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Sunday, September 14, 2008


Sundays are hard. Feelings are extra tender, the hymns are extra powerful, the yearnings to find peace and comfort are stronger than ever. Today was definitely no exception. I woke up this morning, though, convinced that it was going to be a good Sunday, without my usual emotional breakdown.

The first meeting went okay... a few tears here and there, but I held myself together very well, I thought. The second hour I covered a Sunday School class for a teacher out of town. When I know I'll be in front of a group or a class, I always find a way to hold myself together... I guess in those moments I put up my thickest guard. So, that hour went even better. Phew! Two down, one to go.

Well, it was the third hour that ruined my plan.

Last Sunday they asked me to give the closing prayer for that third-hour meeting. I politely declined. I think it was the first time in my entire life I refused to pray. But, there is something about praying in public right now that is too sensitive, too tender... it makes me feel... too vulnerable. For right now, I feel a need to protect the privacy of my prayerful moments. 

Today, I was asked by a different person to offer the closing prayer. Again, I apologized and explained that I really wasn't able to right now. Something about refusing to give the prayer for the second time triggered the tears to start flowing. I quietly left the room, hoping to have a moment to just let it all out. I was glad to find the bathroom empty. I had a few moments of release in private.

While grieving, Marc and I have been advised to get rid of the word "should" from our vocabulary. That has been one of the greatest pieces of advice we have received. Wouldn't you know that the thoughts going through my mind while in the bathroom were "I should be able to give a simple prayer." "This shouldn't be so hard for me." It is now our new bad "sh" word. :)

As soon as I recognized that new bad word invading my thoughts, I knew it had to go. There are a lot of things that are harder to handle right now. I don't know why. They just are. And, I'm learning to just accept that for a while I won't be able to be and do the same things that I could before. I will again someday... I just need a little more time, I guess.

So, anyway, once I was recomposed, I went back into the classroom and finished singing the opening hymn with everyone, only then to discover what the lesson was for the day. It was a lesson that I thought had already been covered in my ward. I had a few friends in other places tell me about this particular lesson being taught in their wards the Sunday after our girls were born and died... I had found its timing to be so strangely fitting. And, since I didn't attend our ward that Sunday, I assumed it had also been taught here that Sunday in July. The lesson was "Words of Hope and Consolation at the Time of Death." Reading that lesson within days of experiencing the death of our girls, I found great comfort in the teachings and words of Joseph Smith.

Knowing I was already in a vulnerable situation, and after realizing this was our lesson today, my first reaction was to sneak out and find my way home early. I was already a mess... how could I stay composed through this lesson in front of everyone? Well, I stayed, but didn't stay composed. It was a lost cause... and maybe that was a good thing. Maybe I needed a reason to cry. Maybe I needed to give a glimpse of my heavy heart. Maybe I needed to openly mourn so that others could mourn with me. Maybe it was for them as much as it was for me. 

I read through this lesson eight weeks ago today. And, while it definitely triggers feelings of heartache of having to endure this awful separation... there is such powerful doctrine taught that soothes that pain. I felt that sweet comfort eight weeks ago... and I feel it again today. 

I felt badly for the teacher and others who apologized for the lesson today, thinking they should have just skipped over it. My reaction was exactly the opposite. I was grateful for the lesson. I was grateful that I hadn't missed it. I needed the reminder that our girls are ours forever. I needed an added witness from the Spirit that death has not won, that our girls continue to live, that they look forward to our reunion as much as we do. I needed to hear the comforting words that - 

The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.

So, I wasn't able to make it through my Sunday without my usual emotional breakdown, but at least I came home having received a much-needed spiritual uplift. Pure doctrine flowing deep into my heart, leaving me comforted and with hope. I'm grateful for these sacred experiences that reassure me that we will be with our girls again, that they share our same heartache of separation, that they look forward with the same anticipation and excitement of being together as a family, forever. Forever. That knowledge has become so urgently important. It is (literally and figuratively) a matter of life and death.

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?"

- C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)


haley said...

We had this lesson in our ward back in August, and your family was very much on my mind at the time. I loved the things the Prophet said concerning death. I especially loved the part that says,"Yet my heart mourns for those who have been taken from us, but not without hope, for I shall see them again and be with them." I find it comforting that Joseph Smith himself also mourned, knowing all he knew. I am glad that the lesson gave you what you needed right now.

Michelle said...

Megan, you don't know me. I found your blog somehow, and have been so uplifted by your words. I lost my little son last November at 38 weeks, and have been grieving deeply. This particular post of yours really helped me today. Sundays are hard for me, too. I especially appreciate your defining "should" as a bad word. It only causes discouragement, and we know who the source of that feeling is! I am going to start noticing that in my thoughts more, I know!
Thank you so much for your beautifully written words of faith and testimony.

Gourley Fam said...

We had our lesson on this just a few weeks ago. I was like you, had a bunch of baby blessings, parents and siblings speaking in their respective wards, and thought I had missed it. When I found out they were teaching this lesson, I too wanted to sprint from the class. So much of this lesson focuses on the loss of children. It really probably does the women some good to mourn together. I had a sweet sister(who had not even been in the ward very long) grab my hand and hold it pretty much all the way through. Not many have to experience the loss of a child, let alone two children. And it makes it that much more tender to mourn for two. It gives us a glimpse of what pioneer women went through. Tears are healing. Everyone mourns differently too. You are strong and diligent. There are Sundays where I just do not have the will to go. Those are the times that my heart is so heavy, and I know Heavenly Father knows I am trying. Thank-you for your beautiful words. They are honest and lend support to many!

Amanda said...

Megan - you are amazing. I can not read your posts without the spirit coming upon me. You are an inspiration to so many. Thank you for being so candid and thanks be to our Heavenly Father who blessed you with the talent to express your feelings in such a beautiful way.