Edgell family embraces father’s last wordsSince then, the family has not only been dealing with the loss of a loved one, they’ve been embracing Jim’s last words: “do good.” And they’re asking the community to also “do good” in an upcoming benefit slated for June.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
Jane Edgell says she and her husband Jim were a typical suburban family.
Jim was a funny guy who loved hockey and was known for driving old cars filled with sunflower seeds that he often snacked on.
They built their house in Woodbury in 1992 and had been living their everyday lives like any other neighboring family.
Until one day, 47-year-old Jim Edgell collapsed and died of a heart attack – or as Jane calls it, the “Widow Maker.” He had no symptoms and was generally in good health.
It was right before his son Jack went on to play a regional playoff game in Worthington, Minn., last year as part of the Woodbury Bantam B1 Royal Hockey team.
Jim had handed him his skates and said “Here you go bud, do good,” Jane Edgell said.
His death brought the Edgells much needed support from friends, family and the hockey community.
Since then, the family has not only been dealing with the loss of a loved one, they’ve been embracing Jim’s last words: “do good.”
And they’re asking the community to also “do good” in an upcoming benefit slated for June.
Jim left behind his wife Jane, daughter Claire, 17, and son Jack, 15.
The family’s tax bills and everyday expenses have piled up, which has been challenging because Jim’s insurance policy lapsed by 13 days and he died before he could change it, Jane said.
Different grief patterns
Since Jim’s death, Jane has been learning a lot about different methods of grief.
In addition to the need for financial support from the community, she’s also trying to educate others about the way she’s been dealing with her loss.
“There is a huge need for grief awareness in our community,” she said, adding “I learned so much over the past year. There is so much that I want to share with people.”
A week after the hockey tournament, the family was planning a trip to Mexico for spring break, where Jim and Jane would renew their vows after 20 years of marriage.
Jane, Claire and Jack took the trip anyway.
“I was still in shock, of course, and it hasn’t set in,” she said.
The vacation was planned for eight, but only seven showed up.
Everywhere she went – the hotel, the shuttle, the restaurants – Jane was asked where her husband was. She had to tell everyone that he died a week earlier.
“I had to say it over and over, which helped me begin to accept reality,” Jane said.
Then she began reading about grief. She read more than 60 books and found a number of websites that helped her find what worked for her and her family.
“We celebrate when people are born, we celebrate when they get married and when they die, it’s like they never existed,” Jane said.
Instead of the old, traditional stages of grief, she said living with the loss is more important.
“In reality, you go through that every day,” Jane said of the stages. “They’re not clear-cut, defined, neat stages.”
She said she realized some people weren’t comfortable talking about death, while others had no problem with it. Some didn’t want to bring up Jim, others listened to Jane as she remembered her husband.
Although about 1,800 people showed up at Jim’s funeral, she said not everyone called or kept in touch as much as she had hoped.
They would say “I didn’t know what to say,” she said.
But that makes it about them, she added.
“When you’re in the midst of grief, you don’t really care that they didn’t know what to say,” she said, adding, “I hope that people who are going to support someone in grief would do a little research on their own.”
The benefit for the Edgell family will be held from 5-8 p.m. Sunday, June 3 at Woody’s Roadhouse.
Jane is looking forward to getting the community together and bringing awareness about grief.
She’s hoping to share the things she learned by being involved in the leadership team of the Grief Project in St. Paul, as well as being the “Ambassador of Joy” at grief guide and inspirational speaker Tom Zuba’s upcoming Renew Life Retreat in Chicago.
The family has been appreciative of the support that community members have shown, she said. It was evident right from the beginning and even more the day after Jim’s funeral.
Jane picked up a phone call from a car dealership informing her that an anonymous person had bought them a 2003 Mercedes C320. All they had to do was come by and drive it home.
“It was just incredible, just incredible,” she said. “It started the whole cycle of gratitude.”
For more information on the benefit, order tickets or to donate online, visit www.edgellfamilybenefit.org.