How do Mormons view grief?
Personal Response by Karen Merkley
The lights aren’t always green. The bread isn’t always fresh. Tires go flat. Bills mound. People take ill and die at every stage of life. People struggle. Others starve. Wars go on.
Grief is part of the human experience. Opposition is necessary for growth, according to the Mormon view of our mortal experience, revealed by the Lord through modern prophets. It can, however, be lifted through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Mormons believe that the Savior not only died to pay for our sins but also to take upon Himself our sorrow, grief, and infirmities (Alma 7:11-12).
Patricia Pinegar, former President of the Primary, or children’s organization of the Mormon Church, speaks of her own encounter with grief and the Savior’s intercession:
The difficult experience of my son’s death helped me identify and rejoice in the blessings of peace, hope, and direction-blessings that all who truly accept and live the gospel of Jesus Christ may enjoy. I can bear witness to the words of Elder Richard G. Scott: “Please learn that as you wrestle with a challenge and feel sadness because of it, you can simultaneously have peace and rejoicing” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 20; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 17). (“Peace, Hope and Direction,” Ensign, Nov. 1999).
The Savior Himself was a man of sorrow and grief, yet He must have had the supreme joy of knowing He was in tune with His Father and solace in that unique relationship with Him. We, too, can find that peace and assurance that we are not abandoned when death of a loved one strikes or when someone’s agency tragically colludes with the plans for our own life.
Elder Bateman, a contemporary Mormon leader, speaks as well to the healing balm that can come when we ask the Lord for that special soul salve that only He can truly provide:
Death teaches that we do not experience a fulness of joy in mortality and that everlasting joy can be achieved only with the assistance of the Master (see D&C 93:33-34). Just as the lame man at the pool of Bethesda needed someone stronger than himself to be healed (see John 5:1-9), so we are dependent on the miracles of Christ’s atonement if our souls are to be made whole from grief, sorrow, and sin…. Through Christ, broken hearts are mended and peace replaces anxiety and sorrow.
Grief isn’t always caused by death or sickness. There are as many life burdens as there are blessings. Of the lesser-visible crosses, modern apostle, Marvin J. Ashton remarks:
One type of cross is that of violated trust by a parent, a family member, a teacher, a bishop, a member of the stake presidency, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a co-worker, or a classmate.
Another cross that isn’t always visible but that on occasion can be very heavy and worrisome is the lack of self-respect-a feeling of unwillingness to accept oneself. Can you find it in your heart to once in a while compliment yourself on your behavior? Or do you think poorly of yourself no matter what you do? Having feelings like these can be a heavy cross to bear. Such a cross may slow down your eternal progression. (“Carry Your Cross,” Liahona, Sep. 1988.)
My own crosses have taught me, more than anything, about who Jesus Christ really is and who I really am. I’ve felt deeply His knowledge of me exceeding my own, and His awareness and recognition of my every need. I’ve seen Him anticipate circumstances and prepare me; walk with me, converse with me in ways that registered completely and undeniably, and I learned that I want more than anything His closeness forever. Regardless of their source, there is solace to be found through drawing near to the Lord, who descended below all of the things we endure, so He could lift us up out of them. I testify that His power is real, that His knowledge of our struggles is intimate, and that His ability to help us is unparalleled. If you would like to know more about how to access His power, please visit www.mormon.org or chat with the missionaries.
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