To Mourn With Those That Mourn | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Sunday, April 11, 2010

To Mourn With Those That Mourn

"...And now as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called His people, and 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, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in..."

A few years ago, I arrived into my office at SUU to teach voice lessons.  After waiting about 10 minutes for my first lesson to show up, I turned on the computer to see if she had perhaps e-mailed me about missing her lesson that day.

I did find an e-mail regarding her lesson, but it was from the department chair instead.  As soon as I read its contents, I burst into tears and could not stop crying.  My student  had been found dead by her roommates the night before.  I had no other details--those I found out later--but I was absolutely upset and contemplated cancelling the rest of my lessons and going home to cry it out.  I didn't have time to do that, as my next student was knocking on the door before I knew it.

She walked into the room and recognized that I had been crying, so I told her why.  Her response was to laugh.  I'm sure it was just awkward for her, and that is probably her knee-jerk reaction to tragic situations, but it bugged me.  I don't think I expected her to cry, as she did not really know the other girl, except to pass her in lessons, but I definitely didn't expect her to laugh and it bothered me greatly that she did.

Every time I hear of any sort of tragedy, I cry. A lot.  It doesn't matter if I know the people or not, crying is my own gut reaction.  I think of those left behind, I think of how it would hit me if the person had been one of my own loved ones, and I usually mourn the situation almost as if it had been me, although I know I will never understand the true depth of the tragedy as those who are actually in it (and hope I never do).

I have been blogging for five years now, and I have seen many a tragedy crop up in the blog world.  I have mourned for each of them.   I have religiously read updates on the situations, and thought about the people affected more than one might think is normal for someone I have never actually met in real life, or perhaps have only met once or twice.  Most recently, I have been praying and crying for Susette and her family as they deal with the loss of her teenaged son, as I'm sure many of you have, as well.  And I have met Susette once.  She's such a great lady, and my heart just hurts for her.

I've been thinking about this promise we make--to mourn with those that mourn--and why we are commanded to do so.  I get the comforting those that are in need of comfort, but why do we need to mourn with them, too?  What good does shedding a bunch of tears do for someone, when they've certainly shed more than enough of their own?  Surely, getting up and doing something for them would be more helpful?

I've come to the conclusion, and I don't know if it's the right conclusion, that we must mourn with those that mourn to learn compassion and empathy.  After all, the Savior felt all of our sadnesses and tragedies for us as well.  Perhaps, in order to become a little more like Him, we need to do that for those around us.  How can we begin to comfort someone before we have put ourselves in their shoes for a while and truly tried to understand what they must be feeling?  Even if it is certainly on a much lesser scale than they are feeing it themselves, it is a taste.  In the end, it helps us to be more sensitive to the Spirit, I think.

Besides, I don't think we can comfort or lift burdens, if we can't at least understand just a little bit of the burden ourselves.


  1. This was beautifully said, Lara.

  2. Lara,

    I have been wanting to thank you for a long time for all of the comfort, help and support you have given to me and my family. I know that even though you live thousands of miles away from me I know that you are mourning with me and my family. I know that you are praying for us. Every comment that you leaves help build my Spirit up just a little bit more and more. I feel that the death of a child is so lonely. Once the funeral is over and a few months go by everyone goes back to life as usual. So to mourn with those that mourn. Means to me that you still come and sit with them, bring a plate of goodies by, drop a letter in the mail box, call or leave a comment. Helping them feel like they are not doing this alone. Some one said, yes the Savior did all of this for us and made it possible for us to live again and be with our family members again.....but sometimes you just need a warm smile and a hug. I am rambling but it means so much to me when someone says...I am thinking about you and family and I still pray for you. That means so much to me. So thank you dear friend for mourning with me and my family and always helping me feel that I am not alone and that I can do the hard things.
    Love Crystal

  3. What a heart you have, Lara. I'm right with you on this one. In one of the last conference addresses last weekend, someone (can't remember the name right now) said that part of the purpose of this life was to learn how to love as Jesus loves. What you've said here...let's just say that I think you're more like Him than you realize. *hugs*

  4. It is a measure of love for our fellow man to be WILLING to stand in that place of pain with them. The one suffering has no CHOICE in the matter- they have been called to endure something very difficult. We, however, have the choice- just as the Savior did, to suffer and feel that pain when we don't have to.

