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Drew's Reviews #17 - "Sunset"

I just finished reading “Sunset: On the Passing of Those We Love” by S. Michael Wilcox.

Quick Take: Not the doctrinal commentary on death I had hoped for, but I can imagine this would be a great book for anyone struggling with the loss of someone very close to them.

Longer Take:

After an on-and-off battle with cancer, my wife's mother recently passed away. I was asked to speak at the funeral service. In preparations for this I decided to read “Sunset: On the Passing of Those We Love” by S. Michael Wilcox.

I had hoped for a doctrinal commentary on how followers of Jesus Christ can deal with the loss of a loved one. While there was occasional commentary and testimony related to how the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints view death, the majority of the book is biographical in nature. Wilcox discusses in detail the struggles he has encountered after the sudden loss of his wife.

Because “Sunset” was not the resource I had hoped for in preparing my remarks, and because I struggled to fully empathize with someone who has lost a spouse, this book did not really resonate with me. But I can imagine it would be highly beneficial for anyone struggling with the grief that comes from losing someone very close to them. I would definitely recommend this to anyone in that situation.

Some of My Favourite Quotes:

“I am grateful that anger at God has not as yet found a place in my tangle of feelings, but I can understand how it could. Perhaps that is the first great lesson I am learning: that God can take our most precious thing, can allow the severing of a part of ourselves, and we can still love and trust Him.

“…love reaches back into the past and turns all the droughts to watered gardens. Now none of the negatives matter, the sting of words nor the thoughtlessness of deeds. Past pain is forgotten. Her loving me in all my humanness, and I her, melts the weaknesses away for both of us…”

“One evening just days after she died, the sadness became so overwhelming, I cried out to the Lord, “Could you not have given us the twenty years we anticipated, the twenty she wanted? Could you not have given us ten? Or just five? Or even a mere two?” … And I heard her voice deep down in the depths of being where only the most needed of answers calm. “We’ll have all eternity.” Four simple words—how I love the altars of the temple!

“Ending is not the right word. Laurie’s passing was not the last phase of our marriage, just another step in the eternal dance.”

“Our comforts do not lie in the realm of proof, but in that of faith and love, and we must learn to be content with that.

“These have been days of pain, the greatest I have ever known, but also of profound love. Nothing could possibly have shown me more than Laurie’s losing battle with cancer how very much I love her and will always love her. That above all else has been made crystal clear. Death, as part of that great plan of happiness and mercy, intensifies our need for each other like nothing else can. And so I am grateful for its lessons...

“To those who know what it is to lament a dear one’s passing—and ultimately that will be all of us who love—may that love be intensified, grounded on the bedrock of our deepest souls, and made holy by the separation. May you receive our Father’s compensatory graces. May your sunsets be bright with time’s remembered fullnesses. And during the dark hours, when the midnight thoughts turn in the mind, may the hope of an awaiting sunrise, on an eternal morning, light your hearts forever.


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