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Salonen: To Savanna's family: We grieve with you

In recent days, our community has been deeply moved by a beautiful young lady named Savanna Lafontaine-Greywind, whose disappearance has brought many to our knees.

Sunday night, her body was discovered just miles from here in the wild Red River. Like others, my heart hurts as I numbly grope for words.

Though I didn't know Savanna, she is vivid to me through my same-aged children, and in our shared motherhood. As a child launched on the reservation, I have a tender heart toward the Native people and the many uphill battles they've faced.

Now, the unimaginable, and many moments when words fall short. Yet with little else to offer, I extend mine now to you, her family and friends, hoping to bring some measure of solace.

Above all, know that we are grieving with you. The outpouring for your dear one must seem surreal. Yet as your brothers and sisters, we share in at least some of your pain, and yearn to ease yours.

Certainly, you deserve to hold what is happening very close. At the same time, thank you for letting us be one with you in sorrow. As members of the same human family, you are part of us, and loved.

If God has seemed distant lately, please be comforted by the ways his "still, small voice" seems to be whispering, even now. Namely, by sweet Haisley Jo's precious little life, a tremendous sign of God's presence in this trial.

He was near, too, as family and friends searched for Savanna and discovered a site that has become a focus in the case. And when kayakers happened upon a misplaced object held still by a tree near the river, God's voice boomed: "My beloved is here!"

The image of Our Lady of Sorrows from my faith tradition comes before me now; a depiction of Jesus' mother weeping over the death of her son, who brought hope and life just three days later.

God undoubtedly weeps with you, yet is strong enough to lead you gently through what is to come. May he be a rock for you now.

And take heart knowing that Savanna's hell is over, and that she is being held in a most tender manner. Though gone from immediate sight, she's still here, in your laughter, tears, and love for each other. Be gentle toward one another and yourselves. Choose love often, as she would want.

As Psalm 34:18 reminds us, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Savanna is a gift. We are learning much from her as we watch, listen and pray. We are honored to know her through you.

God be with you all.

Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. Email her at