As Latter-day Saints, we have access to so many inspiring and comforting accounts of what awaits us after death. Not only have Church leaders given detailed accounts of what that next life will bring, but we have the Plan of Salvation that shows the overarching purpose to it all. And sprinkled among our Church doctrine are many personal accounts of people who have actually seen and experienced that other world.
One such account comes from a young girl, Ella Jensen, who was called back from the dead by President Lorenzo Snow. In The Holy Temple, President Packer explains this incredible event:
In the early days of Brigham City a stake conference was being held. President Lorenzo Snow, of the Box Elder Stake, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was speaking in the meeting. Behind him on the stand was Elder Rudger Clawson. A note was delivered to the meeting and handed to President Snow at the pulpit. He read the note. It asked that he announce the funeral services for Ella Jensen, who had passed away that morning.
Instead of making the announcement, President Snow announced to the audience that there was trouble in the community and that he and Brother Clawson would be excused from the meeting for a time.
They went by buggy the several miles to the Jensen home. There they found the grieving parents and the body of the nineteen-year-old girl washed and laid out for burial.
President Snow told the parents not to be troubled, and these two Brethren blessed the girl. They stood around for some time, but nothing happened; and they left.
Some time after they had gone, the girl stirred and opened her eyes and said, “Where is he? Where is he?”
“Where is who?” the parents asked.
“Where is President Snow? He called me back.”
She then left a detailed account of her experiences in the spirit world, including a meeting with her grandfather, whom she confronted with great joy. He, in turn, greeted her with polite affection, but was very busy and excused himself because of the weight of responsibility he was carrying.
In October 1929, The Improvement Era, an official publication of the Church until 1970 which was replaced by the New Era and Ensign, published a detailed account of Ella's incredible sojourn into the spirit world. Here are just a few samples of her miraculous experience. (To read the full account, you can access the original magazine here.)
Traveling to the Spirit World
Regarding the more than three hours that Ella spent in the spirit world she says:
“I could see people from the other world and hear the most delightful music and singing that I ever heard. The singing lasted for six hours, during which time I was preparing to leave this earth, and I could hear it all through the house. At ten o’ clock my spirit left my body. It took me some time to make up my mind to go, as I could hear and see the folks crying and mourning over me. It was very hard for me to leave them, but as soon as I had a glimpse of the other I was anxious to go and all care and worry left me.
“I entered a large hall. It was so long that I could not see the end of it. It was filled with people. As I went through the throng, the first person I recognized was my grandpa, H.P. Jensen, who was sitting in one end of the room, writing. He looked up, seemed surprised to see me and said: ‘Why! There is my granddaughter, Ella.’ He was very much pleased, greeted me and, as he continued with his writing, I passed on through the room and met a great many of my relatives and friends. It was like going along the crowded street of a large city where you meet many people, only a very few of whom you recognize. . . .
“Some inquired me about their friends and relatives on the earth. Among the number was my cousin. He asked me how the folks were getting along and said it grieved him to hear that some of the boys were using tobacco, liquor and many things that were injurious to them.
“This proved to me that the people in the other world know to a great extent what happens here on the earth.
“The people were all dressed in white or cream, excepting Uncle Hans Jensen, who had on his dark clothes and long rubber boots, the things he wore when he was drowned in the Snake River in Idaho.
“Everybody appeared to be perfectly happy. I was having a very pleasant visit with each one that I knew. Finally I reached the end of that long room. I opened a door and went into another room filled with children. They were all arranged in perfect order, the smallest ones first, then the larger ones, according to age and size, the largest ones in the back rows all around the room. They seemed to be convened in a sort of Primary or Sunday School presided over by Aunt Eliza R. Snow. There were hundreds of small children.
Returning to Mortality
“It was while I was standing listening to the children sing ‘Gladly Meeting, Kindly Greeting’ that I heard your father, President Lorenzo Snow, call me. He said: ‘Sister Ella, you must come back, as your mission is not yet finished here on earth.’ So I just spoke to Aunt Eliza R. Snow and told her I must go back.
“Returning through the large room, I told the people that I was going back to earth, but they seemed to want me to stay with them. I obeyed the call, though it was very much against my desire, as such a perfect peace and happiness prevailed there, no suffering, no sorrow. I was so taken up with all that I saw and heard. I did hate to leave that beautiful place.
“This has always been a source of comfort to me. I learned by this experience that we should not grieve too much for our departed loved ones and especially at the time they leave us. I think we should be just as calm and quiet as possible. . . .
Comforting Those Left Behind
Alphonzo H. Snow, now living in Salt Lake City, the writer’s brother, relates his experience as follows:
“My wife, Minnie, and I heard of Ella Jensen’s death and restoration to life and called at her home to see her. As we entered the room she said: ‘Oh! Come here, Alphonzo and Minnie, I have something to tell you. After my return to earth I told my parents of some of the remarkable experiences which I had while in the spirit world. But there was one experience that seemed very strange and I could not understand it.
“You know your little son, Alphie, has been in my Sunday School class in the First Ward. I have always loved him very much. While I was in Aunt Eliza R. Snow’s class of children in the spirit world, I recognized many children. But all of them had died excepting one, and this was little Alphie. I could not understand how he should be among them and still living. When I told this to mother, she said: ‘Yes, Ella, little Alphie is dead, too. He died early this morning while you were so very sick. We knew you loved him and that it would be a shock to you, so we did not tell you about his death.’
“It was very consoling, indeed, to hear Ella tell of seeing our dear little boy and that he was very happy. She said it was not right for us to grieve and mourn so much for him and that he would be happier if we would not do so.”
Learn more about the other side from celebrated LDS author Brent L. Top inWhat's On the Other Side: What the Gospel Teaches Us About the Spirit World.
This revealing look at gospel principles highlights the wealth of information the scriptures and latter-day prophets and apostles have provided to us about death and the spirit world—its location and conditions, the nature of departed spirits, and the work performed for and by those there. Removing much of the mystery and fear associated with dying, this book demonstrates that knowing what life will be like after death can help inspire us to live better lives here and now.