"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
July 18, 2012
Real-life Read: Coping with Loss, Moving On
by Laurie Williams Sowby

Together Forever..Just Not Now: Losing a Loved One, Coping, and Moving On, by J. Randolph Ayre. 116 pages in soft cover, $15, available at LDS book outlets, amazon.com, and randyayre@msn.com. (Non-LDS version titled Saying Good-bye.)

There’s nothing like hearing it from someone who’s been there, and J. Randolph Ayre fits the bill with Together Forever…Just Not Now: Losing a Loved One, Coping, and Moving On, a self-published, well-written book with a title that accurately reflects the contents.

I met Randy and Elsa Marie Ayre about six years ago when we were serving at the same time as senior couples in Santiago, Chile. It was my husband’s and my first mission together, and the Ayres’ second. Randy served as an attorney for the Church in both the Philippines and Chile.

Later, the Ayres moved to Laie and took an assignment teaching at BYU-Hawaii.

This energetic couple continues to be a living testament that people can face the death of a spouse, learn to cope, and then move on with joy in life and family. They admit they’ve played Cupid themselves with widowed friends and have seen happy endings.

Randy, ever the articulate teacher, has put his experience into a book in an effort to help others who face the loss of their eternal companion. His own experience — which he also shares as a speaker — is bolstered by comments of many others who have been in a similar situation and have managed to find love and happiness a second time.

The book brings up questions about sensitive matters such as how to handle old photos, memorabilia, and furnishings from the first marriage and even what name the wife will use. It discusses aspects of remarriage such as deciding which house to live in, and safeguarding financial assets and children’s inheritance with a pre-nuptial agreement.

It even covers a biggie for older remarried couples: how to divide time and attention among all the children, especially when those children all have families of their own. Randy and Elsa Marie each have four, and there are now more than 20 grandchildren in the mix.

“Developing good relationships with children and grandchildren on both sides of the new marriage should be the paramount goal of the couple,” he writes. “The seamless amalgamation of our two families has become one of our crowning achievements.”

One chapter in the LDS version, Together Forever, discusses the sensitive issue of marrying for time only while being sealed for eternity to another spouse. That subject and other LDS references are absent in a non-LDS version of the book called Saying Goodbye. A helpful appendix in both editions outlines the basics of powers of attorney, living wills or directives, estate planning and asset inventory, trusts, and Jean Stringfellow’s Drop Dead List of info every spouse should know before it is needed.

The bottom line in both versions of the book is that it is possible to deal with loss and find fulfillment in a new marriage. And the Ayres continue to prove it.

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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