Our ward has experienced the deaths of two children in the last ten days. The first, a 14 year old boy who hung himself; and the day of his funeral, a 3 year old drowned in Lake Powell.
We feel pretty shell shocked. The teenager didn't actually live in our ward, his father did; he lived with his mother, but visited the neighborhood often enough that he was a fixture. Both wards participated in the funeral arrangements and the luncheon. We inundated the family with food and service.
The little Sunbeam's funeral will probably be Monday. Boy. I can't believe I'm helping to arrange service for families who've lost their children as I did. Sarah said she thinks God put me in this position for that reason. I've never thought of myself as a "who knows but you are come for such a time as this" kind of person, but maybe. I didn't know either child; I knew the parents, but because I was gone last year, I don't know the families as well as I used to.
Our ward is wonderful to step up in times like this; and it is a privilege to serve in this way. It feeds my soul even as I feel such a heavy burden of grief for the family. I think we're all like that in a way; I remember hearing about something awful that happened to a family in Japan once and feeling so very sad for them. We are part of the family of man, to be sure.
On a practical note, I'd like to suggest something we did for both families. In conversation with a woman, she mentioned that her brother owns a grocery store in a small Utah town and every time there's a death, he takes groceries to the family and he always puts in toilet paper.
So I called another young woman (who I knew could afford it) and she enthusiastically agreed to shop for essentials for the family. She bought paper towels, toilet paper, kleenex, paper plates & cups and milk, bread and eggs. Another woman took the family cold cereal and milk.
I asked another woman in our ward to do the same thing for this family. I think I'll make it a part of the service for the bereaved. Another thing we've done, twice, in cases where the young person was very well known and the family had many, many visitors, is to get a large ice chest and fill it with canned pop and ice.
There isn't one person in our ward who would take some of these families' pain. We wouldn't trade places, but we so wish we could comfort them and ease their suffering. Food and toilet paper are pretty much the best you can do in these instances.
I did take the teenager's family a copy of our book on suicide for Mormons. I'm so glad I did that. I didn't write it, but it would have never been done if not for my efforts. I'm not proud, I'm just so, so glad.