Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

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Curt Sunshine
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Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 May 2009, 11:57

I wrote a fuller post on my own blog about my experience yesterday (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2009 ... peace.html), but I want to share a shorter, edited version with all of you:

Yesterday and today, I attended the viewing and funeral of a man in our stake who died of an unexpected heart attack. He was in his early 50's, had just been to the doctor and been pronounced fit as a fiddle, was losing weight and feeling great.

He was the Bishop of his ward, and I had been the High Council adviser for his ward when I first was called to my current calling. He was a wonderful, humble, caring, kind man.

His wife had been cancer free for just over a year. During her treatment, while he served faithfully as a Bishop, their ward rallied around them in wonderful ways, giving incredible love and service and strength to both of them in their trial. Everyone had become reconciled to the possibility of her death, so his was a true shock. His son flew home for the weekend, after which he will return to finish his mission. In the words of our Stake President, "None of them would have it any other way." I spoke with his wife briefly at the viewing yesterday, and something she said has been weighing on my mind ever since. She said, essentially:
He lost his mother about six weeks ago, and his aunt passed away five days later. We had reached peace with death and were focused on life. I know it will be hard in a couple of weeks when everyone gets back to their own lives and I am alone to deal with not having him here, but I believe in the Atonement, the Plan of Salvation and the promises of the temple. It will be hard, but I will be OK.
What I want to share from this experience is not related directly to those things she mentioned at the end (the Atonement, Plan and temples), but something else that she said at the beginning - being at peace.

As much as anything else, when I die I want to be at peace with death - but I also want to be at peace with my life. I don't want to be bitter or angry or upset before I die; I want to be at peace.

I believe that is up to me - that it is my responsibility. The natural man inclination is to blame others for our feelings - for whether or not we are at peace. I understand the necessity for anger, grief and/or cognitive dissonance when certainty is shattered, ambiguity accelerates and testimony is tried. I really do get that need. However, reconciliation of some kind that leads to peace and charity is critical.

I wish I had an easy answer. I wish I had a universal answer. The only answer I have is that there is peace in letting go - that there is peace in cutting others slack - there is peace in real charity - there is peace in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There isn't always peace in the human organizations in which that Gospel is interpreted and taught, just as there isn't always peace in even the most ideal families, but the peace the Gospel brings can influence and strengthen the peace that then can be brought individually into the Church - the community of spiritual family.

I hope I or my wife never has to deal with what this good Bishop's wife is experiencing right now and in the near future. I hope we die together, at a ripe old age. More than that, however, I hope that when either of us dies, the other is at peace - because she or I simply has become a peaceful person.

As I strive to be a peacemaker and, thereby, to be called a child of God, I understand that the first peace I must influence and create is within my own heart and soul - that I can't spread peace externally unless I am at peace internally. For those who now are not at peace, I hope they can look for peace even before understanding. That might seem counter-intuitive at first, but I believe peace can bring understanding - and that understanding, in and of itself, rarely brings peace - largely because the quest for understanding never ends. Peace, on the other hand, can last and endure even during circumstances that cannot be understood - like the unexpected death of a good Bishop.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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professionalmom
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Re: Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by professionalmom » 16 May 2009, 15:49

Ray-

Thank you for this beautiful post. I believe you just beautifully summed up the essence of what truly matters most. I am going to keep this post for future reference for days (like today) when I really need to be reminded of this truth. May the Lord bless each and every one of us so that we may find such peace.
"The path that is best for you is the path that keeps the best of you in play."

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jmb275
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Re: Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by jmb275 » 16 May 2009, 23:34

Brilliant Ray. Loved it. Your message has, what I consider to be "truth." You are an inspiration to many of us, and I very much appreciate your nuanced view at interpreting the world around you. I have thought a lot about death recently, in light of my now more agnostic, non-traditional believer viewpoint. In some ways I am comforted, in others it makes me more fearful. But I hope to have lived a life that I can look back on and be proud of, and more importantly, as you suggest, be at peace with.

Thank you for a good post. Shoot, I think I could skip church this week as I've received my spiritual nourishment now from Ray. ;)
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

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Heber13
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Re: Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by Heber13 » 18 May 2009, 22:24

jmb275 wrote:I have thought a lot about death recently
...not in a self-inflicted way, right jmb275? I hope you aren't in any danger, are you.

Please clarify so I don't have to worry.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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jmb275
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Re: Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by jmb275 » 19 May 2009, 15:22

Heber13 wrote:
jmb275 wrote:I have thought a lot about death recently
...not in a self-inflicted way, right jmb275? I hope you aren't in any danger, are you.

Please clarify so I don't have to worry.
Well honestly I did go through a phase for a short time where I was a bit suicidal. This journey has been excruciatingly painful for me. My mom suffers from chronic depression so I believe it is in my genes a bit.

