Heaven or Hell?
“Who are you talking to Mama?” my grandmother asked as she and I entered the room of my great grandmother. Her room was void of visitors, but these days it wasn’t uncommon for Grandma-Great to talk to no one in particular. At this point, she wasn’t eating well, would repeat treasured stories over and over, and would at times talk to no one in particular.
“Oh, Byron,” she replied. Grandma and I exchanged raised eyebrow looks. Byron was her husband who had passed away, and we questioned our original judgement.
“What did he want?” I asked, my curiosity piqued. “Oh, he wanted me to go with him,” she replied.
We asked her where he wanted to take her, and Grandma-Great’s witty reply of, “Oh, I don’t know. Heaven or Hell,” will forever be engrained on my heart.
Sometimes an ache enters my bones so deep and real that I can’t help but fall to my knees and say something like…
“I know my work isn’t done here, and I’m not asking to return yet, but I’m home sick.”
And then there’s the line, “Yet oftimes a secret something whispered, ‘You’re a stranger here,’ and I felt that I had wandered from a more exalted sphere.” (i)
I recently read an article in regards to a study conducted because some patients reported having visions near the end of their lives. They not only saw deceased loved ones, but were sometimes granted visions of Heaven. The researchers wrote, “As participants approached death, comforting dreams/visions of the deceased became more prevalent. The impact of pre-death experiences on dying individuals and their loved ones can be profoundly meaningful. … These visions can occur months, weeks, days or hours before death and typically lessen fear of dying, making transition from life to death easier for those experiencing them.” (ii)
The joy of the matter is that our treasured family and friends are “…not far from us…” as Joseph Smith put it. (iii)
What Happens When I Die
The inevitable question of, “What happens when I die,” is answered beautifully in the scriptures.
Our precious Savior did burst the bands of death, and by so doing, we will be resurrected someday, but where do we go right after death and before the resurrection?
Alma teaches, “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.” On the opposite, “The spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil… shall be cast out into outer darkness…” In my religion, we refer to these two as being in paradise or spirit prison. (v)
Will I Be Resurrected?
When we die, our spirits are separated from our bodies for a time. We learn that those in this state consider this separation to be “bondage.” (vi) Consider with me why that may be:
Wendy Nelson said, “The body (is) one of the great prizes of mortal life.” (vii) We need bodies to experience a fulness of joy. (viii) With a body we can eat our favorite foods, experience adrenaline, and intimacy. These things, and many more, are not possible without a body.
The beautiful thing is that the separation of body and spirit is temporary. “The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (ix) I love the promise of a “perfect frame,” which suggests no broken bones, eyes that see, and cancer free (among countless other things).
The Purpose of Life
Yes, there is heartache and pain in this world, but the potential reward is eternal bliss, and the opportunity to never be separated from our loved ones again. Never.
This is the priceless gift offered by a tender and loving Heavenly Father, and His priceless Son.
For this glorious day, we do await and prepare, but in the meantime our hearts are comforted. When we ask the question, “What happens when I die,” we find tremendous solace that, “before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave.” (x) This does not just offer comfort in that Jesus was resurrected, but that we, along with our loved ones, will be as well.
That all compassionate God made being together again a genuine reality, and it all begins with simply believing.
Grandma-Great did pass away, and more recently my Grandmother has joined her. Even still, I am comforted with the knowlege that I will again see their cheerful faces and giggle at their witty jokes. In some future day I will have the great pleasure of embracing them again. It’s the same thing that comforts my fellow author when dealing with the death of her grandfather. (xi)
So it is with you and your loved ones. I promise.
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