During the Law of Moses, there were a couple different sacrifices that required two animals: one that would be slain and one that would be let go.
“But he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open fields, and make an atonement for the house: and it shall be clean.” -Leviticus 14:53
“But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.” – Leviticus 16:10
I think this presents a beautiful symbolism, that once an atonement has been made, then we should also let go. Whether that atonement was used to cleanse from sin, to cleanse from illness, to allow forgiveness, once it is has been paid, then we should let go of the sadness, sorrow, or grief associated with it.
Six months or so after the death of my son, I felt the weight of grief like never before. I cried daily. It seemed like I would have to grieve forever. There seemed to be a lie whispered to me that if I let it go, then I never loved. The lie said that the grief was all I had left of my son, and to let it go, was to let him go. So I carried it around with me, much like this black balloon.
However, one day I was in Sunday School and we read from the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 9:20, in this verse the voice of the Savior is heard in the aftermath of the destruction following His death. He says,
“Ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit…”
I felt He was also speaking to me in the aftermath of the destruction following the death of my son. He said I had to sacrifice my broken heart. I had to let it go.
So I went to God in prayer, I was really honest with Him. I spoke with Him like I would speak to my dad. I put all my grief on the table, and over time, that weight was lifted. Like the sins that were laid upon the scapegoat in the Old Testament, I laid my grief upon the Savior, and through His atonement, He took it away. And what was so beautiful was that I then learned a truth that it wasn’t the grief that held me to my son, it was my love for him that did, and once I let go, that love was intensified, not diminished.
Now you may not be struggling with grief, but we all carry around black balloons of some kind: anxiety, depression, ill feelings, a grudge, and it can be hard to let go. But I want to add my witness that the atonement has already been made, the price has already been paid, the Savior took upon Himself all of our sorrow, sadness, sin, and pain, so we don’t have to. So take advantage of that atonement, and then as in the Old Testament, let it go.