First Nephi 17: 1-3, 20
It is easy to wonder why their journey in the wilderness took 8 years. Then we learn from Nephi that their wives had children in the wilderness and it makes more sense. I'm sure that each third trimester and each newborn babe meant that they were camped for several months. Nephi's perspective is ultimately positive, without glossing over the tough parts. He says:
Keep in mind they went through the same experience as Nephi - and their perspective on their wives is "It would have been better that they had died".
Is it better to die than to suffer? That seems to be the wrong focus. Nephi focuses on keeping the commandments, and in that light, suffering is just part of the Lord making you stronger. Jesus Christ suffered more than anyone else. Perhaps our own suffering can bring us closer to Him.