EDNA, Texas — Grief has no boundaries, no timeline, no script and no one knows that better than Trey Ganem. He is the owner of SoulShine Industries in Edna, Texas.
“Because you never know and being in the business and what we do and we do this daily. We do two to three kids a week on average. I never knew that many kids pass away," Ganem said.
At SoulShine Industries he knows he can’t heal families but he can provide them with a glimpse of positivity during their most heart-wrenching times. That’s why he’s brought his skills to Uvalde, Texas.
Nineteen caskets were built in a Texas workshop. They were then brought to the victims’ families for free.
Like others displayed in their shop, each casket is custom and hand-painted. They were created after meeting with the families, so special quotes, designs and interests were incorporated.
“Being in my backyard, that really resonated with me and not only that, the senseless of this was just ridiculous," Ganem said.
Ganem's son is one of the first sets of hands behind each piece of art.
“We’re so close to Uvalde and I’m from a small town so I mean this could have happened anywhere," Billy Ganem said. "It never gets easier, that’s for sure.”
He is constantly reminding himself of why his work matters.
“To see how much it actually helps a family is all I needed," Billy said.
“If you could see their face when we show up with the casket it changes your whole dynamic," Trey said. “Washington, California, Louisiana, Florida, people have called me and they say you give us hope.”
These kids who were simply just that, kids, get to be seen as so because of these creations.
“Kids caskets ya know they are always so bright and beautiful and they are super colorful," Billy Ganem said. “You know we make them and shape them into cars, boats, done some really cool like batman stuff.”
“And that casket is telling the story for the person who can’t anymore," Trey said. “Times are changing and we change with the times just like you buy a vehicle and put wheels on it or you get a phone you put a cool phone case on it. You make it yours.”
Each casket brings up special conversations.
“Dad likes to call it the campfire stories, you know? You get to bring back a lot of memories and celebrate that person's life," Billy said.
“They’ll start telling you stories about the quirkiness or the passion they had for wanting to become something later in life," Trey said. “What was their favorite color and oh he loved blue or she loved green or pearl white. I see a little spark when they start to do this.”
That little light shining through their darkness comforts grieving families
“What we do is celebrate life here and that’s the best thing we can do," Trey said