I love this time of year — the big snow, decorations, music and most of all connecting with family and friends though calls, music, cards and gifts.

As time goes on, family and friends seem to mean more and more joy.

So a recent Christmas, I was also experiencing pain, as in heartache. It’s the pain of a physical separation from those I love and would love to be around this time of year but were not here.

Though our sons and families were all planning to be home, our daughter and her family, including an adorable toddler, were not coming.

My sister and I identify with each other as she couldn't be with her daughters — one was in England with a small baby and one was in California with a new baby. This is surely a mothers’ shared pain.

I felt a sense of mourning for her and others who are missing someone this Christmastime. Why is it that we mourn those not with us? Missing someone is one thing, but a viable heartache is something else.

I mourned for a friend in high school who has been undergoing cancer treatment and recall our carefree high school days together many years ago.

Also, I had met a woman at the Veterans Adminstration Hospital chapel, where my husband and I volunteered, who had been in a motel for several weeks as her husband never awakened from surgery several weeks ago.

Does the pain get worse the more we go on either suffereing ourselves or standing by as those we love suffer in one way or another?

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It leads me to think about the emotion of suffering. In 2 Nephi 4:11 in the Book of Mormon, it reads that “all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of (Jesus Christ).” An explanation is that we are created with the ability to experience “a taste” while we are mortal.

This teaching that our experiences give us an insight into the nature of God as we are physically and spiritually in his image should help us understand more deeply that he mourns for the lost, lonely, sick and dying through the world and validates our mourning.

This did comfort me.

I was in good company as I mourned.

The pains we suffer for ourselves or those around us are schoolings that give us a taste of God’s immense capacity to succor.

Tamari T. Jensen lives in Salt Lake City.