After Normal is one teen’s journey through grief after the death of her younger brother. Unique in the field of death and dying literature, it offers helpful insights and understanding for teens facing a similar loss or for those who might wish to understand and help teens facing a similar loss.
No easy answers. No pious platitudes. Just a truthful insider’s view of the journey from darkness to light, black and white to color, despair to hope again.
This short excerpt captures the quality and honesty of the entire text:
“Breathe. Please just breathe,” I begged myself as I knelt in the backyard, doubled over and gasping for air, my eyes squeezed shut.
I wanted the ground to open and swallow me whole. I wanted to float towards the sun and never stop. I wanted to go to sleep and never wake. I wanted to wake and have this be a horrible, horrible nightmare. I wanted to start running and never, ever stop. I could just keep running. First, though, I needed to catch my breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. That’s all. Just breathe. I opened my eyes but quickly shut them again. The grass was too green.
Inhale. Exhale. Each inhale filled my lungs, my heart, my very soul with sorrow. Each exhale left only emptiness.
I could smell the grass just inches from my face. After long, northern Michigan winters, spring was always so welcomed. The blooming trees, blossoming flowers and the greening of the grass assured us that we had survived another winter and, as a reward, we could enjoy the splendid sights of spring. But now the same plants that I once thought of as friends seemed to be mocking me with the vibrant colors of their rebirth. They surrounded me and dared me to notice how alive they were. I willed myself to block out their taunts and ignore their liveliness. I carefully opened my eyes again. The world was now black and white, with a little gray thrown in for interest.
From the back cover:
Once upon a time, on a beautiful day in May, a young boy drowned in a small town pond. And for his sister, Diane, who was about to finish eighth grade at the time, all her joy turned to sorrow, and her colors turned to gray, as she struggled to find a “new normal” now that her old normal had died. This book is based on Diane’s journaling notes over the following four years, as she tried to find her way through an unexpected and very scary wilderness without a map or a guide to help her, because so few people really know what to say when you don’t know what to say or what to do when you don’t know what to do.
Out of all her pain has come the jewel of a book that is in your hand, a gift from Diane’s heart to yours. You will appreciate her candor and her refusal to accept easy answers or to offer any, whether in relation to the process of resolving the seeming irresolvable or in relation to the ultimate issues of purpose and meaning and faith in which such experiences immerse us against our will. Ultimately, you will be encouraged that at the end of journey, however long it takes, lies hope … for those who will engage this process in truth, as Diane has done.
Over the past three decades, I have assembled a library of books related to grief, but not a single one is as helpful as this one for those who are making a journey similar to Diane’s (a teen having lost a sibling) and for those who would like to understand and help a brokenhearted teen more than just survive such a loss.
David B. Biebel, D.Min., Author
Jonathan, You Left Too Soon;
If God is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad