All I had to do was look at Jim’s face. Even though deep inside me I knew, I still asked, “What is it? What’s wrong?” Jim just stood there and looked at me, tears running down his face. In a small, trembling voice I asked, “Is it Taylor?”
The tragic and sudden loss of Karen Gruden’s twenty-one-year-old daughter, Taylor, ushered in a heartbreaking period of darkness for the grieving mother. Days, months, and years of deep grief and pain left Karen apathetic to life, to the point of merely existing.
But to Karen’s surprise, her shattered heart became the starting point for a new journey with God. Aware of God’s presence during those dark days and mindful that He was her invisible, ever-present lifeline, Karen’s small faith gradually began to grow, ultimately and beautifully healing and sustaining her. God showed up by extending the grace that was needed and even showed her miracles, gifts, and tender mercies throughout the healing process.
Never Alone chronicles Karen Gruden’s transformation from brokenness to wholeness—from believer to fully devoted follower of Jesus. No longer defined by tragedy, Karen shares her emotional and inspiring story of beauty from ashes, emerging on the other side of grief with strength, purpose, and joy.
Karen Gruden is an author and a talented graphic designer, spending more than twenty-five years in the graphics industry. With a bachelor of fine arts from Bradley University, she has illustrated books, greeting cards, CD covers, logos, and magazines. Her background includes both freelance and corporate work and spans various roles, including production manager, art director, designer, editor, and proofreader. Karen has two children, one of whom lives in heaven with the Lord. Her son is married and lives close by. She has three grandchildren. Karen and her husband, Jim, reside in the Chicago area.
While this story is grounded in God’s faithfulness, it centers around my journey with Christ, and how events in my daughter Taylor’s life—and death—shaped my own.
Even before time had put some distance between me and the tragic day that changed my life forever, I was able to thank God that He was there.
Before the accident, my life experiences had changed me little by little until my daily faith walk had become lukewarm at best.
With the help of God, hardships can cause us to develop a deep and mature faith—the kind of faith that will see us through to the other side of a tragedy, to a place of healing.
But I didn’t want to be defined only by a tragedy, having recently discovered that I am ultimately defined by who I am in Christ.
My excessive grief had become self-destructive, something that was clearly not from God or from a place of faith, so I turned to confession and repentance in prayer, and asked God once again for His help.
Through the unimaginable—the death of my daughter—God was transforming me from being a believer into becoming a fully-devoted follower of Christ.
This transformation became my heart’s desire as God miraculously turned a profound tragedy into something of value for His kingdom.
It took me decades of life experience and the death of my daughter for me to acknowledge my need to lean on God for everything and to listen to Him through His Word and in prayer.
My brokenness following Taylor’s accident somehow allowed me to rediscover a profound, personal connection with Jesus that I had buried deep inside—my faith that began that night in Colorado so long ago.