Sasha Stopanjac (22) lost her life in a car accident on February 21st in New York. Only three days later, her family launched a donation campaign on Facebook with the goal of donating funds to the Charity Organization Serbs for Serbs instead of buying flowers in memory of Sasha and her love that she shared with her family and friends.
Of the originally planned $ 1,000, a total of $ 29,384 was donated by 502 contributors. Appreciative of this noble act of kindness on the part of the Stopanjac family and their friends, but also by the fact that Sasha planned to stay in Serbia after her studies and provide assistance to needy families and people, we asked the abbot of Visoki Decani Monastery, Archmandrite Sava to address the family in a short letter, which we are sharing:
“It was with great sadness that we heard about Sasha Stopanjac’s tragic death, who studied in the United States with the desire to become a social worker and help vulnerable families in Serbia. We admire the wish of her family which, despite their deep grief, launched a campaign on Facebook to raise funds in Sasha’s memory, money which would be used to help needy people in our area through the Charity Organization Serbs for Serbs. This campaign started with modest expectations, but was met with a response from many people who, motivated by compassion for Sasha, her loss and the love of her family, raised even more funds, which will enable one family to be provided with a house to live in which will become a part of Sasha’s legacy.
Of course, it is difficult for us as human beings to find human comfort in tragedies such as this one, but as Christians who live with the knowledge and awareness that this life is transient and continues in Christ the Savior, it gives us all the strength and spiritual consolation in times of suffering. Our loved ones may temporarily depart from our midst, but through our love for them, they miraculously continue to be alive, especially when, in memory of our departed loved ones, we help others who are suffering.
Life, which is a gift of God, does not manifest itself only in biological existence, because man was first of all created for eternal life and carries an immortal soul that continues its path to God. That is why at funeral services, besides our sorrow at parting with our loved ones, we still remain in constant prayerful communion with them, calmly surrendering ourselves to God’s inexpressible providence that transcends human reason. The Lord has conquered death forever with His Resurrection, and we should always remember His deep and meaningful words, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11: 25-26)
In that faith we pray to Holy King Stefan of Decani, our protector, to offer his prayers for the newly departed Sasha before the throne of God, so that her soul may find eternal peace and joy in His Kingdom, and her family would find spiritual comfort and strength.
In blessed repose, give eternal rest, O Lord, to the soul of Your servant Sasha who has fallen asleep and make her memory eternal. ”
Fr. Sava, Abbot of the Visoki Decani Monastery