Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Grieving & some thoughts October 3, 2017

This is an edited image I took several years ago at Valley Grove Cemetery near Nerstrand. I love how the oak stands strong and towering next to the gravestones. It fits the mood of this piece.


SUNDAY EVENING I WENT to bed with grief clutching my heart after watching an interview with a Minnesota mom who lost her daughter to domestic violence. Vanessa Danielson was allegedly set on fire by her boyfriend, now charged with her murder.

Monday morning I awoke to news of the largest mass shooting in America’s history with nearly 60 dead and some 500 injured. Once again, grief clutched my heart. Later in the afternoon, I learned that a native Minnesotan was among those shot at the country music fest in Las Vegas. Philip Aurich, a 1999 graduate of Concordia Academy in Roseville, underwent surgery and remained in critical condition at the time of an Academy Facebook posting about his injury.

The feelings that race through my mind, then linger, are ones of anger, of frustration, of grief, of shock, of disbelief. Not again. How can human beings do this to one another, treat each other with such disregard for life?

I’m not asking you to answer that question. Rather, I am asking that you make a positive difference in the lives of others via compassion and care. Listen. Empathize. Offer comfort, hope and encouragement.

In your community, wherever you live—from urban to rural, from Vegas to Minnesota, from prairie to mountain—try to be there for others. We will never stop all of the madness that exists in the world. But we can strive individually to make our neighborhoods, our communities, better places by focusing less on ourselves and more on others. That goes for families, too.

We can choose to speak up when we must. We can choose to be that positive influence for a young person, that encourager for someone in need of encouragement, that light in the absence of light.

The choice is ours, if we are free to make those choices. And not everyone is free. Consider that during October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, as a Minnesota mom grieves the loss of her daughter.

Grief still edges my heart. For that mom and for all those who lost loved ones in Vegas.


UPDATE 6:15 PM Tuesday: A Minnesotan, Steve Berger, 44, of Shorewood, is among those killed in the Las Vegas shooting. He was a 1995 graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, just a 20-minute drive from my home.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


26 Responses to “Grieving & some thoughts”

  1. Ruth Pitt Says:

    Well said my friend. We need to all pay attention to friends, family and people in our community. It’s so heartbreaking and my heart goes out to all of those who lost there life or in critical condition. Prayers go out to those who witnessed this and may they get the help they need to get through this horrific tragedy.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    It certainly has been a difficult fall with all of the major natural disasters and now this horrific event in Las Vegas. There are no words. Simply no words. When horrible things surround us it is very easy to get drawn into the darkness. But I refuse. I will continue to do as you suggest, be the light to others in some way and be encouragement when times look bleakest. And for all the loved ones, the moms, the dads, the siblings and friends I continue to pray.

  3. I can’t watch the news without crying. I just can’t.

    … I agree, Audrey,

    We must be encouraging, hopeful, caring, pro-active, and STAND up for others every. single. day.

    My heart is HEAVY and weeping inside my body….

    but even so, I know we will come together as a nation TOGETHER & make the changes that need to be made.

    I must believe that.

    We must believe that.

    xxx from Duluth.

  4. Kristi Says:

    God Bless you for your caring and touching words. My heart and the hearts and minds of so many grieve these tragic senseless horrors. I pray every day for love and healing to be in all our hearts. Please dear people reach out in love and helpfulness each day. God Bless our Loved ones. Give thanks daily for your Blessings.

  5. Littlesundog Says:

    I have no words, my friend. None. I have spent the last day walking the woods mindlessly picking up sticks, wondering what this all means. I love your words, “We can choose to speak up when we must. We can choose to be that positive influence for a young person, that encourager for someone in need of encouragement, that light in the absence of light.”

    • I understand the walking in the woods, the wondering. I think we all feel a bit numbed. Once we pass that initial shock, we realize there are ways we, individually, can make a positive difference. And maybe together, too, as Kim suggests in her comment.

  6. J.Aaron Says:

    Sometimes if I’m not in a pretty good mood, I can’t think about that stuff. The music festival really gets to me though.

  7. Jackie Says:

    There just are no words for these horrible things. It used to feel like these kind of thing happened elsewhere…to other families but the world is closing in and it’s feeling real close. I am reminded of this verse in Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

  8. Virginia Says:

    Lately I’ve wondered just what all is going on in this world. From hurricanes to earthquakes, to this awful tragic senseless act of violence in Las Vegas. Maybe it is supposed to be a wake up call to bring us back down to a more normal simple lifestyle.

    When I see the picture of the man that did this horrific thing, all I can think of is quit giving him his “moment of fame” as to say. Who will be the next person seeking to do something like this to get his name up in lights because of all the publicity. Let’s focus on the families left behind. The many wonderful people that jumped in to help. Those are the heroes. Yes, we need to show compassion to others and try and turn around some of the thoughts that people have. We are not the only ones around. We have others to think of and not just ourselves which has become so prevalent in today’s society.. Our actions and decisions affect all of those around us. Affect us for the rest of our lives. We have a wonderful nation. Let’s keep it this way. Quit the bickering and get back to Love Thy Neighbor.

  9. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    You’ve captured a much-shared sentiment. We cannot give up, give in, lose hope. We can be outraged and despair, but we are still alive and here to make a difference.

  10. Due to blogging I have friends all over the world. Being a Floridian there has been Hurricane Irma and then before that the Pulse Night Club in Orlando. As a former Nevadan now Las Vegas. My heart was breaking yesterday and I am on emotional overload to a degree too. I really try to see the positive, however; it is not easy to do when there is violence, hate, etc. happening around us.

    I want to share ((((((((lovesandhugs)))) with all!!! Remember to say “I love you” more, share the kindness, hold each other tighter, etc.

  11. Don Says:

    It seems I/we are in a constant state of shock these days……how sad…… as you said “How can human beings do this to one another”! Prayers to all those victims. On a brighter note let’s not forget that there is so much good in the world too, we just don’t hear all of the good because it does not make headlines. Lets not get too discouraged by these terrible events.

  12. The Madness continues on many fronts in our great land, perplexing people to their very souls. God is watching with tears streaming down his cheeks.

  13. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    It’s been a week filled with horrible news of senseless crimes.

    • Our local paper, too, has been filled with stories of senseless crimes of domestic violence and more. It saddens me. But I appreciate that this is reported so that we are all aware and can strive to make a difference via encouragement, prayer, hope, support and more.

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