I spoke in one of our wards in February, and stayed for the entire block of meetings in order to fulfill a particular assignment. As I was standing in the hallway prior to Priesthood meeting, I noticed one of the sisters in the ward crying almost hysterically and being comforted by two other sisters. When I asked about it, I was told that this sister lost a grandson last week in a particularly difficult way to accept.
Seeing that she was being comforted by others, I started to walk away – but I was struck by my resolution for that month – to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. This was exactly the type of situation I had resolved to seek, so I walked over and gave her a hug – and ended up helping to escort her to an empty room, then finding the Relief Society president and helping to arrange for continued help throughout the rest of the meeting schedule.
I was struck by a few things:
1) We shouldn’t limit our comforting and mourning to only those situations where no one else is around to provide it. Even if it appears that “everything is being taken care of” we still should give whatever we can – even if it only ends up being a token of the fact that we really do care. People who are grieving or mourning or need comfort need to know that everyone around them cares about them; getting help from only the first few who happen to see the need often simply isn’t enough. In a very real way, mourning and comforting is ideally a community activity – not just one that is isolated to a few.
2) I really don’t know if my actions will have a lasting impact on this sister; I do believe they will have a lasting impact on me – and that is not an unimportant thing. It is not selfish to want to feel how I felt as I helped her; it is a good thing.
3) This sister called me the next day to thank me for being willing to step outside my role as a visiting High Counselor and help her simply in my role as a friend and brother. I hadn’t looked at it that way as I hugged her, but I am moved by that statement. There is too much formality and structure sometimes to how we interact with each other.