While working at the Temple, I received a phone call from my sister, Joni. An email was sent from Denmark that morning with news that my aunt had passed away.
The message was most unexpected. My Aunt Edel had cancer; she had diabetes, yet it was her heart that had finally had enough. So why, with all the difficulties she was facing, would the news come at such a surprise to me? At such a great distance between us all my life, with very few chances for visits, why would the news upset me so?
As I pondered the death of my aunt, perhaps it was because I knew that I never had the chance to know her like I wish I could have. Maybe it was sadness for what never was. I also realize that it hits a little close to home knowing it is my mother’s sister and makes me wish my mother were here. I feel a definite sadness that my Danish family doesn’t have the knowledge and understanding or the peace that the Gospel offers at the time of death.
Of all my Danish relatives, the ones I have been the closest to and have been in contact with over the years have been my Aunt Helen and Uncle Bent. They have kept us updated on news of my grandparents, Mor Mor and Mor Far (he has now passed away) and the rest of the family. It’s them I have known the most and have kept in touch with. Yet the passing away of my other aunt has been quite painful to me.
While she was here, my mother made a point of keeping us close to our Danish family and helped to make an awareness of our heritage. We had our Danish traditions at Christmas time, she sang us Danish nursery rhymes, and kept us in touch with our Danish family. Some of our favorite meals were my mom’s Danish recipes. We all learned as we grew up, to love the Danish side of our family. So whether we were half a world away or half a mile down the street it is still painful to know that one of our family has passed away.
I have a favorite talk about death given by Elder Russell M. Nelson that has really helped me. He said, “Irrespective of age, we mourn for those loved and lost. Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.” (D&C 42:45.) Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.” I love that line…the only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life. We mourn because of the love we have and to me it is better to mourn than to not have love in our life.
He continues to say; “Our limited perspective would be enlarged if we could witness the reunion on the other side of the veil, when doors of death open to those returning home. I can only imagine the wonderful reunion my mother had with her sister and her father… He then says, “Life does not begin with birth, nor does it end with death.” I am so very humble and grateful for this knowledge.
“Returning from earth to life in our heavenly home requires passage through—and not around—the doors of death. We were born to die, and we die to live. (See 2 Cor. 6:9.) As seedlings of God, we barely blossom on earth; we fully flower in heaven. We need not look upon death as an enemy. With full understanding… faith supplants fear. Hope displaces despair. The Lord said, “Fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.” (D&C 101:36.) He bestowed this gift: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)
I am so grateful for the wonderful teachings of our leaders and the scriptures. I am in deed grateful for my knowledge that this is not the end, only a separation for a time.
I am truly grateful for the comfort the Holy Ghost offers and for that gentle and sure knowledge that Families really can be together forever.
It’s my hope and prayer that we can cherish each and every moment that we have here and live them well so that we may return to our Father in Heaven, our brother Jesus Christ, and be reunited with all our loved ones, that we may all receive the blessings of eternal life and everlasting joy.