By: Krista Didzbalis '19
Frank Greenagel, RC'01, MSW '06, has a social work career that spans many areas, including grief work. For over 15 years, he has provided grief counseling to those in need. This past March, Greenagel used his own expertise to commemorate his late colleague and long-time friend, Eric Arauz, when he passed suddenly.
"Eric and I were friends for 20 years and he was my closest working colleague. We shared many of the same experiences and inspired each other. He, like me, had his hands in many things. He worked in mental health, gave speeches, worked with me in politics, and even taught doctors about the brain. He was extremely charismatic and talented to say the least," says Greenagel.
To cope with his own grief, Greenagel engaged in purposeful grieving where he shared stories, photos, and thoughts about Eric on social media for 30 days. This caught the attention of many people, and others followed suit. It was not long before the excerpts and photos shared about Eric on social media were much more than Greenagel had imagined. Hence, "The Book of Eric" was born.
"I received so many messages that my stories were helpful to so many people who were grieving the loss of Eric," Greenagel says.
"The Book of Eric" contains various stories and testimonies about Eric written by Greenagel, along with Eric's wife, his older sister, his college friends, professional colleagues, a woman he was in basic training with, and even an anonymous letter from a student that was influenced by Eric at the SSW.
"The idea for the book was to get a number of stories from different people that really captured Eric. All at the same time, his humor, ego, pettiness--I wanted to give a full measure of the man," Greenagel said.
As a specialist in grief therapy, Greenagel encourages anyone dealing with a profound loss to use writing as an outlet.
"When we're physically or emotionally wounded, we tend to withdraw and hide. That isolation is counterproductive for us. Writing works very well for dealing with a loss. When you put your feelings on paper, you are no longer carrying it with you."