When a person dies from this earth, does the look of their spirit body change? Do they appear the same age they die?
Thank you for your questions. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you some concepts that I hope will be beneficial to you and others. In answering your questions, I think it is important to clarify that when we talk about the appearance or age of a Spirit body, we are referring to the time after mortal death, but before resurrection, in other words, our time in the Spirit World only. We are not referring to after the resurrection because at that said time we will be viewed with our immortal bodies, not a spirits.
Some of our core understanding about the timeline involved in the Plan of Salvation revolves around the fact that we once lived with our Father in Heaven before this mortal life. We were spiritually born in the preexistence before we were mortally born here on Earth. We lived with our Father in Heaven as spirits for a great deal of time before we entered into mortality. In a talk by Elder Bruce R. McConkie entitled: The Salvation of Little Children he states:
What is a child and who are children?
A child is an adult spirit in a newly born body, a body capable of growing and maturing according to the providences of Him whose spirit children we all are. Children are the sons and daughters of God. They lived and dwelt with him for ages and eons before their mortal birth…
Elder McConkie shares with us two key points: 1. We lived with our Father in Heaven for “ages and eons” and as such 2. we reached Spiritual Adulthood during that time. Every spirit that enters a mortal body here on Earth, is already a mature Spirit Adult, not that of a Spirit Child. Elder McConkie continues:
…They are adults before birth; they are adults at death.
Our mortal bodies, regardless of age, size, physical attributes, disabilities, or appearance all house a perfect Spiritual Adult inside of them. At the time of our death, we then move onto the Spirit World as Adult Spirits. In Gospel Principles Manual, Chapter 41:The Postmortal Spirit World we read:
Spirit beings have the same bodily form as mortals except that the spirit body is in perfect form (see Ether 3:16). Spirits carry with them from earth their attitudes of devotion or antagonism toward things of righteousness (see Alma 34:34). They have the same appetites and desires that they had when they lived on earth. All spirits are in adult form. They were adults before their mortal existence, and they are in adult form after death, even if they die as infants or children
It is interesting to note, though “all spirits are in adult form”, that there are times when spirits are able to “appear” in other forms for the benefit, or ability to be recognized by others. In Teachings of Joseph F. Smith Manual, Chapter 15: The Salvation of Little Children we read some insight on this topic:
The spirits of our children are immortal before they come to us, and their spirits, after bodily death, are like they were before they came. They are as they would have appeared if they had lived in the flesh, to grow to maturity, or to develop their physical bodies to the full stature of their spirits. If you see one of your children that has passed away it may appear to you in the form in which you would recognize it, the form of childhood; but if it came to you as a messenger bearing some important truth, it would perhaps come as the spirit of Bishop Edward Hunter’s son (who died when a little child) came to him, in the stature of full-grown manhood, and revealed himself to his father, and said: “I am your son.”
Bishop Hunter did not understand it. He went to my father and said: “Hyrum, what does that mean? I buried my son when he was only a little boy, but he has come to me as a full-grown man—a noble, glorious, young man, and declared himself my son. What does it mean?”
Father (Hyrum Smith, the Patriarch) told him that the Spirit of Jesus Christ was full-grown before he was born into the world; and so our children were full-grown and possessed their full stature in the spirit, before they entered mortality, the same stature that they will possess after they have passed away from mortality, and as they will also appear after the resurrection, when they shall have completed their mission.
Looking back at your original questions, here are the simple answers:
1. When a person dies from this earth, does the look of their spirit body change? yes, their look is that of their perfect state.
2. When a person dies from this earth, …do they appear the same age they die? statistically speaking, no they do not, since they instead appear as perfect adults. Perfect adults would preclude children, teens and those who died in their elderly years.
I would like to remind readers that my answer here deals with the Spirit World only and is not to be confused with the resurrection.
Joseph Smith taught the doctrine that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: “You will have the joy, the pleasure, and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.”
Thank you again Joan for your questions and I hope my answer was helpful in your gospel learning.