We had just finished
celebrating my mom’s birthday. My parents had been to
my home for a visit, and it had been a great mix of
relaxing, cake, and ice cream. But we hadn’t heard
from Meg all day. Neighbors had said
that her car hadn’t moved from the front of my mom
and dad’s house for a few days, but the garbage cans
had been taken out and never brought back up. My brother called
earlier in the evening to wish Mom a happy day. Mom asked him to
swing by the house and just see if Meg was OK. My kids had finally gone
to their rooms for bed, and the house was quieting
down for the night. I was doing the nightly
walk-through–you know, turning off the lights,
starting the dishwasher, etc. I jumped as Dad came
in from the garage. Immediately I could feel
something was wrong. Very wrong. Why was he coming
in from the garage? Why did I feel the
air thickening? I took one look at
him and said, “No! No!” He said Ben had just called. And I didn’t let him finish. My soul and heart already knew. He didn’t need to say it. Meg was found dead. It was suicide. I started frantically
telling him, “Bring her back,
Dad, bring her back!” I couldn’t breathe, but
somehow a scream escaped. I crawled up the stairs,
trying to reach my mom, even though I felt like I was
swimming through quicksand. I crawled and climbed and
cried and screamed, “Mom! Mom!” As I reached the
guest room, where she was staying, where she
was getting ready for bed, I said, “It’s Meg. Ben called. Meg is dead.” I couldn’t breathe. I tried to get to my kids, whose
rooms were on opposite floors. I couldn’t breathe. Hyperventilating. My worst nightmare
had come true. I was more than Meg’s big
sister; I was her second mom. We had been through
it all together. We knew each other’s
best and worst. We held each other when Mom
was a new single mother, trying to work and provide
for two little girls. We took care of each other
on weekend visits to Dad’s. And she was there when I
was getting ready for prom, getting ready to get
married, and having my son. And I was there for her. Meg was a great
basketball player. She was a loyal friend,
and when she loved you, she loved you completely. She loved a good dance
party and binge-watching her favorite shows. And she loved me. We could dance
and sing for hours to “White Christmas Sisters,
Sisters,” [LAUGHTER] because there never were
two more devoted sisters. I had decided, sometime
around the age of seven, that if I could be perfect,
then somehow I could save all the people I loved. I could somehow stop bad things
from happening to all of them. And then the night
Ben found Meg, that false childhood notion
of me somehow saving anyone was completely shattered. I could not save Meg. The last 5 years of Meg’s
life, of her 40 years, were some of the best. She had moved out,
enrolled in college. She was serving in her
ward’s Young Women’s program and had a current
temple recommend. But a few months before
that horrible day in March, she had taken a fall into what
I call affectionately “the pit.” So when I’m asked why, it
is a complicated answer. Suicide is complicated. Meg had a list of risk factors:
struggles with addiction, a lifetime fight with
depression and anxiety, and a courageous
survivor of abuse. She also had a long
list of insulators: an amazing bishop that
met with her weekly for three years, a
wonderful circle of friends, qualified counselor,
doctors, and advisers. And she was beloved of her
family and adored by many. And still, we lost her. After planning her funeral,
writing the obituary, and burying Meg, I came home
to begin the long process of grieving and
trying to make sense, wrestling with that
question, that haunting question: what more could
I have done to save her? Few people want to
talk about suicide, but everyone is affected by it. I mean everyone. After speaking to tens of
thousands all over the world, I have learned that all of us
fall into three categories. One, you struggle with
depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation. Two, you love someone
who struggles. Or three, like
me, you’ve already lost someone to suicide. That is literally
everyone on the planet. So when I share my family’s very
personal loss of beautiful Meg, I know it is your
personal story as well. Saving others. I had spent countless
hours on the phone with Meg over the years. She would have good times
and then really hard times. When it was bad,
she would isolate; she wouldn’t come out of
her room, answer phone calls or texts. She was unreachable. And then something
would start to shift, and she would
reach out for help. I never could quite figure out
what would trigger the shift. And then I would throw
her a life preserver, and she would grab on and
slowly kick back to the shore, climb out of the pit. We had done this dance so
often over her lifetime that it reinforced that
false belief that I, somehow, had the power to save her. But one of the many lessons I
have learned since Meg’s death is that there is only one
Savior, and I am not Him. We can do much to influence,
encourage, inspire those that we love and associate with. But truly, there
is only one Savior, and He does all the saving. During the past five years
since burying my sister, I have come to know my
Savior more personally. He has sent His
Spirit to comfort during the many nights filled
with horrible nightmares. He has ministered when my
sadness was overwhelming, and sent His witness of
truth when the lies threaten to destroy my peace. I have come to
know more perfectly that He and my Heavenly
Father are very real. They love me, and They love
