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.”


Do Not Scratch The Surface

Flipping heck.  There I was, bimbling along, having a nice time making new acquaintances and learning new skills at a First Aid refresher course and they talk about recognising heart problems, described the symptoms and inexplicably and unreasonably I started feeling upset and raise my hand and say in a quiet voice “I’m not having fun anymore, this happened to me” and like a freaking cissy I start fighting back tears and feel stupid.  “I’m not having fun” was a light-hearted way to indicate distress to the instructor who was flipping amazing and brilliant and responsive and kind.  But stupid happened and the tears came and every time I was alone for the rest of the day tears came again.  Continue reading “Do Not Scratch The Surface”


Zen During Turmoil

Occasionally there comes a time in personal turmoil that you reach a state of Zen.  You reach a point of “oh well” and start to calm into the trouble rather than fighting it and getting nowhere.

In the Urban Dictionary (a highly reputable source!!!) Zen is defined as thus:

“One way to think of Zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind.  Zen is a way of being.  It is also a state of mind.  Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts”.

Now, I am no Japanese Master of Eastern Philosophies yet there comes a point in seeking Continue reading “Zen During Turmoil”


Autism, A Digital Brain in an Analogue World

What if a few aspects of Autism were evolutionary leaps and trials? How cool would that be?!


Hypothesis:  Some aspects from various forms of Autism Spectrum Disorders might be humanity’s attempt at an evolutionary leap. 

In my family we hold the opinion that this might be a possibility.  We’ve been mulling the theory round in our minds for a few years and looking for examples to support or refute the suggestion.

 In evolution, Mother Nature for wont of a better description, throws out a variation, a new thing, a “let’s see what happens if I …” in an attempt to gain advantage for subsequent generations and adapt to the environment.  If the adaptation is useful, and if the adaptee can find a mate and let their offspring inherit this new adaptation, it is determined to be a successful adaptation.   

We are familiar with the monkey to man with spear pictogram explaining evolution.  

The monkey adapted, found a mate, the adaptation became widespread and with many proto-human evolutionary lines dying out but others succeeding here we stand today before you as ancestors of that creature who thought to themselves:

“hang on a minute, I can stand up and I think I’ve just invented indoor fire, that’s going to make proteins more palatable and easier to digest which will speed up the incremental development of my brain compared to these other forest and savannah dwelling animals thus giving me advantage in the food chain, I think I’ll invent a spear now, hold my fruit”. 

In our small group, we are collecting examples to see if the quirks and idiosyncrasies of people we meet, some of whom are blessed to be on the spectrum, help or hinder them in this new digital era.  

A person close to me who is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome describes their situation like having a digital brain in an analogue world.

In the digital world there are absolutes, yes no, on off, right wrong.  Modern Computers are digital.

In the analogue world there are variations, perhaps maybe, gradients instead of absolutes.  Long wave radios are analogue.

 The person I was speaking with explained that they can cope with absolutes but ambiguity drives them to distraction even though they pass for Neuro-Typical on any given day.

This same person can be listening to music, reading a book and watching a show on their device while simultaneously taking a walk outside with no aspect of confusion evident.

This person is a “data in” person, craving more and more information, faster and faster and at a more and more complex level until their need to master an understanding of a topic is sated.

It is fascinating to watch. 

I am more of a feelings and gut instinct person.  I gather a few bits of information until I start to see a picture, test the water with an idea then make a decision. 

The two ways of being are not very compatible to say the least!

 Each time we come across someone who might be blessed to be on the spectrum we notice what they are good at, what are their talents, how do they prefer to communicate.

The idea that portions or parts of ASD might be an attempt at an evolutionary leap is gaining traction in our thought process.  We see so many people with natural talents beyond non-spectrum folks natural abilities. 

It is difficult to gauge how many people as a percentage of the population have had ASD’s through the generations of humanity so comparing numbers is ineffective as the opportunity to receive a diagnosis is more prevalent nowadays.  Viewing some aspects of ASD as a positive puts a new perspective in to the frame.  It gives us an opportunity to see the good rather than the difficulty.  It gives us an opportunity to count our blessings and be pleased that we might be part of something bigger than ourselves.  Suddenly, digital is cool.




Debt, significant debt, followed me for decades but I just made the final payment! *Pulls kilt over head and screams FREEDOM!*


Only gone and blinking done it! Decades of debt finally all gone, all paid down, every penny. I await a bill for some car repairs but otherwise and aside from a mortgage and regular bills, I owe nobody anything. The money in the bank is mine to do with as I please. I cannot remember back when this was the case previously. It has been my constant companion, my lullaby at night, my alarm call in the morning, it has been my travelling companion and as close to me as my own heartbeat. It has been a motivation to focus on what matters. We had a good life none the less but this is a legacy I didn’t want to pass to the next generation. I wanted the next generation to be free to take chances and be bold if they choose to be. It would have been easy to pay off minimums for the rest of my life and ignore the freedoms afforded to those who are not thus shackled. Easy. The hard decision was to live up to what I though was right for us. To actually decide that my life work until it was completed was to be free of things which erode my freedom to choose, and debt was right up there at the top. Each month it would eat away at my disposable income. It was a constant reminder of mistakes made. It annoyed me.

