Grief and Mormonism

Today is a good day, don’t fret, but I was musing on how different and perhaps unhealthy grief is within Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint community.

Typically people are missed somewhat but not really grieved.  When some folks leave the Church or lose their faith they often remark on how different death is perceived and felt afterward compared to their time within the chapel walls.

There are very good reasons for both traditions.  Within the Mormon church it is believed that death is but a short period, we will see our loved ones again, the separation is for now rather than forever.  There are scriptural references to back up this viewpoint.  Mormonism also teaches us that we were intelligent beings before our birth too and known by God.  It’s not goodbye, it is only goodbye for now, until we meet again.

The secular view is that death is final, that we will not see that person again, that all we have left are their possessions and memories of them.  That they will be memorialised and deeply missed.

There is comfort in Mormonism’s view of death, it softens the blow, is based on deeply held beliefs.  The idea that you will hold a dear loved one again in a mutually affectionate embrace will often make today more palatable to bear.

There is freedom in the secular view to miss, deeply miss and fully mourn the passing of a loved one.  It is often more painful and long lasting.  It is often uncomfortable.

Mormons often muse that if secular folks knew what they knew there would be no need to feel such depths of sorrow, that the grief would be tempered to a more manageable state, that there is no need to suffer as there is One who has already suffered.  It confuses Mormons that people would willingly feel the deepest, most long lasting levels of grief known.

The idea that Mormons don’t often mourn, and that, as gently as I can put this, if they are suffering perhaps they need to tap in to their faith a little more is isolating and dismissive.  It was a disturbing idea when I first heard of it and I considered my position on the idea for quite some time.

Then a friend fell ill, and his illness became terminal, and his illness ended his life.

When it became apparent that his illness was terminal and his care had reached the palliative stage I made the decision to approach what was coming from a secular point of view and not try to mute, soften or gloss over what was happening.

As the time approached and when the time arrived, his family were kind enough to let us know which was more than they were required to do.

I began to let myself feel what his passing would mean to me, to them, to his friends, to his extended circle.   I began to long for the rubbish jokes, for the pep talks, for the regaling us with tales of his youth.  I began to consider the milestones that he would miss, his first grandchild, his second and third grandchildren, his milestone anniversaries with his beautiful wife who he loved more than the breath he breathed daily.  I considered the holidays in the sun he would miss, the Christmases’, the New Years and Easters.

I was shocked at the depth of the pain.  During my time in Mormonism I’d experienced the passing of many dear friends as a natural part of life.  Nothing hurt like this.  I thought the pain would pass quickly but it lingers more than a year later.

There are times when our circle of friends will include him in our celebrations by speaking of him and it is both a joyful and painful moment simultaneously.  My throat closes in a pre-cry manner, my memories of him make me smile.

I could shut down these feelings at any point by stepping in to the Mormon Model of grief management but I feel it does a disservice to his memory.  I want to miss him now. I want to be happy that I know and knew him for a few years.  I want to feel his absence.  I want to know that I want him here with us.

There is a time and a place for both models of managing the passing of a loved one.

My middle way, because I always find a way to incorporate civilian life and Mormonism, is to grieve fully and completely now, and hope that there is a reunion one day, but without step 1 I don’t believe I’d appreciate step 2.

Of course, I haven’t lost anyone close in the family for more than 20 years so if and when that day comes I would feel no hypocracy in taking whatever steps were necessary to manage and soften that blow.

My life is richer because I miss my friend.  He knew we all loved him and cared about him during his lifetime and we know we love him still and feel his absence.  It feels very respectful.

I have a new found respect for secular folks who go through this process without hope of respite.  In future I’ll try to honour their choices.  In honouring their choices, perhaps they’ll let me share some of the peace of mind that faith brings in these circumstances.





Energy is Currency in Depression or Obesity – how to make it work for you.

