Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guest Author: Darla M. Grese

Dying Sister Made It Clear: Tell My Story

It was after coming across my sister’s journal that I knew without question that I had to share her story. It took me months to actually read the journal in its entirety, it was simply too hard.  I could almost hear Kelli’s voice as I read her written words. Her entries were raw, at times incredibly disturbing, but for the most part, painfully sad. Each and every time that I read it, my heart breaks just a little bit more. It always will.

Kelli made it clear throughout her journal that she wanted me to tell her story, hoping that it could hopefully prevent other veterans from dying within the same system. Clearly she was losing her battle and knew it. But instead of battling in the trenches alone, silently, she documented her torment, knowing one day that she’d leave it behind for me to read.

Kelli referenced several times that she was surrendering to God, which is why I chose the title “Sister Surrendered”. Kelli had an extremely strong faith in God which is something that I ironically struggle to find.

I opted to include some of the actual journal entries within the book, not knowing of a better way to convey Kelli’s messages’.  But what I didn’t anticipate was me commencing in an almost dual- dialogue between Kelli and me, which ended up setting the tone throughout the entire book from start to finish.

“Sister Surrendered” was actually written as a screenplay early on. I wrote it prior to the lawsuit even coming to light. Writing screenplays were familiar and I found solace in writing them. But it was after the settling of the case, a couple of years later, that I knew writing a book was the right answer, it just was. I began writing the book on Jan 1st, 2014 and finished in mid-March. It was fast, it had to be. I struggled to begin writing it, nervous of the emotional roller-coaster that I was about to embark on. So when I finally committed to putting my thoughts to the keyboard, I had to do it as quickly as possible, at times, hyperventilating between sentences. It was a painful journey, peeling back layers of grief that I’d prefer to stuff away. It’s easier that way isn’t it? At least it is for me.

Sister Surrendered

Author: Darla M. Grese
Publisher: Darla M. Grese
Pages: 210
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback / Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

When you’re a twin, loneliness is somewhat unfamiliar because you’ve always had each other. So when a twin passes, the other is left unprepared. Our loyalty was steadfast and our devotion to one another, solid. Our love was unconditional no matter what the circumstances. I’m so grateful every day for the memories of the joy and laughter that we shared together. I know the bond that Kelli and I shared is impossible for anyone to replace. This memoir has become something so much more than initially intended. It’s become a documented journey barely scratching the surface of the love between two sisters. And surprisingly, it’s also become an outlet for me to speak candidly and honestly about my struggles with the cause of Kelli’s death. This is a love story turned tragedy. An exposure of one of the greatest healthcare failures killing Veterans and civilians, and a cry for help to remedy the fiasco. I’ve stressed about who I would mention in this book, nervous that I would hurt someone’s feelings by not mentioning their names. But I’ve realized that it’s impossible to do. Kelli had so many great friends, some I’ve never even met. I need each person to know who has taken the time to reach out to me in whatever capacity that if it weren’t for your heartfelt show of support and love, I don’t know that I would be able to muster the energy to even get up each day. Kelli, we did it.

About the Author

Darla M. Grese is a twin sister who lost her better half to side effects from prescribed medication. As a U.S. Navy Veteran, she is an advocate of Veteran X and Veteran Hope programs that address mental illness, PTSD, and unintentional addiction issues. Both programs are sponsored by the Veteran Affairs Medical Center and focus on Veteran recovery and independence. She raises money for “Team Kelli” and annually participates in the Out of the Darkness Walk at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach (http://www.sos-walk.org/sos/).  While continuing to bring awareness to this cause, being a loving parent is her favorite passion and the main focus of her life. Darla’s love for the arts has been expressed as a talented actress with appearances in The F.B.I. files, The New Detectives, Diagnosis Unknown, Wicked Attraction, Discovery Channel’s The Haunting, and the movie Atlantis Down. She currently works full time as a respiratory therapist at a trauma center in Norfolk, Virginia.

Her memoir, Sister Surrendered, is her latest release.

For More Information
Visit Darla M. Grese’s website.
Connect with Darla on Facebook and Twitter.
Contact Darla.


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