As an endless array of people have noted over the past few months on Twitter, 2016 was maybe the worst year in recorded history for celebrity deaths.
It ended with Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, but it started with Craig Strickland.
The country singer was reported missing in late December of 2015 and his body then turned up days later, a few miles away from where he and a friend had planned to go duck hunting in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
It appears as though Strickland died from drowning after a storm blew through the area and his boat capsized.
Now, a year after his passing, Strickland’s wife has paid tribute to her husband in moving fashion.
Wrote Helen Strickland at the time, shortly after her husband’s corpse was discovered.
“It was truly such a blessing the day we found Craig,” she wrote on Instagram.
“We were finally able to find some kind of peace knowing he was with his Heavenly Father. God showed us then, and continues to show us, that He takes care of his children.
“While the pain is great that we carry, our Lord will carry the burden if we choose to let Him.”
Fast forward 12 months and Helen has returned to social media to share another special message in Craig’s honor.
It’s a screen capture of the final text message exchange between the couple.
“I remember receiving these last texts from him before talking for the last time on the phone,” Helen wrote along with the following photo.
“I’m so thankful God gave me the blessing of getting to say and hear the words ‘I love you’ to/from him just moments before he and Chase got in their 10ft flat bottom boat.”
Helen went on to give thanks to God for helping her through this unspeakable tragedy.
“A year later, I can testify to God’s goodness and the gift of love that He pours out to those in pain,” she added today.
“Sometimes His gifts of love aren’t what we want or expect – for example, our savior Jesus Christ coming as a baby. But in the end, God’s way is always better than what we want for ourselves.
“God is good, and His ways are perfect – I trust that.”
It’s worth noting that a foundation has been set up in Strickland’s honor.
Fans of late artist can donate to scholarships in his name. For more information, visit craigstricklandfoundation.org.
In conclusion, Helen touched on the lessons she has learned from losing her husband.
Losing Craig was not what any of us desired; but as [Randy] told me — when we get sad, we can think of all the ways God will bless others through Craig’s story.
What a wonderful and humbling reminder that God has chosen Craig’s family to help others.
At the closing of this year, I am thankful for God’s gift of life.
And one day, I will be so excited to sit with Craig and our Father in heaven, as we tell Craig about all the opportunities his family had to share the love of Christ with hurting people all over the world because of his testimony. What a gift of love that will be.
May he rest in peace.