Meg, and our eternal happiness is always Their priority. You are not extra. As I’ve wrestled with the
haunting question of why Meg died, I have come to not
only understand God more, but I have come also to
better understand the enemy. Satan is the father of all
lies, and he is jealous. He attacks everything and
wants everything you have that he will never have. You have faith,
family, and a body. So he attacks your faith,
your family, and your body, over and over and over again. And for those that
are already struggling with depression and
anxiety, his lies can start to sound like truth. We may be tempted to think,
“If I could only get better at this, get over
this, improve here, then I would be
worthy of God’s love. I would be worth something.” Lies. Our faith and families
and bodies are imperfect, and that is OK, and
that is how it is. Our imperfections do not
cancel out our worth, ever. Stop believing that because of
your struggles, your humanness, that we would ever be
better without you. We will never be
better without you. Your worth is nonnegotiable. You are loved
because you are you, all of you–the broken
parts, the shiny parts. There is no one that’s the
extra son or daughter of God, no one we can afford to lose. We are all beloved and needed
and of worth, all of us. Meg falsely believed that we
would be better without her. She believed the big
lie from the big liar. My life isn’t
better without Meg. Yes, I have worked tirelessly
over the past few years to eliminate suicide and
bring hope to the world. But my life isn’t better. I want to call her and share
with her the everyday news, like when her nephew came home
from his Zimbabwean mission, or when her niece is getting
ready to drive and date. I want to call her on the bad
hair days and the good ones, like today. [LAUGHTER] Grief is strange. You find a new normal,
but as time goes on, there are just new
things to grieve. I do believe I will
see Megan again, and I miss her all the time. Hope is a plan B.
The “why” question can pop up at the
strangest times. That is the unique grief
associated with suicide. No matter how many times I
process, pray, and ponder, I can still slip into
“What if?” and “Why? Why?” The short answer is, Meg had
gotten tired–tired of fighting and trying. And I’m guessing there are some
in this room at this point that can relate to Meg. And you may want
to stop the pain, or you may have believed
you were just a burden. Well, I have a few thoughts
about that exhaustion of the heart and soul. I have studied the New Testament
woman with the issue of blood many times over
the past few years. I want to meet her
someday and thank her. Her example has strengthened
my faith and my hope. And the scriptures tell us
that over 12 years, everything she tried to heal from her
blood disorder resulted in worsening of her
condition, not a resolution. Can you imagine? In modern-day context,
everyone around her is trying that same new
diet or going to that doctor or reading that blog. And they’re all getting better
while she’s getting worse. For those that can hear
my voice and struggle with long-term
depression or anxiety, I hope you understand this
Bible sister’s plight. She teaches us an
important principle of hope and of faith–faith that
can sometimes feel messy. I have come to learn that
hope is not just a feeling. As my dear friend and therapist,
Kristie, once shared with me, hope is a plan B. It
is choosing a plan B when plan A doesn’t work out. Isn’t that hopeful? Isn’t it validating
that things don’t always work out the way we
want or resolve quickly? In fact, like this woman
with the issue of blood, sometimes healing takes a
long time–sometimes, in fact, choosing plan B over and
over again until one day, she tried one more thing. She made her way
through the crowd and reached out to touch the
hem of the Savior’s robe, and He knew her in that moment
and just like He knows us. In our personal
struggles and issues, He knows us and
why we are tired. He understands our
discouragement. And so He said, “[Woman], thy
faith hath made thee whole.” What faith? Not the “I fasted and prayed
once and woke up and healed” kind of faith, but
the messy, plan B’ing it for 13 or 30
years kind of faith. Meg got tired. She lost hope. But if she was here,
standing here today, I believe she would shout
with her whole soul: “Stay in your body! Keep on. Try one more plan B. Your
healing is still coming.” If you too struggle,
you may be tired, and you may be wondering if
you can make it one more day. But as Elder Jeffrey
R. Holland said, “[Don’t] vote against the
preciousness of life by ending it!” Hope on. Suicide isn’t about every
choice someone makes; it’s about one
choice someone makes, but it changes all
the other choices they can make after that. So if you’re tired,
pray for another plan B. Remember, hope is more
than just a feeling. It’s trying one more
time, one more day. Please keep hoping on,
because we will never be better without you. You may someday be the
one yelling down in a pit to someone you love. You will be given opportunities
to boldly share your faith, share a plan B to help them. So hope on. We need you here. On Meg’s headstone is carved
a quote from Victor Hugo: “To love another person is
to see the face of God.” I see the face of
God in each of you. I see Him in my
heartbreaks and in healing that has come during the past
five years since Meg’s death. Meg supported my dreams
and loved me fiercely. That kind of love,
it’s an uncommon gift, and it’s eternal. My love for her is found
in sharing messages of hope anytime I can. Thank you for letting
me share with you today. [APPLAUSE]