But in this sense, no, I was referring to what happens when we die. I have always dismissed reincarnation, and other ideas of the after-life. Now that I have deconstructed my TBM testimony, I have wondered about what happens. Typically I just don't worry about it since it seems that we can never know with any certainty. But it is a bit disheartening. I am learning to deal with that uncertainty. I read some of the near-death experiences as Tom pointed out, and they are indeed spiritual. I'm just not sure I can be convinced that they represent a physical reality. I find it a bit strange that most of the NDEs occur in the West. Seems a bit like the witch hunts where witches only seemed to be found in Europe and Eastern U.S. but not so much in Asia (at least not of the same kind). Same with UFO abductions.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by Brian Johnston » 31 May 2009, 20:37

NDE's don't just happen to people in western countries, not by a long shot. Most of the stories that are available just happen to be from westerners because those were the easiest to gather (by fellow westerners publishing the stories). We've also had more high-tech medical technology available to more people recently in the west (compared to maybe in the east) that allows more people to return from these states, whatever they are. We have more people surviving situations where they would have stayed permanently dead in the past.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by daisymomster » 01 Jun 2009, 18:39

Thank you for that post. I feel like I just want to be a good person and help make other's life more enjoyable. I feel like if we do that we will be just fine.

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jmb275
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Re: Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by jmb275 » 02 Jun 2009, 17:11

Valoel wrote:NDE's don't just happen to people in western countries, not by a long shot. Most of the stories that are available just happen to be from westerners because those were the easiest to gather (by fellow westerners publishing the stories).
Source? Citation? How do you know this? But then in the next line you say:
Valoel wrote:We've also had more high-tech medical technology available to more people recently in the west (compared to maybe in the east) that allows more people to return from these states, whatever they are. We have more people surviving situations where they would have stayed permanently dead in the past.
I don't mean to be confrontational, but from an objective standpoint, this is merely your opinion of the reason, which you deny is even happening in the previous part of your post.

I was merely observing that from the NDE sites that I looked at, almost all of them were from westerners. This is at least one question I would have in analyzing the validity of these experiences. Or rather, the external reality of those experiences. I have no doubt the people aren't lying, that they did in fact have these experiences.

Sorry, I don't mean to be belligerent. I hope I'm not coming across that way.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by Curt Sunshine » 02 Jun 2009, 19:59

I have an uncle who had a return-from-death experience. (You'd think someone who knows he's allergic to bee stings wouldn't raise bees - that even the best precautions can fail, but . . .) I have no idea about the "mechanics" of such things, but it absolutely is real to him.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: Lessons from the Wife of a Good Man Gone

Post by AmyJ » 07 Feb 2018, 12:06

Curt Sunshine wrote:
16 May 2009, 11:57
For those who now are not at peace, I hope they can look for peace even before understanding. That might seem counter-intuitive at first, but I believe peace can bring understanding - and that understanding, in and of itself, rarely brings peace - largely because the quest for understanding never ends. Peace, on the other hand, can last and endure even during circumstances that cannot be understood - like the unexpected death of a good Bishop.
There was much heartache and pain dispersed through gushing tears of agony when I learned that the baby I thought I was carrying had never formed. Studded in between those moments was a washing of peace like chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie. Layers of understanding have come since then and become part of my narrative - based on my thinking/reasoning and intuition/spiritual impressions. I am learning for myself that when I can calm myself to be at peace with a situation - when I can identify and harness the anxiety, THEN I can act as best as I see fit (consulting with God and other experts) and THEN sometimes the understanding comes in the way that light shines, reflects, refracts and breaks into sparkles when it hits a diamond.

For a less enchanting understanding, I look at child-raising. I know I can't get through to my daughter in some circumstances - I can't reach her until the tears have settled and her mind is calm and not agitated. I have started giving her "hug time-outs" where she fights on my lap until she is ready to calm down and be ready to listen (I can do this because she is 8 and is small for her size - individual mileage may vary). I know my daughter, and I have experimented with "deep pressure" to help her re-regulate herself (heck, I have been known to curl up in a ball as small as I can to find a source of "deep pressure"). In disciplining her, I needed a way to teach her I was not deserting her even when I was rejecting her individual choices. While she is on "timeout", I speak calmly to her and give her pointers on breathing and rational consequences for the choices before her and work WITH her to establish calmness. Only after she is calm can I help her review what happened, why it happened, and what her choices are (with potential consequences).

Life is more agitating then the spin cycle of the washing machine - I have hope that God is willing to put me on a "hug time-out" and be with me until I am ready to listen when I get de-regulated spiritually, emotionally or mentally due to the buffetings of mortality.

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