Youth seek answers in untimely deaths

Published 6:08 pm Thursday, December 16, 2010

“To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Now is not the time for laughing and dancing. Now is the time to weep and mourn.

The Pike County community is grieving the loss of two Pike Liberal Arts students, Brooke Lee Ledford, 14, and Jami Alexis Pierce, 15, who were killed in a two-vehicle accident Wednesday morning on Highway 231 south of Troy.

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Shock quickly turned to grief as students and teachers at PLAS began to absorb the reality of the situation. Ministers prayed with the students who asked questions for which there were no comforting answers, said the Rev. Malone Chandler, pastor of Riverview Baptist Church.

“Where do we go from here? Sometimes there are just no words of real comfort but we have to remember that the Lord is in control now just like He was before this happened,” Chandler said. “We have to trust in Him.”

About 70 young people gathered at Riverview Wednesday night to share in their grief. Travis Jacques, Riverview youth minister, said there was a real need for that kind of service.

The young people were given the opportunity to say something about their friends and express what they were feeling.

“The kids needed a way to express what they were feeling,” Jacques said. “They were coping with tears and needed a way to say goodbye to Brooke and Lexi. Each one of them wrote a message to their friends on a balloon and we went outside and released the balloons as part of the candlelight vigil.”

Jacques said Brooke had been a major part of the Riverview youth group for a long time and was loved by a lot of people.

“Brooke was a Christian and she loved God,” he said. “It showed in all that she did. I know that Brooke is in heaven.”

Jacques said Brooke and Lexi were close friends.

“Lexi had started coming to Riverview with Brooke but she had another church home,” he said. “Lexi had this wonderful, sweet smile. I know that she, too, was a Christian and loved the Lord. She joins Brooke in heaven today.”

Jacques said the tragic loss Brooke and Lexi will have a lasting and devastating impact on their friends.

“Healing will take a long time and the healing will never be complete,” he said. “Brooke and Lexi will always be a part of the memories on their friends and with those memories will come sadness.”

Parents will have a role in helping their children cope with the sudden and devastating loss.

“Parents should help their children understand that it was an accident that took the lives of Brooke and Lexi,” Jacques said. “It was just something that happened to two lovely young ladies. There was no reason for it. It was an accident.

“Parents can help by letting their children vent their grief. Don’t rush them. And, parents need to know that young people are different. While, as adults, we might want to be alone in our grief, young people need to be with other kids. So encourage them to go to church and be a part of a youth group so they can work through their grief together.”

Funeral services for Brooke Lee Ledford and Jami Alexis Pierce will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, from the stadium of Pike Liberal Arts School. Burial will follow in Sandfield Cemetery. Visitation will be today at Dillard Funeral Home of Troy from 3 until 7 p.m.