And it came to pass that he said unto them:
Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called)
and now, as ye are desirous to come unto 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...
Mosiah 18: 8-9
I obviously cannot speak for everyone, but because of the recent passing of my husband and sweetheart, Chuck, I have learned a great deal from others about what it means to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.
First, let me say that our community of St. Johns is amazing. The food, the visits, the hugs, the cards, the prayers, the support have been overwhelming. I am still writing thank you cards. Chuck's brother-in-law, before offering the closing prayer at Chuck's funeral paused and said something to this effect, “We've always wondered why Chuck didn't move to a lower elevation, but as I look at all of you, I understand. Thank you.”
Here are some of the lessons I've learned and some of the things I have come to appreciate:
There is no small act of kindness (I just saw that on a card at the drug store). I am so
appreciative of those who remembered Leslie and Thomas and Grandma individually. Asking about them, checking in with them, not just me. People came to the house with meals and then apologized for them. (Why do we do that?) Every meal was appreciated. Every gift was appreciated. Here are some of the thoughtful things neighbors, friends, and family shared: cooked meals; uncooked meals with instructions for preparation; food that could be eaten in small portions; items to put in the freezer for later; an ice chest filled with soda and water so that people could just grab one when they were thirsty; baked goods; gift bags filled with comfort food; paper plates, bowls, cups, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper; flowers; hearts taped to the door of our house when we came home from the funeral; and bread and rolls (more on that later). And let me just say that food really does help heal the soul. With each dish, it felt a little like Christmas as we lifted the foil or lid to see what love was being shared with us.
Some people came to the house bearing just themselves and apologized for being there. (Why do we do that?) Every visit was appreciated and your love, time, and support were the gift you brought. I would like to add here that those who wrote specific remembrances of Chuck or came to the house and told us specific memories were greatly appreciated. It is okay to talk of the deceased, it is welcomed and appreciated. We loved hearing how Chuck touched the life of others, and many times, we didn't know of those occurrences until you shared them with us. How nice it is to have your loved one praised and complimented. And how nice it is to still have people stopping me to offer condolences and ask how we are doing. It is never too late to remember those we love and to check in on a neighbor.
Funerals are extremely expensive (over $7.000), but people are extremely generous. I can't tell you the number of cards that were handed to me or sent in the mail that contained money to help pay for expenses. I'm sure other people have had to pay for funerals and, knowing this, help ease the financial burdens of others. Being my first funeral, I suspected the cost, but didn't truly know. It was daunting, but the generosity of others helped to ease the burden.
So why do we apologize at times like this? I believe it is because we are worried that we will say or do the wrong thing. If having too much food in the house and friends, family, and neighbors knocking on the door and coming out in droves to attend the funeral is taken in the wrong way, then the problem is not with you and your efforts.
And I am most grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord and our Heavenly Father. So many of the things said and done were just exactly what one of us needed at that moment. It really is through others that the Lord blesses us. I'd like to be able to say that I wrote down all the amazing blessings that occurred during this time, but I am still trying to capture them. I did record the feelings of peace and love sent by the Lord.
Others mentioned in both cards and person that they were praying for us. I can testify that those prayers and thoughts were and are extremely buoying. May we always pray for those who have lost a loved one. It does make a huge difference.
Many of you brought rolls and loaves of bread to us. Mom and I were commenting on the
quantity and quality of these amazing gifts. Bread truly is a comfort food, but we also thought of Christ saying, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger...” (John 6:35). And we are grateful to our Saviour each Sunday as we take the sacrament and are reminded of the bread (His body) broken for us so that we, and Chuck, can live again.