As a man of faith, and a Christian, I firmly believe that there is life after death.
Mormons believe that life is eternal—that our essence, our mind, the part that thinks and contains our personality, etc., has always lived and can never be destroyed. This eternal part of us moves from one existence and into the next, in a process we call 'eternal progression'.
We believe that we lived as spirits before this life, as literal children of Heavenly parents. God is called our Father in Heaven because he gave us our spirit bodies. After we learned all we could as spirit children, it was time to move on to the next state of existence.
We came into this mortal life to gain a physical body and to be tested. Because of the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ, every man, woman and child ever born on this earth will be resurrected—our spirit and our physical body will be reunited and become perfect and eternal.
After we are resurrected, we will be judged, and those found worthy will return to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in Heaven. Those unworthy of this blessing will be given some other world, or kingdom, in which to live (if all who have lived on this earth will be resurrected—God will have to do something with those who didn’t quite make it to heaven!).
In trying to understand this grand plan of our Father in Heaven, that we are a part of, we come to this important question:
What happens to us after we die?
We are judged and have the opportunity to go to heaven AFTER we are resurrected. So, what happens to us between the time of our death and the time of our resurrection? Where do we go when we die?
There is a Prophet by the name of Alma in the Book of Mormon who answers this question:
“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection--Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
“And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
“And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil--for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house--and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
“Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.” (Book of Mormon; Alma 40:11-14)
So, to recap: When we die we go to a place the scriptures call Hades, Sheol, or the Spirit World. And in that new state of existence there are two sections:
1) A place for the righteous the scriptures refer to as Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom
2) A place for the wicked the scriptures call Hell or Outer Darkness
This ‘Spirit World’ is the same place Jesus went during the three days between his death and resurrection! While there, just like on earth, Jesus preached to the dead and taught them his gospel. And, just like on earth, a church was organized so that the gospel message could be sent to all who had never had the opportunity to hear the gospel while on earth.
As a person of logic, this makes so much sense to me! If we are all God’s children, and are all loved equally, then God would have a plan for all those who lived upon the earth that did not have the opportunity to hear and accept the Gospel (God would be cruel and unjust to condemn the millions of people born on the earth who never had an opportunity to hear and accept the gospel!).
So, when we die, and travel through that ‘tunnel of light’ to the other side, we will find ourselves in a world occupied by the spirits of the dead, or the Spirit World, where we will stay until we are resurrected. Once on the other side, we will be met by our loved ones who have already died—our mother and father, our wife or husband, or other family members—and they will help us to assimilate into that new existence.
If we have been good, the Karma of the universe will bring us into Paradise, where we will find peace and love, and be united with our family and friends.
If we have been bad, Karma will direct us to a place the scriptures call Hell, where we will come face to face with the consequences of our evil actions, and pay a price for our sins.
Then, we wait for the resurrection to come, sometime in the future. Those living in Paradise will be living in joy and peace, and can even participate in teaching the Gospel to all of those millions of people who never had the chance to hear it in this mortal life; while those living in Outer Darkness must continue to suffer the consequences of their actions, until Karma and the wheel of justice releases them.
Of course, the choice of where we will end up is ours: we make our eternal beds every day, by how we live our lives!