Pine River pastor and wife share their family's tragic story of losing a daughter

Memoir, 'A Life After Death', details the months following an unexpected tragedy.

The Borland family
Tristan and Jill Borland, of Pine River, authors of a book released in January 2022, pose with their children.
Contributed / Tristan Borland

PINE RIVER — Riverside Church Pastor Tristan Borland and wife Jill Borland, of Pine River, have written a book about the 2016 death of their 3-year-old daughter, Maria, following a brief illness .

In "Life After Death: The Struggle to Live After the Loss of a Child," the Borlands write about living life in the aftermath of a tragedy.

Local pastor followed an unexpected path to Pine River

The back-of-book summary reads: "How do you schedule a funeral for the sudden death of your three-year-old daughter when you are nine months pregnant? This is one of the many disorienting questions Tristan and Jill faced in the days following their daughter Maria's death. A Life After Death is their reflections as they faced the tragedy of death while still embracing life, faith, and hope. It is a love letter for the daughter they lost and for their children who continue to live."

Life after death book cover.
"Life After Death: The Struggle to Live After the Loss of a Child" is a book by Tristan and Jill Borland, of Pine River, released in January 2022.
Contributed / Tristan Borland

For the past 11 years, Tristan Borland has been pastor at Riverview Church in Pine River. Jill often worked as a registered nurse while homeschooling their children.

Together, they have raised a family surrounded by friends and neighbors who support them.


We did most of our writing in the first few years after Maria died.
Pastor Tristan Borland

Before Maria's death, they had four daughters and were expecting a fifth daughter only days later. Maria was their third daughter.

They've since had a son.

"We did most of our writing in the first few years after Maria died," Tristan said. "We delayed several years before deciding to publish. Once we found a publisher, the editing and rewriting process was pretty slow going, partly because we are both busy and have lots of other obligations and partly because it was emotionally difficult.

"At the end of the day, we're glad we completed the book, but it wasn't easy," he said. "We do hope it will be helpful for others who have lost."

The book is available on some local store shelves, online at Amazon or from publisher Wipf and Stock at

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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