What Happens to Children
When They Die?

by Dale C. Mouritsen
“The Spirit World, Our Next Home,”
Ensign, Jan. 1977


Apparently, there are no infants or children in the spirit world. All who reside there possess the stature of adult men and women, the same appearance they possessed prior to mortal birth. If infants or children die, their spirits immediately resume their former adult stature while in the spirit world. However, when they regain their bodies during the resurrection, they naturally come forth as children to be raised to maturity by righteous and worthy parents.

President Joseph F. Smith explained this concept:
“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. 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 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.” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Deseret Book Company, 1939, p. 455.)
Some worry because departed children have apparently lost the privilege of courtship, marriage, and other opportunities. But revelations concerning the spirit world assure us that normal relationships leading to eternal sealings are an ongoing part of that life.

Elder Melvin J. Ballard observed:
“You mothers worry about your little children [who have died]. We do not perform sealings for them. I lost a son six years of age, and I saw him a man in the spirit world after his death, and I saw how he had exercised his own freedom of choice and would obtain of his own will and volition a companionship, and in due time to him, and all those who are worthy of it, shall come all of the blessings and sealing privileges of the house of the Lord. Do not worry over it. They are safe; they are all right.

“Now, then, what of your daughters who have died and have not been sealed to some man? The sealing power shall be forever and ever with this Church, and provisions will be made for them. Their blessings and privileges will come to them in due time. In the meantime, they are safe.” (Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, Deseret Book Company, 1949, p. 260.)
In Joseph Smith’s Vision of the Celestial Kingdom he saw
“that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.” (D&C 137:10)
President Joseph F. Smith made the following explanation:
“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.’ There is restitution, there is growth, there is development, after the resurrection from death. I love this truth. It speaks volumes of happiness, of joy and gratitude to my soul. Thank the Lord he has revealed these principles to us.” (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 455-56. See also Teachings, pp. 196-97, 200, 368)
And so we should understand, in the words of Joseph Smith, that
“the only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven [the spirit world] and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner from this miserable wicked world. Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lose sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope.” (Teachings, p. 197)
(edited by David Van Alstyne)

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