Like birth, death is a necessary and essential part of the plan of salvation (see Moses 6:59–62)—which Jacob and Alma both called the “great plan of happiness” (2 Nephi 9:6; Alma 42:8). Facing death can be one of the most fearful experiences of mortality. For the righteous, though, death can be sweet and need not be feared (see Alma 27:28). Indeed, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that “those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:46). On the other hand, for people who die not in Christ, death can be a bitter experience (see Doctrine and Covenants 42:47), and the thought of an approaching death can create foreboding, trepidation, and fear. Dreams regarding death can serve as a powerful reminder that this life is the time for us to prepare to meet God (see Alma 12:24; 34:32). . . .
Even if death is not imminent, our Heavenly Father can send comfort through dreams that testify to the fact that our existence will not end with our last breath. These dreams testify that the sting of death is swallowed up in the victory of Christ’s Atonement (see 1 Corinthians 15:55; Mosiah 16:7–8; Alma 22:14). Dreams associated with death can cause us to reflect on the core principles of the plan of salvation. They are a testimony that God loves and succors His children.
Learn more about how we receive revelation through dreams in the podcast with Dr. Kenneth L. Alford below:
“I Received My Commision to Preach the Gospel”
Andrew C. Nelson, grandfather of President Russell M. Nelson, reported:
“On the night of April 6th, 1891, I had a strange dream or vision in which I saw and conversed with my father who died January 27, 1891.”
“When father came to the bed, he first said: ‘Well, my son, being you were not there . . . when I died, so that I did not get to see you, and as I had a few spare minutes. . . .’
“‘What have you been doing since you died, father?’ . . .
“‘My son, I have been traveling together with Apostle Erastus Snow ever since I died; that is, since three days after I died; then I received my commission to preach the Gospel. You can not imagine, my son, how many spirits there are in the Spirit world that have not yet received the Gospel; but many are receiving it, and a great work is being accomplished. Many are anxiously looking forth to their friends, who are still living, to administer for them in the Temples. I have been very busy in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’
“‘Will all the spirits believe you, father, when you teach them the Gospel?’ ‘No, they will not.’
“‘How are you and mother, the boys, Emillie and the girls getting along?’ ‘I am well, father, and when I last heard from Redmond the folks there were well.’
‘Father, can you see us at all times, and do you know what we are doing?’ ‘No, my son, I can not. I have something else to do. I can not go when and where I please. There is just as much, and much more, order here in the Spirit world than in the other world. I have been assigned work and that must be performed.’
“‘We intend to go to the Temple and get sealed to you as soon as my school is closed. I have talked with the girls about it and they want to be sealed to you.’ ‘That, my son, is partly what I came to see you about. We will yet make a family and live throughout Eternity.’
“‘How do you feel at all times, father?’ ‘I feel splendid, and enjoy my labors; still, I must admit that at times I get a little lonesome to see my family; but it is only a short time till we will again see each other.’
“‘O, father, how glad I am that you died in full faith in the Gospel, and in full fellowship in the Church.’ ‘Well, my son, your father always did know since he joined the Church that the Gospel was true, and you know that I always taught it to you, when you were a small boy. I got a little stubborn, but who is there of us that has not been a little cross and naughty at times. The short time that I was cross does not amount to 15 minutes in comparison to Eternity. I was punished for it. But it is all right. My son, you take care that you do not get that way.’
“‘Father, is it natural to die? Or does it seem natural? Was there not a time when your spirit was in such a pain that it could not realize what was going on or taking place?’ ‘No, my son, there was not such a time. It is just as natural to die, as it is to be born, or for you to pass out of that door (here he pointed at the door). When I had told the folks that I could not last long, it turned dark and I could not see anything for a few minutes. Then, the first thing I could see was a number of spirits in the Spirit world. Then, I told the folks that I must go. The paper you gave me, my son, is dated wrong, but it makes no particular difference; correct records are kept here.’
“‘Father, is the principle and doctrine of the Resurrection as taught us true?’ ‘True. Yes, my son, as true as can be. You can not avoid being Resurrected. It is just as natural for all to be Resurrected as it is to be born and die again. No one can avoid being Resurrected. There are many spirits in the Spirit world who would to God that there would be no Resurrection.’
“‘Father, is the Gospel as taught by this Church true?’ ‘My son, do you see that picture’ (pointing to a picture of the First Presidency of the Church hanging on the wall)? ‘Yes, I see it.’ ‘Well, just as sure as you see that picture, just so sure is the Gospel true. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has within it the power of saving every man and woman that will obey it, and in no other way can they ever obtain a salvation in the Kingdom of God. My son, always cling to the Gospel. Be humble, be prayerful, be submissive to the Priesthood, be true, be faithful to the covenants you have made with God. Never do anything that will displease God. O, what a blessing is the Gospel! My son, be a good boy.’
“I then saw him leave the room. He was neatly dressed in a suit of light gray clothes, which I had never seen him wear when alive.’”
Source: Spencer J. Condie, Russell M. Nelson, 9–11.
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Read more remarkable accounts of revelatory dreams and learn how God speaks to us through dreams in Dreams as Revelation.
Many times, the Lord's involvement with His children takes the form of significant dreams and visions.
In Dreams as Revelation, BYU Church history professors Mary Jane Woodger, Ken Alford, and Craig Manscill share prophetic guidance and other counsel to help readers recognize when a dream is revelatory in nature.
With a foreword by Robert L. Millet, this book includes chapters about scriptural dreams, dreams in Joseph Smith's family, as well as original accounts of carefully selected dreams received throughout our dispensation, including dreams of the Savior, temple work, comfort, and more. In addition to being personally applicable for how to better understand your own revelatory dreams, this interesting and informative book is a valuable resource for talks, lessons, and family home evenings.