Posts Tagged patience
I’ve had a few experiences with people mourning lately, as well as a discussion on how someone believes that part of mourning is coming to agree with their views. This can be a very delicate topic, as mourning involves already being in some sort of inner pain. This is not anything about how to mourn or how to come out of mourning. This is also not for those who are in deep depression, who may need professional help to come back out into the world they inhabited before. This is about the scriptural instruction to “mourn with those that mourn” (Mosiah 18:9)
You see, we seem to have some odd ideas as to what it means to mourn with someone. Some try platitudes. A platitude is anything that is given as a truism designed to “make it all better”, putting forth very little effort in hopes that the person will just stop mourning.
“It wasn’t meant to be.”
“They’re in a better place now”
“At least it was quick”
“It’ll be over soon”
“At least you won’t have to deal with any more (or in the foreseeable future)”
With the LDS view of the afterlife (having families be together forever and marriage eternal), we’ve added our own uniquely painful and ineffective versions to the list.
“You’ll have a chance in the next life”
“They’ve just gone ahead to prepare for you”
“Now they can run and play”
“You’ll get them back in the next life”
“Just keep praying”
Do NOT, under any circumstances, no matter how well intentioned, let these phrases or anything like unto it pass your lips to someone who is mourning. Work to have these never even come to mind. They are not helpful to someone who is mourning and can even make it deeper, driving them away from you instead of drawing you closer together.
It makes no difference on your believing it is true or if they believe it is true, these are still just empty platitudes. A father who has lost his child may know of a surety that his child is whole and alive with God, but that does not negate his need for mourning. A woman may feel she is passed the age where she would have a chance to have a husband and children, know that the Plan of God includes her marrying and having children, but still mourn for her loss. A person who has been living with sin can know the love and forgiveness of Christ and still mourn what they had lost from that sin. A platitude may help you feel better around someone else’s mourning, but they are empty, stinging words to that person’s soul.
Actions to try and bring someone out of their mourning can be just as problematic, but in a different way. (I’ll note again that deep depression should be handled professionally). While those who “mourn . . . shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4), this does not mean that you need to “just cheer them up” or “get them out” or “put a smile on their face”. While these may help once mourning is abated for a time, no scripture says “cheer up those who mourn”.
We mourn not when we’re in a brief down or when we’re feeling just a bit low; we mourn when we are feeling pain deep down to our souls. These are deep wounds, the kind that if they were physical would be cuts through and into the bone. These kind of wounds do not need little bandages or mild pain killers, but need stitching or holding together until time can make it closer to whole. There is no “just walk it off” for mourning, no “it’s not that bad” for wounds so deep, no “just look up” for damage so deep. There will be scars, pain, and no immediate fix.
Mourning takes time to heal, and will never heal completely. The best, The Best help to someone who is mourning is to mourn with them. Simply be with them. Be there when they reach out to you, but more importantly be there before they feel they need to. Quiet which may or may not be broken by expressions of that pain are not the enemy; they are part of the healing process. Let yourself feel some of the pain they are feeling, even if it triggers your own mourning. Let them take comfort in your presence. Nothing more is needed. You may get something out of the experience, like appreciation for a pain you may never have experienced, but you may get nothing at all. You are not there to “fix” or to “cheer”. You are there to mourn with those who mourn.
This morning I had (and am having) one of those thankfully rare days where pretty much existing hurts. On the 1-10 scale used by medical professionals right now, life tends to hang around a 3-4. This morning I was stuck pretty firmly in 9. I hesitate to ever put it at a 10, cause some part of me is pessimistically sure it could always be worse. 9 is bad enough. You don’t want to move. You’ve thoughts of curling in a ball, but adding pain by moving throws that idea out. Dying would probably be preferable, but only if you didn’t have to move to do it.
So through this, when the pain barely leaves you the ability to think, I spent my time trying to work out what influences combined to get me this way. Not that it helped deal with the pain, but was more something to be able to say, “Aha! So that’s what did it.” With the anxiety I was feeling as part of the package of swimming in so much pain, I settled on a very bad decision I’d made in my band concert last night and our continuing budgeting issues at home.
As pain meds have started their work, I’m down to about a 7, but still not back to fully functioning yet. As such, my perspectives have changed. I’d been able to recall the bowel problems I’d been ignoring the last few days and my being able to drink a quart of water before bed that didn’t cause me to need to get up in the middle of the night to let it continue it’s way through. I’d been dehydrated. Being dehydrated is a sure way to increase pain levels. Drinking more this morning has also helped get the pain levels settled down.
Sometimes when we’re mired deep in stress (of whatever kind, physical, mental, or spiritual), it can be easy to pick out things that may just be tiny compared to the less obvious and more likely thing that is causing this stress. The only way we’re going to be able to make better inferences on what is causing our stress is to work on treating it. Then, with additional clarity, we can try and get ourselves to the root cause of the problem.
One of the common complaints about any article or talk given about marriage or families is that those who are not in that category are ignored or pushed aside with the platitude “If you do not have this now, you will in the next life”. The feeling can be that those outside the ideal of having a temple marriage and children right now are ignored or reviled by those within the ideal.
Consider the following variations on the platitude:
Don’t worry if you don’t have children by the time you are 15, you will at some point afterward.
Don’t worry if you aren’t married by the time you are 20, you will at some point afterward.
Don’t worry if you don’t have children by the time you are 30, you will at some point afterward.
Don’t worry if you have not reached the ideal of your Heavenly Parents before you die, be it at 5, 50, or 100, you will at some point afterward.
How different is the platitudes’ request for patience in adulthood than when we tell children that they cannot have babies or get married until they are adults? The solution I see to this is the same, to place ourselves in submission to the timing given our lives by God, in the same way that children submit to adults.
Yes, waiting can be difficult. It can be full of heartaches from times where you thought you had reached the goal but found that it had moved to a seemingly impossible distance. However, because of the Plan of Salvation, because we know that life goes well beyond the limited number of years we have had so far, we can have hope that our attainment of the ideal, becoming like our Heavenly Mother and Father, will always be ahead of us and fully attainable, so long as we continue to pursue it.
On a related note, to reiterate what has been said many times, we should not judge the righteousness of others based on their progress in obtaining marriage, children, the Temple endowment, or any other point of their eternal progression. All of these points are commitments between that person and their Heavenly Parents, for the specific growth of that person in that manner. Your judgments, especially in these eternal issues, can injure others, but will also stunt your own growth, no matter what blessings you have previously attained.
Encourage, strengthen, weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and rejoice with those who have joy.
No matter what you do or do not have now, have patience with your own progress, and remember your Royal potential that lay ahead.