Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"life after the death of my son, what I'm learning", by Rev. D. Apple

Reviews here.

This is a book that we received at Stefan's funeral and just got around to reading. The picture on the cover almost says it all.

It makes me weep just to type that.

I notice about the cover, too, that "life after the death of my son" as a title implies that there is indeed life after--extremely and permanently altered, a different, but indeed--A life. This life is counted now in terms of how long since the death, as in the way we count our years since Christ's coming. Yes, really it will be both at the same time: how long since my son died and still it is Anno Domini. It is life, still.

Dennis Apple lost a son, who was in first year of university, to "complications due to mono", having found him dead on the family room couch. He journaled his experience for 15 years before someone encouraged him to write this book. The back cover features a quote from the journal, which summarizes much of what is in the book: "I'm not sure of anything anymore. I want to say to God, 'You let our precious son die and here we are, empty-handed and broken' " (April 1, 1991)

He describes candidly the brokenness and his wife's depression. He also describes candidly the not-being-sure-of-anything (crisis of faith) which accompanied him for a long time, even while working as a minister. He finishes the book by saying that he changed his theology because of it all. In other parlance, one might say he moved from a theology of glory to a theology of the cross. He learned about God's grace for himself, though he was in such deep doubts for a long time.

Another feature of the book is its emphasis on ideas on how to help people who are grieving, especially in the church.

I would recommend the book as a quick, though gut-wrenching, very personal read for anyone, to gain a number of insights as well as a companion through a dark valley. Theologically, there could be more there, however, one of his main points is that he experienced this spiritual emptiness, which was perhaps the most excruciating part for him.

For me, it has not been like this entirely. I found it a rich time in many ways, thanks to all the people around me and the books around me and the shared Bible readings in the home. I have to be very grateful for that. I cry some every day, but mostly I feel well. However, I can tell, time will be measured from here on, as to how long since Stefan died.


Steve Martin said...

It is gut wrenching for me to read about your pain and the pain of the good Reverend.

I cannot know what it is like for you.

But my heart aches for you.

In this world we will suffer. But He has overcome the world, and someday He will wipe away all our tears...forever.

That is my hope. I hope that for you as well. And for the good Reverend.

Brigitte said...

Thanks for your care, Steve. You are an amazing person.

The tears and the gut-wrenching will be gone, but most of all I just want Him who loves us.