Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief

Memorial Services


I attended a weekend of memorial services with my dad. They were for a very beautiful 45-year-old woman who died from ALS, a most fast-acting and vicious disease. Stacey was someone I knew my whole life, but mostly from a distance. She had a sister, Megan as well.

One of the services was held at the lake at a camp where she had dedicated a fair amount of her time, both as a camper, a counselor, and as an administrator. It was a beautiful venue for such a celebration of life. I listened to testimony after testimony as a very clear picture of her personality was presented. She was a life force. She was amazing. Her goal in life was apparent to anyone who knew her- make a positive change in the world, any chance, any way, any time you possibly can. She preached it and she lived it. She was adored and admired and most obviously successful in the impact she had on those around her.

The last intimate conversation I had with her was several years ago when Tim was still alive. She said I was always her girl-hero because I was single for so long and managed to push forward with my life. I was pretty surprised by that opinion as I know how much I’ve detested being single whenever I have found myself in that state. Stacey said I gave her hope. She had met the love of her life, a super-cute guy from Ireland. He seemed as special of a guy as she was a woman. They were planning an engagement in the near future when he was found dead while fishing. Some totally unexplainable, bizarre event. I know she was devastated. I don’t know if she ever even dated after that, but she didn’t ever marry. She handled her loss with such grace and strength. And she was brave enough to stay single. She was MY hero.

Then she gets hit with this hideous diagnosis. She has to quit work which was teaching in New York City to some of the most difficult population in this country. She moved to live with her sister. Megan worked full-time and had served with the Peace Corps in Africa. I went through the tedious process of applying once and got accepted. In the end though? Truth be told, I chickened out and never went. Megan is an amazing and brave woman as well.

For 18 months, as ALS took over her body, Megan cared for Stacey. Day after day. And I discovered at the service that they never stopped supporting research and hoping for a cure. Wow, 18 months. I took care of Tim for five months and it felt like a lifetime. I can’t even fathom it.

Sometimes I wonder what would be said about me at my funeral. While I listened at those services, I thought about how both of those astonishing women were and are everything I would have hoped to have been. I started out as a young adult aspiring to be a missionary. I wanted to change the world any way I could. I’m not saying I’ve been useless, but it’s amazing how far I have fallen short. Now most days, I just hope to survive the world another day.
What the heck happened?

Megan, I know your heart is broken. And I know your strength will keep you from showing it most of the time. Stacey was lucky to have you. The love the two of you had for each other is rare. I would always listen with envy when you talked about the trips and adventures you would go on together. The weekend was about Stacey, as it should have been. The world will miss her love and influence and beautiful smile. But it was about you as well, the silent caretaker.

Character is forged when unexpected, hard things happen to us. Again, I’m not saying I’ve done a horrible job, but the two of you put me to shame. You are both an inspiration to me. My thoughts and heart and love and every other thing go out to you.

Stacey's memorial service

Author: Help for Healing

My name is Darcy Thiel. What people say they appreciate most about me is my genuine nature. I utilize my professional and personal experiences to increase my understanding and compassion to help others. My career has many faces, so let me tell you about a few. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State and am a couple and family therapist. As an Adult Planning Specialist and End of Life Doula, I take my experiences with my parents’ and husband's illnesses and passing to help others navigate the crazy, complicated medical world we live in. This dovetails with the books I have written. Bitter and Sweet: A Family’s Journey with Cancer, the prequel to Life After Death, on This Side of Heaven is an honest and raw perspective on coping with the diagnosis and subsequent loss of Tim, my spouse. I have done extensive speaking on the above topics through live audiences, radio shows, and an occasional TV spot. For more information, see my websites at,, or Copyright Help for Healing by Darcy Thiel © 2012-2019. All rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “Memorial Services

  1. You have said so beautifully what I have felt since hearing of Stacey’ s death but somehow could not put into words. No sympathy card expressed how we felt about Stacey. I sit here with tears flowing as I read and reread these words. Thank you dear sister for helping us express to Megan, Gloria, and Richard how we feel. Although we lost a piece of our heart, Stacey’ s legacy and Megan’s strength will be a constant reminder of what life can be. We love you Stacey. Uncle Jerry & Aunt Sue

  2. Amen!!

  3. A beautifully written story of Stacey and Meagan. I miss you both so much.

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