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Hans’s Story

In Fun-loving Memory of Hans Loewen
January 8, 1994 - March 29, 2014

Our dear, sweet Hans was doing what Hans does best -- having a blast and sharing adrenaline flow!  Hans had forever been, with our support, our encouragement, and our vicarious participation, a calculating risk taker.  Hans was a loving warrior, and we want our warriors to be risk takers, don't we?  Indeed, don't we all take on risks the moment we walk out the door?  But Hans did it all with gusto!  He was a kitesurfer, a rock climber, an extreme downhill longboarder, a surfer, a paddleboarder, a marksman, a parkourer, a unicyclist, a slackliner, a snowboarder, a DJ, a mountain climber, an offroader, a triathlete, a mountain biker, a drummer, a reader, an ice climber, a comedian, a foster brother, our loved and loving son, brother, boyfriend, grandson, cousin and friend. 

Hans was just finishing his second year at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and planned to serve his country as a Naval or Marine Corps officer upon graduation in 2016.  His service selection desires and options were completely open: Navy Seal, Navy Pilot, Marine Corps Pilot, Surface Warfare Officer.  Hans lived like a warrior and would have been one of America's finest.

Hans researched each of his passions with a passion and when he engaged in it he did it with calculated intensity.  On Saturday, March 22 Hans miscalculated as he was engaging in one of his many extreme sports and suffered a devastating brain injury, despite wearing his helmet, after longboarding beside a slowly moving vehicle and falling beneath its rear wheel.  He died a week later on Saturday, March 29.  Oh God, hear our prayers of thanks for Hans receiving the world's best care at the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center, and bless those who received and will receive his many organs from his selfless donation.  

We all feel and hear and appreciate the outpouring of love and prayers and know that he has been uplifted in hope by all of us, our family and friends in Hampstead, on his beloved Topsail Island, all across the U.S. and the world, and his entire and incredible Naval Academy family.  We are at peace with the knowledge that he is in heaven, though he lived every day like it was already heaven on earth.

Flow with kindness.  Flow with love.  Shine like Hans.

Remembering Hans Loewen @

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People have often said to me during this first year without Hans, “Jennifer, I just can’t imagine what you’re going through.”

Yes, they can imagine. They just don’t like to, and if they do imagine it, they certainly don’t like it. A year ago I remember being on the other side, when my family was complete. We all loved each other. Hans and Zatha liked coming home. They were proud to introduce us as their parents. They loved each other and we had fun when we were together, just the four of us. We weren’t estranged from each other. Things were so right. We were a whole family.

I remember thinking regularly of my family and friends whose child had died, feeling sad for them, crying for them, hurting with them, because I did not like imagining how it must feel. I prayed regularly for my children’s lives, hoping that God could see that they were, would be, ARE good in the world. The pressure of mainstream, Google-accessible, self-translated religion tells us we MUST pray. And if we don’t, well, something will happen to teach us the lesson we supposedly need to learn. So I was grateful, truly grateful for my life and my family’s wholeness. I certainly could imagine the utter horribleness of your child dying; I just hoped, thought, and prayed it would never happen to me.

We had a large wall in our dining room in Idaho Falls. We ended up filling it with 8.5” by 11” sheets of paper, each with one unique quote printed on it. We would add a quote to the wall when we found one that was inspirational. We had friends and family propose quotes to display, and the family would convene to determine if the quote was worthy of the wall. We ended with about 45 quotes up there. The first was, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The second one read, “Pray not for an easy life. Pray for strength.” Well, we certainly need that one now.

Because then it happened. And it happened quickly. The back kicktail of the skateboard came in contact with the rear wheel of the Jeep, then in less than 1/100th of a second it was flipped upward, its rear truck crushed into the asphalt. Hans kept his forward motion, and gravity brought him to the ground. The same rear tire ran over his head. The helmet he was wearing couldn’t protect him, and he died his first time. His friend brought his heart back to life, but it is an amazing muscle and doesn’t really need the brain, Hans’s crushed brain, to work. He died his second time a week later, one year ago on this date, March 29. 

I still say to myself what must be the usual sayings of a mother whose child has died. It’s not supposed to happen to him, to me, to us. It’s not fair. Hans was awesome. We were awesome. We appreciated and loved each other. People continue to say (and I still can’t stand it) that everything happens for a reason, we must learn the lesson, that it’s all part of His plan. It hurts to believe that people, when they see me, might be thinking, “There’s the mother of a dead child. Wonder what she did to deserve this. I’m glad that’s part of her plan and not mine.”

