"...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.