Sunday, March 1, 2009

Death 101

Church was interesting today. I'm the nursery leader and I like being tucked away with my cranky kids, goldfish, and Diet Coke hidden in a dark colored water bottle. It makes me feel safe. Today however I was asked to come into Relief Society for a few minutes and help with a lesson on service. My part? To compare two very different experiences I've had - one where the RS stepped up to the plate and served me well, and the other when the ball was dropped pretty hard. The person who asked specifically had in mind the time when my daughter Lily died and my feelings of abandonment. I was surprised how many people found me in the nursery room later to apologize and/or thank me for the information I had given them. So, I thought maybe I should pass it on to you. So here is a list of death do's and don'ts, written from a perspective of what I wish I would have said four years ago.

1. Don't tell me that I must have a greater appreciation of the Plan of Salvation and please for the love, don't tell me how comforting it must be to know my dead daughter is in a better place. There was nothing wrong with where she was...right next me.

2. Don't ignore me. I would rather you come up to me and give me a hug and tell me you have nothing to say than to watch you stare at me through the corner of my eye and make me feel like a bigger freak.

3. Please be careful when sharing faith promoting experiences. It hurts to hear that your cousin's child was in the hospital and the priesthood came and now everything is better. Don't you think I prayed? Don't you think I had the priesthood administer to my child? My knowledge and faith are on the rocks, no matter how strong I look or tell you I am.

4. When you talk to me, please be ready for me to either be very closed off or very ready to tell you everything. Please don't judge me. My feelings are raw and they are my feelings.

5. Deep inside I have a testimony and as much as it might make you feel better to bear your testimony to me that I will see my daughter again, chances are great that I don't want to hear it. The only thing I want is to see my daughter now.

6. Ice cream is always a good option. Especially if it comes with a friend who is willing to take you away from your house, pay for it, laugh with you and cry with you.

There you have it. Please remember that when the casseroles have run out, there are still plenty of opportunities to serve because service comes in many forms. Promise.

15 comments:

The Wilkins Family said...

Thanks so much for sharing that. It is hard to know what to say and I don't think anyone can really know unless they've been through it. I'm sorry that you had to be the one qualified to teach that lesson.

Laurie said...

I love you, crackhead. You really did make R.S. more bearable today, and I thought what you said was exactly needed by not just me. And I promise, next time you burn a house down or have a piano crush your foot or something, I'll bring you Oreos and say "dude... that sucks" and give you a hug.

*~Petra~* said...

Aw MaryBeth. This is much needed information. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so sorry that you had to have this experience. I can not imagine what this has been like for you. I can just tell you that I love you and I will find great joy in seeing you reunited with Lily. ♥

Shera said...

So once I saw some cheasy mormon movie where a dad brought mountain dew to church in a sippy cup. Were you the movie's inspiration?
I am sorry I am not closer so I can take you out for some ice cream. And I am mostly sorry I made you tract on P-Day. What a stinker I was!!

Elizabeth said...

She made you tract on P-Day? Ha! I didn't know it then but I'm grateful we didn't go tracting at all. :) I love you too and it must have taken great courage on your part to have given part of that lesson. I am sorry about Lilly and thanks for the information. I never know what to do or say when sad things happen to good people.

My Name's Sarah said...

Amen! Do you really drink Diet Coke in nursery? I'm not judging, just wondering! Oh, do you turn in your receipts for the coke?

Abbie Nelson said...

Thanks...it's
A: Good to know what people need at horrible times in life. Because I felt completely lost and helpless when Matt's dad died. I had no way to understand, and it drove me batty! I just kept making food, and he gained like 40 lbs.
B: I'm not the only one addicted to diet coke and who prefers hiding away at church. :)and
C: WHO TRACTS ON P-DAY!! Nutso!

Emilie and Branden said...

Every RS needs a lesson on this. People are so retarded when the circumstances of death aren't a 95 yr. old peacefully passing in their sleep. You already know...you already know...you already know I know. No need to keep typing.

Rick said...

I remember less than one month after Lily died, I was in Elders' Quorum, and we were talking about something along those lines. I said that there was a difference between "mourning with those that mourn" and "comforting those that stand in need of comfort." Someone started to disagree with me, but I actually interrupted him and said "No, you're wrong. I know what I'm talking about. I have a bit of experience here."

I don't think I got called on for a while after that. But it was kinda fun...

Emma said...

good for you Rick. Some comments need to be stopped right in their tracks at church.

Gramma Betsy said...

I remember sitting and crying with you at Lily's viewing. Please, I hope I DID NOT say anything about the wonderful place she was going to. All I can remember is that I was so sad, and I was trying to bring a part of Shera with me. If I gave you any of those platitudes, please forgive me. I love you because you love my Shera, and I appreaciate ALL of your comments. You make me smile!

amelia said...

Wow, this was super helpful. I know I've done a #2, justifying "They don't want to talk to me, they just had a huge loss." Thanks for sharing.

Karen said...

Thanks MaryBeth, that is very helpful. There have been many times in which I don't know what to do or say that would be most helpful or comforting.

Andersonland said...

Oh, I wish, you could give this as a talk in some RS broadcast...I'd actually go. I think this is what we really should be talking about when it comes to mourning and comforting and so on :)

I came up with a very similar list when we were going thru infertility and pregnancy loss issues. There were days when I just would go to church and take the sacrament and then leave because I could not face the dumb things people said (I know they ment well, but really folks!)

Alison said...

I am reading your posts on your favorites list... all very good! This one is a great lesson to me since I have not been through such an enormous loss yet. I think I am usually the hugger who doesn't know what to say, so doesn't say much. Now I think I will switch to being a hugging provider of ice cream.