Elder David B. Haight Experience on the Verge of Death
More recently, Elder David B. Haight spoke at a general conference of the Church, following his miraculous recovery from a life-threatening illness. His surgical repair and prolonged convalescence had been fortified by the faith and prayers of many people in his behalf. Elder Haight first described some of that initial catastrophic experience when he was on the verge of death. Then he said:
"The terrible pain and commotion of people ceased. I was now in a calm, peaceful setting; all was serene and quiet. I was conscious of two persons in the distance on a hillside, one standing on a higher level than the other. The person on the higher level was pointing to something I could not see.
"I heard no voices but was conscious of being in a holy presence and atmosphere. During the hours and days that followed, there was impressed again and again upon my mind the eternal mission and exalted position of the Son of Man. I witness to you that He is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, Savior to all, Redeemer of all mankind, Bestower of infinite love, mercy, and forgiveness, the Light and Life of the world. I knew this before—I had never doubted or wondered. But now I knew, because of the impressions of the Spirit upon my heart and soul, these divine truths in a most unusual way." 7
No doubt many of us are aware of additional accounts of communication from the deceased to friends or family members living here in mortality. While the validity of such accounts may not always be easy to ascertain, there can be little doubt that our loved ones are near in spirit. Their watchful eye is indicated by this scriptural account of a heavenly perspective: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 1:4.) From such parental love, we are separated only by the thin veil draped from the gateway.
^1. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 56.
^2. Discourses of Brigham Young, comp. John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 458-59.
^3. A. Karl Larson, and Katharine Miles Larson, eds., Diary of Charles Lowell Walker 1 (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1980), pp. 465-66. Note: Charles Lowell Walker wrote the words to the hymn "Dearest Children, God Is Near You," Hymns, no. 96.
^4. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:135-36.
^5. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 17:142.
^6. Russell M. Nelson, From Heart to Heart (Salt Lake City, 1979), p. 188.
^7. David B. Haight, "The Sacrament—and the Sacrifice," Ensign, November 1989, pp. 59-60.
Get more in-depth insights from President Nelson in The Gateway We Call Death.
“Our ultimate and highest destiny is to return to our heavenly home. When that times 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.”
InThe Gateway We Call Death, President Nelson, a surgeon by profession and now a special witness of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, approaches the subject of death from both a medical and a theological point of view to discuss such topics as these: The purpose of life and of death; the purpose of mourning; when death comes without warning; factors of choice, such as suicide, euthanasia, and use of mechanical means to extend life; and life after death.
“As I have come to comprehend more about life in all of its phases,” President Nelson writes, “I no longer feel that death is always that foe to be feared. Instead, I view it as a potential friend to be understood.”