Nan Zastrow

“I always wanted to write,” said Nan Zastrow. “But I never dreamed it would be about death, grief, and mourning. Today I write to heal my pain and teach others that even after a life-changing event, there can be a reason and a purpose to go on living.” On April 16, 1993, Chad Zastrow, the son of Nan and Gary, died as the result of suicide. Ten weeks later, Chad’s fiancée took her life. This double tragedy inspired the Zastrows to create a ministry of hope. They formed a non-profit organization called ©Roots and Wings more commonly called Wings. From 1993—2003, they published the Wings™ magazine, a publication about real situations and real people going through grief that was mailed throughout the United States and Canada. In 2003, their non-profit changed its focus to primarily grief education and support. They publish a free, quarterly newsletter by email to subscribers. Nan and Gary, together, have been keynote speakers at National Bereaved Parents and workshop presenters at various other events. They have been grief group facilitators since 1993, and host workshops and seminars. Each year they host an original theme-based community “When the Holidays Hurt” program for area funeral homes. Nan is the author of four books and over sixty Editor’s Journal Articles in Wings, Grief Digest, and other publications. Their non-profit organization is the recipient of the 2000 Flame of Freedom Award for community volunteerism. Nan was also nominated for the Women of Vision Award in 2001; the Athena Award in 2005, and The HOPE of Wisconsin, hospice volunteer of the year in 2008. Nan and Gary are hospice volunteers and survivors of six sudden deaths of significant people in their lives.


Discovering Something Greater than the Answer to “Why?”

“Why me?”  “Why now?” They are questions that many bereaved ask when they come to our support groups. I’m sure many wish that Gary and I could gaze into a […]

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Walk Beside Me and Be My Friend

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, […]

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Death of a Child Changes ‘Santa’

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season begins. Shopping carts and arms are brimming with purchases.  Early in the season, there is a sense of joy–the miracle part of […]

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One Is Silver, the Other Gold: a New Look at Holiday Traditions

“I believe that we are here for a reason, I believe that as each day unfolds, We see less of the shadow And more of the sun. Less of the […]

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Son’s Suicide Reorders Family’s Life

Spring forced its way into Wisconsin in an unusual way in April, 1993. It strangely marked the day with headline news: “Blizzard.” It was Easter-time…a time when the sun typically […]

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