If you are minded to make the same decision and become debt free, hats off to you.

If you are minded to make a different decision and stick with minimum payments, more power to your elbow.

Shakespeare in Hamlet wrote:

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine ownself be true,”

The whole phrase resonated with me but it’s the “This above all: to thine ownself be true” part which always rang in my ears since my days at the Provo Missionary Training Centre (MTC) and our District Leader, David Muntinga would repeat this phrase out loud to himself frequently. It stuck like an earworm and shaped my personal philosophy. So, thanks Dave!

My philosophy is based on strength of character, freedom to choose, kindness where possible, resilience to weather the storms, and a passion to embrace opportunities.

I think the experiences we have gone through as a family, particularly in the last 4.5 years should act as a cautionary tale to young people making life choices!

At any point we can make a different decision and choose a different path. The principle is called Agency. We all have it and it is like a muscle in the body, we either use it and it strengthens or we don’t and it weakens. Making a different decision feels awkward, clumsy and ungainly. It is not a pretty sight at first but I liken it to watching a class of 4 year old children learning ballet who look like cats on roller-skates at first vs that same group 5 or 10 years later with a gracefulness which is inspiring. Work through the kittens on roller-skates phase, it doesn’t last forever.

If I had my time over, these are some of the things I wish I’d adopted earlier.

  • Choose your path of study – does it get you where you need to be for your next life steps? Does it open or close doors?
  • Choose your career well – will it provide for you and your dependents. The higher qualified you are, the more freedom there is to make your own schedule. Qualify young, qualify highly.
  • Choose your partner well – if you choose to have a partner do they have complimentary goals and philosophies, are they equally carrying the load, are they easy to be around, can you talk about the specifics of budgeting without fighting or someone becoming moody?
  • Choose your financial strategy early in life – are you a spender, are you a saver, what did your parents do and did it work for them, if you don’t know about money, learn! There are endless resources available online or in your library. How many hours can you put in to your career. Do you have other priorities which draw away your attention. Is your strategy working for you?
  • Choose to budget – know what is coming in and what is going out. Know the dates of payments. Write it down.
  • Choose to recognise the true cost – I mentally add the time away from my family to earn the money and the tax already taken by the government into the cost of the product and think to myself “is it still worth it?” Conversely, if you have financial woes and plenty of possessions, know their value and sell them! Generate revenue, get back some of the cash and pay down expenses.
  • Choose to find the best deals for you – as contracts come to an end, shop around. As birthdays come up, buy early and allow time for shipping at a reduced rate. As utility prices fluctuate, move deals or suppliers. As tools become needed for a DIY project check the internet vs the high street prices and make good choices.
  • Choose to cancel duff subscriptions – FREE MONEY! Who doesn’t love free money. That’s what it feels like when you find a subscription you’d forgotten about on your statement and cancel it down.
  • Choose to continue learning and growing – there will be wise people around you in your life, listen as they chat, ask questions when appropriate, learn from them, use them as a mentor.
  • Choose to ask for help – if you are in over your head, ask for help. Call the companies and tell them. Tell a friend. Approach organisations who manage these situations daily. You are in it on your own, your choices got you here and your choices are going to get you out of it, but if it all gets too much and you need expert help, ask.
  • Choose to build a reserve – if you are debt free, build a slush fund, a reserve, a cushion, whatever you want to call it, to fall back upon in tough times. Tough times always come. It’s prudent to have done what you can to make those times a little easier.

My experience has reached the Build A Reserve phase. It is quite exciting to build rather than be repairing. Feels completely different and it is actually a little scary which is silly. What if I do the next phase wrong! Anything new can be daunting so I choose to push through, carry on learning, carry on listening and carry on trying to make good choices. I may never rival the likes of a billionaire, people who I do not envy at all, they worked hard for what they have and I am pleased for them, but I can build from this point forth and can be pleased that I got my little family this far in the journey. It is hard. Oh so difficult in ways that I cannot find words to articulate. It is possibly one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I’m hoping that the effort one day feels worth it. Right now it is all a little raw and a little new so I have to let it settle in to the new normal before I can speak on that with any degree of confidence. This is my new Kittens On Roller-skates phase!

Now hopefully you’ve had a charmed life and never have to consider much of the above. You people who are adulting successfully have been a quiet inspiration over the past few years so thank you.


Terminal illness.

Londoners and Essex people become colourfully indignant when we have feelings going on. It’s a culture thing.


My friend from works wife just let us know that our dear, funny as heck, tall, handsome and intelligent, honourable, caring, kind, micky taking, irreverent and a little politically incorrect, world travelling, close to retiring friend is terminally ill.

That bastard.

How dare he leave this world a little dimmer through lack of his presence.  How dare he not regale us again with the same tale over and over again on “when I was in Ireland”.  How dare he not tease me for coming from the wrong side of the tracks.  How dare he not be around to share his immense wisdom.  How dare he not tell me “Chin up, girl, you got this”.

How bastarding dare he.