Through the next few decades, Jeff finished school, built a career, married, had children. As Jeff hit middle age, one thought kept resurfacingn: would he live as long as his father?
Obsessively, Jeff read, and reread, and then reread, Kaffer's eulogy. He listened to certain songs over and again. Jeff knew he was sad and tried to beat the sadness with willpower. It wasn't working and that added to his mounting anxiety.
Jeff told himself, "I'm a man; I can get over this. I'm a husband. I'm a father. I'm a company leader." But he also told himself, "I'm an imposter." Jeff felt as if he didn't measure up. He wondered what the world, especially his co-workers and family, would think if they knew how weak he felt.
"The back part of this struggle is living your life having to display a certain attitude, a certain professionalism on the outside and on the inside, feeling completely different." Jeff said. "It was mentally and physically exhausting."
Finally Jeff made an appointment with his primary care provider and said. "I think I'm suffering from depression."
It was the first step to healing and Jeff's glad he took it.
"Just verbalizing that was freeing. It was uplifting," Jeff said. "I was able, with a period of time, to work my way out of it. I had to go through it."
Jeff never considered writing a book about these experiences until another man, who knew Jeff's journey, said ,"I wonder how many men you could help if you wrote a book." Jeff hopes "My Dad's Rose" helps at least one.
"I suffered in silence for a lot of years because I'm a guy and I'm a man," Jeff said. I'm hoping it will help others with losses in their lives to confront that and get the help they need, whether it's talking to a friend or seeking professional help. Raising your hand doesn't make you weak. Raising your hand keeps you strong."
Perhaps what makes "My Dad's Rose" a little different from other books on grieving is the strong faith element and its role in healing. Or as Kaffer said in Louis' eulogy, "None of these reflections take away the hurt. Even Jesus wept at Lazarus' tomb."
But it does put life, death and eternity into perspective.
"As Thoreau said, 'Living in the present moment is a way of finding your eternity and fully experience it,'" Jeff wrote in his book. "I like that and am working on that. I hope you can, too."