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My mother in law is a very mean and angry person.  She goes out of her way to upset family members. She took lessons from missionaries years ago but was never baptized.  She isn’t interested in the church and doesn’t attend Sacrament.  Most of her children are members and have tried to coach her to baptism with no success.  My question is: when she passes on will she retain this mean and angry spirit and refuse the Gospel on the other side of the veil?





Dear Ricky,

In short–we don’t know.

While it is true that Alma taught:

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.   Alma 34:34

​It is best that we use Alma’s counsel to correct ourselves in our own behavior and not attempt to use it to judge other people.  In fact, Elder Dallin H. Oaks has explained that this is precisely the kind of judgment we are not to make.  In his talk “Judge Not” and Judging (Ensign August 1999)  He states:

“The effect of one mortal’s attempting to pass final judgment on another mortal is analogous to the effect on an athlete and observers if we could proclaim the outcome of an athletic contest with certainty while it was still under way. A similar reason forbids our presuming to make final judgments on the outcome of any person’s lifelong mortal contest.”


Consider that as mortals, we can’t really understand why your mother-in-law’s behavior is as it is.  Some might assume she is just a mean person, and that might be true.  It is also possible that there are other factors at work that we cannot see.  Perhaps there is some physical ailment at work here.  Chronic pain, chemical imbalances, brain tumors, Alzheimers are physical ailments that can affect one’s personality.  There can be other hidden causes as well, perhaps some kind of unresolved trauma in her life.

My counsel to you is to love her and pray for her.  That does not mean you need to tolerate being ill treated, there is a difference.  The rest is between her and the Lord.

Best of luck,






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