Parents Regret Working So Much After Their 8-Year-Old Son Dies In His Sleep

An industrious couple are finding themselves begging other parents to spend as much time as possible with their children — weeks after their young son died in his sleep.

Tech mogul J.R. Storment and naturopathic doctor Jessica Brandes shared heartbreaking essays on their LinkedIn pages last week, where they admitted they regretted their hectic work schedules in the wake of the tragedy.

Storment wrote in his message:

“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. 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.”

The lives of the Oregon couple, who shared 8-year-old twin boys Wiley (above, right) and Oliver (above, left), were flipped upside down three weeks ago when Brandes discovered Wiley lifeless in his bed. She was then forced to tell her husband the tragic news in a phone call.

Storment recalled:

“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.”

The founder of the financial analysis company, Cloudability — which was acquired three months ago — said the call from his wife was “icy and immediate.” After learning his son had died, he remembered:

“The next thing I know I’m sprinting out the front door of the office with my car keys in hand, running ferociously across the street.”

After she notified her husband, Brandes said she immediately called 911 and told Wiley’s twin brother what had happened. She recalled in her post:

“I knew I had approximately 4 minutes to explain to Oliver that his best friend had died and 15 people were about to swarm our home. I asked him to pick a location where he would feel safe. Then, sirens.”

From there, a fleet of first-responders stormed their home with equipment, leaving the couple unable to see Wiley for nearly three hours amid the potential crime scene investigation. Unfortunately, it was too late to save the boy’s life.

Brandes wrote:

“They confirmed our son’s death using cardiac leads and slowly returned their equipment back to their truck because even an entire truck of life-saving measures couldn’t be used to save this one.”

Both parents were able to see their son after the investigation was finished. Storment recalled they “stayed next to him for maybe 30 minutes and stroked his hair before they returned with a gurney to take him away.”

Wiley is believed to have died from SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy). He was previously diagnosed with an extremely mild form of epilepsy called Benign Rolandic Epilepsy, which usually self-resolves in teenage years.

His father explained:

“SUDEP is generally seen to be unpredictable, unpreventable, and irreversible once it starts. It can be tied to a seizure but many times the brain just shuts down. Statistically, it was highly unlikely to hit our son: 1 out of 4,500 children with epilepsy are affected. Sometimes you end up the statistic.”

His mother added:

“If you think of brains as being the computers of the body, Wiley’s just turned off. No known trigger, no warning. It just shut down and without a brain, there is nothing.”

In the weeks following Wiley’s death, Storment said he’s struggled to come to terms with all the life milestones his son will never get to accomplish. 

He also admitted to looking back on his final hours with his son with some guilt, noting how he yelled at the boy for being bossy around his friends during a play date. Although he made up with Wiley before going to bed, Storment said he went to work the next day “without saying goodbye or checking on the boys” — something he’ll regret for the rest of his life. 

Going forward, the couple said they plan on spending more time with Oliver and improving their relationships with him. Storment explained:

“I believe in the words of Kahlil Gibran who said, ‘Work is love made visible.’ To me, that line is a testament to how much we gain, grow and offer through the work we do. But that work needs to have a balance that I have rarely lived. It’s a balance that lets us offer our gifts to the world but not at the cost of self and family…. Out of these ashes have come many new and restored connections. And I hope from this tragedy you consider how you prioritize your own time.”

Brandes offered a similar sentiment in her post, writing:

“If we’ve learned anything at all, it’s that life is fragile and time really can be so cruelly short. We wish a lot of things were different, but mostly we wish we’d had more time. If you are a parent and have any capacity to spend more time with your kids, do.”

So, so heartbreaking.

Our hearts go out to the family as they continue to grieve. Hold your loved ones close while you still can, Perezcious readers.

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