An excerpt from our book, Secret Losses. Coming in 2012…
Sam’s Past Loss
Reverend John received a call that afternoon from the daughter of a congregation member he had known the last 15 years. Sam was now 92 years of age, a hard working farmer that had spent his life building his home and land. Cancer had plagued his body these past 5 years and Reverand John hadn’t seen Sam in many a Sunday. The voice of his daughter Sarah was shakey on the phone. The doctor had just left and told her he expected Sam to be gone soon. Reverand John packed up his Bible and headed to their home. Sam was in a darkened room, his breath shallow, body weak, tears flowing down his cheeks when he saw Reverand John. He asked his daughter to leave the room and in a gasping voice he told Reverand John his secret.
Buried on the land, not far from the barn was his baby son that had died when he came into the world too early. It was their first child and without notice the water broke…baby Joseph birthed, took a breath and expired. Sam cried as he told Reverend John how painful the loss was for him and his wife. Few knew that she was even expecting a baby, so they decided not to tell anyone and they buried their secret under a rock Sam painted red….the color of love. It had been 70 years and now Sam’s last request was that Reverand John go to the hidden grave and say a blessing prayer for Joseph. Sam wanted this more than anything and when Reverand John returned to the house after giving his prayer, he found Sam asleep in peaceful death where Sam believed he would be joined with his son Joseph.
I heard this story from Reverend John who sat at my table at a hospice conference. He was amazed that after 70 years and at his moment of death, that Sam could only think of Joseph. Sam had three other children and many grandchildren that were living. The child he never got to know had a special place in his heart. Joseph was truly Sam’s secret loss. Sam and his wife never shared the truth with the family or friends. Their experience was isolating and set them apart from the rest of the world. They never spoke about it again and there was no one to listen to their story.
After all these years, the most important thing to Sam on his death bed was for Reverend John to give Joseph a blessing.
It is never too late to create a remembrance. Acknowledging our losses in life is the path to integration and healing. We have received donations from losses that occurred 52 years ago.
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