    In 2002, my sister lost an infant daughter. A perfectly healthy 6 and half pound baby girl who was stillborn. In the grief process that unfolded, it was really interesting to see who was willing to stand by her and FEEL her pain. And who dodged her calls. Moments like that are when you know who turn friends and Saints are- and it's not usually who you'd expect.

    I agree with you. Sometimes the Lord wants us to sacrifice and chose to suffer the pain of another voluntarily. In that way, we validate both their loss and the gain understanding of the Savior's sacrifice.

  5. Lara,

    When I read your title I thought, "Oh how did she know what I was teaching my 13 year old class in sunday school today?" Then I read further and my heart literally jumped out of my chest about your student dying. It hit home so painfully. Then I read down further and it was my son you were actually talking about with your topic of mourning. You are so tender and kind. Thank you for your beautiful thoughts. I think you are so right, that being able to mourn with others helps us to become more Christlike and more understanding of their tragedies. I read another of your readers comments and she hit it right on the head. We do need hugs, thoughts, and kind words from others, even months down the road. Just a simple "how are you doing?" is perfect. We want to still talk about our loss, and we still want others to care about the hurt and pain we have and will have for a long time.

    Thanks for your love, prayers, and kindness Lara. You are sweet! Our family is doing fine and looks forward with eagerness to seeing Porter again someday. We used to fear the second coming but now anticipate it and hope it comes soon!

  6. This was such a sweet and empathetic post. I got a little choked up, myself.

  7. I love these thoughts. And I love that you feel such empathy, even though you haven't experienced such tragedy. I am grateful for having experienced depression because, although I felt sympathetic before, now I really understand. I can't believe Christ went through that for everyone who suffers from it, not to mention all the other pains and sorrows people deal with. Seeing what people go through, going through our own trials and learning to empathize really does give us an appreciation for what He went through and help us remember to turn to him, because He KNOWS. I feel tearful every time I read that he suffered it all "that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people" (Alma 7:11-12)

  8. Very well said. I react much the same way you do. Also, people just need to remember three easy words. "I am sorry", to tell someone that you feel bad that you feel badly about their situation. Both my parents were diagnosed with cancer within a 24 hour period last fall. The most comforting thing was when people told me they were sorry.

  9. We just had Stake Conference yesterday. Not long after the meeting began a young man came in and got a brother from the choir and they rushed out. Then about 45 minutes later after one of the speakers finished speaking (A bishop) he was summoned off of the stand...before he left he had some words with the Stake President during the rest hymn.

    We found out at the end of conference that a young man in our Stake had passed away. He had been there that morning as part of the priesthood session. I cried. I don't know the young man or his family. But it still hurt. Hurt to know of the hurt that they are dealing with.

    What a true and honest post. I think if more people could feel such empathy and sympathy that life would be so much better.

  10. hurts being involved with teaching. You see a lot of this. So far I've lost two students. Beautifully said, Lara.

  11. Sometimes I think I'm such a big baby for crying over other people's sorrows, but thanks for reminding me that it is actually a good thing.

  12. That was a very thoughtful post and I enjoyed reading it--and reflecting on it. I think you are right about the need for us to feel empathy. I also think that there is something healing in knowing someone else loves us enough to really care how we are feeling. If someone is really mourning with me, it very literally helps lift some of the weight off of my soul.

  13. Gorgeous post. I love your thoughts on this. I picture the Savior weeping with us, holding us during our greatest sorrows. I think of all the times in my life when angel friends have held me or wept with me. Truly we are His hands and His heart on earth and we do need to learn to mourn with those that mourn. Empathy begats Christlike love. Thank you for sharing this. I had an aha moment while reading your beautiful words. I admire you so much.

  14. I too have been so saddened by this. It is so sad some of the things that we are faced with. I just wish I could help Susette in some way but like you said some times we just have to mourn with them and love them. I am so thankful that we have the second coming to look forward to.

  15. Lara, what a beautiful post and beautiful thoughts. When experiencing death, no one, and I can say no one really can feel and know the depth of sadness and sometimes painful heartache that another is feeling. My sister-in-law lost both of her children and father to the hands of her husband when in anger he took their lives. It was so tragic and the only thing I could do was feel sorry for him. Maybe it was my way of coping with the loss of those beautiful children. I don't know. It happened over 25 years ago and for her the pain is still raw. But for me I see only joy in their well being and with their Father in Heaven! Faith goes such a long way. I am sure that your student didn't know how to feel and her fear turned itself into laughter. You seem to be such a wonderful and sensitive beautiful soul and those you mourn with have a wonderful true friend in you.