After the sudden death of his eight-year-old son, dad J.R. Storment has written an open letter urging parents to put their family first.
He was a self-proclaimed workaholic who ran a tech start-up, but this changed after one of his twin boys died suddenly in his sleep after suffering a rare complication from his mild childhood epilepsy.
His son Wiley suffered from Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy (SUDEP). J.R had admitted he hadn’t checked on the children on the morning of Wiley’s death, choosing to head out to work instead.
J.R. took to LinkedIn to open up about his experience, after beginning his company in the same month that his twin boys were born. Since then, he admitted he’d been ‘consumed’ by work.
He wrote: ‘Eight years ago, during the same month, I had twin boys and co-founded Cloudability. About three months ago Cloudability was acquired. About three weeks ago we lost one of our boys.
‘When I got the call I was sitting in a conference room with 12 people at our Portland office talking about PTO policies. Minutes earlier, I had admitted to the group that in the last 8 years I’d not taken more than a contiguous week off.
‘My wife and I have an agreement that when one of us calls, the other answers. So when the phone rang I stood up and walked to the conference room door immediately.
‘I was still walking through the door when I answered with ‘Hey, what’s up?’
‘Her reply was icy and immediate: “J.R., Wiley is dead.”’
J.R. explained how his wife Jessica had discovered their son, adding: ‘Late that morning, Jessica had thought Wiley was simply sleeping in. He loved to sleep, he loved his bed, and it had been a big week of late bedtimes and fun daytime activities with visiting friends. Eventually she got the sense it had been too long and went in to check on him.
‘He was cold. The Medical Examiner later estimated he had been dead for at least 8-10 hours by the time she found him, indicating he passed early in the night.’
He went on to say that it was ‘2.5 painful hours’ before he was allowed to see Wiley, and they had stayed with him for around 30 minutes stroking his hair before his body was taken away.
His message to other parents is simple, yet what he says is something that many are guilty of doing. J.R. concluded his open letter by giving advice to those with children: ‘Many have asked what they can do to help. Hug your kids. Don’t work too late. A lot of the things you are likely spending your time on you’ll regret once you no longer have the time.
‘I’m guessing you have 1:1 meetings on the books with a lot of people you work with. Do you have them regularly scheduled with your kids? If there’s any lesson to take away from this, it’s to remind others (and myself) not to miss out on the things that matter.’
His post has inspired many LinkedIn users to rethink their priorities, with one parent writing: ‘I cried after reading your post . Thanks so much about reminding us about our children. Wiley was an angel meant to give a new meaning to your life. I hope you have a wonderful journey . Lots of love and support.’