"Death is not what some people imagine, it is only like going into another room. In that other room we shall find. . . the dear women and men and the sweet children we have loved and lost."
LINK to Part 1 ^
LINK to Part 2 ^
LINK to Part 3^
-President Thomas S. Monson
"Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first or last time."
"Things turn out the best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out."
"Forgetting is essential for survival. Nature has marvelous ways of protecting you, and forgetting is one. This survival mechanism allows you to partially--but not entirely--forget pain. You will forget unpleasant experiences and remember present ones to survive."
-My intro to radiographic science textbook
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Mortality is so fragile. Only one heartbeat, the drawing of a single breath, separate this world from the next. Death is a curtain through which each must pass. None of us knows when that passage will occur. This life is not so much a time for getting and accumulating as it is a time for giving and becoming. The Savior grants us life and his descent below all things make possible our rising above all things."
-Lance B. Wickman
"That's death and life, you see. We all shine on. You just have to release your hearts, alert your senses, and pay attention. A leaf, a star, a song, a laugh. Notice the little things, because somebody is reach out to you. Qualcuno ti ama."
-Charlie St. Cloud
"For those whose understanding is limited to the confines of mortality, death can sometimes appear to be terribly cruel and capricious. Indeed, life itself is filled with harsh realities that tug at the heart and tear away at the soul. Child abuse. AIDS. Natural disasters, from hurricanes to earthquakes. Famine. Prejudice and intolerance. Humanity's on going inhumanity toward one another.
One cannot look at human suffering, regardless of its causes or origins, and not feel pain and compassion. It is easy to understand why one who lacks an eternal perspective might look at horrifying news footage of starving children in Africa or the devastation of a hurricane and shake a fist at the heavens.
'If there is a God,' the empathetic observer might wonder, 'how could He allow such things to happen?'
The answer isn't easy, but it isn't that complicated, either. God has put His plan into motion. It proceeds through natural laws--which are, in fact, God's laws. And because they are His, He is bound by them, as are we. In this imperfect world, bad things sometimes happen. The earth's rocky underpinnings occasionally slip and slide, and earthquakes result. Certain weather patterns turn into hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and drought. That is the nature of our existence on this planet. Dealing with adversity is one of the chief ways in which we are tested and tutored.
Sometimes, however, adversity is man-made. That is where the principle of agency comes into play. Keep in mind that we were so excited about the plan Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ presented that we literally 'shouted for joy' (Job 38:7). We loved the concept of mortality and the exciting notion of moral agency. But because we'd never been mortal before, I'm not sure we could fully comprehend the impact of agency on our lives.
We tend to think of agency in a personal way. Ask someone to define 'moral agency' and they'll probably come up with something like this: 'Moral agency means I'm free to make choices for myself.' But we forget that agency also offers that same privilege to others, which means that sometimes we are going to be adversely affected by the way other people choose to exercise their agency.
Heavenly Father feels so strongly about protecting our moral agency that He will allow all of His children to exercise it--for good and for evil. Of course, He has an eternal perspective that helps Him to understand that whatever pain and suffering we endure in this life, regardless of its origins and causes, it is only a moment compared with our entire eternal existence.
By way of illustration, lets say you had a rope that extended both directions off into the cosmos--forever. And lets say you took a single strand of thread and wrapped it around the rope once at its midpoint. The rope to the left of the thread could represent our life before birth. The rope to the right of the thread could represent our life after death. And that single stand of thread would represent the span of our mortal lives here on earth in comparison to eternity.
Sort of puts it in perspective, doesn't it?
Of course, we mortals can rarely view life from that perspective. Instead, we feel pain and anguish in the face of adversity--for ourselves and for others. But faith in our Heavenly Father and His plan can be a source of inner strength through which we can find peace, comfort, and the courage to cope. As we put our faith and trust to work, hope is born. Hope grows out of faith and gives meaning and purpose to all that we do. It can give us comfort in the face of adversity, strength in times of trial, and peace when there is every reason for doubt and anguish."
-Our Search for Happiness by M. Russell Ballard
Our birth is but asleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
-"Ode on Intimations of Immortality" by William Wordsworth
"This life is but a chapter in the eternal plan of our Father. It is full of conflict and seeming incongruities. Some die young. Some live to old age. We cannot explain it. But we accept it with the certain knowledge that through the atoning sacrifice of our Lord we shall all go on living, and this with the comforting assurance of His immeasurable love."
-Gordon B. Hinckley
"Nobody knows what life may bring. It might make you happy. It might make you sad. Sometimes yes, but I know that there's a reason for everything. That's why I keep believing that whatever is meant to be is going to be."
"Every life has a meaning, whether it lasts one hundred years or one hundred seconds. Every life . . . and every death . . . changes the world in its own way. Don't postpone what you want. Don't leave anything misunderstood. Make sure the people you care about know. Make sure that they know how you really feel. Because life is fragile and death inevitable we must make the most of each day."
"We spend a lot of time focused on the future, planning it, working toward it. But at some point you start to realize your life is happening now. Right now. This is it. It's here. Blink and you'll miss it. So say what you want and mean it. Live each moment to the fullest. Today! Because tomorrow is never guaranteed."
