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Local author helps grieving process through literature

Local author and teacher, Krista Betcher, published two books in September 2018. Photo courtesy of Krista Betcher.1 / 2
"I know You're Here" was written by Krista Betcher and published in September 2018. The book uses watercolor paintings to document moments when Betcher felt her late-husband's presence.2 / 2

"I didn't know it at the time, but I started writing this four years ago," said Krista Betcher, author of "I Know You're Here," published in September 2018.

Betcher's husband, Larry, was killed in a farm accident in 2014. A couple of days later, Betcher was out walking her dogs by a pond on her property. When she looked up, she made eye contact with a deer. In that moment, Betcher felt Larry's presence. "I don't know why, it just shook me," Betcher said.

Before leaving the pond and returning home, Betcher took a photo of the deer. From that moment on, Betcher took photos with her phone whenever she felt close to Larry. She snapped photos of a spider web with dew drops on it, the sun rising over Split Rock Lighthouse, rays of sun breaking through clouds and more.

One night, Betcher dreamt that her photos were transformed into a book. She woke up while it was dark, sat down at her computer, and wrote "I Know You're Here." Though some edits have been made, the majority of the published book's text is what she wrote that night.

Once Betcher had the words to her book, she went to Beaver's Pond Press where she was introduced to Kari Vick's watercolor paintings. When Betcher and Vick met for the first time, she learned that Vick was born in Northfield, grew up in Red Wing and knew members of the Betcher family.

Vick took all of Betcher's photos and transformed them into watercolor paintings. Once a piece was completed, she would email it to Betcher.

"I knew when I got those emails I better be sitting down because those were moments that would stop me in my tracks," Betcher said.

Currently, Betcher is on a leave of absence from teaching middle school students. She taught a mindfulness class at a charter school and is interested in continuing to teach mindfulness with "I Know You're Here" as a tool.

As someone who has worked with students for over 25 years, Betcher has seen that students process grief in ways that are different from adults. She would like to work with students dealing with grief of any kind. Betcher hopes that her book and a companion journal, a self-published piece that adds a deeper layer to "I Know You're Here," will help students connect with one another and allow themselves to process the experience of grieving.

"The point of the book is first to open up a conversation about people we love, and second, just to stop and remember and smile," Betcher said.

Betcher would also like to take her book to grief support groups, hospitals and hospice centers to work with individuals and groups. She explained that after her husband's death, she tried reading books on grief, but they were too long and dense for her to process at the time. That experience with books on grief impacted her decision to keep "I Know You're Here" short.

"I wanted it to be a children's book with simple words so it will work for young children who have lost someone they love, and it will also work for adults who just need a simple, meditative book," explained Betcher.

Betcher hopes that her book will give people space to pause and take a breath in the midst of a hard time. The pages of paintings that feature cardinals, eagles, gardens, flowers and other outdoor scenes are meant to be images that readers can reflect on and find peace within.

"The book means a lot to me, but more than that, I want it to be for the reader," said Betcher.

For more information about Krista Betcher, her book and some of her photos that the paintings are based on, visit www.kristabetcher.com.