Pouring his grief onto paper

 Messenger photo by Cindy Kazalia
 Terry and Stephanie Southers of Grove City sit in their living room with Terry’s new book "Grace I Never Knew." The book was inspired by the tragic death of their daughter and grandchild.

Terry Southers and his wife of 32 years, Stephanie, sat side by side in their Grove City home. Like other proud parents, their walls boast portraits of their only child, Kristy Nicole.

Southers beamed, "I know this is a word that is hard to use, but Kristy was a perfect child. She always wanted to do what was right and, if it wasn’t right, she wanted to make it right. She was always respectful to her mother and I."

He added, "She was the best person I ever knew."

His daughter was the reason for his book "Grace I Never Knew."

Kristy Nicole (Southers) Woodcox died May 8, 2005, the victim of a tragic automobile accident, which also claimed the life of her 3-year-old daughter, Danielle Faith. The Southers, with the support of Kristy’s husband, made the decision to take their only child off life support, one week after the crash.

"Our son-in-law, Matt, graciously waited until we were ready to take Kristy off life support," said Southers. "The ironic thing is that all Kristy wanted to be is a mother and she died on Mother’s Day."  

Stephanie elaborated, "We had discussed this very thing when the Terry Schiavo case made national headlines. Kristy said, ‘Mom, if anything happens, don’t let me live that way.’ She couldn’t have bore the loss of her daughter, Dani, especially since she was driving when the accident occurred."

Nothing, however, prepared the couple, who share deep Christian beliefs, for the intensity of emotions that gripped their hearts following the loss. They had prayed fervently for a miracle yet, in the end, buried both their daughter and granddaughter. The family clung to their faith even in the midst of the pain. Friends and family rallied around them.

"There’s no words," Stephanie said.  

Her husband agreed.  

"There’s only two things that helped or made any sense to me during that difficult time," he said. "One is when people said, ‘I’m praying for you’ and the other is when they said, ‘I just don’t know what to say.’"

One of the emotional outlets that helped Southers, head custodian at J.C. Sommer Elementary School, get to the other side of his grief was pouring his feelings onto paper.  

"It started out as something for the grandchildren, something to help them remember their mother later in their lives."

Southers started writing, in intervals.  What began as loose papers, some random thoughts, evolved. The first part of the book, Southers said he wrote for his grandchildren and the second part for himself. The third part, which describes his own personal journey of faith, was meant for others.

"The whole book is to help others so that Kristy’s death is not in vain," said Southers.

Initial copies of the published book, "Grace I Never Knew," arrived on the Southers’ doorstep this past May – exactly three years to the day after their daughter’s death. From the start, the self-published book’s message brought comfort and hope to others in need.

"It’s now opened doors for ministry," explained Southers. "It’s not about the money. I want people to know that there’s not a miracle cure to take the pain away, but there is a miracle of healing through helping others. Anytime people come to me with tears in their eyes and say that the book helped them, that’s more healing for me. There is grace in every circumstance."

For a copy of "Grace I Never Knew," contact Southers at terrys@wowway.com or 801-0179.

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