I have heard from many people who feel like they can share their loss and their own journeys with me. It is like we share a connection that no one else can comprehend. A secret club where the members are unwilling victims. A dark and frightful place. One that is surrounded by a moat of tears and mounds of thorns. No one wants to join but once you do, you never can leave. Secretly you know you don’t want to. You are bonded with this people forever…they have become your salvation, your secret keepers, your light at the end of the darkness.
We ask each other questions no one else can answer. When was the first time you laughed again? How long before you stopped waking up praying that this hell you have been living through is only a nightmare? When were you able to look at his/her picture without crumbling to the floor crying? How long was it before you were able to spell out their name or say the word ‘died’ without wanting to throw up?
Not long ago, I saw a picture of a pastor and author, Dennis Apple, and his lovely wife, Beulah. It was on the back page of a book he wrote, “Life after the death of my son.” The book was about the unexpected loss of his own son, Denny at the age of 18. I remember feeling some sort of relief because they were both smiling ear to ear. I’m sure it was one of those professional pictures were you are posed and directed how to tilt your head and smile like “you really mean it”. After all, who wants to see the face of a grief torn, tear stained, lack of sleep parent who’s life has been ripped apart. Yet, I recall that it gave me hope. One day, I will be able to smile again too.
Dennis’s book was one of the ones I had ordered in the early days when I was trying to find answers. It was a couple before my son’s birthday and right before the holidays. By chance, luck or a sign from above, I opened it to the chapter of his own son’s birthday. It painfully described how they maneuvered through Denny’s first birthday since his death. I immediately emailed him and was pleasantly surprised when he emailed me back right away. I later learned that it was many years until he was able to smile like that again. That one e-mail led to many more.
Unwillingly, I had now become a member of this club…Dennis Apple became my salvation