General LDS Information
Basic LDS Beliefs
LDS Videos
Critics' Questions
Submitted Questions
Scriptures/LDS Literature
LDS Temples
Music and Arts
LDS Online Stores
Priesthood, Humor, Miscel.
Site Map

Suggest a Site
Now accepting banner ads!

Bookmark and Share

JOSHUA - Does the Spirit linger with the Body after death, and for how long? Are you able to provide more that what I have come up with that might help with the answer? -Alma 40:11 says as soon as they are departed from the mortal body they go the the spirit world. Is Alma using "departed" on purpose, as oppose to "separated" from the body? -The account of Lazarus's raising from the dead involved the Jewish tradition of the spirit lingering for 4 days after death, and -Christ had not yet ascended to the Father when He visited Mary at the tomb. - I remember hearing somewhere (Talk tape) that the spirit remains in the vicinity of the body until it is laid to rest, with the thinking that knowing where one's body is will help to find it for the resurrection.

JOEL - I have also heard of this belief that the spirit might linger after death until their body has been buried. This is a belief of other religions and cultures including Muslims, Hindus, the Jews of the Bible and others. But there is no "official" LDS church doctrine that explains with asurity whether or not this is the case; only anecdotal evidence and personal experience or opinion of past church members and leaders. We do know from statements of past church leaders that the spirit world somehow exists with us on the earth. Brigham Young once said:

"But where is the spirit world? It is incorporated within this celestial system. Can you see it with your natural eyes? No. Can you see spirits in this room? No. Suppose the Lord should touch your eyes that you might see, could you then see the spirits? Yes, as plainly as you now see bodies, as did the servant of Elijah. [Elisha. See 2 Kings 6:17.] If the Lord would permit it, and it was His will that it should be done, you could see the spirits that have departed from this world, as plainly as you now see bodies with your natural eyes. (Journal of Discourses 3:368)


[T]hey are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith."(History of the Church, 6:52)

The fact that the spirit world exists with us in the same space, might make it possible for spirits to hang around nearby after death or to visit from time to time as the Lord allows. I know of personal stories that have been told to me of loved ones who have had departed spirits appear to them shortly after death to comfort them or impart some kind of message. For example President Harold B. Lee once related an experience in the life of John Wells, who at one time was a member of the Presiding Bishopric. "A son of Bishop Wells was killed in Emigration Canyon on a railroad track. Brother John Wells was a great detail man and prepared many of the reports we are following up now. His boy was run over by a freight train. Sister Wells was inconsolable. She mourned during the three days prior to the funeral, received no comfort at the funeral, and was in a rather serious state of mind.

"One day soon after the funeral services while she was lying on her bed relaxed, still mourning, she says that her son appeared to her and said, 'Mother do not mourn, do not cry. I am all right.' He told her that she did not understand how the accident happened and explained that he had given the signal to the engineer to move on, and then made the usual effort to catch the railing on the freight train; but as he attempted to do so his foot caught on a root and he failed to catch the hand rail, and his body fell under the train. It was clearly an accident.
"Now, listen. He said that as soon as he realized that he was in another environment he tried to see his father, but he couldn't reach him. His father was so busy with the duties in his office he could not respond to his call. Therefore he had come to his mother. He said to her, 'You tell father that all is well with me, and I want you not to mourn any more.'" (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 415)

The spirit of this person was allowed to visit his mother to give her words of comfort. The idea of the spirit needing to linger to see what happens to the body may be a belief that some cultures or individuals have, but it doesn't really make much sense, given the fact that the the spirit world is here with us anyway and they can see and know what is happening in the mortal world when allowed by God to do so. They are not really going anywhere else after they die; just to a different dimension that occupies the same space. When Alma says "departed from this mortal body" he is simply refering to the separation of body and spirit at death. When the spirits "are taken home to that God who gave them life", it means that they have passed from the mortal world to the spirit world, which is located on this earth.
Also, there is no reason why we would have to know what happens to our body to effect our resurrection. God is in charge of that and will take care of such details.

Return to top
Return to Questions