Dad speaks out on work-life balance after learning of his son's death in a business meeting

A US father who learned of his eight-year-old son's death during a business meeting has urged parents "not to miss out on the things that matter".

J.R. Storment, an Oregon-based business owner, has spoken out about the torment of losing a child in a candid article posted to LinkedIn.

Storment says he received his wife's call during a business meeting around three weeks ago. 

"Minutes earlier, I had admitted to the group that in the last eight years, I'd not taken more than a continuous week off," Storment wrote.

"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.

"Her reply was icy and immediate: 'J.R., Wiley is dead'."

Storment says the last three weeks have been filled with "an endless stream" of regrets.

The family pictured three weeks before the 8yo's death.
The family pictured three weeks before the 8yo's death. Photo credit: Storment/LinkedIn

"The evening before was normal... We had friends with kids over for dinner... Wiley got bossy with the other kids. I was stern with him. And I made him cry. It's one of the last interactions we had and I've beaten myself up for it a dozen times," he wrote.

"I had a very sweet interaction with Wiley at bedtime and apologised.

"The next morning I woke up for a series of back to back meetings... I left that morning without saying goodbye or checking on the boys."

Storment's wife, Dr Jessica Brandes, discovered Wiley cold and unresponsive in bed alongside his unsuspecting twin brother Oliver. He'd died in the early hours of the morning. 

It's believed Wiley died from SUDEP [Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy] after being diagnosed with mild epilepsy last year. 

Now Storment is urging parents not to prioritise work over family, lest they "miss out on the things that matter".

"I'm guessing you have [one-on-one] meetings with a lot of people you work with. Do you have them regularly scheduled with your kids?" he wrote.

"A lot of the things you are likely spending your time on, you'll regret once you no longer have the time... Work needs to have a balance that I have rarely lived."

Storment says his other son Oliver came in to ask for screen time while he was writing the post. Instead, Storment asked if they could have play time together.

"He was happily surprised by my answer and we connected in a way I would have formerly missed out on... one silver lining to this tragedy is the improving relationship I have with him."

Brandes also wrote a post about Wiley's death, titled 'All That Remains', four days earlier. She too encourages parents to make the most of "priceless" time.

"Take your vacation days and sabbaticals and go be with them," she wrote.

"You will not regret the emails you forgot to send. 

"If you email or text me and my reply takes longer than expected, know that I am with the people I love sharing my time, creating my new identity... I encourage you to do the same."


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