Not long ago I visited a dear friend in the hospital shortly before she passed away. She had lived a great life and was certainly prepared to go on. Yet she expressed some degree of apprehension regarding the unknown. She said, “You know, Brent, this is uncharted territory for me.” It is uncharted territory for all of us. No matter what our age or circumstances, death is a new experience for each of us. Some look forward to passing to the “other side” where they can be free from pains and sicknesses, toils and troubles, or be reunited with a loved one from whom they have been separated, sometimes for decades. On the other hand, some spend their lives in search of a fountain of youth in hopes they will never die. Still others just ignore it, finding it too unpleasant to think or talk about it much. But ignoring it doesn’t eliminate it. Someone once said that life is a terminal illness—no one gets out of it alive. In fact, death is a vital gateway to immortality, an important milestone along the road of eternal progress. For this reason we should learn all we can.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “All men know that they must die. And it is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world, our sufferings here, and our departure hence. . . . It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter, and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other. We ought to study it day and night, for the world is ignorant in reference to their true condition and relation. If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important -subject.”2
Our Heavenly Father has indeed revealed many things to us about the great plan of happiness and the next estate. From the scriptures (both ancient and modern) and the inspired teachings and experiences of prophets, seers, and revelators, we can glimpse beyond the veil of death and gain greater understanding of the role of our death and the conditions of the spirit world. The knowledge gained from the restored gospel is both interesting and inspiring, fascinating and comforting.
2. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:50.