Kayla Jean Mueller, an American prisoner held by ISIS, was confirmed dead on Tuesday, the Washington Post's Adam Goldman reports. The Post and a number of other outlets have also published an absolutely heartbreaking letter Mueller sent to her family from captivity last year.
"I have come to see there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it," she told her family. "Please be patient, give your pain to God. I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing. Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I + by God's will we will be together soon."
The circumstances of Mueller's death are still unclear. Last week, ISIS claimed that Mueller was killed in a Jordanian airstrike. But ISIS has strong incentives to lie here and has lied in the past.
Mueller disappeared in Aleppo, Syria, in 2013. She was there as an aid worker helping innocent victims of the Syrian civil war. "For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal. (I will not let this be) something we just accept," Mueller said in a 2013 address to the Kiwanis Club in her hometown of Prescott, Arizona, as reported by Prescott's Daily Courier newspaper. "When Syrians hear I'm an American, they ask, 'Where is the world?' All I can do is cry with them, because I don't know."
Mueller's letter, which the Post says was released by her family, was full of the same grace and humanity.
"If you could say I have 'suffered' at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through," Mueller wrote in the 2014 letter. "I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness."
Here's the full text of the letter, based on the Post's transcription (paragraph breaks added for readability). You can read the original handwritten version over at The Post:
If you are receiving this letter it means I am still detained but my cell mates (starting from 11/2/2014) have been released. I have asked them to contact you + send this letter. It's hard to know what to say. Please know I am in a safe location, completely unharmed + healthy (put on weight in fact); I have been treated w/ the utmost respect + kindness.
I wanted to write you all a well thought out letter (but I didn't know if my cell mates would be leaving in the coming days or the coming months restricting my time but primarily) I could only but write the letter a paragraph at a time, just the thought of you sends me into a fit of tears.
If you could say I have "suffered" at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness.
I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c there was literally no one else... + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall.
I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that, even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it. I pray each day that if nothing else, yo have felt a certain closeness + surrender to God as well + have formed a bond of love + support amongst one another... I miss you all as if it has been a decade of forced separation.
I have had many a long hour to think, to think of all the things I will do w/ Lex, our first family camping trip, the first meeting @ the airport. I have had many hours to think how only in your absence have I finally @ 25 years old come to realize your place in my life. The gift that is each one of you + the person I could + could not be if you were not a part of my life, my fmaily, my support. I DO NOT want the negotiations for my release to be your duty, if there is any other option take it, even if it takes more time.
This should never have become your burden.
I have asked these women to support you; please seek their advice. If you have not done so already, [REDACTED] can contact [REDACTED] who may have a certain level of experience with these people. None of us could have known it would be this long but I know I am also fighting from my side in the ways that I am able + I have a lot of fight left in me. I am not breaking down + I will not give in no matter how long it takes.
I wrote a song some months ago that says, "The part of me that pains the most also gets me out of bed, w/out your hope there would be nothing left..." aka—The thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the hope of our reunion is the source of my strength.
Please be patient, give your pain to God. I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing. Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I + by God's will we will be together soon.
All my everything,