Guided through My Grief

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“Guided through My Grief,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 50–51

Guided through My Grief

I felt numb as I sat listening to the words of the dedicatory prayer being offered over my little daughter’s grave. I wondered how this could be happening to me. This did not fit in the plan of my life. I did not see any way to survive, let alone ever again feel the peace that the gospel had always given me.

As if in a trance, I watched the casket that held my precious daughter as it sat on the grass-covered area that would now hold her mortal remains until the Resurrection. I knew that in minutes this torturous experience would end and I would return to the normal routine that had marked my days.

Soon the work ahead of me began in earnest as I pieced back together a life that had suddenly taken a direction I felt totally unprepared for and did not want to face.

I had always been a student of the scriptures. Through many crises in my life, I had found comfort in the pages of the words of the Lord. At this crossroads, however, I was so angry and so sure that no one had ever felt this devastated that I thought the scriptures had nothing to offer me. In rebellion, I turned away from my daily habit of scripture study and prayer.

As the days progressed, however, I found scriptures coming unbidden to my mind. For example, I thought of 3 Nephi 12:4 [3 Ne. 12:4] “Blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Many times each day, a new scripture of comfort would enter my thoughts, and I soon realized that even in my despair, the Lord was giving me comfort, seemingly reaching into my mind and selecting from the store of scriptures I had read and cherished over the years.

Once I realized that I was being nourished by the scriptures, I returned to prayer and daily scripture study.

As I read the passages describing Lehi’s family leaving their comfortable home, riches, and friends and traveling into the wilderness, I felt an exhaustion like I had never felt before. I empathized with Sariah as I envisioned her setting up her tent each night in the sand, trying to cook over a campfire. As I pictured in my mind the trials they suffered even when they were obedient, I likened their suffering to mine and realized that although the Lord does not always protect us from trials, he gives us strength to endure them.

As the stages of my grief progressed, I found myself in awe that the Book of Mormon was able to keep pace with my needs. As I read familiar passages I had read so many times before, my heightened need for comfort found new meaning in the pages. When I read of Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, I wept, realizing anew how precious the gift is that our families can be together. I tasted the incredible joy and sweetness that the Lord has promised to all his children if they remain faithful.

The unfairness of life took on new meaning as I read about how Alma and Amulek stood by and watched as new converts to the gospel were burned by King Noah. The joy I felt as I read the passages about the salvation of children is indescribable.

At one period in my grieving, I found myself slipping into despair. I felt a desperate need to be perfect. I needed to be worthy to live again with my Heavenly Father and my daughter. Yet I felt there was no use in trying, because although I had been taught the principles of the gospel from my youth, I still sinned. I knew better, yet I doubted. I worried that it might be impossible for someone like me to ever reach the goal that had become so vitally important in my life. It was at that stage in my grief that I came across these words in 2 Nephi 4:17–20 [2 Ne. 4:17–20]: “My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. …

“When I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

“My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions.”

It was then that a sweet peace came over me and I knew that although I did not feel worthy, the Lord had prepared a way so I could return to him.

At every step in the resolution of my grief, there has been fresh joy found in the pages of the Book of Mormon. I knew how blessed I was in my grief that I did not have to worry about my child. I only had to strive to trust in the Lord and remain faithful and I would be with her again.