Sunday, March 8, 2009

Is Grief Allowed?

I was reading PostSecret today and I came across one that made me very sad. This young lady said that her Mormon mother was too busy crying because she wasn't getting married in the temple to help her get ready on her wedding day. I can see how she might feel that was selfish on the part of her mother. I could see how a she would hope that her mother would focus on making it a good day for her on her wedding day, of all days. I can even see that her mother's sense of timing sucked. She could have held off until the day was over. That certainly would have been more socially acceptable. But I couldn't help feeling more sorry for her mother than for her. I couldn't help feeling that it was the daughter who was unforgivably selfish. Perhaps it's a sign of maturity, but I ached for that mother. Of course, as a Mormon (and a mother)myself, I understand exactly what this young lady is giving up and the depth of her mother's grief.

For those unfamiliar with our beliefs, we hold that there are many degrees of heavenly reward, and that the highest degree can only be attained by those who have entered the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. We do not believe that marriage ends at death, as all other faiths do. Our ceremony does not contain any phrases like "Until death do us part" or "As long as you both shall live". We believe that marriage is a bond that is intended to continue throughout eternity, and that those who are sealed on this earth will be sealed in heaven, along with their children. Other faiths believe that all familial bonds perish with mortal death, nor do they believe that their eternal reward is directly connected to the covenants they make here.

So, keeping that belief in mind, that by not marrying in the temple this girl has chosen to not only cut herself off from the highest degree of heavenly rewards, but to cut off her potential children as well, I think that daughter should have been more sensitive to her mother's feelings. Yes, she's getting married. Yes, it's her day. And yes, it's a good thing, but it's not the best that she could have had. And her mother, like all good mothers, wanted the best for her child. To this young lady I say, have patience with your mother's grief. She's not just losing you. She's losing your children. They won't be a part of her family on the other side, no matter how completely she loves them on this one. Your choice to reject everything that she believes in is a devastating blow. Let her feel the loss of it. Someday in the not-too-distant future, you may have a child who chooses to reject everything that you believe in and have spent so much of your blood, sweat, tears and years to imbue in that child. Perhaps then your mother's tears will suddenly become something other than an inconvenience on a day that you think is supposed to be all about you. Respect that, regardless of whether or not you share her beliefs, they are still her beliefs and her loss is real. You may take exception to the timing, but be forgiving of the fact that we mortals are not alwways able to restrain our grief to socially appropriate moments.