When The Great Plan of Happiness Hits Close to Home

To say her death was unexpected is an understatement.

Death is rarely expected and even less frequently desired.

But her death caught us all off guard. None of us was prepared.

We were all on a family vacation camping in southern Utah. We had several families with us. We have all gone to this same location for many years.

We never had a problem.

She went on a new hike with her husband – just the two of them.

It was hot that day – way hot.

As the sun set, we all grew concerned when they had not returned.

Soon night fell.

Still no word.

Reluctantly, we called 911.

Our worst fears were confirmed.

She had died on the trail.

To say her death was unexpected is an understatement.

Now what?

A wife, mother, grandmother, and friend had been taken from us with no warning.


How do we explain this to her children and grandchildren?

How will her husband cope?

How can we go on in the face of this horrific and seemingly senseless tragedy?

Where could we turn for peace?

We all had personal testimonies of the Plan of Salvation. Now our witnesses of these comforting truths were being tested – in the extreme.

Were we correct in grieving her death?

Was our deep sadness merely an expression of our own selfishness?

Was God justified in taking her?

Did we truly believe this life to be the second part of a three act play?

What cause have we to mourn when her joy now full?

Was she not in her new surroundings reunited with family and friends who have gone before her?

Should we not celebrate the mercy of this Great Plan of Happiness?

Yet in spite of these comforting truths, our personal pain was palpable.

We missed her physical presence in our daily lives. Her abrupt departure left an open and raw wound in our hearts.


Elder Richard G. Scott, who was personally acquainted with similar pain, taught that grief was a natural and necessary part of death. He said we grieve much because we love much.

Grief is not an expression of doubt in God’s merciful plan. Rather, it is an expression of love.

Doubts about the fairness of God’s intervention, or lack thereof, are not to be feared or suppressed. God knows full well how hard it is to live by faith.

I am confident God gladly absorbs our grief-laden anger for He knows how deeply we love those He had taken from us.

I state this with confidence that stems from personal experience.

I grieved.

I was angry.

I doubted.

In time, I remembered where to turn for peace. Soon, my burden was lifted and the mercy of God gradually wiped away my tears.

Sure, there are days, like Mother’s Day, when feelings of sadness at her passing resurface. But when that peace which surpasses all understanding returns, I rejoice that a merciful God loves me enough to buttress my faith in His plan.