The Tiny White Coffin

Many years ago, I stood at the graveside of a child who died a week before she was to breathe life. It was cold, around thirty-four degrees, with a wind chill of about fourteen. The wind cut through my coat and chilled me, leaving me shivering throughout the service. I looked at the family that had lost this child and could see that tears freely flowed down their cheeks, as they did for most of us in attendance. The tiny white coffin we gathered around held the remains of a life hoped for by her parents, brothers and sisters, and loved ones. It was difficult to watch, but the service was filled with the hope of the doctrines found in the restored gospel. The faces of those in attendance were familiar. Many were men and women I have served with in my church for years. They showed up in support of the family and, to a lesser degree, to fulfill the covenants they made at baptism.

“And it came to pass that he (Alma) said unto them: “… and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort….” (Mosiah 18:8-9).

It is a great blessing to have others that will mourn with you. As I stood there, the mother saw me, thanked me, and then said, with gratitude, “I didn’t realize we had so many friends.” It is an important thing to do, to mourn with those who mourn, because “that day” will surely come for all of us. Gordon B. Hinckley once told this story-

I had a long-remembered meeting with a former prime minister. He had seen much of conflict and trouble in his time. He told a very interesting story of a Jewish rabbi who was conversing with two of his friends. The rabbi asked one of them, “How do you know when the night is over and a new day has begun?”

His friend replied, “When you look into the east and can distinguish a sheep from a goat, then you know the night is over and the day has begun.”

The second was asked the same question. He replied, “When you look into the distance and can distinguish an olive tree from a fig tree, then you know morning has come.”

They then asked the rabbi how he could tell when the night is over and the day has begun. He thought for a time and then said, “When you look into the east and see the face of a woman and can say, ‘She is my sister,’ and when you look into the east and see the face of a man and can say, ‘He is my brother,’ then you know the light of a new day has come.”

Think of that for a few moments, my dear friends. It speaks of the true meaning of brotherhood. (Liahona , 2008 , Jan.The Light of a New Day)

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