The first experience that I ever had with having a loved one pass from this life into the next was when I was just ten years old and my cousin and his new wife were killed in a car accident. I still remember the shock I felt when we received the news, and the unbelief that someone that I had known and loved had died. Since then, I have experienced the deaths of my grandparents and many other loved ones and friends. I am blessed to still have both of my parents nearby and relatively healthy, along with all of my siblings and their families. Though five of my six children are now adults, I still think of myself as young and inexperienced, and so it still surprises and shocks me when someone I know well passes away, especially those who are near my own age or younger.
I recently wrote a very short post expressing some thoughts I had about angels around us. In D&C 84:88 we are promised that as we go about doing what we should be doing, we will have angels round about us to bear us up. I believe that those of our loved ones who have gone on to the next world before us are still able to be aware of our lives and situations.
Yesterday we attended the funeral service for another of my friends and neighbors who has been a great example and mentor to me. She was a counselor to me in what was probably my most difficult calling so far in my life. During her service yesterday, and then again today in our Fast and Testimony meeting we were privileged to hear tributes to her and testimonies that my neighbor is in a better place, freed from the bondage of the illness of her mortal body, and that she has been called to continue her work on the other side of the veil. Today as we sang our closing hymn the strongest reassurance came over me that she has joined the ranks of the angels that are watching over me and cheering for me from the other side. Of course I know that she has many other more important tasks than just cheering me on, but it is a comfort to know that as my life moves forward, and more and more of my friends and loved ones move on to the other side, and my band of guardian angels or my cheering section is only increasing in size. It is just one more bit of comfort to give me faith and courage to continue on when times are hard.
And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
Doctrine and Covenants 84:88