Today I heard from a good friend friend of mine that she miscarried her baby this morning. She was safely in her second trimester, out of the "danger zone" so to speak. I was at school when I heard the news- the last bell of the day had just rung at school, I was busy trying to fill out a reimbursement form for a set of Catcher in the Rye books, and bam, there was the text. Tears sprung to my eyes instantly as I imagined her pain, heartbreak and disappointment on an afternoon like this one.
I have been reflecting a lot lately on God and death and the purpose of trials and disappointments and why it is that this life can seem so damn hard sometimes. And it seems like no one is spared. Last week Greg and I heard the devastating news that a friend's brother had committed suicide. At Christmas an old roommate of mine lost her little sister. A former student tragically fell to her death in a rappelling accident this fall.
One thing I learned when my dad died is that there are two categories of things you can say to someone who is suffering loss. 1.Things that help a little bit and 2. Things that don't help at all. There is no category of things that help a lot. Only time brings that, I suppose. At the end of the day it is still suffering, it is still grief, it is heartache. No words take the grief away. Grief is interesting in the way that it refuses to be seen out the door. It is one emotion that absolutely will not leave until it feels like it has good and had its turn, no matter how many times you think you have successfully shooed it away. Grief is an insistent guest that leaves only on His time, and never at your invitation.
But still. There ARE things to say that help a little.
These are the things that people said to me that helped me most:
- I love you.
- God loves you.
- I am praying for you.
- I am thinking about you.
- You are an incredible person.
- I am here for you.
- You can call any day, any time.
Interestingly enough, I hated being told I was "strong" because I didn't want to be strong. I wanted to be weak and I wanted to cry. The worst was "I can't even imagine how hard this must be for you." That only made it harder.
I don't understand a lot about God. I don't even understand a little about God, if I'm being truthful- I've pretty much got a notebook full of questions for the man when I meet him again. There is so much about this life that is unfair and unkind. I don't know why he doesn't give a loving, secure couple a baby when they want it more than anything. I don't know why he takes away someone's dad right before he was about to serve a three year mission for God. I don't know why he makes some people gay and some people straight; I don't know why some of my 16 year old students have known divorce and broken families and terrible abuse; I don't know why I have a warm home and a great job but the 27 year old in Goya, Argentina has four children and doesn't know how to read. I don't know.
One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon says this: "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." (1 Nephi 11:17) Sometimes this scripture is the only thing that offers me comfort when I'm frustrated with these big questions. There is so much I don't understand or don't know the meaning of, but the one thing I do know without a doubt is that God loves His children.
Another favorite Book of Mormon scripture of mine is found in Mosiah 18:8-9. The prophet says that those who follow Christ are "willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; yea and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." It's interesting that he doesn't mention anything about being there for each other in good times, being willing to celebrate, being willing to party. A true disciple is willing to "mourn with those that mourn." I know that I will always remember the sacrifices that friends and family made the weeks and months surrounding my dad's death to be there for me and to mourn with me. I can't forget the efforts to be at the funeral, the long late night talks in my apartment, the lunches loved ones spent with me while I was a muddle of tears. Those were people who were willing to mourn with me, and I have a special place in my heart filled with gratitude and love for them.
I'll just leave with this before I sign off for the night. One of my favorite hymns is "Be Still my Soul." The year that my dad died I repeated the last verse to myself over and over and over and found great comfort in those healing words. I pasted the lyrics below and bolded the phrases that mean the most to me. My very favorite is the line in the last verse- "When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone." What an absolutely beautiful promise. If nothing else, I guess I will hold strong to that.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.
I would love to know the scriptures, quotes, and songs that help you the most when you are struggling with "disappointment, grief and fear." Please, use the comment section today to "mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort."