Author’s story about personal loss inspires hope for readers
By Carley Dangonacarley@thereminder.com
WESTFIELD – Local journalist and Westfield State University (WSU) alumna Janice Beetle will share her book “Divine Renovations: A Carpenter, His Soul Mate and Their Story of Love and Loss,” on Sept. 24 as the first event of this season’s Guest Lecture Series at WSU. The event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Loughman Living Room.
The story details the loss of her husband Ed, who passed away on Sept. 14, 2010 from cancer. He was 55. The couple had been together for eight years, married for two. It was the first time Beetle had experienced losing someone close to her. She used writing to work through her grief.
“I want people to know my commitment to the topic of grief,” Beetle said. The experience crippled me. Sometimes you just fall apart. The skill is knowing how to get back up. Loss is an overwhelming experience, but you can get through it.”
Beetle said the effect was “stunning,” especially since she’s a strong, got-it-together person. She said the writing process was different too because of the intense emotions she was feeling.
“I might have needed less editing if I had written the book at a different time. It was kind of rambling and lacked focus,” Beetle commented. She is grateful for the patience and diligence of her editor.
She met her husband when he came to work on her kitchen renovation.
“My first impression – I thought he was a very solid person,” Beetle said. “I felt like I knew him. I felt he was sent to me.”
Beetle’s fondest memories of Ed are of his kindness and thoughtfulness. “I used to tell him he had a really great feminine side – he could connect deeply with me on so many levels. I really miss that,” she said.
Each year, she honors her husband on the anniversary of his death in a different way. This year she painted her house because he was very meticulous about keeping up the property.
Beetle explained that most of her writing is about other people. For her, it was scary to write a piece that exposed her raw, personal emotions to readers, especially considering that people she knew were going to read the book.
“Every once in a while I get a little pit in my stomach, but then someone says the story reminds them of when they lost their brother and that feeling goes away. I’m really proud to share Ed with the world and to help others through the grief process,” she said.
A graduate of Westfield State College in 1985, she began her writing career as a reporter for the Morning Union in Springfield and then served as the assistant Living editor at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton. She is now the editor of “Focus,” a Westfield State alumni publication, and the owner of her own public relations and communications firm, Beetle Press.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information on the Guest Lecture Series, visit www.westfield.ma.edu/speakerseries