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Journey through grief

By Faith Anderson Grief is like wearing a backpack: The burden can be unbearable, or it can be light, but it’s always there. This simple analogy has been used to describe the unpredictable nature of grief. But certainly, grief is never simple.

Dave Gamradt with his wife, Sharon, who died of cancer last September. Dave has been working through his grief ever since. As part of the VA Grief Program, Dave wrote a poem about Sharon. Contributed photo

Dave Gamradt, 75, of Sauk Centre has also experienced loss. His wife, Sharon, died of cancer in September of 2022. When the news came that Sharon’s cancer had returned and that she didn’t have much time left, it was devastating to Dave and their family. They decided to spend more time together, talking, sharing, and laughing. Nineteen days before Sharon died, Dave’s sister video-taped an interview with Sharon. Then as a gift to Dave, she typed excerpts of Sharon’s words, added a photo, and placed it in a frame. The print is entitled, Words from a Beautiful Heart. Those words still speak to Dave. “I look at it every day,” said Dave. “I didn’t realize how powerful her words could be.” Here are just a few of Sharon’s statements: “Be positive and try to generate it in others. If you work together, with time, you can work through differences.” “Thank the Lord and trust that He will help you through whatever lies ahead.” “Trust that you are not alone. The Lord will lift you up through tough times.” “Don’t hang on to the crazy stuff.” “Recognize there are things you can’t control or fix, and pray for those things.” “Faith will help you to not be afraid. Whatever is ahead, don’t look at the negative part of it. It’s tough, but there will be good days. Just enjoy them.” “I hope you will remember me by doing something good, or a kindness in my name.” Ten months after his wife’s death, Dave continues working through his grief in a number of ways. He recently completed a five-week virtual counseling session, offered through the Veterans Administration. “It’s helped me a lot,” said Dave, a Vietnam veteran. Part of the VA grief program was an assignment to write something about his loss. “I’m not a writer,” said Dave, “and have never been the best speller, so I worried about doing that.” But one morning, after considering the assignment, Dave got up and wrote a poem. Once he started writing, it came relatively easy, taking him only an hour or two to complete. “I think Sharon was there beside me helping with the assignment that day,” Dave shared. “I wrote it on April 27, Sharon’s birthday.” For him, writing was a useful and therapeutic tool. “I’ve read it to people, and that felt good, too,” Dave added. Dave’s poem is printed in the Poet’s Corner section of this edition. Sharon By Dave Gamradt of Sauk Centre You made me a happy man when you took my hand and said, “I do.” I was so in love with you, I said, “I do” too. The years went by the smiles, the tears. Our love and faith grew strong. The children came one-by-one. The years went by, so much fun. Our love and faith grew strong. The years went on. Our family bond became so strong. And then one day, the cancer came to test us all, our faith and bond. We fought it all because we’re so strong. She rang the bell for she was well, and life went on. And late summer, the fair and family vacation. All came home. It was a dream come true. At last, home. We played, we laughed. It was so great to have them all home. And she went shopping with the kids. Then the call came in. To the hospital in a rush. Something went wrong. They sent us further down the line to see what’s wrong. The news was bad. It had returned. That’s what is wrong. They said no hope, it was too far. To make our plans, We went home to draw together as a clan. She left us with a smile, a faith so strong. The love she has will never die. We must go on. We all are learning to survive without her here, and we are battling through the first year. And love still lives here. God’s blessings are here, and the years go on… Dave knows that being together with family always helps him feel stronger. “Especially those grandchildren…they’re the best,” he said. Dave and Sharon have five grown children, seven grandchildren, and many extended family members and friends who continue to support each other. Dave deals with his grief through his deep faith in God. “Faith is a blessed gift. Without it, I’d be lost,” he explained. “Sharon and I prayed together every night, no matter what.” While serving in Vietnam, Dave saw the importance of holding on to one’s faith in those dark moments when life is harsh. “I saw some of the toughest and most fearless men drop to their knees and pray in our foxhole,” Dave remembered. As Dave moves on without Sharon at his side, he puts one foot in front of the other. “I’m not a scholarly man,” he said, “and I’m not one to quote scripture. But I can take the time to visit with people and explain how important it is to have faith. You know, I feel that if I can help someone and make them smile, that’s good.” “That’s my new focus,” he added.

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