How do you find words for the unspeakable? How do you find any good in tragedy?

How do you find words for the unspeakable? How do you find any good in tragedy?

“Sometimes there are a thousand things to say, no words to say them and a heart too broken to try.”

That was my latest update on Facebook. It sat there on my profile for well over a week. Most of the time when something happens that breaks my heart or I have trouble processing the horror of it, I write. But sometimes it can be so tragic, all words are lost to me. I become a virtual mute when it comes to writing. What happened to throw me into such a stage of sadness and heartbreak?

Two weeks ago I was with a friend and neighbor when her world shattered around her. This was how the extended family shared the news with their Facebook friends.

We need your help facebook friends. Last night  The Hendricks Family suffered a tragic loss. Rusty was fixing their one and only car when the jack broke in half and crushed him. He lost his life. (He was 36) The Hendricks family needs your help. Teresa is a stay at home mom with 3 children Samuel 11, Sara 9, Matthew 7. There is no life insurance and Teresa is left to raise her beautiful family alone.

*(I am not divulging anything private or breaking a trust by sharing those details. This is the information the family wrote for the fundraiser they are holding to try to help this wonderful family. Please if there is ANY way you can help…even just a little bit, this lovely woman truly needs it.)

I’ve never felt more helpless and heartbroken for a friend.  As I said, there were a thousand things to say, no words to say them and a heart too broken to try. Not a day went by that I did not cry for this family. Not a night went by when I didn’t crumble to the floor of my bathroom wracked with gut wrenching  tears of desperate sadness. It was how I dealt with it at night. Alone. So I could try to refuel and be strong for the whole family when or if they needed anything. I wanted to be there to help.

What you have to know about this family is how amazing they are. They touched the lives of everyone they met.  I loved watching Rusty play ball with his oldest son in their front yard. When it snowed, he would be outside with the kids laughing and playing just like one of them. I always laughed when he would give Clint a hard time about not putting up Christmas lights. (He even taught my next door neighbor how to hang them “correctly” so that she could have them up for her kids.) He was one of the most joyful men I have ever met. Teresa is one of the kindest women I know. She is soft spoken, sweet and so very giving. She has a heart of gold and a tenderness about her that makes you smile and gives you peace. And those kids? Wonderful kids. Gabby plays outside with them and the sound of their laughter is beautiful music to my ears. Honestly, laughter is the first thing I think of when I think of those kids. Rusty and Teresa are very strong in their faith and they’ve been raising their kids in a faith filled home.

And so the first question is why. Why Rusty? Why this way? Why now? I don’t know the answers. I still can’t even wrap my mind around it all but I do know that this is a family of faith and I know that faith will help them through this. They and their extended families have actually blessed and comforted people who came by to comfort them. They are that special.

One thing Rusty’s sister shared with me (and I don’t think she would mind me sharing) is that he would want people to find something in this tragedy to help them grow- in their faith and their relationships with others. To never let a moment pass without sharing your love.

Photo by Brandon Satterwhite
I lift my eyes...

Through this tragedy I have seen some very beautiful things occur. I have seen friends and strangers pull together to help this family. I have seen relationships heal. I have seen new friendships form. For myself I have solidified friendships that I knew were there but didn’t know how very strong they could be. I was pulled from the dark place I was hurled into last year to see people in my life that truly will always be there for me when I need them.


I suppose you could say pretenses were stripped and people were seen for who they really are. It blessed me to see a community pull together as it has. It blessed me to see people I respect pull together not only for my friend and her family but for each other. To feel their love and have them extend their “family” to encompass me as “one of them”  not only healed so much in me, it made me see how jaded I had become by a completely irrelevant event in my past.

Why did it take a tragedy for that to happen? For me to really see things as they are? For me to realize who truly cares and who I can depend on for the good times and the bad? For me to tell my friends that I love them and that I appreciate them? To take those negative voices in my mind and silence them?  To reach out to others- not just those involved in this but people in my life who may just need to know someone is there and cares? Why did it take something so unthinkingly horrible for me to take stock of my life and realize the wonderful, beautiful people that I am blessed to have in my life?

I don’t know. I hate that this happened. I am heartbroken that this happen. Yet, even now Rusty blesses me with his joy and love because to not honor his memory in that way just wouldn’t feel right.  He touched so many people. And his memory will continue to bless others. Now that? That takes one amazing man. And that was Rusty.

May he sing with the angels.

For Teresa and those who are hurting missing a loved one…



6 thoughts on “How do you find words for the unspeakable? How do you find any good in tragedy?

  1. Blessings to you and the beautiful family you wrote about in this post. I am so sorry for your loss. You are honoring Rusty with this post and your actions. I’m sending peace and love to you and your friends.

  2. This week my bible study group is reading the raising of Lazarus from chapter 11 in the Gospel of John. Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus, simply to say, ” he whom you love is sick. When Jesus heard that he said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified in him.”

    Perhaps the tragic death of your friend is also a way to glorify God. Perhaps, his death will motivate his neighbors to the virtures of charity, love and hospitality for his widow, and his children. I was twelve when my Mom died suddenly, many people helped our family with time, tresure and talent. Perhaps that is what God is calling you to do too.

  3. Beautifully written, Jenn. Very powerful words. Such hard questions. I know how difficult this has been for you. Heaven is up one awesome angel, my friend.

  4. I know how awful you felt about this. Such a tragedy. I also think that Rusty would love the way his family and friends have come together. He just sounds like that kind of guy.

  5. Beautifully written, Jenn. Rusty sounds like a great man who touched lots of lives. I’m glad you were blessed to know him, and my heart goes out to his entire family.

    And you. Love you!

    I’m hugging you in my mind right now. 🙂 xoxo

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