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By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Derek Davis/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    In an era when people can seem more disconnected than ever, Blake Hayes, radio host of Coast 93.1, shared his pain over the sudden death of his partner publicly with his listeners. Both Hayes and his listeners say the on-air grieving has made them feel more deeply connected to one another.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Derek Davis/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Kyle Fair, Hayes' partner, died April 29 after his regular workout at the gym. He was 37 years old. Here Hayes looks at framed photographs in the condo they shared in Portland.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Photo courtesy of Blake Hayes | of | Share this photo

    In this 2017 family photo, Blake Hayes, right, laughs with his partner Kyle Fair on the Portland waterfront.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Derek Davis/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Hayes reads letters from listeners after sharing his grieving process on the air. "Some of us grew up with the idea that you deal with death privately, you cry for a couple of days and move on. But Blake has showed you don't just move on, you have good days and bad days, and you don't have to suffer alone if you talk to people and open up to people," said Karen Rumo, 53, a listener from Windham. "It's so sad, but what Blake has shared and the outpouring of support has really made so many people feel connected. That's a special thing to be a part of."

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Derek Davis/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Hayes says he's gained strength from the thousands of emails, posts, calls and texts from listeners with messages like "thinking of you" or "we're there for you." His decision to grieve on air was easy, since he's always shared his life with listeners. He says being on the radio is his "comfort zone," where he can process things. "I would feel really weird if I didn't talk about it (on the radio). It would have been like going to dinner with friends and not talking about it," he said.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Derek Davis/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Hayes reaches for an orchid that belonged to Fair. When Hayes decided to share his grief publicly, listeners heard on air how sad he was and how much he hurt, and listened as he played, and replayed, an audio clip of Fair saying, "I love you too."

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Derek Davis/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Hayes, 34, has been co-host of the Coast 93.1 morning show for five years. Listeners say that, by sharing his grieving process, Hayes is in essence teaching people about healthy grief and showing the importance of letting out emotions and allowing others to help. They say it also reminds them not to take loved ones or even one day of life for granted. And that no matter how different we are, we all go through the same struggles.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Derek Davis/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Hayes looks at framed photographs at his condo in Portland.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Derek Davis/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Hayes walks with his dogs Izzie, who was Fair's, and Oscar in Portland after getting a drink from a coffee shop that they would often go to together.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Derek Davis/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Hayes waits to cross Congress Street while walking his dogs Izzie, who belonged to Fair, and Oscar. Hayes said they had talked about marriage, that it was likely "inevitable" and more a question of when than if.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Eva Matteson, left, and Blake Hayes, co-hosts on Coast 93.1. The station has fully backed Hayes in his decision to talk about his loss on air and let listeners join the conversation. Hayes and Matteson are encouraged to connect with listeners by being themselves, as much as possible.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    When Hayes went back on the air around 5 a.m. on May 9, he talked about the contrasted feelings he had, about how the world "sucks" because he lost Fair, but how grateful he was for the love and support of people he doesn't really know. It's what's kept me going," said Hayes.

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    By airing his grief, Blake Hayes helps listeners - | of | Share this photo

    Kyle Fair, who died unexpectedly from a heart problem after his regular workout at the gym.

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