A Loss Beyond Words

On the night of Tuesday October 13, 2015 our quiet little agricultural community (and the western Canadian agricultural community as a whole) was rocked by the tragic death of 2 sisters and the hospitalization of a third as the result of a farming accident. The third sister also succumbed to her injuries fewer than 10 hours later. The girls were taken from this earth far too young. I’m about to type words that shouldn’t need to be typed, but no parent should ever have to bury their child. Ever.

So why am I compelled to write this piece? For one, as a method of grieving. You see, these girls were my neighbours. The daughters of one of my close friends. The girls grew up on my farm too, along with the farms of countless other neighbours and relatives that dot the landscape and make up the close-knit (if not familial) fabric of our community.  This tragedy is beyond words for those impacted by it. We will never heal fully and we will never be the same.  It’s only by God’s grace that we can find the hope in the outcome of last evening’s events.

Which leads me to my second reason for penning (does anyone even pen anything anymore?!) this piece: tragedies like this could happen to any of us and all too often on farms throughout North America, they do.  Within hours of the accident occurring and mere minutes of it being reported by news outlets on social media, I grew weary of the keyboard warriors deriding the parents for lack of supervision or an implied lack of education of the dangers of farming. Give your head a shake. These kids grew up on the farm. They likely know more about farming and the inherent perils and risks than most adults do.  Given that the vast majority of the population now lives in urban areas, I don’t doubt this claim for an instant.  The point of an accident however, is that it can’t necessarily be foreseen, or even prevented.  Short of not getting out of bed in the morning, there aren’t very many ways to eliminate risk of injury or death on the farm.  However, there are always ways to mitigate risk just as there are always human moments that occur.  A friend of mine texted me saying how terrible the tragedy was. I responded by how closely hit we were and a conversation ensued.  Her comment? “It could have been any of us. We all did stuff like that as kids.”

I want you to reflect on that for a moment.

“It could have been any of us. We all did stuff like that as kids.”

It’s a scene that plays out on farms across the continent. Have you ever tried telling a child they can’t go for a ride with dad on the __________ (tractor / combine / swather / grain cart / grain truck / etc) or that they can’t run through the corn field until they get lost or that they can’t enter that pen full of cows?  People all over the world are telling their kids to get outside and play more, so where do you think farm kids have to go when they go outside to play?  It is incumbent upon us as farm parents to teach our children the dangers of the activities they participate in.  It’s our role to allow them to grow and make decisions for their own based upon what we teach them.  But ultimately, accidents happen.  How many adults know that texting and driving is dangerous?  How many still do it?  Exactly… Even as adults we can’t resist a behaviour even though we know it poses a risk to our own personal safety or that of others.  Do we really expect children to act any differently despite what we teach them or what they know?  Children are children, after all.

Tragedy is tragedy and accidents are accidents.  No family should have to bear the burden of losing their child, regardless of how it occurs.  But many do. And many persevere. Farm families are no different. We persevere through hardship, through loss, through pain and through grief.  We support one another in good times and in bad, and when the absolutely unthinkable occurs, as it did on this cool October evening.

So if you have children and you’re reading this, give them a hug. Hold them tight. Teach them what you know but grant them the freedom to explore the world with the knowledge that you are empowering them. Don’t strip them of their natural curiosity or their inclination to explore and push boundaries. Don’t coddle or helicopter parent them or raise them in a bubble.  Some of the greatest talents in the world came from a childhood of exploration and encouragement, so don’t deprive your children of that opportunity.   At the same time, remain vigilant. Teach them consequences. Teach them about hazards. Train and equip them with the resources (mental and physical) to be prepared. Be their mentor, confidante and biggest supporter.

Accidents will happen. Despite our best intentions and all of the safeguards we could possibly implement, tragedy will strike, oftentimes when we least expect it.  Don’t let this fear override all of the great things about raising your children.  The time we have with them is precious.  Remember that.  Cherish that.  Be grateful for every moment.  Because despite all of our best intentions, all of our knowledge transfer, all of our urges to save our children from the world, we have to let them go out into it and to experience it.  It’s as much our role as parents as it is theirs as children.

Loss is never easy to deal with and you can’t strike deals with loss either.  Our community will grieve, for a very, very long time. The girls will forever be remembered as bright, inquisitive, energetic young souls with a love for exploring and a passion for the outdoors. Their family will never be the same; a void will never be filled.  October 13, 2015 is a day that will forever change our landscape; it is the day we all tragically and inexplicably lost neighbours, daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters, cousins and friends. Prayers are welcome.  Positive thoughts are encouraged.  Mourning is expected.

