When Grief Stalks

Cinnamon coffeecake plunges high up my plastic fork while brown sugar topping flakes and tumbles from the top. Espresso grinders whir loud then fade to the music from overhead speakers. Three inch pink baby shoes glide by in a black stroller; purple sippy handles peak from a stroller’s corner. Wooden coffeehouse chairs scrape and clunk hollow, and I sip my hot refilled coffee from blue cardboard.

On a morning of Monday’s clean laundry piled high and an upcoming evening church softball game, we received word of a tragic car accident. A former youth group student and his family of five were killed in a multiple car pile-up involving a semi-truck. His family’s faces still grin happy in the missionary magnet on my fridge, just a month away from their departure to a new life in Japan.

My cell phone’s text message blinked the news, and it was too awful to believe or to speak aloud.

“What?” Mark kept asking me in my gaped silence, “What?!”

Our shock and grief looked like crying in Mark’s arms, my tears and nose running and wiped on his shirt unconsciously while we prayed. Grief looked like numb silence and staring slack-jawed out the window.

“What are you looking at?” Daniel wants to know, peering out the window too.

“Just thinking about our friends, bud,” I murmur, and we both fall silent.

Earlier, concerned by our tears and unsure how to respond, Daniel had fled the room.
Following him, I found him burrowing under his blankets in the dark

“We can be sad together. It’s okay to cry and to ask God hard questions.”

My words falter and fall short today. Typing a short message to my friends to mourn their son and his family, I tell them that we ache and cry with them.

Community is shared grief, shared silences, shared tears. And God’s chest is big enough for those hot tears and raw words too.

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  1. Rochelle on August 1, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    Thank you for writing this.

  2. Unknown on August 2, 2016 at 12:43 am

    Thanks Jen, needed to hear your words after a day like today.

  3. Southern Gal on August 2, 2016 at 1:22 am

    So sorry to hear of this tragic loss. Prayers for the families and you.

  4. Bill (cycleguy) on August 2, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Tragedy is NEVER easy to take or absorb. It especially hurts when it is people close to us. I don't know these folks but I "know" you and Mark through "jottings." My thoughts and prayers are with you and all those who grieve over this loss.

  5. Unknown on August 3, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. TC Avey on August 3, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    I'm sorry for your loss. I'll be praying for you all.

  7. TC Avey on August 3, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    I'm sorry for your loss. I'll be praying for you all.

  8. Linda Stoll on August 3, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Oh Jennifer, I am so sorry for this immense and sudden grief.

    There are no words … but I'm praying right now for you all anyway.

  9. Unknown on August 4, 2016 at 12:49 am

    I"m devastated for the family and friends like you… I'm so sorry for your loss. Praying for those left to carry on until our Father calls us home too.

  10. Unknown on August 7, 2016 at 2:04 am

    Mark & Jen, we were so blessed to have you pass Jamison on to us to reconnect, share on our dreams for Japan over lunch, then have him speak at our church! Our church is inspired and better because of it. I was so impressed at spiritual maturity and growth, but mostly his heart. We have you to thank. The service today, streamed live to us in Ohio, reminds us that this is not the end of the story regarding their unique mission to Japan.

  11. Micah on August 7, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Thank you for sharing this. So sorry for your loss and the awful pain. Praying for you.

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