Energy levels are like money, you can save or invest. In crisis you’ll think you have to save, but the trick to happiness is to spend like it is going out of fashion.

Currency is important, right?  It allows us to purchase things or services.  It gives us a sense of security that we have enough of it.  Different places use different currency and it is important to know the distinctions.

I’ve been thinking about Energy being Currency and how that interacts with depression or obesity.

I’ve noticed that when depressed or tubby, it becomes essential to be to conserve energy, the physical internal resource, lest it become depleted and I die or some such.  There is a perception that depleted energy reserves will be catastrophic and calamitous to the detriment of the soul standing there.   Continue reading “Energy is Currency in Depression or Obesity – how to make it work for you.”


Trump Detox, Zero Contact

I cannot look at his face or listen to his voice anymore. I need a break.


I’ve decided that if I can go no contact with crummy and dangerous people in my life, abusive people, people who don’t have a humble bone in their body or who erroneously call you a liar to your face, I can do the same with the characters who show up on my TV and in my newspapers.

I’ve decided to disregard everything that crass, nasty people say and give it no space in my home.

I’ll still write to my MP’s, I’ll be pro many things that my Ecclesiastical leaders would prefer I were not, still be part of Amnesty International, I will still defend in the first person other peoples rights and hold them to their and my responsibilities.

But I will not give place to bullies in my life.

If an issue is big enough, it’s going to filter through my emotional firewalls.  I’ll read a variety of news from different sources but all of it will be focussed away from brash egomaniacs.

I neither care what people eat in bed at 6pm, or that they take most mornings off to watch TV, or that their Military Doctor lies to reporters from a podium in the White House, or that the contempt between husband and wife is palpable, or that the grown children are wholly unqualified for the advisory role into which they’ve elbowed themselves, or that they say “I would apologise if that what you want” and then not apologise for repeatedly sharing atrocious content on the internet, or for admitting on tape that they are a predator, and for constantly referring to them winning in 2016 rather than governing with dignity and grace in 2018, or that as soon as somebody says No that’s not right they try and sometimes succeed in having the person fired, that constant rumours of infidelity abound, that they cannot stay off social media without being vulgar and abusive to other users.

I won’t let that kind of atmosphere in my home anymore.  It’s not happening.

I’ll check on issues regularly, I’ll participate in the legal process, I’ll be an awesome citizen of the country I love.  But I will not let a bully have a foothold in my life.

When people in power are screaming about a non-issue, it is to distract from something very real, important and frequently detrimental to the masses.  I’ll be keeping an eye on the news and not the show.



Toughen up a bit, People.

Lamenting and pearl clutching are becoming a hobby born of a feeling of impotence, of feeling like there is nothing that can be done, a default reaction, and yet those move the cause along hardly at all.


I love that all kind of -ism’s are being called out and revealed in broad daylight.  I love that everyone from creepy weirdo’s to predatory world and industry leaders cannot now easily hide their evil doings by throwing money at the problem or intimidating somebody in to silence.  I love that people are finding a voice, are being heard and have courage to say the difficult truthful thing.  Love it.

There are times where feelings occur, it is natural to have compassion for our fellow person on this planet.  These feelings are a motivating force.  But that brings me to my point.  Force and power.

People, I perceive, are clutching at their pearls and lamenting about awfulness which every woman on the planet has known is going on for generations.  And then people are clutching and lamenting further and then a little more.  I perceive that lamenting and pearl clutching are becoming a hobby born of a feeling of impotence, of feeling like there is nothing that can be done, a default reaction, and yet those move the cause along hardly at all.   Speakers need people to hear them, absolutely.

We cannot become a nation of cissy’s, of passive people, of those who wring their handkerchief between their fingers in helpless distress.

We have to be able to face the unpleasant things in life and we have to be able to deal with it there and then.  We have to reclaim laughing in the face of adversity.  We have to be able to demand a seat at the table of our own life.  The best creativity, art, music always stem from periods of adversity.  Maybe the best of our life can be brought forth in times of trial and difficulty.

