Mourning with those who mourn

Two weeks ago my brother-in-law passed away unexpectedly.  His is not the first death of someone close since Tom died, but it maybe hits a little closer to home, since Richard was relatively young and his death was unexpected.

The weekend of the funeral I kept thinking surely there had to be something I could say or do to make things better.  After all – what was the point of having gone through the very same thing if I couldn’t somehow help my sister-in-law avoid some of the pain?  I know that sounds silly … there’s no magic pill for grieving.  Death is an ever present part of mortality and sooner or later we face the loss of someone we love dearly.  It will never be easy to face living without that person.  But I wanted so much to somehow take away the pain.  All I could really do was cry with Joanna and her children and offer lame words of hope that eventually it would be a little easier and reassure her that everything she was feeling was normal.  I couldn’t even offer her any magic remedies to make it easier.

In talking with widows and widowers, I’ve discovered that grieving is very individualized.  While many spend time talking to their loved ones, I have always felt self conscious about that … but I write to Tom pretty frequently.  I’ve found comfort in sleeping in the same bed surrounded by all the reminders of my life with Tom – but many find that very reminder too difficult and have to make big changes to move forward.  So…  the best advice I can come up with is:  cry when you need to for as many years as you need to.  Be gentle with yourself and don’t expect to feel normal for awhile.  Enjoy the moments when you feel happy – because sorrow will still be there even if you find things to smile about.  Trust Heavenly Father that He will take care of you even if you can’t see how.

It seems like so very little.  A wise prophet taught that as Christians we are to be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light, yea and are willing to to mourn with those that mourn, yea and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8-9).  I hope at least my experiences have helped me to be a little better at this – to know what it feels like to have someone mourn with me and to be able to do that for my family.

Tom and Richard were great friends.  I can only imagine their reunion as they shared their own unique greetings and inside jokes.  They shared a love of all things BYU as well as time spent out on the golf course.  I have Richard to thank for my first married home.  Tom and I left on our honeymoon with no place to live but Richard came through in the clutch with our little basement apartment. He and Joanna were generous enough to open their home to us 18 months later – a lucky house where our hopes of conceiving a baby came true.  Richard was always ready to lend a helping hand and always made a point of making me feel welcome as I figured out how to fit into this big, loving family I married into.  I’ll miss his welcoming smile and hug when I go to Provo to visit family.  I know he will continue to take care of his family with the same love and devotion he showed while alive.  We’ll miss him.

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