Death is a Step in Our Progression, Not the End of Our Existence

We Need Not Fear Death if We Repent and Try to Be Righteous

Stairway to heaven
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To fully understand what death is and why it occurs, you need to understand what happened before mortality and what will happen after it.

Death is a step in the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness, as it is often called. It is a necessary step in our eternal progression. It is part of Heavenly Father's plan for how we can return to live with Him.

Death is Not the End of Our Existence

Some believe that death is the end, or the final destination.

For Latter-day Saints, death is merely the doorway that leads into the next life. Elder Russel M. Nelson, an Apostle, taught us that:

Life does not begin with birth, nor does it end with death. Prior to our birth, we dwelled as spirit children with our Father in Heaven. There we eagerly anticipated the possibility of coming to earth and obtaining a physical body. Knowingly we wanted the risks of mortality, which would allow the exercise of agency and accountability. “This life [was to become] a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God.” (Alma 12:24.) But we regarded the returning home as the best part of that long-awaited trip, just as we do now. Before embarking on any journey, we like to have some assurance of a round-trip ticket. Returning from earth to life in our heavenly home requires passage through—and not around—the doors of death. We were born to die, and we die to live. (See 2 Cor. 6:9.) As seedlings of God, we barely blossom on earth; we fully flower in heaven.

The above statement is the best, and most comforting, statement on what death truly is.

When Death Occurs the Body and Spirit Are Separated

Death is the separation of the physical body from the spirit body. We have already lived as spirits without bodies. This occurred in the premortal life. Although we progressed and developed in that world, eventually we could advance no more without receiving a physical body.

We came to earth to receive a physical body. Our mortality here also has a purpose. The spirit world is our abode after death. We will reside in that world as spirits, at least for a time. We have work and obligations in that postmortal life as well.

Eventually, the body and spirit will be reunited, never to be separated again. This is called the resurrection. Jesus Christ made the resurrection possible through His Atonement and resurrection.

How to Deal With Death While We Are Here on Earth

Although Latter-day Saints look upon death with hope, dealing with the loss of a loved one can still be very difficult. We know that death is only a temporary separation, but it is still separation.

This mortal life is only a blip in our eternal existence. However, it feels like forever when our loved ones are taken from us. Their absence seems to be an incredible gulf in our lives and causes much sorrow here on earth.

This is especially true when children die. As true innocents, children who die under the age of eight have a special status in the next life. Teachings from church leaders can also provide tremendous comfort when a little one leaves mortality. With their incomplete understanding and tender feelings, care should be taken to help children understand death's purpose.

Having faith in Jesus Christ can help us have hope that we will live once again with our loved ones in the next life. Exercising our faith can help build more faith. The more faith we have, the more content we will be with the realities of eternal life.

When LDS funerals are held, the focus is always on the Plan of Happiness.

How We Can Prepare For Our Own Death

Preparing for and understanding death often makes it easier to accept. There are many things we can do to prepare for our own death.

Besides the temporal things, like living wills, trusts and other advance directives, we should spiritually prepare for death. This life should be considered an assignment. Only Heavenly Father knows when it is our time to die and our assignment has been completed.

Spiritual preparation for death involves all of the following:

  • Keep all the commandments
  • Keep all our covenants and ordinances
  • Constant repentance
  • Endure to the end

We must soldier on and endure to the end. We must accept death, whenever it comes. Neither suicide nor assisted suicide should ever be attempted.

Death is a hard part of life. By understanding God's Plan of Salvation and having faith in Jesus Christ, we can find greater hope and peace on earth.

Updated by Krista Cook.