Heart Attack

October 12, 2008 | 10 comments

Sara called me at work. The first counselor in our bishopric died getting up that morning. He had a heart attack. Church today was full with his family and, since today was the primary program, with the families of the children. His wife sat on the stand with her CTR class, helping them to say their parts.

The sweetness of Mormon life . . .


10 Responses to Heart Attack

  1. Ray on October 13, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Wow, Adam. Thanks for sharing this. It really hit me. Part of me wanted to ask why she was on the stand, but the larger part of me immediately resonated with that decision.

  2. Jim Cobabe on October 13, 2008 at 10:58 am


    Life goes on. It is a shock to come to full realization of just how tenuous our existence here is. All of us are just one breath away from eternity.

    Stay well.

  3. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    The wife’s presence on the stand is striking. You have to wonder what it might mean. Is she trying to cope and keeping busy is how she deals? Or is she running away? Is it her way of being a martyr? Or does she need to help the children get through the program at a time when getting through the program may be difficult?

    I’m not sure what the answers are, nor even that it might be important for me to know. But I am curious about her motivations. Perhaps knowing might help me handle a similar situation myself.

  4. CS Eric on October 13, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    As someone who has participated in many Primary programs, usually as the pianist, I am not at all surprised that she was on the stand. Even when I have been at my most cynical, when I thought nothing could touch my heart, helping the kids with their program has touched me more deeply than almost any other experience. I suspect that she felt great healing helping the kids with the program.

  5. Velikiye Kniaz on October 13, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Is it not written somewhere in the Scriptures (Isaiah, perhaps), “And in that day young men’s hearts shall fail them…”? Last month, here in Utah, we had a 41 year old Utah Highway Patrolman collapse and die during a routine traffic stop. The person he was citing gave him CPR until that paramedics arrived, but to no avail. He left a wife and at least three young children. Two weeks ago, a co-worker who is presently a stake president, had his 35 year old son collapse and die from a fatal heart attack while on a business trip. He left a pregnant wife and young family as well. Today it was announced that the 19 year old Russian hockey player, Alexei Cherepanov, collapsed and died while sitting on the bench during a hockey game in Omsk, Russia. These tragedies could very well be in fulfillment of this prophesy of the last days. Certainly, in my 60 years of life I can’t recall ever seeing this many young men die so prematurely.
    These are all profound personal tragedies for all of their friends and families, and they will be sorely missed for many years to come. Fortunately we Latter-day Saints know that this is not the ‘end’ and that our departed loved ones live on, just not in our physical presence. As our hearts feel the pain of their absence and our own loneliness, so do they feel the same for us. But they are privy to the ‘why’ of it all and we are not. But we know that they will keep faith with us and we will see them again, and the love we shared then will not have diminished but rather burn with brighter light that we could ever dream possible. This is why the temples stand in these last days to seal this promise on all our heads if we will remain worthy and endure to the end.

  6. Velikiye Kniaz on October 13, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    RE: #5
    “Certainly, in my 60 years of life I can’t recall ever seeing this many young men die so prematurely”… OF NATURAL CAUSES. Over 53,000 young men of my generation lost their lives in the jungles of Southeast Asia. I didn’t mean to overlook or make light of their sacrifice.

  7. Bookslinger on October 13, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    #6, re: 53,000. And that was just the Americans. Think of all the Vietnamese, soldiers and civilians on both sides, who lost their lives.

    I’m “49-ahem, and holding” and this is the age which is the “knee of the curve” in terms of male mortality. At age 46 I made a conscious effort to eat in a more healthy manner, lose weight, and get in shape. I lost 45 pounds (am now 60 pounds less than my highest historical plateau), got my BMI back into the “normal” range, and have worked my way up to jogging 5 miles straight.

    I don’t know if mortality statistics have changed all that much over the past 30 years. Obesity in the US, and worldwide, is much greater than 30 years ago, so that may have some effect. But overall mortality statistics have been pretty much predictable. The actuaries know pretty much how many people of a given age are going to die, just not who they will be.

    We can’t do anything about genetics or undetected birth defects, but doctors are clear on the 3 major risk factors that we do have control over:

    1) weight, and diet.
    2) smoking.
    3) consuming alcohol.

    Any two of those together multiplies the effect, and all three together really increases morbidity;.

    I remember losing a friend in high school to a heart attack. He was an athlete and had an undetected heart defect. And at least a couple missionaries that I served with back in the 80′s have passed on.

    We never know when we’re going to be “called home.”

  8. nita on October 15, 2008 at 12:39 am

    #5: and w /all respect, the heart attacks could have also been due to logical reasons such as poor health in other areas as was mentionned.

    #3: Maybe that sis just needed to be there. I work in a nursing home, we have a man that comes often to play the saxaphone w/a couple other men. One day that man was playing the sax and I learned that the previous day, his son had died of cancer. I asked the person who told me this why that man was there that day. The reply was that man said he “needed to be there”, ie he needed to serve others and use that instrument to help him in his time of grief.

    Maybe I read wrong, but did that bishopric man actually die on 10/12, Sunday and then his family was there that very day?? Or was the death a few days previous and you just posted on 10/12. (I am sure that man didn’t die the AM of 10/12 and then his family still came to church, but in retrospect that’s how it reads, at least to me??)

  9. Adam Greenwood on October 15, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    You are correct, Nita. Earlier in the week.

  10. Mayan Elephant on October 24, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    i had an unscheduled heart attack at 32. i will be forever grateful to the many many many members of our ward that helped my family in the weeks following my heart attack. the ability for mormons to rally around family and friends in a crisis is impressive. i have my issues with how correlated it has become of late, but no question it is a core part of the mormon experience.

    hey. is it too late to comment on this thread, btw? i just got a bit bored with the calendar thread so i thought id read some old posts over here.


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