Ed Gray of Howell, Michigan, is reaching out to others by sharing his story, a bereavement story of both sadness and triumph.  He lost his parents and his wife in just over one year’s time.  His mother grew tired fighting a 37-year battle with breast cancer and stopped her treatment.  His father died about four months later.  Ed’s wife fought Lou Gehrig’s disease for nearly three years before she died.

Ed described this painful period, “It was an intense time caring for all three; I focused most attention to the one closest to death at the time; first Mom, then Dad, and then Nancy.”

Ed believes the love for his parents and his wife gave him the strength and energy to make things as good as possible for them until they passed.  His advice to others who are supporting someone grieving, “People are looking for a response and it’s very simple; accept their feelings, listen and talk to them, help out as needed and keep in regular contact with them.”

He was able to find a healthy outlet for his pain by journaling poetry.  Ed explained, “I felt I was given a gift to characterize my emotions. It came to me when Nancy was in her final months and continues today.  I didn’t have a lot of male friends I could talk to about the emotional stuff but my sister, four daughters, church support group, and especially my poetry all helped me move forward.”

He continued, “The poetry was my safety valve; a safe way to let my most raw emotions out of me and allow me to visit them anytime.”  Ed wrote over 165 poems in only about fifteen months. He is offering his collection of poetry in his latest book, Essence of Grieving.

Here is an insert from his book, a poem gifted to his wife for her birthday.  It is titled, You and Me.  “When I was young, I thought I loved, but found out I was wrong; in love took on new meanings on the day you came along.  It’s hard expressing all I feel as time together grows; like using only black and white to talk about a rose.  When we’re together, I don’t care, too much ‘bout what we do; the thing most special overall, simply: “I’m with you.”

It is his hope his words will help guide others through their bereavement process.

Ed shared thoughts he had not anticipated originally, “The firsts are the most challenging; birthdays, holidays and anniversaries. Pay great attention to them and give help to those who are grieving.  I thought grieving would be a massive jolt in the beginning and then it would melt away.  It didn’t happen that way for me.  I grieved as the illness took over and through Nancy’s death but my deepest emotions surfaced 2-3 months after she died!”

For more about Ed’s work, visit http://www.theessenceof.com.

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Kathryn Williams Raths

Kathryn Williams Raths

I have always had creative threads of inspirations in my life. I can fall into an oil pastel drawing like the average person falls into a good book. It is a grounding process, allowing me to lose myself in my work, lose track of time and escape the pressures of everyday life. Unfortunately, I have not spent much of my life devoting time to my heart's desire; writing and exploring my creative impulses. I'm a single mom first and I've been a full-time employee in the business world for over the past 20 years. I’ve earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science. I live in the cornfields of Ypsilanti with my 2 sons, who are thirteen and fourteen, and my boyfriend, a wonderful man whom inspires and supports my dreams. During 2008, I had some life-altering experiences which have given me a new perspective and enabled me to reprioritize my responsibilities. I lost my father and my job, both of which I devoted much love and energy to and truly treasured. In the aftermath of my father's death, I reached deep within my core and wrote my book, What Can I Say When Words Escape Me, being present during times of sorrow. I can only hope these words of encouragement and nature photos touch your heart and up lift and hug your soul as they have for me. I currently write for the Examiner.com, Detroit market as a Healthy Living Reporter, http://www.examiner.com/x-27409-Detroit-Healthy-Living-Examiner. I'm grateful for my life's journey thus far and thankful for a nurturing, fulfilling future that enables me to reach out and help others struggling with hardship. http://still-waters-counseling.com/kathryn-raths-m-a-llpc/

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