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CRITCHFIELD FUNERAL REMINDS US OF OUR FRAILTY AND THE BONDS THAT BIND US TOGETHER

I never have liked funerals, but I figured it wouldn't be that bad when I was asked to cover the Critchfield funeral for work last week. After all, I didn't know Elder Stan Critchfield or his family.

There was no reason to become emotional, the sole reason I hate going to funerals. At least I thought there wasn't a reason for tears. But Critchfield's death left many people, including me, stunned and emotional.For an unknown reason, a young man stabbed him in the chest May 27 outside Critchfield's apartment in Dublin, Ireland. Critchfield, 20, died on the way to the hospital.

The Payson youth had been serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since March 1989 and was known for his faithfulness in the mission field.

His parents, Gale and Carol Critchfield, also showed faith by saying they wouldn't turn back the clock if they could do it over.

The Critchfield family typifies the quiet goodness, courage and faith of the people of the LDS Church, said Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the LDS Council of the Twelve.

"These are the best kind of people in the world. Ordinary, common, good people - the faithful of the church and the substance of the Lord," said President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church. "They walk in faith and accept what comes, get on their knees and pray for strength to go forward."

Despite the pain, the Critchfields do not blame anyone for the incident. They are only grateful for the blessings their son received as a missionary. They deserve praise for their courage. I'm sure not everyone would be the same.

The death of a missionary, no matter what the religion, is hard to understand - particularly when it's unprovoked. Missionaries give up their time to serve others, and it's ironic when they die because of someone else's selfish desires.

Even though this incident involves an LDS missionary and the members of the LDS Church, it ultimately involves millions of people from throughout the world who have been missionaries, been in public service or known someone who was.

Residents of Dublin were undoubtedly affected by the death. A memorial service was held for Critchfield on Saturday in that city at about the same time as his funeral here.

"When a missionary dies in the field there is an outpouring that comes from families all over the world," President Hinckley said.

As I sat in the back of the chapel, the speakers and songs brought my emotions and tears to the surface. I couldn't help but wonder why it was Critchfield who had to go. It could have happened to anyone - my brother, my friend or even me.

When I was in Italy as a missionary I knew it wasn't the safest place to be at night. But I made it home to Mom and Dad with only a few scratches, and for some reason I'm still alive and trying to be better.

I was a little embarrassed over the tears that welled up in my eyes Saturday. But after hearing the talks, I knew why I and many others felt the way we did. We may be strangers to the Critchfield family but not to the sacrifices their son was making.

I still don't like funerals. And I never will. But the Critchfield family helped me understand that we can mourn with strangers when their acts are charitable and good.