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We’ve heard it before: Words can hurt. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Our words in stories of struggle and triumph can have a powerful effect on others and ourselves. Words can lead to freedom.

Just ask Samantha Payne, a young mother of four, and an Army wife living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Earlier this year, she was at lunch with some other military wives and members of the Stonecroft Military Team.

“What is one thing in life you’re struggling with?” the Military team asked.

“Nobody has ever asked me that before,” Samantha responded. She took a risk and responded with her hard story of the death of her 5-month-old daughter from sudden infant death syndrome.

Tears formed as her story spilled out. “What could I have done differently?” she asked along with other questions that seemed to be as much for herself as for the others.

Even though the loss was six years ago, Samantha’s lingering grief entered a new stage. She said it was showing itself in a new way and talking about the situation helped. Sharing with this group was a healing activity that she needed.

“They were looking at me, wanting to hear me and know how I was feeling,” Samantha said.

Telling her story during earlier stages of grief wasn’t easy. “I was afraid to know how to talk about it,” she said. Even though the situation put significant stress on their family members and marriage, Samantha and her husband determined to stay committed to each other.

Samantha’s participation in a Christian ministry helped her draw closer to God and friends she made there assisted her navigation through the various stages of grief. When she asked Jesus to be in all of her life, she finally started to accept her daughter’s death and learn to be happy again.

Not long after the recent lunch gathering with the Stonecroft Military Team, she attended one of its outreaches, Pretty Hurts. Military volunteers noticed that Samantha desired to help others with her story and possessed the personality to be an effective communicator. She’s now working with Stonecroft volunteers to craft her testimony and begin official training to become a Stonecroft Military Speaker, where she can encourage and bring help to others in desperate situations.

“I want to help military families grieve if they experience the loss of a child. I also want them to accept God into their lives,” she said. “I want them to know how He can be part of their grieving process, giving them hope that everything will be OK.”

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