In the German town of Haltern am See, north of Dusseldorf, the silence speaks.
The Airbus A320 crash has plunged the town into mourning and the normally busy lakeside streets are unusually still.
But nowhere is the depth of emotion as acute as at the Joseph-Koenig school where pupils, teachers and staff have gathered together to share their grief.
On a day when the school exchange trip was due to return from Spain, friends and families of the 16 students and two teachers who died were just beginning to process the news that there would be no coming back.
Psychologists and counsellors were brought into the school to offer what help they could but some pupils were simply beyond consolation.
On the school steps where hundreds of children would normally be making their way to and from class a host of candles burned alongside homemade signs reflecting the unfathomable pain.
One read: “Yesterday we were many. Today we are alone.”
Another captured the disbelief in a word: “Why?”
Just yards away in the northern town’s railway station life seems to continue as normal and yet there is no mistaking the sombre atmosphere as children made their way home after a special assembly.
In broken English one boy told Sky News: “So many tears have fallen here and the grief at times has felt unbearable.
“My friends had so many dreams, such a future. What do the parents do now? What do the brothers and sisters do? We have grown up together and now they are gone.”
Policewoman Ramona Horst summed up the mood of a town where everyone seemed to have some connection to grieving families.
“No classes today,” she said.
“No lessons today. It is too sad. It has been so quiet with sadness all over the town.
“As police officers we can just help to organise a situation where the children can simply talk to each other.
“This is not a very big town and I don’t know how it will ever get over this.”