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Death is a separation. The scriptures speak of two kinds of death: physical and spiritual. Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body, while spiritual death is the separation of humankind from the presence of God because of sin. Thanks to Jesus Christ, all mortals will overcome physical death, and all who obey the Gospel will overcome spiritual death.
The Fall of Adam and Eve brought both kinds of death into this world (2 Nephi 2:22; Moses 6:48). Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ overcame physical death so that all mortals, regardless of how they live, will be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:21-23). After being resurrected, the physical body can no longer die:
- Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption (Alma 11:45).
- And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.
- But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
- He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death (Mosiah 16: 7-9).
Jesus also provided a way for all people to overcome spiritual death and receive eternal life. Because of His atonement, by obeying His teachings and commandments, men can become free from sin and become spiritually "alive" once again. Those who are spiritually "alive" will continue to make mistakes during mortal life, and will need to repent of those mistakes through sincere prayer, seeking forgiveness, righting wrongs that may have been done to others, and trying to live better lives.
Those who refuse to repent of their sins will someday suffer a permanent spiritual death, being forever cut off from God's presence. This type of spiritual death is often referred to in the scriptures as the "second death."
- Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
- And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death (Revelation 20: 6, 14).
Receiving Comfort after the Death of a Loved One
Nothing in life causes more bitter mourning than the death of a loved one. Many people in this world have no concept of why death must occur or what happens after death. Even those who believe in God may become confused and grief-stricken, their faith shaken. But the Lord does exist, and He does offer comfort, both through the healing power of His Spirit as it is bestowed on the prayerful; and through information, teaching man about the realities of death and resurrection. The Savior's promise as recorded in John 14:27 is true: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that for the good people of the earth, life after death is a place of happiness, joy, and association with loved ones who have passed on. After this life, the learning process that was a part of mortal life continues in a loving environment called the "Spirit World." Christ called the Spirit World "paradise."
- Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, 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.
- 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 40:11, 12).
The Spirit World is not only a place of rest, but a place of learning. Those who never heard of Jesus Christ during their sojourn on earth, will learn of Him there. In the Spirit World, free agency continues. Men and women are able to lay hold upon the Word according to their desires. Thus, they can progress until resurrection. After resurrection and judgment, an eternity of learning lies ahead. And within that context of eternal progression is the eternal ability to enjoy close association with our loved ones:
- And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy (Doctrine and Covenants 130: 2).
Because of these beliefs, a Mormon funeral bestows a spirit of peace and comfort for close family members, friends, and loved ones of the deceased, reaffirming that there will be a future joyful reunion. Also, it is a great comfort to know that the person who has died is able to be with other loved ones who have already passed on.
The Death of a Child
Of the heartache caused by the separation of death, none surpasses the grief endured due to the death of a little child. Mormon prophet Joseph F. Smith lost nine of his own children, and the Lord revealed to him much detail regarding their blessings in the afterlife. Among the wonderful doctrines revealed by the prophet:
- Young children who have passed on are welcomed into the arms of those ancestors who have predeceased them—“O my soul! I see my own sweet mother’s arms extended welcoming to her embrace the ransomed glorious spirit of my own sweet babe"!
- Little children who die before the age of accountability are redeemed through the atoning blood of Christ— "With little children who are taken away in infancy and innocence before they have reached the years of accountability, and are not capable of committing sin, the gospel reveals to us the fact that they are redeemed, and Satan has no power over them. Neither has death any power over them. They are redeemed by the blood of Christ, and they are saved just as surely as death has come into the world through the fall of our first parents."
- After the resurrection, a child's body will grow to match the stature of the spirit. "...in the resurrection of the dead the child that was buried in its infancy will come up in the form of the child that it was when it was laid down; then it will begin to develop. From the day of the resurrection, the body will develop until it reaches the full measure of the stature of its spirit, whether it be male or female."
- Righteous parents will have the opportunity to raise in the heavenly realm the child lost to death—"...when the mother is deprived of the pleasure and joy of rearing her babe to manhood or to womanhood in this life, through the hand of death, that privilege will be renewed to her hereafter, and she will enjoy it to a fuller fruition than it would be possible for her to do here." This wonderful blessing is guaranteed to parents who have been sealed to their children through eternal temple ordinances (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 128 ).
During the Millennium, There Will be no Death
At His Second Coming, Christ will initiate one thousand years of peace. Latter-day Saints call this glorious period the "millennium." Christ will rule on earth, and the earth will regain the same paradisaical glory that existed in the Garden of Eden. During the millennium, there will be no death. Instead, men will live "to the age of a tree" (Doctrine and Covenants 101:30) and then be resurrected without tasting death:
- And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21: 4).
- And in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease from before my face. And in that day whatsoever any man shall ask, it shall be given unto him. And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man. And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death (D&C 101:26-29).
- Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye (Doctrine and Covenants 63: 51).