by Nancy Lundgreen
We’ve all felt lost at times, lost while traveling from one place to another, lost in the unfortunate circumstances and twists in our life plan. We’ve felt the aching sadness that comes when something special is lost in a relationship, or when a loved one is lost to us due to death or some other unsettling situation, like a drug addiction.
For many of us, our greatest fear is to lose one of our loved ones. We inoculate our babies so that we are less likely to lose them to disease, we guard our children from the possibility of being lost by abduction, we keep our loved ones healthy and safe to prevent premature loss and death, and we preserve photographs and write biographies to remember our dear ones and honor the lives that they lived. Some of us cling so tenaciously to these memories for the hope of keeping our family from being lost to us.
Many times, while doing family history research, I have felt poignant sorrow when encountering a family that suffered extreme loss during an epidemic or war. Most frequently, that pain comes from finding a mother who has lost a child, or even several.
Once, while working on research, I happened to come across a cemetery memorial for an unrelated 19-year-old man who died while serving in the Vietnam war. My own son was 19 at the time so it struck home to me. I thought of how this young man’s mother must have felt when she received the news of her son’s tragic death, and how her loss robbed her of being with him through maturity. My heart ached for her.
It is this feeling, more than any other, that compels me to do family history research. I do not want anyone to be lost or to feel lost. Whether their mortal life lasted seconds or decades, whether it was richly lived or entirely wasted, each human being deserves to be found and remembered, connected with their loved ones, and verified as a child of God. “Remember, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10)
This is the joy in family history research! Reconnecting the family ties that have been broken and reuniting the mother bears with their precious cubs. Wouldn’t we want that if you or I were lost?
May I just say, that I have often physically felt the joy and gratitude radiating from heaven from mothers and fathers alike when I find their lost children through research. It is immensely rewarding and purposeful. And it is immensely spiritual as we take part in gathering the Lord’s family together. “For behold, this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)