When thinking of Gratitude, our thoughts turned to Christy and the loss of her sweet baby girl, Jane. Through the darkness and heartache that comes from losing a child, her love and gratitude for the Savior shined through. Her example of choosing to be grateful, instead of wallowing in sadness, strengthened my testimony in more ways than one. She exemplifies GRATITUDE.
We went to bed November 15th with a healthy 13 month old baby girl and 12 hours later we were in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit watching her slip into eternity. November 16th, 2013, the day my daughter Jane quickly and unexpectedly passed away from an unknown illness. The last thing on my mind was gratitude, that was something other people could feel. But never again for me.
A few days after Jane’s passing, I was sitting in a therapist’s office. “I have joined a club that nobody wants to join,” I said. He too had lost a child. He responded, “I am glad to be in the club! I wouldn’t trade the blessings I have gained, the lessons I have learned, and the person I have become.” His response shocked me, how could someone feel grateful for this trial? That thought penetrated my heart the following days as we planned a funeral and buried our only daughter.
The tender mercies in our life around that time were innumerable: Heavenly Father took Jane in the most gentle, painless way I could handle; my husband’s job was light and easy to step away from; living in a new city and ward of just three months, we were surrounded by more earthly, ministering angels than I could imagine. I found myself finding little things to feel grateful for, but surely, I would never feel grateful for losing Jane.
5 months into my heavy load of grief, I was listening to LDS General Conference. President Uchtdorf said something that changed my perspective: “I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. We can be grateful! It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.”
Easter was just 2 weeks away, and this new perspective opened my heart and spirit to what this holiday means. My testimony of the Savior and his purpose on earth had grown immeasurably. Because of the events of the Holy Week 2,000 years ago, I will have my daughter again. Because of Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, He can empathize with me. Because of His pain, I will never feel alone. Because of His death and resurrection, Jane will live again. I will have my daughter again!!! I can’t say that enough or have too many exclamation points!
Easter became alive for me! It wasn’t about a sad story a couple thousand years ago anymore. Easter was the most glorious and rejoiceful holiday! I wanted to run the streets, like His apostles two millennia ago, shouting “He is Risen! Jesus Christ broke the bands of death for my Jane!” Fortunately for my neighbors, I didn’t do this; however, this new realization transformed my grief into the most gratitude I have ever! Soul-filling joy!
I am not completely healed, nor will I be until I have Jane in my arms again. However, I arrived to a place that I can really say I am grateful for the trial of being a grieving parent: Our family is more unified; I have sacred moments of feeling Jane; friends and strangers were pulled to pray and come closer to their Savior; I have made some of my dearest friendships during that time; and my testimony went through the refiner’s fire and is more purified. I would not want to give up those blessings and am grateful my daughter has a fast-pass to eternal life. I am grateful she is our family’s personal cheerleader to the celestial kingdom. But most of all, I am grateful for my Savior this Easter season. His miracle is my Balm of Gilead.
“The Lord compensates the FAITHFUL for every loss. Every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and GRATITUDE.”- Joseph B. Wirthlin
To learn more of the #PrinceOfPeace visit Mormon.org.
Another principle our Savior exemplified is FORGIVENESS. Here is an amazing story of our grandma who found it in her heart to forgive, even when her pain was unthinkable.
You can find my story of perseverance, faith, and so many incredible tender mercies of my foster and adoption journey HERE.