On March 18, 2020, just days after a worldwide pandemic caused many places in the world to shut down, Salt Lake City suffered a 5.7-magnitude earthquake followed by “a series of aftershocks that went on for days,” Sheri Dew recalled in her keynote address for BYU Women’s Conference. Then she shared her own, very personal experience with the unusual challenges of the past 14 months.
“Frankly, dealing with the pandemic, an earthquake, and suddenly working isolated from home rattled me,” Dew says. “Inventorying my food storage alone, scavenging among empty grocery shelves alone, and then being alone when my house began to shake was unnerving. During the earthquake my brain managed to race and freeze all at the same time. There was no one to say, ‘You grab this and I’ll grab that.’ No one to just dive under the table with. It was scary. One thing I’ve been reminded of this year is how much we need each other.”
Three months into the pandemic, Dew’s mother passed away—a blow that she describes as “the last emotional straw.”
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However, on March 12, 2020, just days before the aforementioned earthquake, Dew spoke at the Church History Symposium at Brigham Young University. Joseph Smith was the topic of the symposium, and Dew felt inspired to speak about what the Prophet taught that can help us deal with loneliness.
“At first, I resisted the topic. It seemed so strange. But the impressions kept coming,” Dew says of the inspiration for the talk she later titled, “Joseph Smith and the Problem of Loneliness.”
When she sat down from delivering the talk, she learned that Sunday meetings had been suspended, effective immediately.
“Then temples closed and the world locked down. I thought I knew something about loneliness before March 12, 2020, but I was about to get the biggest dose of it of my life,” Dew says.
You can watch Dew’s address for free before Women’s Conference begins on Thursday, at which point the talk will go behind a paywall. Click on this link and you will see the player on the right side of the page.