“When Will I Wake Up from This?” Ensign, August 2018
Have you felt the heavy darkness that can follow the death of a loved one? Maybe you have experienced the pain of separation or the fear of not knowing if you will see them again.
Many scriptures talk about the darkness of the “shadow of death” (Isaiah 9:2; Luke 1:79; Doctrine and Covenants 57:10). A shadow is the result of light being blocked. When someone we love dies, pain and fear can cast a dark shadow.
Beyond the shadows there is always light. Even when we are in “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4), there is light available to us. Jesus Christ is the source of that light.
How is it that the Lord “turneth the shadow of death into the morning”? (Amos 5:8). The feeling of darkness that can accompany death is real and powerful. But the hope our Savior offers us is even more powerful.
You can invite His light into your life by learning truth. Maybe you are just starting to learn about the reality of resurrection. Or maybe you have learned it many times before and still feel darkness in a moment of tragedy. Either way, light fills the shadows as we begin to understand that Jesus Christ provided the way for all of us to be resurrected.
There was another woman, many years ago, who experienced the shadow of death. She witnessed the death of a dear friend—an endlessly kind and loving friend who was unjustly killed by angry men.
The woman, in her grief, went to visit the burial place. She must have been feeling the darkness of the shadow of death as she stood there, weeping. And then she heard someone call her name.
“Mary,” said the Savior, Jesus Christ. She turned to see Him standing in front of her (see John 20:11,16).
Though He had been crucified just days earlier, He stood before her now with His perfect resurrected body. The moment of darkness Mary had been experiencing was brightened with the light of a new understanding—Jesus Christ had risen from the dead.
She knew then that death is not the end of existence. Death is part of the eternal plan for our progression and happiness, the transition from mortality to immortality.
Jesus told us He is “the light of the world” and that if we follow Him, we “shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). He gave that light to His disciples in Jerusalem and His “other sheep” in the Americas when He let them see and feel His physical resurrected body (see Luke 24:36-43, 3 Nephi 11:15). He offered to them, and He offers to us, the light of knowledge: Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and so will we.
You will see your loved ones again. One day you will be resurrected and literally wake up from the shadow of death. Your spirit will be reunited with your perfected body.
Light dispels the shadows when we come to know that “because of Jesus Christ, we will rise from the despair of death and embrace those we love, shedding tears of overwhelming joy and overflowing gratitude.”1