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It is not easy for any man to grieve in public, but it may be especially tough for those at the helm of the LDS Church to share vulnerable feelings.

Marjorie Pay Hinckley died seven years ago Wednesday. The loss was staggering to her husband, then-LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died Jan. 27, 2008.

The usually optimistic Hinckley described his loss as "a consuming loneliness which increases in intensity and painfully gnaws at one's very soul." His final sermons become deeper, richer, more personal.

"My children and I were at her bedside as she slipped peacefully into eternity. As I held her hand and saw mortal life drain from her fingers, I confess I was overcome," Hinckley said in the October 2004 General Conference. "Before I married her, she had been the girl of my dreams, to use the words of a song then popular. She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior. And now in my old age, she has again become the girl of my dreams."

Four current Mormon apostles have lost their wives. Three have remarried. One — Richard G. Scott — remains single.

Before millions of Mormons watching General Conference on Sunday, Scott, a circumspect former scientist, spoke tenderly and longingly of his wife, Jeanene, who died of cancer in 1995.

"I know what it is to love a daughter of Father in Heaven who with grace and devotion lived the full feminine splendor of her righteous womanhood," Scott said. "I am confident that when, in our future, I see her again beyond the veil, we will recognize that we have become even more deeply in love. We will appreciate each other even more, having spent this time separated by the veil."

Peggy Fletcher Stack