There are words that repeat in our heads when we lose someone we love.
"Surely this is a bad dream. This did not really happen," Pastor Kirby Wilcoxson said.
Wilcoxson, one of the pastors at Trinity Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, said without four of its members, the church just does not seem as full. Many members heard the news for the first time moments before worship service on Sunday morning. Church leaders re-arranged the entire service to pay tribute to the members of the Vollmer family who died in an Interstate 90 crash.
"They're just such a delightful family," Wilcoxson said. "Aside from what they did at the church, it was the spirit they brought to the place. Everyone loved them."
Jim and Julie had a hand in almost everything. From helping out on Sunday mornings to a sign-up sheet that shows Julie signed up to cupcakes for members with April birthdays. Their children Caleb and Alyssa also helped with youth services frequently.
"What we know is all of our lives are gifts. They're fragile," Wilcoxson said.
The entire congregation is staying strong for Brittany, the daughter the Vollmers left behind.
"I don't know of anyone personally who has to carry the kind of weight that she's carrying now. She's lost her parents, her siblings. She's a college student. Nobody should have to bear that," Wilcoxson said.
As the congregation reflects on these losses, Wilcoxson said the family's contributions will never leave the church.
"We have a God who promises not deliverance from all the pain of our life, but one who will walk through that pain with us," Wilcoxson said.
Keeping that in mind, along with many good memories, may help everyone feel a little less empty.