About Cindy Bratton, CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer)

My Journey to Grace…

Most people are never blessed to the degree that I have been.

I’m a retired educator and a retired missionary now embarking on my third career: CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of the Live With Grace Initiative.

You might ask, “A third career?”

However, my question is, “How could I not?”

Here’s a little of my story:

On September 7, 2017, my husband, Dana, was diagnosed with Fronto-Temporal Dementia (think Bruce Willis).  By the middle of 2018, I fully realized what this diagnosis meant – all dementia is terminal, and FTD is no exception.  The illness can progress at various rates; seven years after diagnosis is the average life expectancy for FTD.  I had to learn how to be an excellent caregiver.  Over the course of the next 34 months, I would slowly lose my best friend, my lover, my ministry partner, and my “partner in crime.”

16 months after Dana’s diagnosis, I experienced my second significant loss.  On December 31, 2018, our youngest son took his own life.  This was a total shock to everyone.  The grief was almost unbearable.  By January 24, 2019, Dana began a series of hospitalizations due to the rapid progress of FTD, largely attributable to his rightful emotional response to our son’s death.

In the spring of 2019, I began having several rounds of excruciating pain, which my Primary Care Physician (PCP) brushed off.  However, to shut me up, he ordered blood testing which showed my Rheumatoid Factor nearly 34 times what is considered normal.  By early December I was diagnosed with moderately severe Rheumatoid Disease (sometimes called Rheumatoid Arthritis). So, yet another loss in my life: this time it was my own health.  Three losses in 27 months.

By some miracle, my husband was discharged from long-term care on March 9, 2020, just days before everything shut down due to COVID-19.  Yes, he was wheelchair-bound and needed 24/7/365 care, but he could make his own transfers from bed to wheelchair, to chair, to shower, and back again.  On June 28th of that year, things had opened up a bit and we celebrated our 45th anniversary by renewing our vows at church.

On July 9, 2020, Home Health came for their regular visit.  Dana’s O2 Sat. was 78%, and it couldn’t be raised with deep breathing.  The nurse got us an immediate appointment with his PCP.  I was instructed to call the office when we got into the parking lot to confirm the office was empty, just in case Dana had COVID-19.  The doctor was unable to get his O2 up with his resources and said he had to go to the Emergency Room.  “OK,” I said, “I’ll take him there.”  The doctor said he needed to be transported via ambulance, and the ambulance was called.  Our hugs and kisses before Dana was loaded into the ambulance gave the EMTs great concern.  Little did I know those would be the last hugs and kisses we would ever share.  He got to the ER about 11:30 a.m.; at about 1:30 p.m. I got the call confirming the diagnosis of COVID-19.  13 days later his organs would completely shut down, I gave permission for him to have the ventilator removed, and he was gone. This was my fourth major loss within 34 months.

In the prologue to the second edition of Grieve With Grace, Pastor Lee Strawhun speaks of grief upon grief, of compound grief.  This is exactly what I had experienced in 34 short months: The loss of my husband’s health to FTD; the loss of our son’s life to suicide; the loss of my good health to degenerative Rheumatoid Disease; and the loss of my husband’s life to COVID-19.

Long story short, I kind of inherited the GriefShare program from a previous facilitator, and found it useful to get people at least talking about their losses in a constructive way.

I was a regular facilitator for a couple of years at Grace Church here in Desert Hot Springs.

It was in that grief recovery program that I met Eric. He attended the support group after the death of his beloved Jan, and at one point gave me an early copy of Grieve With Grace long before it went into print.

My reaction upon reading it was, “Wow! How did you take the way I processed my grief and so expertly turn it into an acronym?” The acronym of GRACE encompasses Gratitude, Resilience, Authenticity, Creativity, and Empathy.

I was behind the concept from the beginning and immediately decided it could be a seven-week follow-up to our original thirteen-week GriefShare recovery program which brought participants to a place of accepting their loss.

An additional seven weeks so those who are grieving can begin to move forward, pursuing a life of meaning and purpose through GRACE, thus honoring their loved ones.

I envision a future where Grieve With Grace will be used by grief counselors to guide thousands—no, millions—into lives full of meaning and purpose as they step forward with Gratitude, Resilience, Authenticity, Creativity, and Empathy.

Yes, I found what I was looking for and want to help others employ this tool.

The big difference between GriefShare and Grieve With Grace is a simple shift in perspective that leads to powerful, God-driven actions.

If you are a grief counselor or GriefShare Facilitator, please know there is an additional way to help folks cope with losses of all types be it cancer, suicide, drugs, chronic pain, or even loss of career, business, etc, I invite you to review our Leaders Package.

We are here to help you help others, yourself, and your community.

I am available at Cindy.Bratton@LiveWithGrace.Life.

You can also contact us by clicking the Contact Us Button in the upper left of this site.

It is our prayer that you use the healing power of Grace Within Grace as the Prologue to Grieve With Grace advises. Simply click this link or the thumbnail to the right.

Our good friend, Pastor Lee, wrote this to help people connect the scriptures in the Holy Bible with the concept of living in Gratitude, Resilience, Authenticity, Creativity, and Empathy.

I believe that when you understand the healing power of this program, you too will see how it fits into your chest of tools to help all who grieve for way too long find the bridge of Grace over their rapidly flowing river of tears.

Again, click the Contact Us button in the upper left of this page and we will be available to help you help those you serve.


God Bless and know we are 100% committed to a wonderful life after grief,

Cindy Bratton, CEO