Family begins new year mourning death of loved one

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WAYLAND, Mich. – Jennifer Jirtle is beginning 2017 without her beloved husband.

We first introduced you to Jennifer last month after a non-profit called Shields of Hope surprised her family with some special gifts right before Christmas while her husband battled terminal cancer. Just days after that story aired, her husband Eric died. He was just 38 years old.

Jennifer is 6 months pregnant with their child.

“Yeah, definitely wanted more time,” she said. “They told us, 'He’s got cancer, that’s why he can’t swallow anything, that’s why he can’t eat.'”

In July, doctors told the couple Eric had stage 4 cancer. That same week they found out she was pregnant with their first child. Eric won't get to see the birth of his daughter, but his wife says his memory will always be with them.

“I think God wanted a piece of Eric to live on in some ways,” said Jennifer. “We thought there were still things we could do for him. But apparently that wasn’t God’s plan.”

On January 7, the family held Eric’s memorial where more than 300 people showed up to pay their respects.

“I want to try to remember all the good things that he did,” says Jennifer, “how good he was to people, how kind he was to people, how people were so drawn to him.”

That is something Jennifer says she will tell their daughter, as the family continues to move on.

There's a GoFundMe page if you'd like to help the Jirtle family.

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