We often speak of death as “going home.” In funeral sermons or obituaries the phrase “called home” or “returned home” is used to refer to the deceased’s state. Alma used that term in describing death in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 40:11). Because of the restoration of the gospel, we know that we are literally sons and daughters of God, the offspring of heavenly parents. We lived with them in a spirit realm before we came to earth. In some significant way, the spirit world will have a feeling of home. It is not the final stop in our eternal journey, for we will still be resurrected and enter into an eternal kingdom of glory. Though there will still be some veil of forgetfulness, a feeling of familiarity with people and principles will prevail—at least for some. President Brigham Young said that when we get to the other side, “[we will] see that [we] had formerly lived there for ages . . . and [we] had previously been acquainted with every nook and corner, with the palaces, walks, and gardens,” and that we will say, “O my Father, my Father, I am here again.”1
This feeling of familiarity is illustrated in several accounts of those who parted the veil in some way and have glimpsed the spirit world. Some were LDS; most were not. A young teenage girl said that her first reaction was to say “homey home.” When she described this feeling to her family after her brush with death, they told her that that is what she used to say as a toddler as they would approach their neighborhood when they had been away from home. She said, “I would stand in the seat and say . . . homey home, homey home. [That is exactly how I felt.] . . . I was back home absolutely.”2 Another person said: “[It was a] homecoming. . . . I have never really verbalized that before. It was really like a homecoming.”3 Another person that had a near-death experience as a victim of an attempted murder described the feeling this way, “Everything that occurred to me while I was in this state of conscious[ness] was vastly beyond anything I had ever experienced and yet at the same time it was familiar—as if I had always known of its existence.”4 A final example is from a person who had briefly been in the spirit world after being involved in a serious accident and who declared, “I felt as if I was going back somewhere I belonged. There were people all around who I sensed were loving friends.”5 Being surrounded by loving friends and family is certainly an apt description of home.
Home is a word with sacred meaning both in this life and in the life to come. A few years ago, I got a glimpse of the meaning of that word and how it applies to our “returning home” when we die. After serving as a mission president for three years, my wife, Wendy, and I returned home. To say that it was great to come home is an understatement. What a joy to be reunited with our children and grandchildren. We had four grandchildren born while we were on our mission and two more were added through adoption. Getting to know them has been incredible. Beyond the reunion with family and friends, there is the joy in being home, not under the same pressures and toils. There is a peace and joy and contentment that is real. Likewise, I have a new understanding of how time (or the lack of it) will work in the next life. Three years is a long, long time and yet at the same time is nothing but the blink of an eye. When we returned home from our mission, it didn’t take long to feel as if we had never been gone. Yet we were different in many ways because of our experiences. I think when we pass through the veil into the spirit world it will be much the same.
1. Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 4:268.
2. IANDS Conference, Experiencers Panel Discussion Transcript, 1990, 6–7.
3. Janis, quoted in Ring, Heading toward Omega, 60.
4. Mr. Dippong, quoted in Ring, Heading toward Omega, 64; emphasis added.
5. Unnamed author, quoted in Grey, Return from Death, 46–47.