Courtesy of Wheeler Family
Tim Nudd
November 29, 2014 08:00 AM

An unspeakable tragedy, then a new beginning. A heartbreaking farewell, then a dramatic rescue. A mysterious disappearance, then a vow never to give up searching.

The resilience of the human spirit in the face of the ultimate adversity was a theme of a number of remarkable stories on PEOPLE.com this week – a grateful reminder, in this Thanksgiving week, of the promise of renewal even in times of desperation.

Below, check out the five stories that got the strongest reactions on PEOPLE.com over the past seven days. And let us know what you think of every story by clicking on the icons at the bottom.

They’ve been through unimaginable horror since Dec. 14, 2012, when they lost their son Benjamin in the Newtown shootings. Almost two years later, Francine and David Wheeler have welcomed a new baby boy, Matthew. Find out what David told PEOPLE about the “remarkable experience” of becoming new parents again, and what they’re doing every day to honor Ben’s memory.

Karen Rossi was trapped and feared the worst. The Lancaster, New York, pharmacy technician was buried in her car under several feet of ice during the massive snowstorm in western New York this week. “It felt like I was underground, buried in a casket,” she said. She was later rescued, but not before penning heartbreaking farewell letters to her daughters.

Readers were most angered this week by the murder of Jessica Padgett, a Pennsylvania mother of three who went missing on Nov. 21. Her body was found five days later, and her stepfather has been charged with homicide.

It’s been three torturous years since Michelle Parker, a 33-year-old Orlando mother of twins, disappeared. The case has gone cold. But PEOPLE caught up with her family this week to hear their remarkable story of love in the face of loss – and how they are trying to make sure something good can come out of the tragedy.

Here’s one way to get some closure after a divorce. When his wife divorced him in 2009, Kevin Cotter asked her what he was supposed to do with her wedding dress. Whatever you want, she told him. And boy, did he take that to heart – using the gown as everything from a golf net to a tow rope to a fish catcher. He came up with 101 uses in all, and they’re hilarious.

Check back again next week for another must-read roundup. Until then, see what readers are reacting to every day by clicking here.

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