We will endure.  We are a large farming family. Made up of farming families joining together to comprise one grander unit.  Whether related by blood, or geography, or simply the passion for working the land, we are family.  And even when we cannot find the words to caption our loss or express our grief, we will remain buoyed by the knowledge that we are a part of that family and a part of something much larger than us all.

UPDATE AT 16:33 October 14, 2015: A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with expenses and loss of income that may be incurred during their recovery process.  Please donate at: https://www.gofundme.com/ch6dyncg

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212 thoughts on “A Loss Beyond Words

  1. Beautifully written article. My thoughts and prayers go out to this family and community. Tragic beyond words. I’m so sorry for this loss.

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  2. An unspeakable tragedy that no parent can or wants to imagine, my heart goes out to all. For those that chose to make comments of blame and judgement, shame on you. The family needs your support, not your judgement. “There for the grace of God go I” My deepest and most sincere condolences, may the peace that comes from the memories of love shared comfort you now and in the days ahead.

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  3. I am so sorry. I want to let you know I pray for some comfort for this poor family. Accidents happen and we can only cope with the out come. Kids are kids and we wouldn’t want them to be anything but inquisative and curious therefore unseen things will go wrong. May the parents eventually find some peace and comfort in happy memories of days gone by.

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  4. My deepest sympathy to the family & friends no one is to blame I remember doing this as a young girl on a relatives farm it’s just something we did. My prayers & peace be with you.

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  5. My heartfelt condolences to the suffering family and your whole community. You’re right, no one should have to bury a child, much less children. My children too played in grain trucks, wading through wheat, barley and peas or making tunnels through tons of hay on farms of friends. And my children, by the grace of God, survived. This was truly a tragic accident and no blame needs to be shouldered by anyone. I pray that all may find peace and comfort in the hollow days, weeks and months to come. God bless you all.

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  6. We are so sorry for the family, this is just unreal, we’re sending prayers & support from Windsor ON, May God receive these angels with open arms & may he help the family at this difficult time

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    • This is heart breaking. Our love and prayers goes out to the family and friends. I agree with the article that was so well written . Many Hugs to the family

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  7. I am so sorry for this family’s loss. I pray for peace, comfort, support for them and most of all healing and closure to this very sad accident. My thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of these three girls. God Bless. ❤ ❤

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  8. So sorry for this families loss As one who farmed with my family between Leslieville and Rocky Mountain House we are familiar with this area. May God who is the God of all comfort hold each one closely as you walk through this hard journey. With prayers and sympathy in your incredible unfathomable loss

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  9. I can’t imagine losing 1 child, but 3 at the same time is a tragedy beyond understanding. it was an accident and like was said previously, as children we’ve all done things that compromised our safety and never should have done it in the first place. My prayers are with the family and the community that is impacted by this horrific tragedy.

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    • Losing one child which I have is tragic enough. But losing three all at once is an unbearable tragedy. The parents will never be the same. The emptiness and pain of their absence will forever be felt. Only time is their aid. My heart felt sympathy goes to their family. May God open His kingdom for those precious children.

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  10. I cannot express how sorry I am for this family to lose not just one precious child, but three. And through NO fault of the parents or the kids. I grew up on a farm. My five brothers and I rode in the corn wagon while picking corn. We built quite elaborate forts out of hay bales. We walked amongst the cows and hogs as toddlers. That’s what farm kids do! It could have happened to us at any time. I’m so very sorry and hope the family can go on to one day smile at the memories and the laughter they shared. God bless. I pray for peace for all of you. Remember the girls are little angels now to watch over the rest of you. You will be reunited one day.
    What a beautifully written piece. Thank you.

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  11. Families are very important and every parent and community love their children; to lose one child or a community of children is devastating indeed to say the least, especially children lost in a violent way. 😦 We grieve for the loss of all children’s lives everyone. ♡

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  12. My deepest sympathy goes out to the family and farming community. As I have not buried a child, I have buried my brother due to a farming accident in 2012. Our farming community showed up in our time of need and finished harvesting our crops. I will never forget. Accidents are terrible, but unfortunately they are real. I prayer that the family of these beautiful girls have the strength to push forward in the next few days, months and years. Remembering the laughs, smiles, and those precious moments that you will cherish forever!! ❤️

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  13. Just woken and read this how distressing to know what the parents,family + friends will have to endure will take strength and courage days ahead will think of ur 3 angels

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  14. Loosing a child is beyond our understanding if we haven’t lost one. We lost our son in 2008 by a lightning strike, he was almost 30loosing one is devastating, but loosing three is beyond our comprehension. No one forgets their child , but time does heal, although I thought I would never heal or get over it, I am healing, but will never get over it. Only through my faith and the grace of our lord Jesus has got us through, my heart goes out to your family in this crisis.

