Something that’s been on my mind lately. (And a lot in the past 2.5 years.)
We are so blessed because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know God’s plan for us includes coming to earth to get bodies and to be tested. To have trials and to grow from them.
But I think that sometimes we start assuming that this knowledge should help us circumvent the natural processes of life. You know, make our trials into not-trials. Because after all we know that God loves us and that His plan (including it’s trials) are in our best interest, right? So that pain you think you’re feeling?
If you had enough faith,
If you had the right attitude,
If you chose to feel differently,
If you thought about things the right way,
Pain is pain. Grief is grief. I remember when my mother died (when I was 30, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with the details) I thought I would die from the pain of it. Even though I was 100% certain that I would see her and be with her again one day, it hurt so bad I felt like I couldn’t even breathe, much less keep living. After a few days I remember thinking—if it hurts me this bad, how do people with no belief in an afterlife handle it? Because this is almost unbearable.
I was never so grateful as when President Hinckley talked about his grief and pain after his sweet wife died. He was very open about how difficult it was, and I felt like he was giving permission to grieve to those who felt that a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ made grief inappropriate, unnecessary, or a sign of weakness.
Do you think you can just leapfrog over difficult feelings, covering them with a thick blanket of “I believe”? Do you think that those feelings just go away and leave you alone? I do not. I believe that, to quote the title of a book written long ago (that I’ve never actually read), “feelings buried alive never die.”
I believe that feelings have to be worked through and wrestled with and prayed over and thought about and (if you’re a verbal extrovert like me) talked about and that you may need to repeat one or more of processes many time. I believe that the grief process is very real and must be honored and that we experience it on many occasions in our lives. As mortals we experience so much loss beyond the “normal” things we expect to grieve for. Loss of jobs. Loss of health. Loss of place and situation. Loss of friends. Loss of annual beach trips. Loss of finances. Loss of the life we thought we were going to have.
Maybe there really are some people out there with the ability to will their inconvenient/uncomfortable feelings away. But if there are, they are the minority. The rest of us are going to keep having them because this is a part of mortality. These feelings are part of what we’re learning. How to have them. How to deal with them. What we can and cannot do because of them. How to teach our children about them. How to love each other during them. How to support other people’s difficult feelings so that they feel the space and support to do the work they need to do.
I will be indebted forever to the people who have been with me in my feelings of the last 2.5 years. I have learned in a new way what it feels like to be truly mourned with, and I hope I am able to show that kind of love as I go forward in my life.