"If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and all the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled. . . No man would have to live by faith. . . There would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life."
-Spencer W. Kimball
"Jesus said: 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."
The next quotes are from an incredible book called Return from Tomorrow by George G. Ritchie about his near death experience. He was declared dead and then brought back to life. This is a touching part of his experience meeting his Maker. I highly recommend reading his book. It's incredibly insightful and touching.
"Every details of twenty years of living was there to be looked at. The good, the bad, the high points, the run-of-the-mill. And with this all-inclusive view came a question. It was implicit in every scene and, like the scenes themselves, seemed to proceed from the living light beside me.
'What did you do with your life?'
It seemed to be question about values, not facts: What did you accomplish with the precious time you were allotted? It was obviously not a question in the sense that He was seeking information, for what I had done with my life in plain view. In any case this total recalling, detailed and perfect, came from Him, not me. I couldn't have remembered a tenth of what was there until He showed it to me.
'What did you do with your life?'
Hadn't I done anything lasting, anything important? Desperately I looked around me for something that would seem worthwhile in the light of the blazing reality.
There were no horrendous depths, there were no heights either. Only an endless, short sighted, clamorous concern for myself.
Hadn't I ever gone beyond my own immediate interests, done anything other people would recognize as valuable? At last I located it, the proudest moment of my life.
I became an Eagle Scout!
Again, words seemed to emanate from the presence beside me.
'That glorified you.'
It was true. I could see myself standing in the center of the award circle, flushed with pride, the admiring eyes of my family and friends turned on me. Me, me, me--always in the center. Wasn't there any time in my life when I had let someone else stand there?
I saw myself walking forward at a church service at age eleven, asking Jesus to be Lord of my life. But I saw how quickly that first excitement turned into a dull routine of church-on-Sunday. Worse, I saw the smugness and self-esteem that went with it. I was better than the kids who didn't come to church. I was even better than lots who did: there was my perfect attendance pin to prove it. I started to point out my pre-med courses, how I was going to be a doctor and help people. But visible alongside the classroom scenes was that Cadillac car and that private airplane--thoughts as observable as actions in that all-pervading light.
And all at one rage at the question itself built up in me. It wasn't fair! Of course I hadn't done anything with my life! I hadn't had time. How could you judge a person who hadn't started?
The answering thought, however, held no trace of judgement. Death, the word was infinitely loving, can come at any age.
Well, sure. I know that babies and little kids died. Somehow I had just always assumed that a full life span was in some way owed me.
'What have you done with your life to show Me?'
Already I understand that in my first frantic efforts to come up with an impressive answer, I had missed the point altogether. He wasn't asking about my accomplishments and awards.
The question, like everything else proceeding from Him, had to do with love. How much have you loved with your life? Have you loved others as I am loving you? Totally? Unconditionally?"
"Grief may be a thing we all have in common , but it looks different on everyone. It isn't just death we have to grieve. It's life. It's loss. It's change. And when we wonder why it has to suck so much sometimes, has to hurt so bad. The thing we gotta try to remember is that it can turn on a dime. That's how you stay alive. When it hurts so much you can't breathe, that's how you survive. By remembering that one day, somehow, impossibly you won't feel this way. It won't hurt this much. Grief comes in its own time for everyone in its own way. So the best we can do, the best anyone can do, is try for honesty. The really crappy thing, the very worst part of grief is that you can't control it. The best we can do is try to let ourselves feel it when it comes. And let it go when we can. The very worst part is that the minute you think you're past it, it starts all over again. And always, every time, it takes your breath away. There are five stages of grief. They look difference on all of us, but there are always five. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance."
"Time passes. Even when it seems impossible. Even when each tick of the second hand aches like the pulse of blood behind a bruise. It passes unevenly in strange lurches and dragging lulls, but it does pass."
-Bella Swan, New Moon
"Sometimes when we are going through the most severe tests, we will be nearer to God than we have any idea."
-Harold B. Lee
"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."
"I used to think that happiness comes after the hard part is over. But I have learned that we can be happy while enduring. I have never read of the people of God in any dispensation passing through life, as the sectarian world would say, on flowery beds of ease, without opposition of any kind. Come what may, and love it. Life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don't sing and bells don't ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result. . . I believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life. If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in tern can lead toward times of greatest happiness."
-Joseph B. Wirthlin
"There are better things ahead than any we leave behind."
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience."
-Pierre Teilhard De Chardin
"There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning."
"You can cry, ain't no shame in it."
"Hope is anything but wishful. It is expectation based on experience. Hope is serene. It's eyes have the deep, knowing look of someone well acquainted with sorrow, the luminosity of recently being wet with tears. Hope has the confidence of one who clearly sees a bright future even when the next hours seem fog shrouded."
"I don't think of all the misery but the beauty that still remains."
I recommend watching this episode of the TV show The Twilight Zone. The episode is called A Nice Place to Visit. A man dies and thinks he's in heaven because he has everything he wants, but in the end he discovers it isn't what he wanted after all. It touched me.
LINK to Part 1 ^
LINK to Part 2 ^
LINK to Part 3^