There is a type of question that asks why something happened. Following those inquisitive questions is usally a statement that goes along the lines “this was not supposed to happen”.

Joseph Smith had questions like these too. He said in D&C 121 “Oh God, where art thou?”. Where is God? Why is this happening?

I’ve had these types of question due to a tragic event. I’m going to follow Shakespeare’s example in tragedy story telling, by telling you first what happened in the form of the questions and doubts I had.

Why did my mother die? What mother figure will I have now? Who will be that one person that understands me so perfectly, because they’ve been with me for many moments of my life? Who am I going to talk to about this cute girl I met? Who is going to understand me when that cute girl says no? Who am I going to have a good educational conversation with? Who will enjoy game nights with me? Who’s going to come see my children and give them silly toys? What am I going to do now? Why did she die?

what happened?

For every single school break I stayed in Rexburg. I had called my parents and told them I would stay so that I can keep earning money.

My graduation approached in December 2016, and I was considering options. I had gotten a job in Austin, Texas working for GM, but that job did not start until April 2017. At first, I figured I had enough money left over that I could couch surf in Idaho and Utah until then.

During one phone call with my mother, we discussed this. At one point, my mother asked “could you please come to Christmas this holiday break?” Then a feeling came to me. If the feeling had words, it would have said “you had better go”. I really did not want to stay at my parents house for a couple of months. But this feeling felt like a good idea, so I agreed that I would be home for Christmas. My parents would come to Idaho first for my graduation to pick me up.

So then December 16th came around and my parents arrived with my brother and nephew. I was excited to graduate, because this could mean a turning point for my life. But then that excitment muted when I saw my mother. She looked frail. She was 60 years old, but her physical stature outputed that she could have been 80. I was grateful that she came, but her physical state worried me.

Over the next several days as we returned to my parents house with other family members, my mother was exhausted and constantly sleeping. She would fall asleep in the middle of games and dinner. One point for family prayer, my mother sprawled over the piano bench. By how she was sprawled, I got a glimpse of the side of her torso covered with bruises. This shocked me. I talked with my father and he told me that my mother was having sleeping problems and rolling off the bed. They had taken precautions, but my mother stubbornly refused medical treatment.

I had no idea of any of these issues; if I had known, I would have insisted that my mother didn’t come for my graduation. But that wouldn’t have happened anyway, she being my mother.

Christmas came and left with usual festivities, without realizing the tragedy that would happen on the next day. On the morning of December 26, 2016, I woke up on the couch in the living room to my father calling my name. I thought this was a call for morning prayer, but the next line showed it wasn’t morning prayers.

“Mom’s not breathing”.

I instantly got up and my father asked to keep the dogs in a room because paramedics were coming. I kept the dogs in another room, and I paced back and forth. Paramedics came, and they went into the room where my Dad and Mom was.

After a minute the tone changed. My Dad slowly walked out of his bedroom and said to me “Well that changes things.” I thought he meant that Mom was going to get medical help. Minute by minute passed, and the paramedics slowly started to leave. I thought Mom must have been breathing with assistance. Then it dawned on me that what my father said was not what I thought. My mother had died.

Like a weight bearing down on me, grief kicked in. Nobody told me what grief was like. I denied what had just happened. But it wasn’t verified. Angry questions flooded my mind. But they were not answered. I begged for my mother to walk out of that door. But she never did. I slipped back to the living room, I found a corner, and I cried.

One by one my family members woke up and realized what occurred that morning. It was quiet. The paramedics started the process to take the corpse the morge.

Then something kicked me into action. My siblings needed to know. As I realize it now, my mother taught me a long time ago in elementary school, “Andrew, you decide who you want to be, not anything else.” I was going to call 4 siblings and an aunt. I wanted to help. One by one I called each of them; unknowningly taking a toll. That moment still haunts me. I don’t know if I will ever forget being the bearer of bad news, and hearing my siblings reactions. After the last call, I sat back and cried some more.

News got around my family on what I did. I had somehow endured calling 5 people and telling them our mother had died. This puzzled me. Why didn’t I let anyone help? I knew they needed to know, so I acted for them.

The next morning something like a miracle happened. I was writing in my journal when a little neice came to me with a booklet I had written in first grade and asked if I could read it. I hadn’t seen this booklet forever, it surprised me it was around. So I read the booklet, and I got all the way to the back. On the last page, I wrote in marker a copyright and a dedication to my mother. My mouth probably dropped. Mother probably kept this booklet for over 15 years, just because I had dedicated it to her. Then my neice finds it and gives it to me the day after my mother died. This booklet told me that my mother loved me. I still have that booklet with me, and it will probably never be thrown away.


There were answers to my questions after this event, I just needed to find them.

My mother was going to die, and Heavenly Father was helping me for the event. That first grade booklet came into my possession to tell me my mother loved me. I was told by the Spirit to go to my parents house for Christmas, because I myself probably would have wanted to be there. I was also in the house to call all my siblings because I was going to act. Things were divinely prepped for this event.

Death is a common thing of life. God says to Adam and Eve in the book of Moses, “thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Moses 4:25). And because death is a common thing, then life is a fragile thing. Death could come any moment.

Several answers came from the scriptures.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart [,][…] my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Christ could teach me, only if I come to Him. He will bear the load, because He has already taken it.

I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders […] this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter […]

Mosiah 24: 14

He will make the grief easier, as long as I testify of His power. He has helped my family and me.

C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed alludes that God is like a surgeon.

But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeoun whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was compolete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice, the tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For not even a moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t. Either way, we’re for it.

Pain exists in life, because pain is necessary to grow. Pain can show what can be improved. The Surgeon God is going to be kind, but He is infinitely aware of how necessary pain for change is going to be. If the pain stops before the transformation is complete, then there would be no point to having had pain. The value of pain could be attributed to President JFK’s popular quote, “[…]we do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Exactly as President JFK says later in that same speech, taking on hard and painful things will serve as a measurement of what one can do, especially if the battle is won without accepting failure.

President Nelson also taught some very important truths in making and keeping covenants that are made through ordinances.

So, what is required for a family to be exalted forever? We qualify for that privilege by making covenants with God, keeping those covenants, and receiving essential ordinances.

This has been true since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve, Noah and his wife, Abraham and Sarah, Lehi and Sariah, and all other devoted disciples of Jesus Christ — since the world was created — have made the same covenants with God. […]

The Savior invites all to follow Him into the waters of baptism and, in time, to make additional covenants with God in the temple and receive and be faithful to those further essential ordinances. All these are required if we want to be exalted with our families and with God forever.

Incredible promises and teachings are made in the temple. Eternal life, eternal progression. A chance to have a family eternally bound by the authority of God. A chance to be in God’s presence forever; a part of His Household. All that is needed of someone is their obedience and loyalty to God.

To continue along the theme of what is taught in the temple, here is a section from Moses 5: 10-11.

Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

and Eve says

Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

There is opposition in life, but it serves to bring one closer to God. Repentance is not an every day occurance to correct what is wrong, but it is an opportunity to come closer to God. An opportunity to do what is right, because it is right.

I know there is comfort in the temple. I know it to be a holy place. Weekly attendance at the temple has given me to opportunity for weekly meditation and service in a holy place. A place where I may find comfort for the things that trouble me. I am also reminded that pain has one person realize there is comfort closer to God. No matter what happens in my life, I can be determined to choose God and come out on top.