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What Happens When You Die?

Death is the separation of your body from your spirit. Unlike your physical body, which eventually stops functioning and dies, your spirit will continue to exist. After death your spirit will reside in a temporary afterlife while you await resurrection. When you are resurrected, as Jesus Christ was, your spirit will be reunited with your own perfected, immortal body. Then you will be judged by God and live forever according to your eternal reward.

Death separates your body and spirit

Death is inevitable—a fact we accept—and yet so many questions surround it. What happens after I die? Is death the end? Will I be alone? These questions of the soul have been asked for millennia, but God has provided answers in the holy scriptures.

Death is inevitable

“To every thing there is a season,” reads the Bible, “a time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2) God’s merciful plan for you and for all His children ensures that death is not a permanent “nothingness” to which you are condemned. Instead, you will live again! But even knowing that there is life after death doesn’t make it easy to cope with the death of a loved one. The sorrow can feel overwhelming, yet there is hope. Physical death is temporary, and God promises that ultimately “sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11). 

Death affects only your physical body.

People may often describe you by your physical traits, such as your hair color or your height. But you probably define yourself more by character traits, such as optimistic or dependable. Both aspects of your identity are important because you have both a physical body and an intangible spirit. Together these two parts make up who you are. Death separates your spirit from your body for a time. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

After death your spirit will be with other spirits

Will I be alone when I die? This is a common fear, but the answer is no. When your spirit leaves your body, it will join other spirits who are awaiting resurrection.

Where does a spirit go after death?

The Book of Mormon, a Christian book of scripture from ancient America, explains that “the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life” (Alma 40:11). But this is not the end. Rather, after death, your spirit goes to a designated place to await resurrection: “There is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery” (Alma 40:21).

What is the place for spirits like?

The spirits of the righteous go to paradise, which is “a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow” (Alma 40:12). The spirits of those who were disobedient go to spirit prison (see 1 Peter 3:18–20). But God is loving and just. He wants us all to return to Him in heaven. People who did not know about Jesus Christ in this life or who rejected His commandments will have the opportunity to hear His gospel taught and to accept or reject it. As the Bible teaches, “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6).

Resurrection reunites your body and spirit

Death, though it probably seems like a sad ending now, is simply a step toward the everlasting life spoken of in the Bible (see John 6:47). 

What is resurrection?

Resurrection is the reuniting of your spirit and your body in a perfected, immortal state. “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52). When you are resurrected, you will get your body back, and it will be perfect: “The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame” (Alma 40:23).

Jesus was resurrected to overcome death for all

Because of Jesus Christ, “the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death” (Mosiah 16:8–9). Jesus overcame death, and because of His sacrifice and glorious Resurrection, death will not be the end for us. We will all be resurrected and can live with our loved ones again.

Who will be resurrected?

All people will be resurrected, “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). You and everyone who has lived or will yet live on this earth will receive a resurrected body and will appear before the Lord in perfected, physical form to be judged.

All people will be judged by God

Why does God give commandments? They help you live a happier life now, but they also test your obedience. After you are resurrected, you will stand before God to answer for your faith and actions in this life.

Everyone will be judged

The Bible teaches that “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10–12). 

God has standards for returning to be with Him

To ultimately return to God and live with Him (and with our families) forever, you must be baptized and continually repent. By repenting of wrongdoings, you are considered worthy of God’s kingdom. Jesus explained, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). God requires both being baptized and following Jesus Christ to attain exaltation.

You can live with God and your family forever

The judgments of God will be just. “The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9). He knows our intentions, our thoughts, and our deepest desires—good or bad—as well as our actions, and we will be judged accordingly. His judgment will be fair because “the judgment of God is according to truth” (Romans 2:2).

You will receive reward or punishment according to your works

John the Revelator had a vision of God’s judgment: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12). Your actions today will matter in the future.

The righteous will live in heaven with God and their loved ones

Heaven is generally understood to be the place where God lives now and where righteous people may eventually live. It is different from the paradise of the spirit world described above because in heaven, people will have their resurrected bodies.

Paul talked about different levels or kingdoms of glory after the Resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:40–42). Chat with a missionary about what it means to have eternal life with God and your family.

The wicked will be punished

Is there a hell? In one sense, hell is the acute anxiety and heartache you feel when you sin. Jesus Christ experienced incomprehensible agony as He suffered for every sin of every person—including you. Jesus overcame sin through the Atonement so that your pain can be swept away as you have faith in Him and repent. If you do not repent during this life, the intense feelings of anguish sin brings do not disappear after death. Unrepentant spirits, while waiting to be resurrected, will realize their wrongdoings, and their guilt will be intensified by the knowledge that they rejected Christ (at least in part) and His saving grace. This period of hell can end as spirits who accept Christ are cleansed through post-mortal suffering before they are reunited with their bodies in resurrection. Then they will experience everlasting happiness and peace.

God wants all of His children to return to Him

When Jesus was on the earth, He told His Apostles, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. . . . I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). God has a plan for all His children. Knowing that you will inevitably sin, He made it possible for you through the Atonement of Jesus Christ to repent and return to Him. By following God’s plan, you can experience the everlasting joy promised to those redeemed of the Lord.

Families are meant to be eternal

God placed you on earth in a family. Even after you die, you can continue to be with the people you love. In fact, God considers marriages and family bonds to be eternal. When people are sealed by priesthood authority in His holy temples, God promises that your family—those living and those who have died—may be eternally bound together.

It’s comforting to know that you can be with your loved ones after death. Chat with a missionary to learn why Mormons believe families are forever and how you can live with your family for eternity.

Study the scriptures in this article about life after death. Learn more about what happens after this life and about God’s plan for you. Request a free Bible or Book of Mormon