“Church Leaders Comfort Missionary’s Family,” Ensign, Aug. 1990, 74–75
The death of a young missionary in Ireland on May 27 was not an end to his life, but a call to serve elsewhere, and his family can yet expect a joyful reunion with him.
Those were the assurances given by President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve as they spoke at the funeral of Elder Gale Stanley Critchfield on June 2. Elder Critchfield died in Clondalkin, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, after being stabbed during an apparently unprovoked attack.
“We don’t know why some things happen,” President Hinckley said. “All we know for certain is that death isn’t the end.”
“I’m satisfied that the labors of good missionaries are never concluded,” he said, explaining that there is much work to do beyond the veil of death, and much help needed to do it. He assured those present that “there has been no bitterness” in Stanley Critchfield’s passing, and that Elder Critchfield would surely testify of the goodness of the people among whom he served in Ireland.
President Hinckley placed the Critchfield family among “those good, wonderful, faithful people of the Church” who “accept what comes and get on their knees and pray for strength to go forward. God bless you,” he added.
Elder Maxwell commended the Critchfield family for avoiding bitterness under the circumstances, and added, “The strength of the Church is bound up in people like you.”
He read tributes to Elder Critchfield and condolence messages from both Latter-day Saint and non-Latter-day Saint Irishmen. These included messages from people Elder Critchfield had helped to convert and also a message from the mayor of Dublin.
Elder Maxwell assured the family that Elder Critchfield’s knowledge and good qualities of character “will rise with him in the resurrection.”
“For all of us, because of the marvelous Atonement, death is only a comma, not a period,” Elder Maxwell promised. “Stan is yours forever, and you are his forever.”
Responding to words of comfort from his bishop and stake president, Elder Critchfield’s father, Gale Critchfield, paid tribute to his son and bore a strong testimony.
“This is not the homecoming that my wife and I had hoped for,” he said. But he recalled that they had considered the possible danger when the mission call came and had commended their son “into the hands of the Lord.”
Brother Critchfield spoke of his son’s faithfulness and the joy he had expressed in the Lord’s service, then said that despite the outcome, “I would not roll back the clock and take away from my son the blessing he has received.”