I read this book shortly after my nephew passed away unexpectedly in 2021. It is a book written by the current living prophet of God and leader of my church. It has given me a lot of insight and brought eloquent words to what I believe in the life-size question of what happens after we die. Here are the notes I took and my favorite quotes while reading this book.
The Grand, Holy, Higher Purpose of Death
We live to die; and we die to live again.
Our routine assumption that there will always be a tomorrow is not always validated. Wise is the person who lives each day as if it were the last day on earth.
Our purpose in life is to be tested, to develop faith, to make and keep sacred covenants, and, later, to leave. Our ultimate and highest destiny is to return to our heavenly home. When that time comes, it can be as momentous as the time of birth. Birth is the gateway to mortal life; death is the gateway to immortality and eternal life.
Death could become the gateway to other opportunity unforeseen.
They are part of the Lord’s plan of salvation and redemption. Our duty is to prepare worthily for that time of transition through the gateway of death, just as we pass through the gateway of birth and of being born again through baptism.
There is no premature death for a righteous individual. Death can be premature only if a person is not prepared to meet his or her Maker.
“It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death should ever have been designed as an evil to mankind.”
Body vs Spirit
I think that was the first time I realized that it was his spirit I knew and loved, not his body. His body only allowed his spirit to function and to love me. Then I understood what an Old Testament author expressed so clearly: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7.) Death can thus be defined as a separation—a separation of the body and the spirit.
Looking Outside Yourself After Tragedy
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.
This practice really works. When one stops focusing on personal problems and seeks to serve others, relief comes in a wondrous way.
Our experience with sorrow will make us more compassionate and capable in our desire to ease the suffering of another.
Help surviving members of the family to draw nearer to God. Those little children still live and are a heritage of the Lord.
Retained within proper bounds, mourning is neither a sign of weakness nor is it to be avoided. It, too, is an important part of God’s great plan of happiness. Not only that, it provides opportunity for others to give comfort.
Becoming Better Through Difficult Trials
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
Though we sorrowed, we realized that we were all more devoted Latter-day Saints because of him/her.
“I can see more clearly now the hand of the Lord guiding me along, giving me opportunities to grow and develop in ways that I probably never would have done otherwise. This is a testimony to me. I know that the Lord loves me…I am left with a feeling of humbleness and a renewed desire to just try to live worthy of the blessings I have already received.”
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” — 2 Nephi 31:20
He took heaven, figuratively speaking, and brought it down to earth; and he took the earth, brought it up, and opened up, in plainness and simplicity, the things of God; and that is the beauty of his mission.
There can be little doubt that our loved ones are near in spirit.
The Prophet Joseph Smith referred to the “veil of death.” Certainly communication through the gateway between this world and the next is not closed.
That if the People knew what was behind the vail, they would try by every means…that they might get there, but the Lord in his wisdom has implanted the fear of death in every person that they might cling to life and thus accomplish the designs of their creator.”
The Plan of Happiness
“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”
Today we have a little more time to bless others—time to be kinder, more compassionate, quicker to thank and slower to scold, more generous in sharing, more gracious in caring. Since happiness is the object of our existence, taking time to smell the roses is advisable. Joy is a journey, not a destination.
“Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy.”
The happiness found in this life is only a sample of the everlasting joy that awaits us later.
When those who weep for the loss of a loved one are fully able to comprehend these concepts, their tears of separation may literally be turned to tears of anticipation. Joyful reunions await those who prepare for them.