“Great-grandma’s Funeral,” Friend, Jan. 2003, 39
Laurie Baldwin wiped at the tears that stung her eyes during the long trip to Denver. Great-grandma, her mom’s grandma, had died yesterday after being sick a long time. The whole family—Laurie, Mom, Dad, and Laurie’s two older sisters—was going to the funeral.
When they arrived at Great-grandma’s house, Laurie met the cousins, aunts, and uncles who had gathered there.
“How are we going to put together a funeral in only two days?” Aunt Christy asked. “We don’t know anyone here.”
Mom didn’t look worried. “I know where we can find help,” she said, reaching for the phone book.
Laurie listened as Mom called the bishop of a Denver ward and explained the situation.
“Why did you call a bishop?” Laurie asked after Mom replaced the phone. “Great-grandma wasn’t a member of the Church.” Mom was the only member of her family who belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Even though Grandma wasn’t a member of our Church, we can still ask for help in preparing for her funeral. That’s part of belonging to the Church—being able to go anywhere and know that there are people who are willing to help us.”
Laurie would always remember that.
Soon the phone started ringing. Her mother spent the next hour taking calls and making others. She was smiling after the last one.
“Everything’s taken care of,” she announced to the family. “The bishop called some people. The Relief Society president is going to arrange a meal for the family after the funeral. She’ll also find someone to play the organ and lead the music.”
“Why are they helping us?” Aunt Christy wanted to know. “We don’t live here. We don’t even know them.”
“In our church we call each other ‘Brother’ and ‘Sister.’ That’s because we’re all brothers and sisters in the gospel and help each other whenever we can.”
Laurie thought about that—brothers and sisters in the gospel. She liked the sound of it.
Mom spoke at the funeral and told some things about her grandmother’s life. A lady with a pretty voice sang “How Great Thou Art” (Hymns, no. 86), which had been Great-grandma’s favorite song. Mom was crying and smiling at the same time.
After the funeral, Mom thanked the bishop and everyone who had helped with the music and food. “I don’t know what we would have done without you.”
The bishop took her hand. “We were happy to help. Your grandmother must have been a remarkable woman.”
Laurie heard the quiet sincerity in his voice. The family spent the rest of the afternoon and evening talking about Great-grandma.
“I want to find out more about your church,” Aunt Christy said.
Laurie listened as Mom began to explain. “We belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. …”
“Bishops, home teachers, visiting teachers, and members of priesthood quorums and of Relief Societies … all stand ready to help. …
“Of course, your brothers and sisters in the Church are not to solve your problems for you. … But your brothers and sisters will be at your side to strengthen you, encourage you, and help you.”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
From an April 2000 general conference address.