We need to know who we are despite what others say about us.  If somebody withdrew their approval, would we be bereft or flounder?  No!  We wouldn’t, we’re tougher than that!  Our emotional core strength is invaluable.

With the caveat that we should do no harm to ourselves or others, it matters not whether somebody accepts our lifestyle.  Do we accept ourselves?  Are we going to embrace the good in life while the others yell in to their own echo chamber?  Are we going to bruise at an unkind word or are we going to be resilient and cheerfully persist?  If somebody insists on telling us all our faults, can we be resolute in our own sense of humility and self worth?  Can we continue to learn and grow, developing an amazing life?

Standing in front of evil ill intent and boldly declaring as Gandalf “You Shall Not Pass”, or as Doctor Who “She Is Defended” is a minimum starting point.  A swift “thanks for your input” and going your own way is another possibility.  A further step would be to separate our wants for our life from the wants of others for our life.

To whimper and twist a hanky will do nobody any good.

For items playing out on the worldwide stage, there are things we can do.  We can write to our government representative if the matter relates to a national situation.  We can join Amnesty International’s Facebook page (how  easy can that be!), always be polite if you are contacting an organisation.  We can donate to organisations pulling in the same direction.  We can be a person who can be confided in, who survivors and fellow travellers can trust.

Be true to your word and be braver than you think you are.

And laugh, laugh lots, laugh at funny things.  Take away the fear of living in a dented world.  Go out dancing, have kitchen discos, use the nice things you own and treat yourself and the people around you kindly.  Speak the truth.  Have the courage of your convictions and the courage to continue learning.  Hold the line.

But for the love of sunshine, stop clutching your pearls.




Sunday School – 144 chances to get it right

I’ve had the great blessing of being a Sunday School Teacher for 3 years, teaching 8-9 year olds and letting them teach me too.  It’s been a challenge and a blast.  The kids are amazing and full of intellectual rigour – as much as a 9 year old can be, that is, and filled with a quiet resolve to be kind and keep learning.

But this Sunday I was released from that calling as we say in Mormon circles.  It’s time to try new things and see where I can be of service elsewhere.

But, why the pictures above?

Each week for the past couple of years, I have written my name on the board along with a self portrait reflecting kind of how I look that day.  Every weeks portrait came with a smiling face.  They were very specific in proscribing whether I’d omitted my reading glasses and the portrait needed correcting.  Heaven forbid if I started class without including this weeks portrait.

The portrait came with the 10 second comment, every single time, that it was there so they’d know who would be happy to chat with them in the corridor at Church or outside and what to look for, that I would always be delighted to chat with them in the busy corridor.

I thought it was just a fun way to start class and get the attention to the front of the room rather than the “pillowcase of puppies” approach to wiggling and distracting each other thing they had going on.

But like I said, this week was the week that I became a former Sunday school teacher.

And this week is the week that many, many, many of the students came by to get affirmation they wouldn’t be forgotten.  I would be walking and one of the girls would jump in with a surprise hug, another girl would jump in too.  The boys came by to test whether I’d smile if they greeted me and beamed when I did.  They wanted me to notice their Christmas gadgets on first show, and notice I did.  They wanted to know that I would ask them to sit up in the chairs rather than taking up 3 spaces each!  One girl came by and forlornly stated that she really didn’t want me to not be a teacher anymore, and I said cheerfully “we’ll always have the corridor”, “oh yeah, great” and smiling she dashed away.

It started as a silly throw away to cheerfully begin class, and became an ethos of inclusiveness and togetherness.

I had 144 chances during those 3 years service, 48 weeks a year x 3 years, to help those wonderful children – a different group each year – know that I had a Testimony and their quiet moment experiences where they felt an assurance that what we were speaking about had application in their lives was important.

