When my youngest daughter, Hannah, who is now 22 and married, was little, she was a bit of a complainer and a whiner. I got so frustrated with her that I devised a little game and when she would complain, I would add something to it and she would add something to that. She would say, "I’m tired" I would add, "I’m tired and my leg hurts" She would say, "I’m tired and my leg hurts and the sun is in my eyes"I would continue, "I’m tired and my leg hurts and the sun is in my eyes and I’m hungry."We would go back and forth until we had a list of complaints far too long to be remembered and she would start giggling and that would solve the problem, at least temporarily.
Being a young child, to her, these complaints were very real and very painful. That's the problem with grief and pain. You may feel completely alone in it because no one ever feels it quite the same way. Our pain generally gets all scrambled up with past painful experiences that are uniquely our own and so no one feels the pain in quite the same way as we do. Knowing that can cause the compound pain of feeling misunderstood and alone.
For instance, if someone else is hungry, it’s an annoyance and they go and get something to eat. If I’m hungry, it is mixed with the memory that there was a time that I couldn’t feed my children properly.
I was asked to speak at a funeral for a baby that died, inexplicably, the day she came home from the hospital. This young couple is dealing with what I believe must surely be the worst pain anyone can feel. Much worse than losing a parent, which is at some point anticipated. Worse than losing a sibling. But even in that greatest of sorrows, each of these two parents are feeling it differently. Most people can’t express all the crazy events in their lives that compose their current hurt. And that makes them feel alone.
There is hope. Understanding the atonement of Jesus Christ can allow us to take comfort in the knowledge that there is someone who understands exactly how we are feeling. Exactly. Because through his atonement Jesus Christ has felt every hurt of every single person who has ever or will ever live. And not just the sorrows, but the anger and the betrayal and the hunger and the skinned knees and the broken hearts and the guilt.
When the world will spoon-feed us platitudes and dismissals like, "Just get over it," or, "Time heals all wounds," or, "I know exactly how you feel," we can take consolation in knowing that there is one person who understands and feels our pain the way we feel it.
Christ atoned for everyone, whether or not they believe or accept or understand.
The atonement is not just for our sins
The atonement covers our pain, whether self-induced or inflicted by others or by circumstance. We are not alone.
The atonement can heal us
By knowing we are not alone, we can turn to our God and our Savior and pour out our hearts to them and receive comfort through the Holy Ghost.
The atonement is infinite
It does not stop or have a limit in its capacity to cover our ongoing pains and heal us with its power.
This beautiful plan allows us to call on the powers of Heaven to overcome any trouble or pain that we may be in. We can discuss it any place, any time, with or without words, and receive comfort in the knowledge that we are heard, understood and loved without limits.