing his way back to any sense of normalcy. Being the mother of an only child, I have often wanted to wrap him in bubble wrap. He is 35 years old but that fear sits deep inside my subconscious. I do know on a cerebral level the loss of loved ones is inevitable. However, it is a great gift to know that other people who have experienced heart-breaking loss have made it through some of the darkest hours. Tom’s generosity in sharing what happened to him and his never ending love for his Todd will leave you crying and uplifted.

  2. This is a very personal account of one father’s loss after his son was tragically killed in a car accident. Tom Santos is “brutally” honest in recounting his despair and feelings of loss throughout his long journey in grappling with this event. Throughout the book he also describes people and situations that helped him through it and I think this would be helpful to others in similar situations. In reading this book the author also demonstrates the value of writing down one’s feelings, reactions, and reflections. Hopefully this alone would be an inspiration to others in helping them through the grieving process.

  3. I have never read such a gut wrenchingly honest and open book such as this one! Mr. Santos bears his heartbroken soul with poignancy borne of an artist seeking a way through an abyss. It is commendable and admirable that he takes no shortcuts. Nothing appears to be left out of the story that led him from the darkness of unfathomable grief, to a life of purpose, reflection, compassion, and commitment to paving the way for healing and transformation. Instead of feeling weighed down by the details of his process, the story is woven like the rungs of a ladder that he climbs with an effort you can feel with each breathless pant along the way. Wow, I am blown away by the courage and searing quest to not only find a way through, but come out on the other side of his trauma lovingly, willingly, and ultimately highly capable of helping others through.

  4. Tom Santos presents the experience in such a way that you feel the loss right along with him. He shows how the sorrow never leaves you but an acceptance can help relieve that pain.

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