Latter-day Saint Life

President Nelson's Hopeful Teachings About Death and the Nearness of Lost Loved Ones: "We Die to Live"


Throughout his service in the Church, President Nelson has provided profound insight into death, loss, and the life awaiting us in eternity. Here is a small portion of those insights, excerpted from the new book Teachings of Russell M. Nelson.

This is part of an ongoing series where we highlight the teachings of our prophet weekly.

Life does not begin with birth, nor does it end with death. . . . .We were born to die, and we die to live (see 2 Corinthians 6:9). As seedlings of God, we barely blossom on earth; we fully flower in heaven. (“Doors of Death,” Ensign, May 1992)

The Nearness of Those Who've Passed On

Our limited perspective would be enlarged if we could witness the reunion on the other side of the veil, when doors of death open to those returning home. Such was the vision of the psalmist who wrote, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). (“Doors of Death,” Ensign,May 1992)

As a special witness of Jesus Christ, I testify that He lives! I also testify that the veil of death is very thin. I know by experiences too sacred to relate that those who have gone before are not strangers to leaders of this Church. To us and to you, our loved ones may be just as close as the next room—separated only by the doors of death.

With that assurance, brothers and sisters, love life! Cherish each moment as a blessing from God (see Mosiah 2:21). Live it well—even to your loftiest potential. Then the anticipation of death shall not hold you hostage. (“Doors of Death,” Ensign, May 1992)

Death as a Mercy and a Gift

Death is a necessary component of our eternal existence. No one knows when it will come, but it is essential to God’s great plan of happiness. Thanks to the Atonement of the Lord, eventual resurrection is a reality and eternal life is a possibility for all humankind. That possibility becomes a reality as we obey God’s law. He said, “Except ye shall keep my commandments, . . . ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (3 Nephi 12:20). One day we will be judged by the Lord and go to our own mansion prepared in our Father’s heavenly house. Celestial glory awaits those who have been faithful to God’s gentle commands.

Brothers and sisters, we live to die and we die to live—in another realm. If we are well prepared, death brings no terror. (“Now Is the Time to Prepare,” Ensign, May 2005)

The Pain of Death and Aging

Death separates “the spirit and the body [which] are the soul of man” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:15). That separation evokes pangs of sorrow and shock among those left behind. The hurt is real. Only its intensity varies. Some doors are heavier than others. The sense of tragedy may be related to age. Generally the younger the victim, the greater the grief. Yet even when the elderly or infirm have been afforded merciful relief, their loved ones are rarely ready to let go. The only length of life that seems to satisfy the longings of the human heart is life everlasting. (“Doors of Death,” Ensign, May 1992)

Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life. (“Doors of Death,” Ensign, May 1992)

Symptoms of the deteriorating body can be painful, even disabling. Deep aches of sadness are caused by the departing of loved ones. For some, these deepening trials come early in life. But when yours are thrust upon you, remember a concept expressed by my father some time after my mother had passed away. . . . When someone asked how he was doing, my father simply stated, “I’m lonely, but I’m not lonesome.” Do you know what he meant? Though he was now without his sweetheart, he was so busy assisting family and friends, he had replaced sorrow with service and had displaced self-pity with selfless love. He had found joy in following the timeless example of the Master. (“Self-Mastery,” Ensign, November 1985)

Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life. (“Doors of Death,” Ensign, May 1992)

Mourning Is One of the Deepest Expressions of Pure Love

Irrespective of age, we mourn for those loved and lost. Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:45).

Now is the time to prepare. Then, when death comes, we can move toward the celestial glory that Heavenly Father has prepared for His faithful children. Meanwhile, for sorrowing loved ones left behind . . . the sting of death is soothed by a steadfast faith in Christ, a perfect brightness of hope, a love of God and of all men, and a deep desire to serve them. That faith, that hope, that love will qualify us to come into God’s holy presence and, with our eternal companions and families, dwell with Him forever. (“Now Is the Time to Prepare,” Ensign, May 2005)

Read more profound insights from our prophet in Teachings of Russell M. Nelson.

Internationally renowned as a surgeon, teacher, and man of great faith, President Russell M. Nelson has dedicated his life to healing hearts and ministering throughout his medical career and his Church service. This definitive volume of his teachings presents excerpts from his speeches and writings spanning more than three decades as an Apostle of the Lord, including many from his recent world tour and other unpublished addresses. Alphabetically arranged by topic, these teachings on more than 100 subjects provide a perfect, easy-to-use resource for talks, lessons, and more.

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