Sunday, August 8, 2010

When a Loved One Passes

My cousin whom I haven't seen in 15 years and is 12 years older than me passed away this week. He had a sad, hard life. He battled with drug addictions, was in and out of prison, homeless, and the father of 4 children that he never saw. In the end he was clean off of drugs, suffering from bone cancer and died from falling on his way to the bathroom. Though he had his trials, he was very kind and very talented.

I was asked to speak at his funeral service this week. Not knowing what to say about someone I barely knew seemed difficult. Especially under the circumstances - many people attending were living on the streets, and on drugs. I didn't want to say the wrong thing. I was asked to read a collection of memories from family members and speak for 10 minutes. The memories were simple and I could read through them in 3 minutes. I had a lot of time to spare - so I decided to go the the Lord and ask him what I should say. After a sincere prayer the spirit touched me and I knew what to say.

I thought I would share the comforting words that I spoke that day.

A final and special memory that Candice has shared of her brother Lance was the time they spent together this last 24th of July. That day was special as they enjoyed fireworks together and Lance got to spend precious time bonding with his daughter Sarah. Candice recalls that she was not having the best day and her brother sensed this. He came over to her and gave her a kiss on the forehead and told her not to worry and that everything would be better. He also gave her a pair of earrings that I’m sure she will always treasure.

Lance will be greatly missed by all who knew him as he joins his mother, Minnie on the other side. What a joyous reunion that must be for a sweet mother and her loving son. It’s often said that just like we rejoice when a new baby is born here on Earth, the same happens on the other side when someone passes through the veil from mortality to immortality. Just like a new baby they are taught new things and brought to remembrance things they once knew. I know that there are many rejoicing while welcoming Lance to the other side.

I know that Lance is here with us today, right now, smiling on us all and desiring to send us peace and comfort.

It is at this time that I’d like to express love and comfort to those of you who today who are deeply mourning the loss of our dear loved one and friend, Lance. Those who pass on from this life receive the joyful experience of reuniting with loved ones and being freed from the chains of physical pain and suffering from mortality. It’s those they leave behind that often can’t shake away the chains of emotional pain, suffering and grief.

To have faith – that all will be well in the end, that there is a greater power in all things, that all we experience in this life whether good, bad, happy or sad is for a greater purpose, that we will be taken care of and are loved by a Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ who knows what we are going through. They feel our pain, they mourn with us, and they are there to lift us up and help carry our burdens. Though we may not understand trials and tribulations that we experience in this life– we are not asked or required to understand – only to trust in the Lord and exercise faith that all will be well through him. It is through our faith that we will feel peace and can be healed from all pain and suffering.

Elder Robert D. Hales has said on this subject:

“I have come to understand how useless it is to dwell on the whys, what ifs, and if onlys for which there likely will be given no answers in mortality. To receive the Lord’s comfort, we must exercise faith. The questions Why me? Why our family? Why now? are usually unanswerable questions. These questions can destroy our faith. We need to spend our time and energy building our faith by turning to the Lord and asking for strength to overcome the pains and trials of this world and to endure to the end for greater understanding.

My dear brothers and sisters, when pain, tests, and trials come in life, draw near to the Savior. “Wait upon the Lord, … look for him” “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” Healing comes in the Lord’s time and the Lord’s way; be patient.” – Close Quote

Trials and tribulations can bless us with humility and turn us towards our Savior and Lord to strengthen that relationship. Humility and love for the Savior builds that desire inside of us to forget ourselves and our pain and to reach out and help others in time of need. To love God’s children is to love God. When we love God and his children we learn to love ourselves.

I think the best way we can honor our loved ones who have passed on and cherish their memories is to reach out to those around us (friends and family members) and let them know how much we love them. Life is too short to take the living for granted. By reaching out to and loving the living we can heal our pain and suffering from those we have lost.

President Thomas S. Monson recently said:

“Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, the loss of a possession we treasure. But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly.

This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.”

The Savior has felt our pain and suffering – he understands what we are going through and knows how to help. He lovingly died for us and through his atonement we are made whole. This is where we can find our hope ….through him we can find our peace.

I know that Lance will find peace and comfort , knowing that we have faith that we will see him again. He would want us to be happy, to celebrate his life by finding joy in our own. I believe that when our loved ones pass on they are given a special stuardship over us. They are there to aid in times of distress, attend important and happy events, and extend their love. I promise that if you hold onto the happy memories and focus on finding joy in your life – any regrets and sadness in your heart will be forgotten and you will anticipate the day that you will see Lance again and reunite with a host of friends and family.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ - amen.