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  15. Sending prayers from PEI. When I heard of this accident, well it is heartbreaking. believe the whole country grieves with the family at a time like this. No one could have foreseen or prevented this from happening. Even if the children had been told, they still do things they are not suppose to, we all know. And could anyone have ever thought to warn of this specific danger. I remember roaming around by grandfathers farm as a child, in the barns, around the animals, in the hay loft, playing in the grain. We cannot be next to our children and hover over them every minute. This is an enormous tragedy and loss, but not the fault of the parents.

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  16. I am so sorry for your terrible loss ,I pray and ask God to help you all find peace and comfort in the family and friends who will be there for you , These prayers and thoughts are coming from New brunswick God bless

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  17. I just lost my nephew on September 5th to an agricultural accident. We understand your loss. He was a wonderful kid who enjoyed farming so much. He wanted to be on a tractor any chance he had. We heard the hurtful words from people who did not understand. They said he was too young to be on a tractor. You put into words how I feel about his loss. It was a very unfortunate accident that we will never fully get over. The days have been very hard. It was eccpecially hard yesterday which would have been his 12 th bday. I’m so very sorry for this families loss. Hopefully the girls found my nephew in heaven and are talking farm talk!

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    • I would love to have his mamas address. We lost our 10 year old sunshine in dec 2014. His accident was on the farm also. You can message me on his Facebook page in loving memory of Dakota Yoder Thank you.
      My heart hurts so much for these girls mama!! And other family.

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  18. Thank you so much for putting into words what so many of us farm families are feeling. Our hearts ache too, knowing that there but for the grace of God go I.

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  19. This article was so eloquently written. So true. I too grew up next to my grandparents farm and understand. My heart and prayers go out to the families, friends, & the close knit farming community who is affected by this accident. I pray you find peace and comfort . My deepest condolences from Maine.

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  20. The risks one takes growing up on a farm and farming are great, there is always a potential accident waiting nearby. Having been on a farm most of my life and after reading your story, I thought of all the close calls I experienced on the farm. But with all its hazards, I would not trade growing up on a farm for anything. My heart goes out to the family and the community

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  21. Our heartfelt prayers are with all this family today .. I also grew up on a farm with 9 brothers and lots of different incidents where there could have been many different tragedies … But we were kids and we wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything .. Your 3 beautiful angels will be looking down on you from heaven … We pray for God’s comforting arms to surround each of you today …

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  22. My heart goes out to this family as I know only to well the loss of a child but theirs is tripled 💔😢 Prayers are the only thing we all can do for them as there are no words to help. We are a farm family too and know the danger that can come from it…but also the joy of working together as a family. God Bless .

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  23. Very well written and so very true. I also grew up on a farm and yes, knew of all the dangers and still did stupid things. Kids are curious and adventurous and growing up on a farm, well, there is adventure all around. This could have happened to anyone. My thoughts and prayers go out to this family and the whole community as they face each day and learn to accept a new normal in their lives. 💗💗💗

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  24. Very well expressed. I’m crying tears of sadness for this family. Thanks for all of the support of the surrounding family, friends and neighbors. Our prayers are with you all during this time.

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  25. May God Bless these beautiful young girls & may they RIP.May God continue to watch over their many loved ones & allow them time to HEAL.The loss of one child is a loss but 3 is devastating.Prayers go out to family,friends.neighbors & the community as this tragedy will affect everyone for a long long time.Be kind to each other & mourn as one.

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  26. praying for the whole family of these three beautiful girls and special prayers to their brother Caleb and the parents. stay strong in the knowledge that you did everything for the girls and gave them a wonderful life – now you have 3 beautiful angels watching over you

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  27. Losing one child is a tragedy! Losing three at once is unspeakable!!! Cherish the one child you have left and know that many people are thinking of you and wishing you their heartfelt sympathy and compassion. Thank heavens you have great neighbours and friends that pulled together to help you get through this very difficult time, like only close knit rural communities seem to do!!

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  28. Thank you for sharing your grieving process. So sorry to hear of this tragedy! My family and I will keep the girls’ family and the community in our thoughts and prayers.

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  29. Beautifully written, neighbour and friend to this family………this letter of heartfelt sincerity will show the true reflection of these people, farm life and your farming community and hopefully will help people see the truth of life on a farm and life itself……..accidents happen, life happens, so hold your children and family near each and every day. My heartfelt sympathy goes to this family who has a long road of recovery ahead of them and to your community who will be grieving and healing right along with them. My heart is bleeding for you all. xo

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  30. I grew up on the farm. Every harvest I did this exact same thing. You’re absolutely correct. Its what farm kids do. Beautifully penned. Thank you for being a voice where one was needed. Sending huge hugs and prayers from Manitoba

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  31. Such a tragedy…..my neighbour and friend who grew up on a farm explained to me that she and her siblings did the same thing often as well as her own children
    …I just don’t understand how it turned into such a devestating event when it is such a common game children play on a farm. Hopefully it will be a warning to help save lives of other innocent children. So sad and sorry for everyone concerned!💔

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  32. Our community lost an 11 year boy to the exact same type of type of tragic accident. No one in our rural area blamed either parent. We all understood it could have happened to any one of us. My thoughts are with your community and the family.

