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Dear Gramps,

I have an uncle that is living in a nursing home in somewhat of a world of his own. There really is no communication; he cannot tell us he’s hungry, hurting or anything. We just have to learn to read his body language. We used to get a smile, and now we don’t even get that. I do believe he is at peace–at least I hope he is. Where is his spirit? What happens to his progression? He had had a near death experience several years ago, and describes looking down at his body. Is it possible that may be occurring now?

Thanks Gramps.   I await your explanation.





Dear Janeen,

You ask some very fundamental questions, for which I am afraid there are no simple answers. Your questions relate to the subjects of free agency, responsibility, cause and effect, and the judgments of God. A related question was asked the Savior by his disciples, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him (John 9:2-3).

We sometimes perceive that the wicked seem to prosper while the righteous suffer, and wonder about the justice of God. Those thoughts presuppose that God’s justice is meted out immediately, that promised rewards for righteous living and punishment for iniquity immediately follow the action. Such, of course, is not the case. Mortality is a testing ground to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Abraham 3:25). Suffering to one degree or another is part of the test. We are commanded, Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another (D&C 90:24). Not only some things will work together for our good, but “all things”.

So there is a purpose in suffering. And so much of it comes near the end of life, until the body becomes an inhospitable residence for the spirit, and it must leave. There may be temporary out-of-body experiences, but one may be sure that a person’s spirit belongs to his or her body until, through the process called death, the spirit departs to the spirit world, and the body, without that guiding, unifying intelligence, ceases to be a living entity and begins its decay.

Our task and objective is to maintain integrity of thought, word and action as long as we are in possession of our faculties, so that it may be said of us, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matt. 25:21).

But what about when we are no longer in possession of our faculties, and become burdens on those who are responsible for us? Such circumstances provide opportunities for blessings to those who extend themselves to comfort, sooth and succor those in need. The Lord has commanded, Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees (D&C 81:5). Showing compassion and love to those in need, and especially to those incapable of response, is a hallmark of godliness.





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