Ask A Latter-day Saint: What Happens When You Die?

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By Jeff Borders

What Do Members of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe happens when you die?

I think that this might be one of the most universal questions across the human experience. To better understand what happens at the end of our lives, we need to start at the beginning. 

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that we lived as spirits with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ before coming to earth. We came to earth to gain physical bodies and experience mortality. Because we believe in the eternal nature of man, we also believe that we will continue to live even after we die. This is called the Plan of Salvation, or the Plan of Happiness. 

It is probably one of my favorite aspects of my faith, because it brings hope that even though we may experience death, or the death of friends and family, we know that death isn’t the end for us. Just this last month, I lost my grandfather. Even though I mourned his death, my belief in the eternal nature of mankind was a huge buoy to my spirit. 

To better explain the doctrine, we believe that when we die, our spirit and body separate. Our spirit continues to live in the spirit world. The spirit world is like a waiting place, a place for us to await the resurrection. During the resurrection, our spirits and bodies will finally be reunited. But it will be in a perfected form, free from pain, sickness, and any imperfections. Of which I am extremely grateful for. And the great thing about this is that it is a universal gift. Jesus Christ made this all possible for ALL OF US.

After we are resurrected we will be judged. Not as a group, but individually. And not by some cruel judge subject to the foibles of man. No, we are judged by the most loving beings in the universe, our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. They alone know the circumstances of our lives and can see the true intent of our hearts and minds. Their judgement is perfect and merciful. 

Heavenly Father wants to see all his children return to him and live in His glory. However he also respects our moral agency, or our right to choose. Ultimately it’s our choices and decisions that determine how we spend the time following our mortal probation. 

Without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, resurrection, or even salvation for that matter, wouldn’t be possible. Through his power, the gift of resurrection is offered to all mankind; through his sacrifice, all mankind can be cleansed of their individual sins; through his power, all can become like him. And through faith in him comes our salvation and ultimately determines our eternal destiny.

Death is a universal experience for all and it’s no surprise that we have questions about it. I take great solace in this quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.”

That’s the great secret. Death is just a temporary pause on our grand quest to eternal joy. When we look at death through an eternal lens, it can help ease the sting of death, as we rely on the merits and strength of the Savior.

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