We likened a Testimony or belief in Churchy things to two possibilities:

  • A boulder, is a testimony one big block of rock, giant, immovable?
  • Sand on the beach, is the beach made up of lots of little sand grains, each one representing a smaller testimony?

We determined a testimony is like the beach, with some boulders.  There are big strong beliefs, these are the big ticket items.  Then there are tens, hundreds or thousands of smaller testimonies of the smaller things.  Both types make up a beautiful vista and both make up a valid, strong, and beautiful testimony.

I’ll miss being with those students.  They have richly fulfilling and complicated little lives as they navigate school life and sibling rivalries. They’re great people and I very much look forward to watching them learn and grown in the forthcoming years.  They’re amazing people, hold on to your hats!

(I know many people here have no organised religion and you are very free to record your personal experiences, I’m trying to share here a lovely experience and hope that it makes you smile a little.  It takes a village and all that.)



Setting Christmas Expectations WAY Too High

Really don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re worth more than that!


Christmas and the Holidays are about connecting.  It all started with a little family celebrating the birth of a baby, and the guests pretty much either brought their love (the shepherds) or a gift each (the kings).

When we think about having enough for Christmas, some years we’ll be financially able to King It Up, other years you’ll have a shepherds heart, both are completely acceptable to people who love you.

It is ok to “cut our coat to the cloth” and have a financially and emotionally manageable Holiday Period.   In the old days, tailors would decide what coat they were going to make based upon the quantity and quality of the cloth they had in front of them.  The more cloth, the fancier the coat, the less cloth, the simpler, but there was always a coat at the end of the cutting and stitching, they just had to assess what they had and decide how to proceed.

It is easy to want to give family and friends the exact gift they want, and sometimes/quite often we can do that.  But sometimes we can’t.  I’ve always gone as extravagant as I could and struggled in November – January.  This time folks will be getting cute, fun, ideal gifts which perhaps don’t require us to sell a kidney or rob a bank and although humbling, I’m completely ok with that now.

Have a diary so you don’t miss fun events, and have a good gift wrapping kit with scissors and a proper tape dispenser to make life easier, and book a day off work if possible or set aside a non-workday to prep, then enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be stressful, it doesn’t have to make us frazzled.  We decide how we react.

If the priority is in connecting with those we love, or in caring for ourselves during this period, we can’t go far wrong.  If we are invited and want to go, GO!  Don’t let worry stop us visiting with people we love and having fun or kicking up our heels.  If we are lonely, find someone to serve.  It is the quickest cure for loneliness.  If we are frazzled, stop and think about the people you are attempting to connect with through lovely festive food and a gift.  When we remember the who and why, the how becomes less fraught if we let it.  If we are overworked, simplify and delegate.  There is no prize for arriving at the holidays completely overwhelmed and fractious, we determine our destination and how we arrive there.

For me, it is the traditions of Christmas that I remember the most from growing up.  Wearing your nicest clothes and PJ’s, those little sausages in bacon during dinner, seeing Nan and Granddad, taking a couple of hours out on Christmas day to colour in the new colouring books with new felt tipped pens while laying on our tummies on the rug.  I don’t really remember exactly what gifts arrived, we had a few great ones to be sure, but what remains is how I felt during those Christmas periods.  Grandparents are no longer with us but I can still feel being pulled in to a hug by Nan with a big kiss on my forehead and I can still see Granddad laughing and chuckling to himself with tears in his eyes after making a dad-joke type pun.

If all we can do this year is bring a Shepherd Heart, we’ve done a lot.


Passion not Panic

Almost nothing is so urgent that it requires an absolute split second decision. There is time. Time can be our friend in most cases.


Chatting with a colleague friend yesterday I uttered the words “the decisions I’ve made recently have been borne of panic not passion” and a moment of clarity ensued.

I desire to live a life of passion, to passionately pursue my goals and to enjoy my 72 free goes around the Sun. Continue reading “Passion not Panic”