A friend of mine in her late thirties just lost her husband to cancer. I say just, because even though it’s been six months, it’s still raw and fresh. There’s a lump in her throat when she speaks of him, and ongoing pain as she adjusts to life without him there. She’s also struggling to help her two teenage boys with this loss as well.
She cherishes so many memories. One is when their boys were born—each one chubby, with rolls of baby softness, and her husband used to call them “Pork Chop.” There are so many other details that built their stories and their life.
And then, just this month, her father passed. She is understandably overwhelmed with grief. Her sons are trying to cope, as well. First their father, now their grandfather.
Years before they married, my friend had a bulldog, and this pet came into the marriage from its beginning. The dog died long ago, but as she wondered how to help her sons with this double loss, she started thinking that maybe she should get them a dog– a loyal, loving companion to help ease their sadness.
Suddenly she felt prompted to call an old school friend she hadn’t spoken to in many years. It turned out this woman was trying to place a shelter dog. But not just any dog. A bulldog.
My friend’s heart leapt. Was this meant to be? It was several hours away, but she got in the car and went to pick up the dog. On the way she saw a large semi-truck with an advertisement painted on the side. As she drove closer, she was stunned: It was a mural of a bulldog.
Arriving at her friend’s home, she instantly felt a connection with this dog. “Oh—I didn’t even ask,” she said. “What’s the dog’s name?”
Whaaat? That was when she realized this had to have been engineered by her late husband. He knew how hard they were wrestling with grief, how desperately sad they were—compounded by the loss of their grandfather—and here was a way not only to give them a bouncy new companion to bring a spot of joy into their lives, but to let them know he was aware and loved them. Like a wink from beyond.
Her heart flooded with peace, and the knowledge that her husband was indeed watching over them: A coincidence that’s really a miracle.
Latter-day Saints believe that those who die do not depart for some distance cloud-covered destination light years away, but as Brigham Young taught, “the spirits of those who once lived on earth remain around us on this earth, though we can’t see them.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “They are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and are often pained therewith.”
At Churchofjesuschrist.org we read that President Joseph F. Smith said that those in the spirit world can see us more clearly than we can see them and that “their solicitude for us and their love for us and their desire for our well-being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.”
Often our ancestors are our guardian angels, and when we are receptive to the Spirit, we can see their hands in our lives.
I love this doctrine because of its sheer logic. Imagine that you died, and you were no longer able to connect with, or even observe, your loved ones. Crazy, right? How could that possibly be heaven? I am sure we are allowed to watch over and rejoice in the righteous choices of our posterity, observe the happy events, and even have an influence during the hard times. Surely the Lord gave this comforting information to our prophets, who could then share it with us.
As many of us have said, it will be fascinating to get to the other side and discover how many times our lives were spared—and by whom.
But most of all, how reassuring it is to know that those we miss terribly, are not all that far away. They are rooting for us, proud of us when we’re courageous, and looking forward to a grand reunion. They might even send us an occasional message—or a loving, new pet—to let us know they’re there.
Joni Hilton is a Latter-day Saint author, Seminary teacher, and shares life hacks at http://bit.ly/YourYouTubeMom.