When she was caring for her mother in hospice, Sarah Kroenke knew exactly what she wanted to do in life.
Kroenke, a 1990 Minneota High School graduate, recently had two books published - "Words To Live By," a collection of words and quotes from hospice patients, and "Hope Heals: A Journal of Love, Loss and Memories," a keepsake journal made for teens and adults who have lost a loved one - through Tristan Publishing.
Both books are available at the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center gift shop and Treasured Times in Marshall. Kroenke will do book signings from 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Big Store in Minneota and from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at Treasured Times.
Sarah Kroenke, a Minneota native, works as a hospice social worker and a school grief counselor. She recently had two books, “Words To Live By”?and “Hope Heals:?A?Journal of Love, Loss and Memories,”?published through Tristan Publishing.
Kroenke works for Park Nicollet Health Care as a hospice social worker and also as a school grief counselor in the Growing through Grief program. Growing through Grief is a program where counselors go into 13 metro area school districts to provide support for kids who have lost a loved one.
Kroenke said publishing the books has been an "exciting journey."
Kroenke's first experience with hospice care started with her mother. Kroenke was a teen when her mother died, and she remembered something her mother told her.
"(She said) 'remember I love you, I will always love you, even when you cannot see me, I will always love you,'" Kroenke said. "Those words were always really important to me."
Those words inspired Kroenke to have a career as a hospice social worker and a school grief counselor. As she thought about the words hospice patients told her throughout the years - the words spoken by those who have a few left to share - Kroenke wanted to get them down on paper.
"I have gathered thoughts, words and quotes from hospice patients that inspired me to appreciate what's important in life," Kroenke said. "I felt I had the duty to pass on these words to other people."
The power that these words can have stands out, Kroenke said.
"It's a gathering of words from people who have a few words left - to share a life that really matters," Kroenke said. It inspired her to live a life where "you leave nothing unfinished," she said. And these words can be humorous or something to make you think, she added.
Kroenke co-authored "Hope Heals" with Daena Esterbrooks, a colleague of hers at Park Nicollet. It is a journal for those who have lost an important person in their life.
"It's for any teen and adult who have experienced the death of a loved one," Kroenke said.
Kroenke said the journal was an idea that was compiled for several years, to recognize what's important for people to process when they are grieving.
"The book takes people on a journey from pain to healing," she said.
Kroenke said she and Esterbrooks wrote a different version of "Hope Heals" about a decade ago, and parts of the book were used in group and individual counseling sessions. Those who worked with the book said it became an important part of their lives, Kroenke said.
The feedback Kroenke and Esterbrooks received is that people wanted to purchase the book, to have something tangible.
Through their work, Kroenke said she and Esterbrooks found it's so important that people keep all their memories of a loved one.
"It's a safe place to keep the memories," she said. "People's biggest fear is they will forgetIt's just another tool to cope with the grieving process." Kroenke said one of her goals is to fill out a "Hope Heals" journal in memory of her mother.
The journal was designed for people to work through their grief; some pages are left blank for additional journaling, drawing or to have a place for a photo for their loved one.
Kroenke said they worked very hard and were thoughtful on every word that went on the pages of the journal, asking themselves the question "will this make a difference?"
"Will this bring them healing? Will this bring them hope?" Kroenke said.
And Kroenke said she understands what people grieving the loss of a loved one goes through.
"Having gone through the process myself, I can relate to them, what their experiences were," Kroenke said.