Turkey, Tinsel and Tears Nov. 8 can help cope with loss of a loved one

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The Infields’ last photo together from December 2013. Todd passed away unexpectedly in March 2014. His widow, Kristin, is now helping others cope with the loss of loved ones as she coordinates Gundersen Prairie du Chien’s Turkey, Tinsel and Tears program. Also pictured are their children, Riley and Ben.

Losing a loved one is never easy, whether it is an expected or unexpected death.

“Death is something we will all face and have to go through at some point in our lives,” said Kristin Infield, of Cassville, a registered radiologic tech at Gundersen Prairie du Chien Clinic.

She knows the pain of losing loved ones all too well. In March 2014, Kristin’s husband, Todd, an attorney in Lancaster, collapsed after his right carotid artery dissected and caused a stroke. He died a few days later on March 3, just days shy of his 45th birthday. To add to the pain, Todd’s father had passed away unexpectedly just three months earlier.

Suddenly Kristin was a widow and a single mother to then 7-year-old Riley and 4-year-old Ben. “I really struggled to comfort Riley and Ben because they really didn’t understand what happened to Todd. At the same time, I was trying to keep Todd’s memory alive in our lives while trying to cope with his death myself,” she said. “I realized that everything in our lives—our children, Todd’s business, our bills and other responsibilities—now all belonged to me.”

Kristin said their first Christmas without Todd was extremely emotional for her and the kids. “I had to shop by myself and would often find myself crying in the store. I put up decorations and the kids were excited for Santa, but knew it would not be the same without Todd. We had family get togethers, and we laughed and cried. But we knew that there are always challenges in our lives and that we must keep moving forward.”

Carrying on his legacy
As Kristin and her family learn to live without Todd, she said he is still a part of their lives. “Todd’s legacy is now mine. His future dreams, mine. This new chapter in our lives still has Todd’s name written on all the pages. We grow together and practice happiness because we choose to make happiness. We also count our blessings and know that our angel is there.”

Todd was an organ donor, and Kristin has spoken on his behalf several times. Last year, she decided it was time to help those who have gone through a loss and joined the Gundersen Prairie du Chien Bereavement Team, a group of medical professionals who are available to speak with patients following the death of a loved one.

“Sometimes, there is a feeling of wanting to do something that not only helps you but honors a loved one,” Kristin shared. “Many of our committee members have lost loved ones and can relate to people in need on different levels of grief.”

Turkey, Tinsel and Tears
This year, Kristin is the coordinator of Gundersen Prairie du Chien’s long-running Turkey, Tinsel and Tears program, replacing retired coordinator, Nancy Stuart.

In its 14th year, Turkey, Tinsel and Tears is a free event held before the holidays to give those who have lost a loved one assistance on how to deal with their loss as the holidays approach.

This year’s event will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 5:30 p.m., at the Gundersen Prairie du Chien Clinic. The theme is “Finding peace in the storm,” and will include a presentation from Patti and Terry Cullen, of Platteville, who lost their son, Ben, to suicide.

“I have talked with Patti numerous times and her passion for helping others is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Kristin said.

Marcia Dunn, therapist at Gundersen Behavioral Health, will also present, and a time for participants to share their experiences if they choose will also be available.

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