WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 09, 2013, 11:10 PM

One Fargo family shows the grief and healing of losing a loved one too soon

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - This week in Fargo, a rare opportunity to hear from one of the nation's top experts on grief and healing.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - This week in Fargo, a rare opportunity to hear from one of the nation's top experts on grief and healing.

HOSPICE is once again bringing in Dr. Alan Wolfelt who talks about healing and grief. The Tuesday night presentation is open to the community.

The Wednesday daytime conference is for pastors, caregivers, nurses and school counselors and will focus on teens and grief.

You have all lost a loved one and know the time it takes to get through loss.

As Reporter Kevin Wallevand tells us, no book or website, can prepare you for grieving. He talked to the family of 49-year-old John Coler of Fargo, who died two years ago.

John Coler was that guy. Popular youth minister, much loved husband and father of three. The man people remembered after meeting.

Babs Coler, John’s Wife: “When we got the diagnosis in the doctor's office, here is this perfectly healthy man and he is going to be gone in 3-6 months? That is, my initial thought was this is how it is going to end?”

John's wife Babs and their daughters say the brutal diagnosis of Pancreatic cancer in 2010 was the life changer for the family.

Whitney Coler, John’s Daughter: “During the whole process, when he was sick, you don't have time to grieve. You don't want to think about how you are going to miss him. You want to spend time with him.

Amanda Otis, John’s Daughter: “We did not want to be sad around dad and have him know we are grieving. We wanted those last few months to be as happy as we could and make memories.”

Grieving, the family found, would happen so differently for them all. After John's death, some returned to work immediately, others in the family wrestled with the sudden loss. Babbs found comfort in an online site for young widows.

Coler: “And sometimes it is "I am at the end of my rope. I just want to go dump." Do you feel this way 24/7? No not at all, but at this moment I want to dump, and I can and not be judged. They know this is temporary and I will get through this, absolutely I will.”

Experts at Hospice say there is no recipe, no right or wrong way to grieve, and for Fargo-Moorhead, a conference on grief is needed, they say.

Wendy Tabor-Buth, Hospice of the Red River Valley: “This community has been hit hard this past year, especially with children and teens, and adults but teen loss expected and unexpected.”

For the Colers, faith and a tight family core helped them all limp along immediately following the loss of John. Now they have started new traditions, including one marked just this weekend.

Emily Coler Hanson, John’s Daugther: “Every year for his birthday, we have one of his dinners together, and if we cannot be together, we skype and do variations of the recipe.”

Yes, food can help in healing.

There are three ways to register for the Grief and Healing conference this week


Mail: Hospice of the Red River Valley

ATTN: Journeying Home Conference

1701 38th St. S. Suite 101, Fargo, ND 58103

Phone: (701) 356-1500 or (800) 237-4629