A few weekends ago, we attended a funeral service for a good friend and fellow church member. He had been battling cancer for over five years and had undergone various chemotherapy treatments. He spent his last three weeks under hospice care and his family opened their doors to visitors and friends who wanted to say their last good-byes. However, I suspect that few of us felt that we were really saying goodbye forever. I believe that many of us hold firm to a hope of seeing him again.
No matter what your religion, the loss of a loved one is difficult, potentially life-changing, and for some, devastating. Mourning and grief come naturally, as do questions about life and life after death. “If this life is temporary, then why are we here?”, “What happens after we die?”, “Will we ever see our loved ones again?”
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we are taught that this life on earth is a temporary, learning period in which we will have gone through many experiences — trials and hardships, as well as joy and love (2 Nephi 2:21), so that we can prepare ourselves to meet God (Alma 34:32). From this life we learn about three different types of relationships: ours to others, ours to God, and God’s to others. These relationships help determine who we will ultimately become, not only in this life, but forever after (Helaman 14:30-31).
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe that there are two types of death: physical and spiritual (separation from righteousness and God – Romans 6:23). Physical death is but a marker along a path of progression. We believe that at this death, our physical bodies are separated from our spirits (James 2:26), and while one part remains in the earth, the other part ascends to the Spirit World, until they are again reunited forever in the resurrection (Ezekiel 37:12-14). It is through the power and grace of Jesus Christ that the resurrection will occur (John 11:25), not only for the righteous, but for everyone (Acts 24:15).
After our physical resurrection, we believe that we are judged for the life that we led upon this earth, by a merciful and just God and His Son. We believe that if we have done all that has been asked of us, we will live with God, and be reunited with our loved ones again.
The knowledge of the resurrection blesses us in many ways. The hope that we can be with our family and friends again tempers the distress surrounding death and gives it meaning as we learn that we must shed the mortal to put on the immortal. I am so grateful for the gift of the resurrection and the sacrifice of the Savior who made it available to all of us. I know that the promise of reuniting with our families and friends is true, and I look forward to the day when I can again embrace my friend, whose funeral we just attended.