Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why I Get Excited Thinking about Death

Whoa there Nelly, did you forget to take your pills this morning?

Rest assured I am of sound mind (or at least as sound as it is possible for me to be), do not have my bags packed and am not ready to board the train into the next life. Nor do I relish the thought of the period of time directly preceding that journey but I am fascinated with the wealth of information we have available and get excited the more I learn about what my existence will be like once I get there.

“All men know that they must die. And it is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world, our sufferings here, and our departure hence. What is the object of our coming into existence, then dying and falling away, to be here no more? It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter, and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other. We ought to study it day and night, for the world is ignorant in reference to their true condition and relation. If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important subject” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:50).

Death can be scary on the face of it and the Lord has put a strong sense of self-preservation inside of us so that the second the going gets tough we don’t run out and end it all. Can you imagine what would happen without that instinct? “Oh man, I burned the eggs this morning; I better go drive my car off a cliff.”

This sense of self-preservation runs in tandem with the purposes of our not being able to remember our pre-mortal life. It would be absolutely miserable to have the memory of living with Heavenly Father while we are away from Him and making our way through the difficulties and trials of this life. The homesickness would absolutely debilitate us. With that, there is every so often a whiff of that longing for home that our spirit remembers. It helps us to stay focused on the goals we set for ourselves back then. To gain a body, be tested, and get home.

The restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has given Mormons a different view of the impact of death than many others in the world. In a conversation I had just yesterday with a wonderful lady of another faith she explained that they believed that you were born, you die, and then you go to either heaven or hell and that was the end of it.

She certainly wasn’t wrong but what a blessing it is to have the more complete version of that scenario.

If you have no idea what the heck I’m talking about please see my post on the The Plan of Salvation in a Nutshell.

With this amazing knowledge of the Plan comes peace and the fear of death dissipates . 

Alma 27:28 “…and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it.”

Brigham Young said “We shall turn round and look upon [the valley of death] and think, when we have crossed it, why this is the greatest advantage of my whole existence, for I have passed from a state of sorrow, grief, mourning, woe, misery, pain, anguish and disappointment into a state of existence, where I can enjoy life to the fullest extent as far as that can be done without a body. My spirit is set free, I thirst no more, I want to sleep no more, I hunger no more, I tire no more, I run, I walk, I labor, I go, I come, I do this, I do that, whatever is required of me, nothing like pain or weariness, I am full of life, full of vigor, and I enjoy the presence of my heavenly Father” (Journal of Discourses, 17:142).

“All fear of this death has been removed from the Latter-day Saints. They have no dread of the temporal death, because they know that as death came upon them by the transgression of Adam, so by the righteousness of Jesus Christ shall life come unto them, and though they die, they shall live again. Possessing this knowledge, they have joy even in death, for they know that they shall rise again and shall meet again beyond the grave. They know that the spirit dies not at all; that it passes through no change, except the change from imprisonment in this mortal clay to freedom and to the sphere in which it acted before it came to this earth” (Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 428).

My interest as of late has been on the state of our spirits right after we pass on to the Spirit World. While that is a much bigger subject that I can chew on in this limited forum I have come across a really wonderful talk from Education Week at BYU that had me on the edge of my seat. I share it below, it is worth every minute.

'What Is This Thing That Men Call Death'

By President Gordon B. Hinckley

What is this thing that men call death,
This quiet passing in the night
'Tis not the end, but genesis
Of better worlds and greater light.

O God, touch thou my aching heart,
And calm my troubled, haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.

There is no death, but only change,
With recompense for vict'ry won.
The gift of him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One.

Faith comes as knowledge of the truth increases. A major benefit of faith is that fear cannot exist in the same place. Death doesn't need to be scary and I think that is pretty exciting.




  1. I must admit, I don't think I've ever experienced that "whiff" of longing for my spiritual home. While I'm not afraid of dying, specifically, I'm a little tense at the thought of what preceeds it, and more than a little worried about what may happen to those I leave behind if I end up checking out too early. The question is, how to soothe away that particular fear?

  2. I have no good answer there. It's one of the main things that holds me up about this topic. I have visions of my kids turning into the little matchstick girl or worse adults who go to Comicon (just kidding)when I think about an early demise. It has to come back to trust that the Lord will take care of them. I trust Him with a lot of things but this one is a work in progress.


Comments are the bee's knees! Thanks for sharing.

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