The Post-Standard - Thursday, March 22, 2001
EDITION: Oswego New York SECTION: Neighbors Oswego New York PAGE: 3

Love Left Behind

Adele DelSavio of Oswego, whose 17-year-old son died in a surfing accident, is among the contributors to "From Eulogy to Joy," a new book that shares reflections about loss - and hope.

The book

"From Eulogy to Joy" is available through, Barnes & Noble's website at and The book can also be ordered at bookstores or by calling the Xlibris Corp. publishing company at 1-888-7-XLIBRI (888-795-4274). Cynthia Beischel, who helped compile the submissions for "From Eulogy to Joy," said the book should be available on bookstore shelves sometime in the coming months. The book costs $16 in paperback and $25 for hardcover.

Photo courtesy of Adele DelSavio

ADELE DelSavio with her late son, Mike. She has dealt with the loss in part by sharing her feelings with others.

Healing Words

Adele DelSavio and others who have lost loved ones pour out their feelings in a new anthology designed as a salve for themselves, and others

By Jennika Pierie
Staff writer

  Shortly after Mike DelSavio died, his mother found herself staring at what he had left behind: a stereo, some clothes and five cardboard boxes filled with the clutter of his short life.
  "When a 17-year old dies, they really don't leave much behind," she said.
  Because of this, parents who have lost a child are confronted with an overwhelming need to keep their memory alive, Adele DelSavio said.
  "My way is to write about him," she said.
  Mike DelSavio was living in Hilo, Hawaii with his family when he went out surfing on Nov. 19, 1994 with his friends.
  "The next thing I knew, his friend's father was telling me he had disappeared. They had lost sight of him," Adele DelSavio said.
  His body was found a few days later, near the shore.
  In a recently published anthology, entitled "From Eulogy to Joy," his mother, who now lives in Oswego, catalogues the progression of her mourning and the memories of her lost son.
  "Naturally, it is gratifying as a writer to have some pieces in the book," Adele DelSavio said, "but it is just as gratifying as Mike's mother to be able to do this for him."
  In her grief, writing provided an outlet in which she could think more clearly.
  She first learned of the anthology while reading through a magazine on bereavement. She said each of the four brief essays she contributed was accepted.
  DelSavio's contributions are excerpts of columns that originally ran in The Palladium-Times.
  In an excerpt called "Cardboard Boxes," DelSavio writes of the slips of paper, photographs and clippings Mike had left behind.   "These were the flotsam and jetsam of his life that were valueless in themselves but priceless to those who cared about him," DelSavio writes. "Handling the things that he'd used just days before made his death seem impossible. Going through his desk felt like invading his privacy."
  DelSavio said the book is a way to get inside the mind of a grieving person.
  "All of us, eventually, will have to deal with it," she said.
  Whether the reader is a family member, co-worker or another grieving person, the book provides the stories of different types of mourning. Even though she is dealing with the loss of a child, she said, there is still something to be learned from the story of someone mourning the death of a spouse.
  "It's almost like the people in this book are role models," DelSavio said.
  In her family's own grieving process, DelSavio said, both she and her husband find small ways to dedicate pieces of their lives to Mike's memory.
  When Mike's body was found, the family learned his neck had been broken, DelSavio said. Had he not drowned, he would have been disabled. Her husband, Bernardo, has a new job at Le Moyne College working with students with disabilities.
  In a chapter entitled "The Gift of Blood," DelSavio writes how she donates blood every year on behalf of her son.
  She writes of how her grief was only deepened to learn that the ocean water had stripped the possibility of good to come from Mike's death through organ donation.
  "His arteries were clear, his heart was perfect, his lungs had been fine until the sea water rushed in. The time that it took to find him took what he could have given to others away from them, too," DelSavio writes.
  Then she learned of a Red Cross blood drive that was scheduled on the anniversary of Mike's death.
  "Giving part of myself was as close as he and I could get to giving part of him," she writes. "The logic was unusual but it felt right."
  And doing what feels right is an idea that is stressed in the anthology.
  While public reaction to grief is definitely coming around, DelSavio said, many people still tend to shy away from those in mourning because they are afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing.
  DelSavio's advice is simply to listen and, if possible, offer any pictures or mementos to help the grieving person remember their loved one and deal with their death.
Grief support

Adele DelSavio and a friend, Donna Lupien, started a bereavement support group, run by the Catholic Diocese's Office of Family Life Education in the northern region. The group welcomes all who are dealing with the death of a loved one. Meetings start at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at 108 E. Sixth St. in Oswego. For information, call the Family Life Education office at 315-342-1463.
  Dealing with grief at many different levels is also the focus of a Web site for the anthology, a feature that DelSavio especially likes. This online support group provides an opportunity for readers and authors to interact.
  "Anyone who feels like getting on will get on," DelSavio said.
  The newly bereaved can speak with those who have lived years since their loss. "There's a level that another bereaved person can get to comfort that other people can't because they haven't experienced it," she said.
  The DelSavios are planning a trip back to Hawaii in 2004, the 10th anniversary of Mike's death.
  "Sometimes it effects a marriage, so my husband and I plan to also renew our wedding vows right there on the beach," DelSavio said. Their children, Christopher, Katharine and Valerie, will also come along to remember their brother.
  "You do eventually incorporate the death into your life," DelSavio said, "but you don't ever completely get over it."

Reference Number: 0103211206
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