After her son killed his wife, his two children and then himself, Joanne Smith struggled with excruciating grief. But just when she couldn’t bear the agony any longer, God revealed a beautiful purpose in the pain. Here, Joanne describes the moment her entire life changed and how God is slowly, but surely turning her despair into hope.
Four people were confirmed dead. That’s all the officer had told Joanne Smith and her husband, Larry, as they stood outside their son’s house on Father’s Day in 2015. Blinded by the flashing lights of police cars and ambulances and overcome by terror, all Joanne could do was pray. Jesus, please let them be okay. Jesus, help me, help us!
Desperate for answers, Joanne and Larry, shaking with shock, had been escorted to the police station and waited in a small, cold office. Joanne’s heart had dropped when a detective came in, his eyes solemn. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” he said, confirming again what she couldn’t accept: that her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren were dead. “This will be very hard to hear,” the detective continued, “but it was a murder…”
Through the fog of grief, all Joanne made out was the word murder. “Why would someone do this?” she cried, begging the detective to find the person who killed her family. “You misunderstood me, ma’am,” he replied. “It was a murder-suicide…your son shot his wife and children, then took his own life.” Joanne’s world tilted on its axis…and she felt her heart completely shatter.
A year after Joanne lost her family, she was asked to speak about her grief at her church women’s retreat, and it became one of God’s biggest blessings. “I was shocked when 300 women showed up,” Joanne smiles. “Speaking about Jesus’ healing love with other grieving families gave me new purpose.”
Today, three years after the tragedy, Joanne continues to inspire others on her blog HopeAndHealingMinistries.org. “I have learned that though we may not understand why horrible things happen, we can still trust that Jesus will give us the peace and strength to carry on through the grief,” says Joanne. “We just have to fall into His arms.”