My younger brother Stephen passed away last Monday of complications of pneumonia. Although unexpected, he had been sick for a long time, so his passing was not a total surprise. I am convinced of life after death and the continuation of family relationships in the next life. Stephen had had a near-death experience in the past while clinging to life on a ventilator. During that experience (typical of many other NDEs), he met and spoke with people on the other side who had died who he knew to be family and friends. Although, not his time then, I am confident that his time to pass into the next life had come at last. Stephen died quietly and painlessly in his sleep yet I believe that our relationship will live on forever.
It is interesting how many NDEs involve already deceased family and friends. It seem this would confirm by direct observation that familial relationships continue into the next life. It is unfortunate that other Christian religions have contrived doctrines contrary to this self-evident truth. Family relationships are a treasure which we can lay up in store where theives cannot break in and steal and where moth and rust cannot corrupt.
The assurance of Eternal Families results in LDS funerals which are different than funerals the world over. LDS funerals are reverent and mournful, but never grief- or despair-filled. There is always a bright spirit of hope, peace, comfort and faith that the deceased who has keep the faith is in a better place awaiting a literal resurrection and our future reunion.
I have since wondered why God wouldn't have just taken Stephen to heaven when he was in the hospital and on the ventillator and in severe septic shock. But then I realized, after a phone converstion with our mother, that had Stephen died in the hospital he would have died a mental patient. That is because he had just gotten out of a mental health hospital for an exacerbation of paranoia. As it worked out, he was able to be nursed back to health, return to college, and play the trumpet in the university marching band, symphonic band, and jazz band. I am not really sure how he would play the trumpet, a wind instrument, during the day and go to bed hooked up to oxygen at night. In any event, he didn't die a mental patient, but he died as a student, a musician, and a faithful disciple of Christ.