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Rutgers student Kim Copeland bears tragedy through blogging

copelandKim022212_optBY CARRIE STETLER
RUTGERS TODAY

When Kim Copeland discovered the body of her future husband, who died in his apartment from diabetes-related complications, her grief and trauma were almost too much to bear.

But she found something that helped her heal. In the fall of 2010, a few months after his death in June, she started a blog called “Thank you Very Sweet,’’ an often painfully honest chronicle of her descent into misery and the process of moving on with her life.

“I had the feeling, from the very beginning, even though it was this awful experience, of knowing I had to write about it and share it,’’ says Copeland a Rutgers-Newark graduate student who is pursuing a doctorate in criminal justice. “It was a mix of that need and wanting to tell a story.’’

The title of the blog comes from Copeland’s last communication with her boyfriend, Kesner Dufresne Jr., 35, whose dream was to help revitalize Trenton, his home town.

Shortly before his death, Copeland dropped off a bag of groceries on his porch while he was out. Later, he sent her a text. “Thank you very sweet.’’

“There was no punctuation. It was just like that,’’ says Copeland, who is 32.

Her blog details the moment she found Dufresne, who had recently been diagnosed with diabetes Type I diabetes, dead in his home.

Blogger Kim Copeland continues her late boyfriend's reform efforts as a criminal justice graduate student.

“...It was the strangest feeling in the world. Shock and horror. The moment was terrifying yet beautiful all at the same time. Scary yet intimate....I found him. And no one would ever be able to take that from me. I wanted to be close but far away. I was afraid but I wasn’t. I touched his hair and his neck and his shoulders. He was cold and dark and solid as a rock.”

Copeland recounts her bereavement in the days after Dufresne’s death, when she could barely bring herself to move. She describes her feelings at the funeral, when she saw that a photo of a previous girlfriend, who had been close with Dufresne’s family, had been placed in the casket instead of her own. She went to the service expecting to be recognized and consoled, only to realize that Dufresne’s life was filled with friends and relatives who had known him and loved him long before she did.

The blog is also a thank you to friends who have helped her since the death-- and a love story. When Copeland met Dufresne, she was working at a nonprofit and he was a financial planner who later ran unsuccessfully for the Trenton city council.



 

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