Sister Surrendered by Darla M. Grese (Blog Tour)

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Darla M. GreseDarla M. Grese is a twin sister who lost her better half to side effects from prescribed medication. As a U.S. Navy Veteran, she is an advocate of Veteran X and Veteran Hope programs that address mental illness, PTSD, and unintentional addiction issues. Both programs are sponsored by the Veteran Affairs Medical Center and focus on Veteran recovery and independence. She raises money for “Team Kelli” and annually participates in the Out of the Darkness Walk at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach (http://www.sos-walk.org/sos/). While continuing to bring awareness to this cause, being a loving parent is her favorite passion and the main focus of her life. Darla’s love for the arts has been expressed as a talented actress with appearances in The F.B.I. files, The New Detectives, Diagnosis Unknown, Wicked Attraction, Discovery Channel’s The Haunting, and the movie Atlantis Down. She currently works full time as a respiratory therapist at a trauma center in Norfolk, Virginia.

Her memoir, Sister Surrendered, is her latest release.
For More Information
• Visit Darla M. Grese’s website.
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• Contact Darla.

Sister Surrendered 2When you’re a twin, loneliness is somewhat unfamiliar because you’ve always had each other. So when a twin passes, the other is left unprepared. Our loyalty was steadfast and our devotion to one another, solid. Our love was unconditional no matter what the circumstances. I’m so grateful every day for the memories of the joy and laughter that we shared together. I know the bond that Kelli and I shared is impossible for anyone to replace. This memoir has become something so much more than initially intended. It’s become a documented journey barely scratching the surface of the love between two sisters. And surprisingly, it’s also become an outlet for me to speak candidly and honestly about my struggles with the cause of Kelli’s death. This is a love story turned tragedy. An exposure of one of the greatest healthcare failures killing Veterans and civilians, and a cry for help to remedy the fiasco. I’ve stressed about who I would mention in this book, nervous that I would hurt someone’s feelings by not mentioning their names. But I’ve realized that it’s impossible to do. Kelli had so many great friends, some I’ve never even met. I need each person to know who has taken the time to reach out to me in whatever capacity that if it weren’t for your heartfelt show of support and love, I don’t know that I would be able to muster the energy to even get up each day. Kelli, we did it.

Author: Darla M. Grese
Publisher: Darla M. Grese
Pages: 210
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback / Kindle
Purchase Amazon Kindle
or Amazon Paperback

When you’re a twin, loneliness is somewhat unfamiliar because you’ve always had each other. So when a twin passes, the other is left unprepared. Our loyalty was steadfast and our devotion to one another, solid. Our love was unconditional no matter what the circumstances. I’m so grateful every day for the memories of the joy and laughter that we shared together. I know the bond that Kelli and I shared is impossible for anyone to replace. This memoir has become something so much more than initially intended. It’s become a documented journey barely scratching the surface of the love between two sisters. And surprisingly, it’s also become an outlet for me to speak candidly and honestly about my struggles with the cause of Kelli’s death. This is a love story turned tragedy. An exposure of one of the greatest healthcare failures killing Veterans and civilians, and a cry for help to remedy the fiasco. I’ve stressed about who I would mention in this book, nervous that I would hurt someone’s feelings by not mentioning their names. But I’ve realized that it’s impossible to do. Kelli had so many great friends, some I’ve never even met. I need each person to know who has taken the time to reach out to me in whatever capacity that if it weren’t for your heartfelt show of support and love, I don’t know that I would be able to muster the energy to even get up each day. Kelli, we did it.

It’s been three years now since Kelli’s been gone, but for me three minutes. At times, I feel stuck. And as time has passed, the personal messages and phone calls have lessened, people have moved on and that’s understandable. I’ve had many moments of loneliness, longing for my sister’s backing. Unless you’re a twin, it’s hard to understand what twin-loss is, but trust me when I say, it’s debilitating at times. It’s like learning to walk again, one step at a time, without your crutch that keeps you from falling. Even local musician Jessica Doran, being a twin herself, was inspired to write a song after hearing about Kelli’s story. The fact is, I don’t know how to live as an individual and I need some help working through this. I’ve actually decided to look into a facility, that ironically Kelli and I looked into for her, located in Arizona. According to my therapist, The Meadows’s reputation in dealing with trauma goes unmatched. Through the help of intensive weekly counseling, which I highly recommend by the way, I’ve learned that I too suffer from PTSD, caused by the years leading up to Kelli’s death, and her death in and of itself. I need to process her death, something I’m pretty sure I’ve not done yet. Instead, I’ve focused my energy on parenting, working, the lawsuit, writing, part-time acting, keeping up the house, and anything else I could distract myself with. And proudly, I’ve done a decent job with the exception of acting. I haven’t landed a significant role since Kelli’s death which I attribute to low self-confidence and anxiety. Just auditioning for me now, is at times, very uncomfortable. But I’ll continue my pursuit in following my dream, regardless.

Brady and I have an amazing relationship. I’m not great at a lot of things, but parenting, I’m great at. As a matter of fact, I’m great at worrying about everything and everyone else except me. After all, I’ve never had to deal with myself because I’ve always concentrated on helping everyone else in my life. So taking care of me is a foreign concept. But I have to learn. I just do. So hopefully soon, I’ll leave home for a month, maybe longer, and work with professionals who can teach me the tools that I need to continue on twin-less.

This memoir was initially a screenplay which I did in fact complete only a month after Kelli’s passing. It sits on my nightstand. It wasn’t long before Kelli died that she jokingly suggested that I write a screenplay about us and then we would play ourselves. I laughed it off, reminding her that she couldn’t act and hated being on camera. But after losing her, I wished I would have responded by saying, “Kel, let’s write it together, and once it’s finished, we’ll figure the rest out.”

Although I feel strongly that the VA Hospital was responsible for Kelli’s death and years of anguish, I must also say that I feel just as strongly that the VA does in fact have great doctors, who in fact, care about their patients, mine included. I do not believe that any Veteran, ever, should hesitate in going to a Veterans Affairs Hospital because of what I’ve written. However, I do believe by telling Kelli’s story that certain practices the VA Hospitals adhere to will be looked at, hopefully. I believe that when appropriately prescribed, medicines are necessary and they’re proven to work. But it’s when they’re prescribed irresponsibly that they can result in dire consequences, including death and suicide.