Can Mormons express grief better? This week's Mormon Matters podcast aims to find out. (Shutterstock, http://tinyurl.com/ogtr5et)

Can Mormons express grief better? This week’s Mormon Matters podcast aims to find out. (Shutterstock, http://tinyurl.com/ogtr5et)

I’m a guest in this week’s Mormon Matters podcast, the topic being grief, loss, and mourning. You know, the cheery stuff:

In this episode, Jana Riess, Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen, Cindy Jones, and Connie Ericksen join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a broad as well as personal discussion of grief and grieving in general and within Mormon culture, especially focusing on death but with wider applications, as well. The panel examines key framing ideas found in anthropology and psychology/counseling, as well as sharing personal experiences of loss and grieving processes. What are the emotional tasks that grief calls us to? What are the best ways to mourn and to “mourn with those who mourn”? The discussion also touches on LDS ideas and practices: where are they strong and where do they perhaps fail to encourage some important kinds of expression or healing kinds of involvement by the larger community?

You can listen to or download the podcast here. In the discussion, I am mostly sharing from my personal experience of grief this year and also my sense that other cultures and religions (such as Judaism) allow for — even plan for — grief so much better than Mormons do. The other panelists offer both professional and personal experience, with at least one being a therapist and another being an anthropologist who studies death rituals.

It’s probably not appropriate to say “Enjoy the podcast,” given the subject matter, but I hope you find it helpful.

 

4 Comments

  1. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    One of the blessings of the Restoration is the Book of Moses, which in Chaptyer 7 has the remarkable passage in which the ancient prophet Enoch sees God weeping for the wickedness of his children on earth. It goes on to describe Enoch’s concern for mankind in verses 45-47:

    45 And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that ALL THEY THAT MOURN may be sanctified and have eternal life?

    46 And the Lord said: It shall be in the meridian of time, in the days of wickedness and vengeance.

    47 And behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced, saying: The Righteous is lifted up, and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me.

    This passage suggests an additional meaning for the familiar, oft quoted passage in Mosiah 18, in which we who enter the covenant of baptism are asked if we are willing “to mourn with THOSE WHO MOURN, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.” Specifically, “those who mourn” are people who look forward or back to the suffering of Christ in Gethsemane and on the cross, when the blood of God was shed on behalf of mankind. To have faith in the atoning power of Christ’s suffering is to mourn for Him, to enter the fellowship of his suffering, to respond to God’s infinite compassion with our own love and empathy, and literally mourn the suffering and death of God. We promise to do so each time we partake of the bread and water of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, always remembering His body and blood “which was shed for them”. By reciprocating Christ’s love for us, we become reconciled to the Father, and are qualified to receive the blessings that Christ promised in the Sermon on the Mount, that “those who mourn . . . shall be comforted” with the hope of eternal life.

    As we experience the strange Christian mixture of mourning and hope, we are empowered to use charity and compassion toward all those who mourn in the loss of their loved ones. We tell them of the dying God who suffered with every one who ever has or will suffer, who died with us and reaches across the gap between the living and the dead to unite us, and promises to bring us all back to embodied life, our personal relationships reified with eternal power.

    • Jana Riess

      Raymond wrote: “Specifically, ‘those who mourn’ are people who look forward or back to the suffering of Christ in Gethsemane and on the cross, when the blood of God was shed on behalf of mankind. To have faith in the atoning power of Christ’s suffering is to mourn for Him, to enter the fellowship of his suffering . . . ”

      I think this is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you for taking the time.

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