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  33. Thank you for your words Dave. As you know, I’m also from a small farming community… it could happen anywhere. Thoughts & prayers are with this family & your community.

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  34. You are 100% correct. To lay blame on the family in this situation is inexcusable. To them, and to all who farm, I send eternal gratitude. Without you, we would not eat. It’s as simple as that. Following this terrible tragedy, my wish for the family is that time eventually softens the hurt. I wish them the strength to move forward, one minute, then one hour, and eventually, one day at a time. I pray that one day, their unfathomable loss won’t be the first thing that enters their minds when they awaken. That one day, happy memories will bring a smile to their faces, not heartache and tears. They should be proud. Of their way of life. Of their beautiful children. Of all that they, as a family, have given to this world. Sincerest condolences to you all.

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  35. You have a profound way of conveying the thoughts and feelings that some of us cannot put to paper. I feel your loss, the complete sadness as that family lives my worst nightmare. They are in my thoughts and prayers at this most difficult and trying time.

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  36. Beautifully written! Your community is blessed to be there for each other while you all try to find your place during this difficult time! Negative words come from those who have never gone through a tragedy! We lost a 10 year old nephew on the farm! You never get over it, but with Gods help, you go on, one day at a time! Hugs to you all!!

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  37. Very well written. I for one have played on a farm and know exactly how an accident can happen. Please give my deepest regret and sympathy to the family and friends of these beautiful girls. You never should have to bury your children.

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  38. I can’t recall when an article on the death of a child, or of anyone, moved me so much. A profoundly reasoned and exquisitely written piece that gives us a glimpse into this world of farming, a world in which children explore and dare, live, work and sometimes die–a glimpse filled now with empathy and some sense that the rest of us are the poorer for not having the rich bond of friendship and family that unites this community. Prayers and deepest condolences.

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  39. I am a grieving mother as well and can attest to this very clear and well communicated article. Thank you for expressing the importance of understanding ALL families.

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  40. My children did not grow up on a farm, so I have not lost one to farming accident. We own a bakery, and so, at a very young age, my kids ahve been helping dad and mom there. We have “bakery accidents” though. Some of my older kids have been burned by hot ovens, or sharp knives… (nothing too seriously, Thank God) But this is life! We do not isolate our kids, rather we are to ‘insulate’ our kids. That doesn’t mean no one gets hurt, it just means that kids live life, and sometimes get hurt. Or worse. This tragic loss has been SO imprinted on my mind and pressed on my heart, and my prayers for this family are sincere and deep. We DO hugs our little ones a bit tighter, and are thankful it wasn’t my kids… But it could have been! Driving down the QE2 highway doing a bakery delivery with Dad is far more dangerous than growing up on a farm..Knowing that, Our kids WILL still get in a vehicle with their Dad, and drive the QE2, and love living life within our family, The family God has placed them in, for however long God wants them with us..I am rambling here a bit… I just really have NO words. Prayers and Love to you all ((HUGS))

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  41. I am so sorry for this family! i cannot possibly imagine the grief they are dealing with. I grew up on a farm and was rushed to emergency a few times. I also jumped into a wagon full of corn or beans and held on with all my might to the sides! I would like this family to know that I am praying for them with the hope that God will somehow help them.

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  42. Thank you for a very well-written piece! As a retired teacher and friend to many home-schooling moms, I just want to add something here. No one can ever imagine the tremendous grief and sadness and loss that you are living as individuals, as parents, as a family, as a farming community, and as a faith community. Please know that my thoughts and prayers have been with you and are with you, each and every day, as you struggle to face and breathe and live through – another moment, another 5 minute period, another hour, another day. May wonderful memories of times lived together bring you comfort and solace especially during the coming days and weeks. My deepest sympathies accompany this.

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  43. My heart breaks for all of your community. We also are in an agriculture community. And yes, ag people are family. we have seen tragedy in our part of the world, too. It does change everyone and everything. Thank you for writing what you did. It speaks for so many of us. God bless and keep each and everyone of you. Prayers for the family.

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  44. Our hearts and prayers are with this dear family and community. We pray that you will find peace and comfort in the hours, days and weeks ahead. To the author of ‘A Loss Beyond Words’ – what a most poignant and moving tribute to these precious girls and those closet to them. Thank you.

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