I have a hard time reconciling my deep grief – wanting the world to grieve with me because Hans was such a wonderful human – and keeping it in perspective. Each one of us will be affected by death in our lifetime, and each of us will die. The circumstances of death are different, and yes, many are worse than others. Each person and family is different. Grieving is different. But the end result is the same. The person I love is dead.

And so I admit it. I am jealous. Jealous that all of you who read this, and the billions who will never read this, are alive. I want Hans to be alive. But I also don't want to be consumed by anger and bitterness and jealousy. I’d always tell the kids that jealousy (coveting), is, in my opinion, the worst emotion or sin because it propels the rest of the evils into action – theft, murder, disrespect. I have a daily struggle now with my jealousy. Because, for the rest of my life, Hans is dead. And dead is so damn final; written in stone, as they say. 

It is true that really all people will remember about you is how you made them feel. I know I never was, and never will be, perfect in that way. People have odd ways of interpreting others based on their own beliefs, thoughts, and perceptions, but I work hard every day, still trying to live my life in a positive way, albeit with less confidence and peace now; to live it pleasantly, graciously, thankfully (for what I still do have – a wonderful, loving husband, a beautiful, hard-working daughter, loving and supportive family and friends), and with honor – to honor those who are still living in the world with me, especially our sweet, amazing Zatha, and for those who have died before me, especially our sweet, amazing Hans.

Hans’s life has been marked on his gravestone with two dates and a dash. He made the most of his dash. I’m trying to continue making the most of mine, trying to imagine it full and happy and peaceful again. Think about “What’s in your dash?” as you watch this video we made to mark our first year without Hans. Then I dare you to make the most of your dash, make it as badass as Hans’s. 

45 people hearted this



Bambi Butler
By Bambi Butler
Thinking of you. Praying for you.
Beth Sellers
By Beth Sellers
Eric, Jennifer and Zatha-
What a beautifully done tribute to Hans. You brought every bit of life he had in him to the forefront adn have inspired so many others by sharing Han's life story. Your ability to share such a personal loss is such a profound way is what I am jealous of (Jennifer since you mentioned being jealous in the story) - you are beautiful people.
Alan B.
By Alan B.
Dear Eric, Jennifer, and Zatha,
A quick note of encouragement to you as the anniversary of Hans' funeral approaches tomorrow: You, your family, and Hans are remembered, and I am praying for your comfort, joy, and peace.
Lynn Melander
Eric & Jennifer,

Our hearts are saddened. I don't know what to say.

This mortal life is beautiful and rewarding yet challenging and painful. Each individual has challenges. I can only think that to know happiness one must experience sadness. I do not enjoy sadness.

We will always remember Hans. My boys knew him when you were in Idaho and during our trip to Washington DC.

We miss you.

Lynn and Family
jay flowers
By Jay Flowers
When I am around you and Eric, i know that all I can do is sit with you in your pain. Continued prayers for your strength.
Laurie Kostrzewski
By Laurie Kostrzewski, Kirk '16/12 CO, Buffalo, NY
Thank you Jennifer, from another Midshipman Mom. You need to know how Hans' spirit is yet touching our lives through your sharing of his. Trust God and know he holds Hans in His arms. Be blessed!
Sharon Philpott
By Sharon
Loewen Family - I wish I had met Hans and seen first hand the obvious joy he had for life. The world lost an amazing young man yet he touched so many during his life. You are also an amazing family!
Thomas Burggraf
By Tom Burggraf
Dear Eric, Jennifer and Zatha,
While I have only met Eric, you have all captured my heart. And because of that, my heart breaks with and for you, and is inspired by Hans' great dash. It seems that love as deep as you shared, yields equally deep pain when it is taken. Easter has always been for me a time of overwhelming hope, when God said "No matter how things look, with Me, the best is yet to come." That can be hard to believe in the best of times, unimaginably harder in the worst. I pray that God will comfort and sustain you in hope and love. You haven't stopped loving, despite knowing the risks. And that is heroic. Well done, Loewen family.
Lisa Abruzzo
By Lisa & Joe Abruzzo, Tim '17/19
Beautiful video and tribute to Hans! Although I never had the privilege of meeting Hans or you, I feel like I know your family. Thank you again for sharing Hans with us and helping us to know the amazing young man he was.
Linda Weiss
By Linda Weiss
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your sons dash was amazing and the video is very inspiring. I continue to pray for and think of you all.