Mormon Beliefs: Death
Mormon Funerals are uplifting and enlightening. This is because of the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, which informs members of the Church that
The following is an address given by Bishop James K. May at the funeral of Merrill Despain, September, 2008, at the meeting house of the North Mapleton Utah 8th Ward, where the services were held. It explains clearly the Mormon position regarding death.
“Merrill has left friends and family to wait and wonder, when we will see him again? But we need not wonder or worry. A loving Heavenly Father has provided answers and comfort through the resurrection of his Son and the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“‘He is not here, He is Risen’. These words, spoken to humble disciples of Christ by an Angel, announced one of the most significant events in history. This event profoundly affected every person who has ever lived. So unprecedented was this event that when the Apostles were told what happened, it seemed to them ‘Idle tales, and they believed it not.’ Only when Jesus himself appeared to them did they believe and begin to comprehend the importance of this event.
“Our bodies were not created to live in mortality without limit. They were built in such a way that they were subject to illness, injury, aging, and death. Sand runs continuously through mortality’s hourglass of time. We start to die the moment we are born. Why? The reason is simple. Our Heavenly Father wants us to return to him. He gave us life, and he provided the means by which we could return to him. Viewed from an eternal perspective, we live to die; and die to live again.
“Elder Russell M. Nelson said:
“‘We were not destined to be stranded in mortality forever, such an arrest of our progression would completely thwart God’s great plan of happiness. Birth is the gateway to mortal life; death is the gateway to immortality and eternal life.’
“The words of a favorite hymn convey this idea– ‘I Stand All Amazed’ (Hymns No. 193):
‘I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me
Confused at the Grace that so fully he proffers me;
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me a sinner he suffered, he bled and died.
‘I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine;
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
‘I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt,
Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?
No, No, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
‘Oh it is wonderful, that he should care for me, enough to die for me.
Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me.’
“And so, today we are here to celebrate Merrill’s life and to mourn his death. Mourning is not only normal; it is a healthy reaction. Mourning is one of the purest expressions of deep love. It is a perfectly natural response. It’s OK to cry, It’s normal to have feelings of loss.
“The grief that we feel is not unknown to the Lord. It was he who said, ‘blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.’
“Where can we turn for comfort and peace? We can come unto the Lord Jesus Christ. With consummate love, he said: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ His peace differs from that offered by any other. His is the peace provided by our knowledge of the resurrection. His gift of life after death applies to all mankind.
“As his peace enters our lives, it brings true understanding and calm assurance that all is well. ‘The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’ Peace comes when we go directly to our best friend-the Prince of Peace. We find solace when we lose ourselves in service to him and to our neighbors.
“Though we mourn today, tomorrow we will wish to bring comfort to others. Instead of being ministered unto, we will become the ministers of soothing ‘balm’ in the ‘Gileads’ of our own neighborhoods. Our experience with sorrow will make us more compassionate and capable in our desire to ease the suffering of another.
“Upon looking at Merrill’s body lying there, you realized that he is not there. His body is cold and hard. It was his spirit that you knew and loved, not his body. His body only allowed his spirit to function and to love you. His spirit is what made his body soft and warm. Though his body is dead, his spirit lives on. Joseph Smith taught that ‘The spirits of the just … are not far from us and know and understand our thoughts, feelings and emotions, and are often pained therewith.’ Merrill will be close to you and during important times of your life, you will feel his presence. So today it is OK to cry, it is normal to feel sad. It is alright to feel homesick for him. You should think about him and always remember the wonderful times you spent together. You should record those memories now while they are fresh and they will become treasures to you. Over time, the pain you feel will turn to peace and sometime in the future there will be a joyful reunion when you will see him again.
“There will be joyful reunions with loved ones in the future, but we cannot fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way we could ever take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.
“So we will mourn for ourselves; for our loss of companionship of a loved one, but we will rejoice for Merrill. He has passed the Gateway we call death. And because of the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, he will live again. He has shed his physical body and the pain and suffering that accompanied it and has gone to a better place. I testify that Jesus Christ loves me and he loves all of you. And it is he who brings us comfort and peace at this time of loss. That we may all experience this comfort is my prayer, In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”