Tender sleep after a full day’s work. 

The phone rings.

Clock says 11pm.

Strange and unusual for a call to come in so late.

My dad on the other end of the line.

“Jana, your brother has committed suicide.”

On my knees, phone to ear, screaming, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do?”.

My body begins to tremble, my teeth chatter as if I am chilled.

Shock. Sets. In.

Rocking back and forth on my knees on the floor of my bedroom, I ask, “Why? Why? Why?”.

So begins my journey into darkness. Into the unknown of grief. I have never done this before. I have never lost so big. My brother was my delight. I, his big sister, his protector, his shield, his fan. I couldn’t protect him now. I am now alone in this world, carrying shared memories of a lost childhood. Who will remember with me?


transparent | having the property of transmitting rays of light through its substance so that bodies situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen; admitting the passage of light through interstices; so sheer as to permit light to pass through; diaphanous; easily seen through, recognized, or detected.

I have been considering the meaning of this word – transparent –  for some time now. I wrote in my purpose statement for jana’s three dresses that I aim to be transparent with you reader. That we all have a story and I am here to tell mine. It is my belief and hope that God will speak to you as I share my journey.

However, I am finding that being completely transparent with you is harder than I thought it would be. I have stood up in front of several women’s groups and shared my personal story of pain and redemption. They have been deeply moved by what I have said. I know God has taken what was once is still broken, and newly purposed me for His glory.

I believe he wants me to continue sharing my story. You won’t fully understand my words and the insights I share at jana’s three dresses unless you know the details of my grief and my loss. My fear is that in telling my story, I will come across as self-glorifying, when all I want to do is glorify Christ – the one who saved me.

I am not seeking pity, just understanding. You need to know my story so that it can more fully impact yours. I know it is a coined phrase, but God really does take the bad and use it for good. And all along, I have firmly believed that he was taking me through all of my loss and pain so that He would be glorified in the end.

October 29, 2012 will mark 10 years since my only sibling, my brother Corry died – suddenly and tragically.

He was 25.

At the time of his death, I was in the NE, my father was in the remote hills of the south, and my mother was in the SW leading a conference.

It would be two days until all of us could find our way to one another.

My life as I knew it ended the day Corry died. Part of me died too. I loved Corry more than I thought possible. We were deeply connected.

As his older sister, it was my job to protect him. I was the last person who spoke with him, just two days before he died. 

Three days later I was meeting my parents at the airport. I had flown in during the night. My dad had gone to pick up my mom from her conference. Mom could barely stand up – my father had to hold her. She appeared to have aged 10 years.

The last time the four of us were together as a family was at my wedding , just four months prior. Corry had been with all of us – extended family and friends. Now four months later we were planning his funeral.

Numbness was settling in.

My parents and I became the bearers of “the news”. We had to pick up Corry’s fiancé at the airport the next day, make phone calls to family and friends. The most difficult was my Grandmother. A violinist, she had driven my brother to countless cello lessons and symphony concerts. She and Corry had a tight bond. We held her up too.

All the family and friends who had gathered for my wedding were now back. We were all in shock and disbelief. How could this have happened?


This event was the beginning of a spiritual revolution that has taken place in my life over the past ten years. It is nothing short of a miracle that I can firmly stand on the promises of God today believing in Him and His truths. For nearly 5 years after my brother’s death, I struggled to pray, journal, sing in church, and read my Bible without feeling doubt, anger, fear, and rage – “Did any of it really matter? Was God really there? Did he care? Why did he let Corry die?”.

For a long time, I just gave up altogether. But, by God’s divine grace and mercy, he found me in the darkness and brought me up out the pit and into His light.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:1-3)

I aim to be transparent and live authentically with you reader through this blog. God has asked me to share my story with you. I am obeying his promptings and praying He will meet you where you are – where you need Him today.

newly purposed,



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12 thoughts on “transparent

  1. Thank you for your blog posts about Corry, Jana. They are beautiful, and just what I needed to read today. I share your faith in our great God, who weaves into our lives such great love and such great sorrow. In the end, it is all a gift, and as much as at hurts, I can’t but feel profound gratitude today and every day for the friendship I had with your brother.
    God bless you!

    • Danny, It is so good to hear from you. I am so glad the post about Corry brought you comfort today. I am remembering him as the raging winds of Sandy churn outside. But, I am at peace. God is good and a Mighty Healer. I am in awe of his Power and Grace. Thank you for remembering Corry with me. He is deeply missed. Some days I wish we could all gather and “re-do” the funeral just to be together in memory of him. I remember your playing the piano and us singing Corry’s part. I think that was my favorite moment during the entire service. blessings, jana

      • Yes, he is deeply missed. You know, there is something timeless about that funeral. So many of its details I will never forget. I am touched to know that the Ave Maria was your favorite moment. I am forever glad that I had the opportunity to play that piece as an encore to one of the most beautiful lives I will ever know.

        Your dad told me about your blog today over the phone. I look forward to visiting more often!

        God bless,

        • Danny, your writing is beautiful. I especially like the statement, “I am forever glad that I had the opportunity to play that piece as an encore to one of the most beautiful lives I will ever know”. Wow, he was beautiful. Would you consider writing a post in honor of Corry that I could feature here? Is writing something you enjoy? No pressure, just seemed you have a very beautiful perspective. Blessings, jana

  2. I am so very sorry for your pain and loss. My heart aches for you, even through the years of healing you’ve experienced. Stories of grief are the hardest to share. So very personal. God has a plan for your story and life. I love your signature on the post “Newly purposed.” This is His desire for us all. Blessings, new friend!

  3. Jana,

    I found your blog through a post on a friend’s Facebook page. I have bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed at 24. I so appreciate reading the story of someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. I rarely tell anyone my story because it just isn’t an accepted norm of our society. It’s terrifying to most people that someone would truly be so despondent and so desperate that you would want to end your life. We are taught to fight for life! I attempted suicide twice and spent many, many weeks in ICU’s and on mental holds trying to explain why I didn’t want to live anymore. I knew I had broken my parents’ hearts by trying to destroy what God and they had created.

    It has been a long hard fight, sometimes every single minute of every single day. But I am 38 now and married to the love of my life for 12 years and a mother to two gorgeous children. I have spent so many hours praying and wondering why I lived and others I had met through those hospital journeys had not. I don’t have an answer to that. It breaks my heart when I read that Corry, who suffered as much as I did, is not here to see his children and I am.

    But I am grateful for people like yourself who tell their stories and make it ok for me to tell mine.

    Thank you,

  4. Jana, I am so sorry for your tremendous loss. I, too, lost my brother to suicide. He jumped off a bridge. I applaud you for having the courage and obedience in the Lord to share your story. Already, I am feeling your comfort through your pain and grief. Psalm 34:18

  5. Jana, bless you for your transparency. As the cousin who grieved Corry’s loss with you- and still does, I can only imagine what it was like on your end and how your life was changed in that moment.

    May your story bring peace to others who have gone through the narrow place and come out the other side reborn.

    I love you to pieces,

    • Lissa, Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support and love. You have known me since the day my life on this earth began. And, you know Corry. Your kind words are like a soothing balm to my soul.
      Love, jana

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