Kearney 3rd Ward Youth Fireside; August 2011:“You never know what will happen.”
Nothing could have prepared us for the death of our infant son. He was born just 3 weeks before his due date—he was considered full-term. There was no indication that anything would go “wrong” during the 8 months he was in the womb. I went to the hospital because I was having contractions. I was hooked up to a machine so the nurses could monitor our baby. He was in distress and needed to be delivered right away. My doctor was paged and they wheeled me into an operating room where our son was born by Cesarian section. We got to see him briefly before he was transported to another hospital. The next day we learned that he had suffered damage to his brain due to infection in the womb and that his body would not be able to perform several functions on its own, including breathing. We knew fairly quickly that we needed to remove him from the ventilator so that he didn't have to struggle anymore. The next day I was recovered enough to be with him. We were in a private room, surrounded by family the day our son died. It was very peaceful, and not nearly as traumatic as you might imagine. We knew in those moments that his life had a purpose—his time on earth was brief, but he gained all he needed to return to our Father in Heaven: a body. I don't think we ever asked, “Why us?” Because of our faith and our knowledge of the gospel, we knew our son's death was a part of Heavenly Father's plan. “Tragic things happen to good people. God does not cause them, nor does He always prevent them. He does, however, strengthen us and bless us with His peace, through earnest prayer.”—Rex D. Pinegar, “Peace through Prayer,” Ensign, May 1993, 67.
We prayed a LOT. It was difficult sometimes to know what to say, or how to express the hurt and grief we were feeling, or how to ask for the things we needed—like comfort and peace...and most of all, hope. But we prayed anyway; saying whatever flowed from our mouths and combated the adversary in convincing us that prayer was fruitless. Prayer saved us from falling into that proverbial pit of despair. We focused on the love of our Savior. We were reminded time and again, that we were not alone in our sorrow.
We received so much support and love from our friends, and family, and our ward family. Cards came in the mail with uplifting words. Members of our ward family brought us dinners. Friends and family mowed our lawn. So many people attended our son's funeral—it meant so much to us to see the warm faces of those who cared for us all in one room. Our ward family provided a meal after the funeral. It was nice to sit and rest, and eat while recovering from the physically and emotionally draining day. We felt their love for us in every detail.
Thomas S. Monson said, “Whenever we are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life’s fight, let us remember that others have passed the same way, have endured, and then have overcome.”--“Meeting Life’s Challenges,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 68. There were people that came to us and told us that they too had lost a child. They gave us hope. They made us realize that others had gone through the trial we were experiencing...and had survived.
For comfort we frequently listened to talks given by leaders of the church. Our favorites were talks by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. He spoke to us directly, it seemed. Whenever we were sad, we heard him say,“Be assured that there is a safe harbor. You can find peace amidst the storms that threaten you. Your Heavenly Father—who knows when even a sparrow falls—knows of your heartache and suffering. He loves you and wants the best for you. Never doubt this. While He ... does not always intervene in the course of events, He has promised the faithful peace even in their trials and tribulations.”—Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Finding a Safe Harbor,” Ensign, May 2000, 59
An article in the Ensign by Elder Bednar reminded us that, "Learning by faith and from experience are two of the central features of the Father's plan of happiness."
I can tell you, no matter what, it IS a plan of happiness. There were very sad times, and I sometimes asked, “Is this hurt worth it?” But I was comforted by Psalm 30:5, "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." This reminds me that our sorrows will be but for a moment in the eternal scheme of things.
We are here to learn by faith through experience. We knew in our pre-mortal life that not all of those experiences would be happy ones. Some of those experiences would feel as though our heart had been broken beyond repair. We would truly be tested.
Why did we agree to this? Because we are promised, if we come to earth and live righteously, that we will have an abundant life-- that we will be resurrected and gain eternal life. We will return home and glory in the presence of our Father in Heaven, who created us and be united with our families to live with them forever.
Our son is not on earth with us, but he is ours forever. Heavenly Father knew it was worth it for him to be here--even for a short time. He is a bright spot in our lives and reminds us that even small things bring great wonders.He is a constant reminder to us why it is so important to live in accordance to the gospel. We want to be with him in the Celestial Kingdom, so we must be our best selves each day.
The following scripture was read in Sacrament meeting about a year after our son died. It expressed, in part, what I gained from going through this trial.
Doctrine & Covenants 78:17-19 reads:Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours. And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.
Losing our son was difficult, but the knowledge I gained has saved me from giving into despair and has strengthened my faith in a very fast, sure way. I know that Heavenly Father has blessings beyond measure prepared for me. I know that I cannot bear all things by myself, but that I have my Savior to lean on. I know that the riches of eternity are mine. And I know that receiving all things with thankfulness allows the blessings to shine through the hard times. It's an awesome feeling-- to know without a doubt that your trials are the building blocks of your faith.
Our journey has been one that we only survived through our faith and trust that Heavenly Father knows us and has a plan for us. I may never know why things have gone the way they have, but I can say that I am a blessed mom to have all of my children a part of me forever because of the promises and blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.