Good Grief! A Community Grieves

Pub II tribute flower parade.

As I drove home, I saw a row of flowers lined up along the front of a building. After driving a bit longer, the why hit me. “Good grief!”

Our community has been tragically hit, like a tornado that wrecked homes and stole lives. The culprit was a plane crash that ended the life of seven men who were husbands, fathers, sons, leaders, businessmen and beloved members of our twin city community. To my knowledge, I did not personally know one.

A memorial of flowers outside Pub II, Normal, IL.

I do know grief. Grief makes you want to tear out your hair, because it tears out your heart. You want do something, anything to help those you love, who are grieving feel better. You want to show honor and remember the dead. Grievers, that lost a dear friend, adorned a local pub with flowers. They mark a painful part of our towns new history.

Pub II tribute flowers

Even though I do not know these men, my community does and my friends do. One man belonged to my “sister” church and when I got to church a little after seven am on Tuesday, the pastor was already with the family. One of my “sisters” and her husband are friends of three of the men. Another friend’s parents and brother are best friends of one of the men. That is a small sampling and there is more. Each person stood ready to engage the grieving with loving hearts, hands and actions.

You will be missed

Another precious friend grieved the loss of her husband only a few years ago, has had her heart ripped open again by the loss of a beloved grandfather. She said her grief was in the form of anger coming out of the gate this time. Grief has reopened some of the healing that time had purchased.

A couple weeks ago I had dinner with a family whose young child had died suddenly. They have huge faith and know God is bigger than their tragedy, yet they live with daily pain and deep suffering. I was honored and blessed to share tender stories of love and redemption in the midst of their pain.

Sixteen years ago, my mom died suddenly. A few years back, we had a long list of people we love die. Three artists I loved were all diagnosed with cancer and died. Then a fourth friend was diagnosed. A friend’s husband had cancer that took his life. My grandfather. My friend’s father. My other friend’s father. I sat with my friend’s mom while she hurried home for a quick shower. Before she returned, her mom died. The list goes on. My sweet young daughter witnessed so much death and suffering.

I wanted to scream, “Good grief! Enough is enough!!”

Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t breath, let alone hope. I felt like the Greek grievers that tear their hair. At times it felt too hard and hurt too much.

What brought me and my friends through, was the loving community of people and my loving God. I often pray for those suffering to know God’s presence, provision and peace in a supernatural way. Even though I don’t know these men, my heart breaks and I pray for their families and our community.

One tender mercy I see birthed out of grieving is that I don’t run from other’s pain or pretend it doesn’t exist. I look my friends in the eyes and ask how they are and they know I want to really know. And, I don’t hide my pain as much. There is beauty in the brokenness.

I don’t try to make sense of the why of this tragedy. My eyes are watching for the beauty of this community in reaction to the suffering, like the beautiful row of flowers that cause me to turn my car around to captured a snapshot.

What beauty have you seen in the suffering that loss causes?


  1. Dear Angel,
    I am so thankful for you as a friend, prayer warrior and Godly example in my life. I am thankful for the beauty of transparent friendships and my sisters in Christ who know the broken, messy parts of my God story. When you lift my hard, dark and ugly in prayer God carries me.
    Tuesday ‘s plane crash affected so many lives in our community. My heart goes out to the widows and children who lost their husband/fiance/father and the parents who lost their sons.
    Thank you for intertwining your experiences with grief. Your friends do know that when you ask how we are that you really want to know, for prayer most of all.

    1. Thanks Janean. This is what I did with my “sick day” instead of sleeping. Wednesday I got almost all the way home, then drove back to take the pictures. The media was there and wanted to interview me. But, I was only there to silently snap a picture. I hate the pain of grief, but I have gotten so many gifts of deep, authentic and vulnerable friendships in the exchanges. Love you!

  2. Beautiful, my friend. So much truth. One of these men was a former classmate of Scott’s. His parents are neighbors of Scott’s parents. I’m thankful that in prayer we can cover those we might not know, but for whom our hearts hurt.

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