When I dropped McKay off this morning at kindergarten, his teacher let me know that one of his classmate's father passed away this weekend. The father had struggled with colon cancer. The class would be talking about death today. As I was leaving, the little boy was arriving with his grandmother. My heart has been breaking for that family. A now single woman, a mother who has been working a couple jobs to keep their chin above water. Two young sons without their father. Parents surviving their son who was in the prime of his life.
I know there is purpose and growth to be had in all things. I know this to be true. But the gravity of life's challenges strip you bare sometimes. I've recently been finishing a book from a friend that I hear has been made into a movie, "My Sister's Keeper." I don't know that I recommend the book because it can pretty well be summed up in any synopsis you find online. In this novel, a family has struggled with a daughter/sister's leukemia for 14 years. A younger sister has been her donor on many occasions and the family is falling apart in their grief. Grief and mourning. Where do you turn when there are no good answers?
I needed a spiritual pick-me-up as I began my chores. I randomly put on the live feed on The Mormon Channel. I know, I'm a total nerd but I heartily embrace it now! Of all topics and programs to be on was a "Faith and Families Report" on Religion and Death. On the program, a Buddhist grief counselor noted the importance of spirituality to help one through grieving. Rather than asking if someone is part of a faith to lean on for support, it was best to ask if they were a spiritual person because one's level of participation in their faith may vary for a multitude of reasons. She encouraged individuals to cling to what they believed to be true in relation to God and talk it out with their God, the good and the bad they feel. Another religious leader noted the sorrow and loneliness of the Psalms that end in thanksgiving to a loving, merciful God. There was much more packed into the last ten minutes I caught, but in the end I just want to know how to help this family. I ache to relieve their burden yet I don't know them. And there's that darn language barrier!
In the end, I know there is a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for each one of us to return to Him. I know I will see my departed loved ones, like my Papa, again in heaven and there have been many times I have felt him near, cheering me on. I know that this life isn't supposed to be easy. We're here to stretch, to grow and learn. When the going gets tough, I truly appreciate perspective I gain through the teachings of the Restored Gospel and the example of others surviving with hope, like NieNie. (Both links have good quick reads and videos!)