I lost my mother to a vicious brain tumor almost four years ago. My grief still catches me unawares, and can overwhelm me to the point that I just sob. I know that death is supposed to sting, but is it supposed to be this bad after this long? My faith was shaken; I know that it must not have been strong, because I knew that prayer would only save her if God decided to save her, and I felt that His decisions are arbitrary, at least to my human, imperfect eyes. Any insight is appreciated
First of all, let me extend my deepest condolences to you for your loss. Losing a beloved parent is one of the most difficult trials we go through in this life, and you have my love and my prayers.
Grief is not a straight line. Its effects can sometimes stay with us much longer than we expect. I have lost loved ones as well, and there are still times when it will suddenly catch me unawares, just like you, even though those family members have been gone for many years. But, do not allow your grief to drive you away from God. Remember what our purpose in this life is. God himself tells us in Moses 1:39 when he is describing his purpose.
“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”
Our purpose in this life is to return to God. Mortality is not supposed to last forever, and one day all of us, including you and me, will be called home to God. Your mother is alive and well in the Spirit World. Remember that you will see her again. It’s hard to see that when we are the ones left behind, but thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ you will be reunited with her again. That’s why you must not blame yourself for your mother’s death. God did not allow your mother to die because you lacked faith. Sometimes God calls home his children, and we don’t always know the reason why. He has an eternal perspective that we lack here in mortality. Isaiah explains it best in Isaiah 55:8-9 when he teaches us
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Elder Spencer W. Kimball felt his grief for decades:
Fifty years later, Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, found himself far away from home, recovering from major surgery. Unable to sleep, he recalled the day his mother died: “I feel like sobbing again now … as my memory takes me over those sad paths.”
While we do not always know why God allows certain things to happen, we do know that God loves all of his children deeply. He loves you as well Rebecca. He can help you overcome your grief and be at peace with your mother’s passing. He wants to help you. Talk to your Bishop. He can help you as you deal with your grief, and may be able to suggest counselors who can also assist you. There are many resources out there for you, and I encourage you to make use of them as you work through your grief. God bless you Rebecca.