By Helping Others, We Heal Ourselves

May be an image of child, standing, sitting and outdoors

The most important thing that I have learned through this grief process (or roller coaster!) is compassion. After the shock of being told my dad took his life, I felt deep compassion for my dad. I felt sorrow, sadness, and empathy for my dad. That compassion I felt reminded me of Christ’s compassion that He has for us, his children.

It’s been a busy time in my life these days and months. Life keeps moving on, like it should. But I have a guilt that eats me up. That guilt is, that I haven’t thought about my dad much. Shouldn’t I be thinking about him everyday and missing him? Lately I’ve chose not to think about my grief too much. I don’t have time to dwell on it, is what my thoughts are. But in reality, I think I am at a healthy place in my grief timeline where I can keep living and I don’t dwell on my dad’s death. He wouldn’t want me to do that anyways. However, grief has a way of creeping up on me. Those feelings of my grief struggle from the first days and months come flooding back.

I’ve learned of a friend’s family member who passed away. She shared with me, almost exactly, how my sister and I felt those first few months. Thoughts such as, ‘We were trying to help him! Doctors appts were lined up for us to get the help he needs!’ And, ‘It must have been a split second decision. Earlier that day, he was having a great day and told us not to worry about him.’ After hearing this, I went to the store and the song playing was by Maroon 5 Memories. I will share the lyrics because it hits so close to home for me.

Here’s to the ones that we got
Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
Of everything we’ve been through
Toast to the ones here today
Toast to the ones that we lost on the way
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
And the memories bring back, memories bring back you

There’s a time that I remember, when I did not know no pain
When I believed in forever, and everything would stay the same
Now my heart feel like December (my dad died in December) when somebody say your name
‘Cause I can’t reach out to call you, but I know I will one day, yeah

So of course that led to me trying hard to hold back tears while shopping for some chocolate to soothe my aching heart. Chocolate always helps me, even just for a moment! I ran out of there quickly and saw another reminder on my way home. A lone yellow butterfly flew by in front of my van. I haven’t seen butterflies in a long time. The yellow ones always remind me of my dad. Then another butterfly flew by seconds later. There comes that compassion flooding back to me! Compassion for my dad, and compassion for others that are going to difficult times.

When I think of this compassion, I think of God’s compassion he has for us and the atoning sacrifice Jesus Christ made. I read a talk by Tad R. Callister called ‘The Atonement of Jesus Christ’. In this talk, he stated that the Atonement “is what gives hope and purpose to our lives.” Jesus Christ suffered for us so that we may dwell with him again. Jesus, more than anyone, knows that we are going through. He has gone through it all with the Atonement! He has felt every emotion and pain each of us is going through or have gone through. His sacrifice has helped me realize that God has compassion for every one of us. He knows my dad and his heart. My dad took his own life, making that decision with his own free will. But that doesn’t mean he is damned. God has compassion for him! And for many others that are struggling. We are not perfect, nor will we ever be in this mortal life. So when I have trials, or worry about others that are going through difficult times, I know in my heart that God loves each and every one of us and has compassion over His children.

In Relief Society in my church this last Sunday, the lesson was on how we get through these hard times. Sometimes we have trials that are not from our own decisions, but from someone else’s misuse of their free agency. A friend in the class related this to Elizabeth Smart. Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped at a young age and was put through 9 months of physical and mental abuse. She is now using her trials as a way to help others. She is an author, speaker, and survivor. She is using her platform and sharing her story, helping thousands of people get through their trials. What a blessing she is to be able to use her pain and anguish to help others.

Like Elizabeth Smart, my pain from my dad’s suicide is not from any decisions I made or my use of free agency. The decision that my dad made in turn has caused unbelievable amount of pain, sorrow, despair, guilt, and anguish. However, this is all in God’s plan, as hard as that may seem. Every person on this Earth is part of God’s interrelated plan. God is using us and placing certain people in our lives for a reason. We are here on this Earth to fulfill His plan by being apart of others’ lives and being the answer to others’ prayers. There have been so many tiny moments where my prayers were answered. A heartfelt letter, food for comfort, and texts and calls at just the right time when I needed it. A simple smile given to a stranger, checking on our loved ones, and listening to the spirit and acting upon those whisperings are all part of God’s plan for us to help uplift others.

By helping others, we heal ourselves.

I will leave you with this quote by Reyna I. Aburto from her talk, ‘Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me!’

“But it is an infinite Atonement because it encompasses and circumscribes every sin and weakness, as well as every abuse or pain caused by others.”

Hugs,

Sarah

Here are links to the talks I quoted today. These talks are a great read!

‘Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me!’ by Reyna I. Aburto

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/10/31aburto?lang=eng

‘The Atonement of Jesus Christ’ by Tad R. Callister

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/04/45callister?lang=eng

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