I didn’t know her but I could not forget her story. We had several mutual friends in our not-so-big town and her story spread quickly in conversations, prayer chains and between moms at play group.
Friends said her family had been especially close-knit and I knew they were active in their church and the community. But over the holiday weekend there had been a terrible car accident, and her husband and two of her four children had been killed.
As her story replayed in my thoughts over the next few months, I prayed for her and her two remaining children. I could not fathom the pain, the layers of grief, the sheer weight of her loss.
How does someone recover from such a loss, I wondered? I could only wonder — that kind of pain was completely foreign to me.
Two years passed and our family moved away to another town when my husband was offered his dream job. And as happens with these kinds of things and the passage of time, her story became a tender memory.
Until our paths crossed in the wake of my own unexpected loss.
My husband, the man who’d been my first and only date and my high school sweetheart, had died in his sleep. We had been a close-knit family, active in our church and in our community. He had been an incredible father.
Overnight, I was suddenly a widow and single mom to seven kids. I was neck deep in pain and paperwork and the perplexity of helping my children navigate this tragedy.
I had a hundred worries in those first weeks. Would we be okay? How would my kids handle this? How was I going to single parent my boys just coming of age or help my teenage daughter through the loss of her dad? What about my 4- and 6-year-olds? What did my future hold?
Her bereavement card was one of the first I received. She had handwritten a short note and included a Publix gift card.
My story had spread quickly in conversations, prayer chains and between mutual friends and out of the enormity of her grief, she had reached out to me.
Her simple kindness met my questions in ways that other cards and hugs could not. It was a small gesture that offered me huge hope.
She got it. She was a young widow. She had suffered unexpected loss and she was navigating children through tragedy and grief. Though her story was different than mine – in many ways harder and more complex — our losses created a kindred connection.
Her card and gift were a welcome gift. Welcome to the club of those who have suffered loss and are still breathing.
Her card and gift whispered that there was hope and there would be life again.
Her card and gift offered the encouragement and answers to my hundred questions that few others could.
God can use our story to strengthen another in her story. If she out of the unfathomable loss of her story could extend comfort to me in ours, we would be okay.
“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4)
James Parker says
What an inspiring story!!! I love the perspective and hope that shines though your story
Lisa Appelo says
Thank you, James! We may never know how much our encouragement to someone else counts.
Lauren Gaskill | Making Life Sweet says
What a coincidence that you and I both wrote about how God uses our stories for His glory today! Knowing you and your story has given me fresh hope and strength, dear Lisa! Love you!
Lisa Appelo says
These forks in the road bring blessings we never could have foreseen — meeting some amazing women pursuing God has been one of them. Love your site, love knowing you. 🙂 <3
I left you a comment on Abby’s site but I wanted to say again what a blessing your story was today. As we grow through the process of becoming more like Christ; there will be many unexpected trials in our lives. I cannot begin to imagine your loss but I know God has prepared you to come through these fires! God is continually watching over you and your loved ones. Have a blessed weekend!
Lisa Appelo says
Yes, we have seen that God does prepare us and has shown Himself mighty. Thank you for your encouragement and blessings to you as well.
Thank you, Lisa, for the gift of your story. What a tremendous blessing to others!
God gets us through the most difficult times. He carries us in his arms when we are going through the worst times in our lives. He is always there for us when we need him the most. It may not feel like that he is there, but he is. God loves us unconditionally.