Friday, May 17, 2013

"What is this thing That Men call Death?"

This morning President Thomas M Monson's dear sweet wife peacefully passed away.  It took me back to many memories I have with loved ones passing away.  One of the thoughts that kept running through my mind were the words that President Hinkley penned upon losing his precious wife to the arms of death:

"1. What is this thing that men call death
This quiet passing in the night?
’Tis not the end but genesis
Of better worlds and greater light.
2. O God, touch Thou my aching heart
And calm my troubled, haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.
3. There is no death, but only change,
With recompense for vict’ry won.
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One."
Copyright © 2007 by Gordon B. Hinckley and Janice Kapp Perry. All rights reserved. This song may be copied for incidental, noncommercial home and church use.

In my profession there have been many a time when I have sat with loved ones at the bedside of their loved one who are beginning that transitional journey from this life to the next.  My heart aches with them as they struggle to understand "this thing man calls death."
Countless tears have been shared along with hugs and words of kindness.
Over and over I have been asked, "how do you handle this?" or
"How do you deal with this?"
Those two questions have given me pause to ponder on the whys and how I handle death.
As I have been reflecting on those two questions one memory that stands out more so in my mind than any other was the day my beloved poppers was called home.  I was past grief stricken.  I was lost.
During that period I actually felt my popper's arms around me and heard his grief stricken voice as he tried to reassure me that all was well.  (My poppers never could bear to see me cry)  As I sat there holding his hand telling him that "it was not all right" it was as if the scene had changed in my minds eye; not only could I hear my popper's voice but I could hear all his family singing and shouting for joy at being reunited with their beloved brother, uncle, friend and son.
For a moment I was shocked, after all, how could they be so happy when my world had been torn away from me?
I was then taught a valuable lesson that I continue to cling to today.
 I got to spend time with my poppers for about thirty some years; they on the other hand had been separated from my poppers those thirty some years and more.
Like me, they too loved and missed my poppers
and now they had been reunited never to be separated again.
When Waiting Is OverThen this last thought,
"how great shall be your joy."
It was such a powerful lesson that is has taken me years to totally absorb it.
When my mother was called home, she was so excited at being reunited with poppers and her loved ones her closing words were,
"oh, there's Lorie, I'm okay I have so much catching up to do with the family you'll be okay."
Then it was as a if a door closed behind her.
I was so shocked,
I was speechless.
Yet once again I felt this incredible joy flowing through me and I was happy for her. (She did come visit me often once her catching up was done)
I'm not saying that even though I felt that incredible joy it still does not hurt.
Each and every day I think of them
and I miss them terribly.
There is a vacant spot in my heart that nothing in this life will be able to fill  but there is no doubt in my mind that when the day comes and I am called home I too will be met with all my family and there will be tears of joy and excitement at our glorious family reunion.
As I sit with my friends as they are starting that journey those memories fill my soul with immense love and peace.  I read to them, I visit with them and at times I sing to them.
One memory that sticks out in my mind was a dear sweet adopted grandmother of mine.
Her family was grief stricken and I promised them that I would stay by her side.
Unfortunately there are times during that transition medications cease to be effective.
As I sat holding her hand and reassuring her I found myself singing her songs that my mother used to sing to me when I was hurt and scared.
She immediately turned her face towards me and her entire body relaxed.
As she was taking her last breath in this life these are the words she heard:

Faith In Jesus Royalty Free Stock Images - Image: 18899649"I am a child of God
His love for me divine
He fills my soul with peace and love
when life becomes unkind
He leads me
Guides me
Walks besides me
Showing me the way
With my hand 
in His great hand
He'll lead me safely 

It was a very powerful moment for me and her. 
A moment that has forever changed me.
No, I do not understand "this thing called death" but I do know death is not the end, it is just the beginning of something so powerful and beautiful that my simple mind cannot even begin to fathom all it entails.

May those of us who have tasted the sorrow of losing a loved one also feel that great peace that only He can give and may we have just enough faith to believe in Him, He who broke the bands of death and believe that He has something so much greater planned for us after we have passed through that door from this life to the next.
May we all put our hands in His great hand and let Him show us the way.

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