Don’t try to understand.

During this trial that Ben and I have been going through, something that I’ve noticed is how different we are in coping with the possible loss of our child. I think it is so interesting how two people can go through the exact same situation and still not understand how the other person is feeling. I like to talk about my feelings, and express them. That’s why I have this blog! I talk Ben’s ear off some days explaining my feelings and different emotions that I have. Ben on the other hand, likes to keep himself busy. He likes to do things to keep his mind off of the situation, its harder for him to talk about it. It has been very strengthening for our marriage to help each other and support each other while still recognizing our own needs.

But something I’ve noticed is how I don’t understand Ben. Ben doesn’t understand me. We are literally going through he exact same trial with the same people and the same baby, and we don’t understand how the other is feeling. In the New Testament, when Lazarus dies, Jesus comes to Mary and Martha. I love this part in the story, because you can see how different both Mary and Martha deal with the death of their brother. John Chapter 11: 21-25 we see that Martha just wants to talk, she talks and asks questions and wants to express her feelings by talking. In verses 32-36 Mary just wants to cry, and that is how she copes with her grief. And, I think the most beautiful thing about this story is the fact that Christ doesn’t try to understand them, he doesn’t say to them; “Oh yes, I understand how you feel, I felt the same way when John the baptist died.” He just mourns with them.

We cannot understand what people are going through. Even if it is the same experience because we are all different people, and we all deal with different emotions and feel different emotions. In Mosiah 18: 9 it says; “yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” It doesn’t say we have to understand others, or we need to tell them about our own experiences, but we need to mourn with them and listen and cry with them. We cannot fully understand what another person is going through, we can’t. But the Lord doesn’t ask us to try to understand, he already understands us perfectly because of the Atonement, he asks us to be present. He asks us to cry, and listen, and mourn with others.

When listening to others talk about their different heartaches, I know for myself I want to say; “oh yes, I completely understand what you are going through, this one time blah blah blah happened to me.” But, that defeats the purpose of allowing those to talk and allowing me to listen and can sometimes take the attention away from the other person’s experience. Ben is taking a class to teach him about conducting a counseling session, and he explained to me the purpose of self-disclosure which can be necessary when we feel prompted, or we want to express empathy to an individual so we can validate their feelings. But we need to remember the persons needs, and remember that disclosing too much can put the attention on us and then that other person’s needs are not being met.

Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we have someone who understands us perfectly, and someone who has taken upon himself to take our pains, and to walk with us through our trials. We need to depend on Christ to help us, and to understand us. It isn’t our job to understand others, Christ has already done that. It is our job to be present, to listen, to comfort, and to love others. I have a firm testimony that we cannot depend on someone else to make us happy, or someone else to take away our sadness and pain. Not our friends, parents, spouse or anyone else, but the Lord Jesus Christ.

Through our experience with Will, we have had so much love expressed to us from so many friends and family which have blessed us tremendously. But it’s not a secret when you can tell that people don’t know what to do or say, because they’ve never gone through anything similar to our situation. How can me mourn with those that mourn when we don’t experience the exact emotions that others are feeling? I think the answer come straight back to the example of Christ, in many ways he never took the attention off of the other person. He was just there, and he listened. I think sometimes its okay to say; “I don’t understand what you’re going through but I am here as a support for you.” One of my religion teachers says; “sometimes, I feel the most love when my wife grabs my hand just to reassure me that she is there.”

In President Henry B. Erying’s talk “The Comforter” he explains the experience that he had with mourning with others;

“Recently three generations of a family were grieving at the death of a five-year-old boy. He died accidentally while with his family on a vacation. I was granted the opportunity to watch once again how the Lord blesses the faithful with relief and the strength to endure. I watched the way the Lord made their great burden lighter. I was with them as the Lord’s covenant servant—as you will be often in your life—“to mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”5 Because I knew that was true, I was pleased and at peace when the grandparents invited me to meet with them and the parents of the little boy before the funeral. I prayed to know how I could help the Lord comfort them. They sat down with me in our living room. I had warmed the room on a cold night with a small fire in the fireplace. I had felt to tell them that I loved them. I told them that I had felt the Lord’s love for them. In just a few words I tried to tell them that I mourned for them but that only the Lord knew and could experience perfectly their pain and grief. After saying those few words, I felt impressed to listen with love while they talked about their feelings. In the hour we sat together, they spoke far more than I did. I could feel in their voices and see in their eyes that the Holy Ghost was touching them. In words of simple testimony, they spoke of what happened and how they felt. The Holy Ghost had already given them the peace that comes with the hope of eternal life, when their son, who died without sin, could be theirs forever.”

As we are all called to comfort others in times of need, we must remember the importance of comfort, and remember Christ’s loving example. And above all, remind those that are in need to depend on the Lord, because he understands and loves them perfectly. We are here to listen, express love and faith, and to comfort.

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