crumbs from the Master's table

Just Stop It: You’re Not Going to “Die Alone” Because You’re Single

Naturally, there’s no way to measure this, but I wonder how many people get married partly because they don’t want to die alone.

Until a few years ago, it was difficult for me to understand why anyone would actually get married based on this reason, because I was projecting my preferences–I’m not someone who will ever get married just to avoid loneliness.

However, having experienced a decent dose of loneliness as I’ve grown into an almost middle-aged single person, I can now say I get it. Completely. I still won’t ever marry someone just to avoid being alone, but now I respect the power of loneliness in a way I never did before.

We don’t want to live alone–not really, even if we recluse at times–and dying alone is a formidable extension of that. But you’re not going to die alone because you’re single!

I recently saw the movie The Intern, and there’s this scene in which Anne Hathaway breaks down, expressing how she’s devastated by problems in her relationship but she doesn’t want to die alone.

It was like an “off” switch for my emotional investment. This is no critique of the movie or her performance, just an interesting reaction. I was like, “Really? Really…?!

Here’s this intelligent if flawed woman building a business empire. She’s surrounded by people. I mean, what is it that makes people think in terms of a single person or relationship as the defining touchpoint at time of death?

It’s really odd!!!

You’re not going to die alone! You’re going to have a life full of people, one way or another–single or not single.

There’s something really kooky and even depressing about only finding peace in a specific martial status at time of death. If you think about it, only 50% of any couple will get to experience that, for example! The other person will have what?–sn assurance that once upon a time they weren’t single? And will that person feel more or less lonely dying without their significant other than I will, if I never have one?

You see what I mean? This all turns to nonsense pretty quickly. It’s pretty much a non-issue if you think about it for more than that first emotional minute!

But in both our cases, guess what? We’ll have friends, family, and who knows who else right there with us–and that’s assuming a tidy hospital or home death. A significant number of people literally die alone, as in, without anyone by them: you know, accidents or tragedies. That makes it an even odder sentiment on the literal level, to talk in terms of “dying alone”.

At the end of the day, in death as in life, every person has a common presence beside them, always: Jesus Christ. So, am I afraid I’m going to die alone? No. I used to be! But one has to examine things like this to decrypt the underlying emotional response and decide against reacting to those fears. I remain annoyed that I’m living alone when I don’t see any real reason why it has to be this way, but I’m not terrified that I’ll die alone if I don’t compromise on finding someone I actually love and respect.

You’re not going to die alone, I’m not going to die alone, and Anne Hathaway’s character isn’t going to die alone. You’re going to die with the love and comfort of Christ, just like everybody else. Death is a great equalizer, not yet another “couples club” where you’re going to feel like an outsider.

So there you go. Happy Halloween and do not fear the reaper. Christ has won the victory over this fear, as in all things surrounding death.

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Fangirling About Jeffrey R. Holland’s Message from April 2016 LDS General Conference

I’ve always loved LDS General Conference! Here are my thoughts about one of my favorite messages from the April 2016 session.

Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You by Jeffrey R. Holland

What?! So cool! I’m definitely getting up early tomorrow!!!

Just kidding, it’s figurative. . .

My summary of this talk (or click the video link above): It actually is enough to know that everything comes our way eventually, and maybe even in the next life.

As a reluctantly single woman in her 30s, I know how to balk at this idea with the best of them.

I mean, come on, I could use a partner now when I’m facing the vicissitudes of life, with its many flavors of opposition.

Sometimes when I’ve heard that nothing will be denied anyone in the next world, I’ve been like, Um, thanks?! That will be so useful when everything is perfect!

Don’t get me wrong, I’d gladly embrace finding my man today if my ongoing efforts lead to that. But the reality is, for many of us, there are either not enough viable options to go around or significant personal situations that render the whole thing pretty tricky, no matter how much positive thinking and making-over goes on, or how much God loves us.

Finding someone is not a gift granted to the most faithful. If anything, it’s economics  (supply and demand) or demographics, and I’m not going to riff on the Hunger Games line here, but I want to.

It’s understandable how single people sometimes try to will love to happen. Go proactivity! Go optimism! But to me, it’s incomplete. That kind of one-sided approach to hope can be deeply problematic when one joins the dreaded statistic despite one’s honest efforts at all those things for years.

So, while I’m never going to stop looking and being up for new adventures, here’s how I handle this.

I know it’s a different idea, but I believe we can pray for those compensatory emotions, as single people. Daily, or whenever the “I’m going to die alone” nonsense sets in. I believe doing so calls on the power of the Atonement, making up for what just isn’t right in life, and what we may not get to insist on. I’ve done this myself. On one particularly dark day, I decided, Hey, there’s no reason I’m expected to live without the emotional advantages of a relationship. I’m not some second-class citizen in God’s kingdom or something–I don’t care how bad I might be at flirting!

Actually, I’m pretty good at it like every third day or so.

Anyway, what I love about this talk is how it reminds me to also develop the flipside of faith: that tomorrow is enough of a promise; it has enough buoyancy that life can be full and happy even for those of us who never find someone, because Christ makes up the difference.

If it doesn’t feel that way, I know that feeling, too. I didn’t skip over that feeling on my way to feeling pretty okay about it. I know God can help us get to a point where we’re okay with it, because God has helped me be strong in ways that I’m not. I grew up in a divorced household. I’ve wanted to find someone and have a “normal” family life since I was about 7! The fact that I have found healing even as the punches keep coming is a testament to what God can do, even when the landscape shouldn’t be navigatable for me.

In fact, in my experience, God often goes one better when we let that comfort and guidance in, “leading us in the more fertile part of our wilderness”, like it says in the Nephi stories (this is in the Book of Mormon). In this case, God continues to lead me emotionally. Being single has been nothing less than a minefield for me without that help.

And yes, I get to speak in dramatic terms like “punches”and “minefields” because it’s Sunday, and Sundays can be pretty hard. I think every person who doesn’t want to be single experiences the obligatory freak-out moments here and there. It comes with the territory, heavenly inspiration notwithstanding.

The lame moments make me grateful that most of the time I enjoy an assurance that someday is enough of a promise, if I allow it to be.

If I let it douse me like rain! Here’s a fun Mormon Message that made me cry, I liked it so much.




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