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Will I See My Loved Ones Who Have Died Again?
Millet, Robert L., and Joseph Fielding McConkie. The Life Beyond. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1986.
A Place of Reunion
For the righteous, the time of death is also a time of reunion, an occasion wherein a person is welcomed once again to the society of loved ones. "I have a father, brothers, children, and friends who have gone to a world of spirits," Joseph Smith said in 1844. "They are only absent for a moment. They are in the spirit, and we shall soon meet again."|R30|r President Joseph F. Smith asked: "What is more desirable than that we should meet with our fathers and our mothers, with our brethren and our sisters, with our wives and our children, with our beloved associates and kindred in the spirit world, knowing each other, identifying each other... by the associations that familiarize each to the 27 other in mortal life? What do you want better than that? What is there for any religion superior to that? I know of nothing."|R31
A Place of Rest
After teaching his son Corianton concerning the journey of spirits—righteous and wicked—into the spirit world, Alma continued: "And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow" (Alma 40:12; italics added). We thus see that paradise is the abode of the righteous in the world of spirits, a "state of happiness," a place hereafter where the spirits of the faithful "expand in wisdom, where they have respite from all their troubles, and where care and sorrow do not annoy."|R12
The world of spirits is one world, even as the world of mortals is one world. We live and act in a world today wherein we find saints and sinners in one sphere; the degraded and defiled, as well as the pious and the pure go about their business on the very same stage of the mortal drama. So it is in the world hereafter—"the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil" (Alma 40:11), live and move and have their being in one and the same realm. "Where is the spirit world?" Brigham Young asked. He then answered: "It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do."|R10|r And yet, even as the pure maintain a separate existence from the perverse in this stage of action, so also is there a division between spirits beyond the veil of death. On the one hand, death is a great leveler: it breaks all the bands of poverty, infirmity, and worldly caste or station. On the other hand, death is a great separator, an occasion wherein a "partial judgment" of the spirit results in a designated area of residence. That there was a major separation of the righteous and the wicked before the ministry of the disembodied18
Savior is evident from the scriptures. (See D&C 138; Luke 16:19—31; 1 Nephi 15:26—30.) Regarding the nature of things since the meridian of time, Heber C. Kimball asked: "Can those persons who pursue a course of carelessness, neglect of duty, and disobedience, when they depart from this life, expect that their spirits will associate with the spirits of the righteous in the spirit world? I do not expect it, and when you depart from this state of existence, you will find it out for yourselves."|R11
Location of the Spirit World
And where is it that the spirit of man goes at death? Where is the world of spirits? Joseph Smith taught: "The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits." The Prophet then added that "they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings,16
and motions, and are often pained therewith."|R4|r In speaking of the nearness of the world of spirits, Parley P. Pratt wrote that "it is here on the very planet where we were born." Continuing, he explained: "The earth and all other planets of a like sphere, have their inward or spiritual spheres, as well as their outward, or temporal. The one is peopled by temporal tabernacles, and the other by spirits. A veil is drawn between the one sphere and the other, whereby all the objects in the spiritual sphere are rendered invisible to those in the temporal."|R5
Returning to the Presence of God?
The Prophet Alma, recognizing that resurrection—the inseparable union of body and spirit—did not immediately follow death, inquired of the Lord concerning the "state of the soul between death and the resurrection." An angel, a citizen himself of the world of spirits, explained to Alma the nature of the afterworld. Thus Alma testified: "It has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life" (Alma 40:11). Alma's language is similar to that of the Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes: "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 2:7).
Both of these scriptural preachers are speaking in broadest terms, and should not be interpreted to mean that the spirit—at the time of death—goes into the immediate presence of the Lord. President Brigham Young explained that to speak of the spirit returning to the God who gave it means that "when the spirits leave their Bodies they are in the presence of our Father and God" in the sense that they "are prepared then to see, hear and understand spiritual things."|R6|r To go into the "presence" of God is not necessarily to be "placed within a few yards or rods, or within a short distance of his person."|R7|r President George Q. Cannon explained: "Alma, when he says that 'the spirits of all men,17
as soon as they are departed from this mortal body .... are taken home to that God who gave them life,' has the idea, doubtless, in his mind that our God is omnipresent—not in His own personality but through His minister, the Holy Spirit. He does not intend to convey the idea that they are immediately ushered into the personal presence of God. He evidently uses that phrase in a qualified sense."|R8|r Similarly, Heber C. Kimball taught: "As for my going into the immediate presence of God when I die, I do not expect it, but I expect to go into the world of spirits and associate with my brethren, and preach the Gospel in the spiritual world, and prepare myself in every necessary way to receive my body again, and then enter through the wall into the celestial world. I never shall come into the presence of my Father and God until I have received my resurrected body, neither will any other person."|R9
Maxwell, Cory H., ed. The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1997.
Death is a mere comma, not an exclamation point! (Ensign, May 1983, p. 11.)
Since this life is such a brief experience, there must be regular exit routes. Some easy. Some hard. Some sudden. Others lingering. Therefore, we cannot presume, even by faith, to block all these exits, all the time, and for all people. Nor, if possessed of full, eternal perspective, would we desire so to do. (Ensign, May 1984, p. 22.)
Our gratitude for the gift of mortal life [should not] depend upon the manner in which we die, for surely none of us will rush eagerly forward to tell Jesus how we died! (Ensign, November 1983, p. 66.)
At funerals our tears are genuine, but not because of termination—rather because of interruption. Though just as wet, our tears are not of despair but are of appreciation and anticipation. Yes, for disciples, the closing of a grave is but the closing of a door which later will be flung open with rejoicing. (“‘All Hell Is Moved,’” p. 181.)
On the other side of the veil, there are perhaps seventy billion people. They need the same gospel, and releases occur here to aid the Lord’s work there. Each release of a righteous individual from this life is also a call to new labors. Those who have true hope understand this. Therefore, though we miss the departed righteous so much here, hundreds may feel their touch there. One day, those hundreds will thank the bereaved for gracefully forgoing the extended association with choice individuals here, in order that they could help hundreds there. In God’s ecology, talent and love are never wasted. The hopeful understand this, too. (Notwithstanding My Weakness, p. 55.)
Death, for the righteous, is not something to be dreaded and feared, but rather eagerly moved toward with resolution and faith.
In a later question on the main page; Read how you and your family can continue into the eternities ahead as a FAMILY UNIT. How glorious it is to have such knowledge in these the last days before Christ's return. This is not something to be scoffed at or diduculed, but rather to be embraced and researched. Researched in the one way prescribed by God Himself - through sincere prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
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