Have you ever wondered what happens when our mortal bodies die? There are many questions about this topic: Where do we go? What will happen there? Who will be there? We are very fortunate to have answers to these and other questions. Heavenly Father has not kept the answers from us. In fact, Heavenly Father has a plan for the salvation of all His children. His plan covers our pre-mortal life, our mortal life, and our post-mortal life. While we lived with our Heavenly Father, He helped us prepare for our life on earth. Then He sent us to live on earth in order to receive mortal bodies of flesh and blood and to prepare for our post-earth life.
When our mortal bodies die, our spirits will go to the spirit world – a place of waiting, working, and learning. Those who have lived righteous lives will have an opportunity to rest from all their cares and sorrows. The spirits of all mankind will live in the spirit world until we are ready for our resurrection. At the time of resurrection our mortal bodies will be reunited with our spirits, never to be separated again. Each of us will then receive the degree of glory we have earned.
Heavenly Father has revealed much about the spirit world to latter-day prophets. The prophets tell us that the spirits of those who have passed away are not far from us. “Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, June 1971, 33). Brigham Young taught that the post-mortal spirit world is on the earth, around us (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 279).
Spirit beings have the same bodily form as mortal beings except the spirit body is in perfect form. When Jesus Christ appeared to the brother of Jared, He said "Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh" (see Ether 3:16).
When people die, their spirits take with them the same attitudes of devotion or antagonism toward righteousness as well as appetites and desires. We read in
34:34: "Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world." All spirits are in adult form. At the time of resurrection the adult spirit reunites with the body as it was laid in the grave - whether adult, youth or infant; the reunited bodies of infants and children will continue to grow until they reach full maturity. (See Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 131-32). Alma
According to a prophet named
in the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, there are two divisions or states in the spirit world. Alma taught: Alma
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.
And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil – for
behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works
rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their
house – and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and
gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the
Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful,
fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this
state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection (
The spirits are classified as to how they lived their mortal lives – the purity of their lives and their obedience to God. There is a division between the righteous and the wicked spirits (see 1 Nephi 15:28-30); however, the spirits may progress as fast as they learn the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and learn to be obedient to them. Those spirits who reside in paradise are allowed to teach the spirits in prison (see Doctrine and Covenants 138).
The prophet Alma also taught that the righteous spirits are given rest from earthly care and sorrow while they are occupied in furthering the work of the Lord. Joseph F. Smith saw in a vision that Jesus Christ visited the righteous spirits in paradise immediately after He was crucified. While He was there, He appointed messengers and commissioned them with the necessary power and authority to “carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:30).
Jesus Christ organized His Church in the spirit world. There priesthood holders continue to carry on their duties and responsibilities (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:30). Wilford Woodruff taught: “The same Priesthood exists on the other side of the veil…. Every Apostle, every Seventy, every Elder, etc., who has died in the faith as soon as he passes to the other side of the veil, enters into the work of the ministry” (Deseret News, Jan. 25, 1882, 818).
Family relationships are also important in the spirit world. Jedediah M. Grant, a counselor to Brigham Young, saw the spirit world in a vision and described the organization that exists there to Heber C. Kimball: “He said that the people he there saw were organized in family capacities…. He said, `When I looked at families, there was a deficiency in some, … for I saw families that would not be permitted to come and dwell together, because they had not honored their calling here’” (Deseret News, Dec. 10, 1856, 316-17).
Ancient scriptures also tell us about the spirit world. The Apostle Peter said that the post-mortal spirit world was like a prison for some (see 1 Peter 3:18-20). The spirits who are in spirit prison are those who have not yet received the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have agency and can be tempted by either good or evil. Those who accept the gospel and the ordinances performed for them in the temples are allowed to leave the spirit prison and live in paradise.
Some of the spirits in spirit prison rejected the gospel after it was preached to them either in mortal life or in spirit prison. They suffer a condition that is known as hell. They have rejected the mercy offered by Jesus Christ, who said, “Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-18). They must suffer for their own sins but then will be allowed – because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ – to inherit the telestial kingdom or the lowest degree of glory.