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ALEX - A question I have been asked by many faiths. Can the spirit of loved ones visit us?
Joseph Smith was visited by God, Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John and various other prophets, so visitation of beings from the spirit world is of course possible. As far as visitations from loved ones is concerned there are mostly only anecdotal reports of people who have been visited. Such visitations are only meant for the benefit of the one visited. If you were to ask a church leader he would probably offer an opinion saying it is possible it could happen.
In a funeral sermon President Joseph F. Smith, speaking to the fact that Jesus had a mission after death, said:
"In like manner our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, of reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh. And so it is with Sister Cannon. She can return and visit her friends, provided it be in accordance with the wisdom of the Almighty. There are laws to which they who are in the paradise of God must be subject, as well as laws to which we are subject." (Gospel Doctrine, p. 436.)
Parley P. Pratt recorded the appearance of his deceased wife to him as he lay in a Missouri dungeon with but one absorbing thought. "Shall I ever, at any time, however distant it may be, or whatever I may suffer first; shall I ever be free again in this life?" The answer came in this manner:
"After some days of prayer and fasting, and seeking the Lord on the subject, I retired to my bed in my lonely chamber at an early hour, and while the other prisoners and the guard were chatting and beguiling the lonesome hours in the upper apartment of the prison, I lay in silence, seeking and expecting an answer to my prayer, when suddenly I seemed carried away in the spirit, and no longer sensible to outward objects with which I was surrounded. A heaven of peace and calmness pervaded my bosom; a personage from the world of spirits stood before me with a smile of compassion in every look, and pity mingled with the tenderest love and sympathy in every expression of the countenance. A soft hand seemed placed within my own, and a glowing cheek was laid in tenderness and warmth upon mine. A well-known voice saluted me, which I readily recognized as that of the wife of my youth, who had for one or two years been sweetly sleeping where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. I was made to realize that she was sent to commune with me, and answer my question.
Knowing this, I said to her in a most eager and inquiring tone: Shall I ever be at liberty again in this life and enjoy the society of my family and the Saints, and preach the gospel as I have done? She answered definitely and unhesitatingly: "YES!" I then recollected that I had agreed to be satisfied with the knowledge of that one fact, but now I wanted more.
Said I: Can you tell how, or by what means, or where I shall escape? She replied: "THAT THING IS NOT MADE KNOWN TO ME YET." I instantly felt that I had gone beyond my agreement and my faith in asking this last question, and that I must be contented at present with the answer to the first.
Her gentle spirit then saluted me and withdrew. I came to myself. The doleful noise of the guards, and the wrangling and angry words of the old apostate again grated on my ears, but heaven and hope were in my soul.
Next morning I related the whole circumstance of my vision to my two fellow prisoners, who rejoiced exceedingly. This may seem to some like an idle dream, or a romance of the imagination; but to me it was, and always will be, a reality, both as it regards what I then experienced and the fulfillment afterwards." (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. 261, 262.)
Many others have reported having similar visits from departed loved ones. So the next time you are asked about this tell them that we believe it is possible. However, there seems to be no definite pattern as to how these visitations occur and apparently they are only initiated by those making the appearance. I don't know of anyone who has asked for someone to appear to them and have it happen.