Anyone who has ever experienced a loss will tell you that all the things “they” say about grief are not true. You can run from it all you want, but eventually grief catches up to you. You never stop thinking about and missing those people you love.
Case in point, my kiddos were asking about my dad on the way to church a few weeks ago. I was overcome with sadness and started crying and missing my daddy who has been gone for more than 20 years.
Time does not heal all wounds.
The atonement, on the other hand, can provide comfort that can’t be found in any therapy session or bout of writing.
It’s been four-and-a-half years since my second dad, Lloyd, passed away, (it’s overly documented here that I’ve had a little bitterness about it) and I’ve finally been open enough with God to get some answers. Or one answer. An insight really. A very small but powerful insight.
I’ve been selfish.
Every time I’ve complained in my head about Lloyd being gone, which is every time I work on a project, something goes wrong with my car or house, I need parenting advice, my boys have any kind of event, or they are sad that he is gone, I’ve been complaining for selfish reasons.
But Lloyd is gone because that is what was best for him.
That small insight provided by the Spirit has taken away the bitterness of Lloyd’s loss.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t still have heartache about him being gone, or my dad and brother. It just means that I don’t feel angry at God about it any more.
I had a similar healing experience years ago.
I was a lost teenager repenting of the mistakes she had made while trying to navigate the angst-filled years of her youth without a father and then with a man trying to come in and be her father.
I’ll be forever grateful for that repentance process because it gave me a closeness with my Savior that I don’t think I would have achieved otherwise. Because of that closeness, I had true communication with the Lord and had been praying that my dad would know I loved him. I could only imagine that someone who had chosen to end their own life had to suffer the consequences of those actions and he must have seen the suffering his children were going through because of his choice. Anyway, I wanted him to know that I still loved him and started asking in my prayers that Heravenly Father would tell him.
I know it was because I was experiencing the power of the Atonement very strongly then that I was blessed with another small healing moment.
It was right about the 5th anniversary of Dad’s death and I was traveling down a back road with my mom. Suddenly, I could smell him. He had a very distinct smell of Old Spice, engine grease, and a stinky lunch box. I loved that smell. There was no mistaking it, and suddenly it was there. I knew right then that he loved me very much, which, if you can imagine, I had questioned.
It was like when the sun breaks through the clouds after a long, dreary winter. My heart was lightened. I wasn’t weighed down by what I didn’t have.
These two healing moments haven’t changed that I feel sad when I think of them, but it does make the weight of sorrow lighter. It doesn’t mean I’m not side-swiped by sadness occasionally, but it does mean that I have hope and joy in the thought of reuniting with them some day.
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so,… righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. – 2 Nephi 2:11.