One of the hardest parts of life is dealing with its end. As the saying goes, no one gets out alive. Sooner or later, people that we love will pass on to the next life. Even when we have a firm testimony of life after death and the resurrection, saying goodbye to our loved ones in this world and parting from them for a time, no matter how tiny and insignificant in the great scheme of eternity, is heartbreaking and unbelievably hard.
Have you ever felt like your chest was getting squeezed and no matter how hard you tried to suck in air you just couldn’t breathe? Have you had the world spin around you and then crumble into blackness? Have you felt a heavy weight drop on you and threaten to crush your bones into dust? Have you felt your heart ripped out of your chest and felt the gaping hole left behind? These are the feelings that hit me when my mom suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.
When my mom died, I was so grateful for the gospel and for my testimony of a loving Father in Heaven, of life after death and the resurrection. I was thankful for temples and that families can be sealed together forever. My testimony of these gospel truths brought me great comfort. However, I think sometimes we are too quick to recite these things to people who are grieving.
As well-meaning as I’m sure people were, after receiving several cheerful messages of “Aren’t you so glad for the gospel?” and “It was God’s plan,” I was ready to punch the next person who said that to me! The quick comments felt dismissive of my pain. I started to wonder if my pain was somehow indicative of a lack of true faith.
It’s OK to Mourn
Grieving is not an indication of a lack of faith. In the April 1992 conference, Elder Nelson said,
Irrespective of age, we mourn for those loved and lost. Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.” (D&C 42:45.)
Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.
Losing my mom has been incredibly painful. I grieve for all things I am not able to do with her, all the milestones she that she misses, and the loss of my very best friend and the one person I could always go to for advice and help. In my grief, I am grateful for the perspective the Gospel provides me, but it does not take away the fact that I miss my mom HERE, in THIS life.
My favorite verse in the entire Bible is only two words long. I think they exemplify everything about our Savior. When Jesus came back to town after Lazarus had died, Martha and Mary met Him. Mary fell crying at His feet and the scriptures say, “Jesus wept.” What a beautiful passage of scripture!
Jesus knew it would all be ok. He knew that in a few more minutes Lazarus would come forth and Mary and Martha would have their brother back. But He did not dismiss their very real pain – instead, He mourned with them.
The apostle James E. Talmage wrote,
The sight of the two women so overcome by grief … caused Jesus to sorrow [with them] so that He groaned in spirit and was deeply troubled. This experience testifies of the compassion, empathy, and love that our Savior and our Heavenly Father feel for each of us.
In the October 2012 conference, Sister Reeves said,
Our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, know us and love us. They know when we are in pain or suffering in any way. They do not say, “It’s OK that you’re in pain right now because soon everything is going to be all right. You will be healed, or your husband will find a job, or your wandering child will come back.” They feel the depth of our suffering, and we can feel of Their love and compassion in our suffering.
Through the Atonement, Jesus suffered the pain and anguish that each of us feel. He knows how to help us and comfort us because He knows EXACTLY how we feel. He mourns with us and strengthens us to be able to bear our burden of grief.
He sends the Holy Ghost to be our comforter and has given us the Gospel to give us hope that we can be with our loved ones again.
…. coming soon … Mourn With Those Who Mourn: Part 2 – 5 Ways to Help