When someone dies, we know his/her spirit lives on. But the loss of their physical presence and the finality of the grave makes that separation almost unbearable. The house is quiet and our arms are empty. That is when the knowledge of the resurrection brings comfort now and wonderful anticipation for the future.
I believe that the resurrection, the reuniting of the spirit and the physical body into an immortal soul, is a priceless gift available to all of God’s children through the atonement of Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor. 15:22). Christ was the first to resurrect, and all mankind will follow in their appointed time (1 Cor. 15:23 and Matt. 27:52-53) I cannot imagine happiness without the embrace of a loved one, the feel of their hand in mine, or the warmth of having them near. In addition, immortality, or existence as a resurrected being, is a state free of disease, impairment, or physical corruption of any kind, and is part of the perfect joy and happiness Father in Heaven wants for us.
I also believe that our loved ones will be resurrected at the age they were laid in the grave. “As concerning the resurrection, I will merely say that all men will come from the grave as they lie down, whether old or young; there will not be added unto their stature one cubit, neither taken from it; all will be raised by the power of God, having spirit in their bodies, and not blood.” [i]
This may cause some concern for those who are past their prime or who have suffered disabilities or disfigurement due to injury, disease, or conditions since birth. But our loving Heavenly Father’s plan dispels all such concerns.
“We will meet the same identical being that we associated with here in the flesh- not some other soul, some other being, or the same being in some other form, but the same identity and the same form and likeness, the same person we know and were associated with in our mortal existence, even to their wounds in the flesh. Not that a person will always be marred by scars, wounds, deformities, defects or infirmities, for these will be removed in their course, in their proper time, according to the merciful providence of God. Deformity will be removed; defects will be eliminated, and men and women shall attain to the perfection of their spirits, to the perfection God designed in the beginning. It is his purpose that men and women, his children…shall be made perfect, physically as well as spiritually, through obedience to the law by which he has provided the means that perfection shall come to all his children…”[ii]
This understanding is especially comforting to family and friends of loved ones who died in infancy, childhood, or before their prime. God’s plan not only allows each of his children to resume their growth into adulthood even after death, but it also provides a way for righteous parents of those children to continue in their role as such in an immortal realm. Just imagine! Parents whose grief includes the loss of never seeing their child take his first steps or say his first words, dance, play ball and so on will have that chance after all because of Christ’s gift of the resurrection.
“Joseph Smith taught the doctrine that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: “You will have the joy, the pleasure, and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.”[iii]
Few words could provide greater comfort and hope to loving and grief stricken parents!
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[i] Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 4, 555-56
[ii] Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine Manual, 23-24
[iii] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, (2004), Chapter 15: “The Salvation of Little Children, 128