Radio personality Delilah Rene — best known as Delilah — experienced the unimaginable in 2017 when her son Zack died by suicide at 18. He was her second child buried. Five years earlier, Delilah tragically lost her teenage son Sammy to complications caused by sickle cell anemia.
Now Delilah, 61, is sharing the conversation with country music star Rory Feek that helped her to cope with crippling grief. Rory, whose wife and singing partner Joey Feek died of cervical cancer at age 40 in 2016, reached out to Delilah shortly after Zack passed.
"He said something to me that changed me,” Delilah revealed on the latest episode of the “PEOPLE Every Day” podcast. “He said, ‘Your boys are much more a part of your future, than they are a part of your past.”
At first, Delilah was upset by the comment. What was Rory trying to say exactly?
“Because you know where they are,” Delilah recalled Rory telling her. “And because your hope is in the Lord, you know you’ll be with them again. So now you will look forward to that day with great anticipation. You won’t ever fear death again. You will look forward to it, because you know where they are.”
Delilah calls Rory's perspective a “huge gift,” that permanently changed her outlook on how she approaches life after loss.
“It reframed everything, that one little conversation, and gave me the hope and something to look forward to,” she said. “But while I’m here, I want to be as effective as I can as a mom, as a broadcaster, as a friend. And so I got to keep moving forward.”
The mother of 15 — she has three biologicial children and 12 adopted — noted that she is able to feel joy again.
“I can’t stop living just because they did. I have to keep moving forward to be the best person that I can be,” she said. “And so that’s what I do every day. Every day I thank God that they’re safe with him.”
Last year, Rory opened up about how his 7-year-old daughter, Indiana, recognizes her late mom's voice.
“She’s highly aware of her mama, her mama’s voice, what her mama looks like. She keeps her alive, just like I do," he told People.
Indiana, who has Down syndrome, was just 2 years old when Joey died.
"Life has a way of being OK. Life keeps going. The world keeps turning. It doesn’t mean that you don’t miss that person like crazy and that there isn’t a big void inside of you," Rory said. “But that also doesn’t mean that there can’t be a lot of joy and happiness and you can’t wake up every day pinching yourself, which is what I feel like I do."