Will Sick or Disabled People Return to Good Health in the Spiritual World?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named A. Watson:

My father suffered a stroke before he died and was left unable to speak and paralysed. I would like to know if he, and others, are healed in the spiritual world and return to good health. I have been waiting for a sign from him since he passed and have been worried that he is stuck in the same state and unable to contact me. This is contrary to what I have always believed and I know he would be unhappy in that state which bothers me as I hope he is at peace.

Thanks for the good question, A. Watson. I’m sorry to hear about the stroke your father suffered before his death. I hope I will be able to put your mind at ease.

Here is the short answer:

A stroke victim

A stroke victim

When we die and move on to the spiritual world, we leave our physical body behind, and live in our spiritual body instead. We therefore also leave behind any handicaps or sicknesses that have purely physical causes. In other words, since your father has now left his physical body behind, the stroke that affected his physical body is no longer a factor in the spiritual world where he now lives.

Ordinarily, when we leave our physical body behind, we also leave behind all of its handicaps and illnesses.

However, for people who strongly identify with their handicap or sickness, there may be some time period in the spiritual world when it still persists. That’s because our spiritual body responds directly and immediately to our thoughts and feelings. So if being sick or handicapped is a strong part of our identity as a person, our spiritual body may reflect that for a shorter or longer time.

Some people who have been sick or handicapped for a long time may also need some time to adjust to having a healthy, fully functional body. So there may be a transition period for them as well when they enter the spiritual world.

But for people who hate their physical sicknesses and handicaps, long for full health and fitness, and are fit and healthy in their minds, their physical limitations and maladies will be immediately removed upon death, and they will enjoy full physical and mental health right away.

I see no reason why this wouldn’t be the case for your father.

Let’s take a closer look.

(Image credit: WalesOnline)

Physical health in the physical world

Here on earth, we are subject to many genetic and environmental factors that are beyond our control.

It’s true that we sometimes bring sickness or injury upon ourselves when we carelessly or recklessly engage in dangerous pursuits, or live a terribly unhealthful lifestyle, despite knowing the likely consequences. But many of our physical handicaps and illnesses are beyond our control.

Plus, sometimes we engage in dangerous or physically debilitating activities because we are driven to serve our fellow human beings in particular ways, such as fighting fires or devoting our life to intensive care of a disabled loved one. We may willingly risk physical injury or illness because we care deeply about our fellow human beings.

In short, though we do have some control over our physical health and sickness, there are many reasons why we may be sick or handicapped through no fault of our own, or because we care less about our own life and health than we do about the life and health of others.

And of course, if we are born with a physical or mental handicap, we have done nothing at all ourselves to bring it upon ourselves. It happened for reasons completely beyond our control.

For more on the complex nature of our physical and mental wellbeing, please see the article, “What is the Source of Human Fragility, Sickness, and Disease?

In short, though we can and should take responsibility and ownership of our physical and mental health during our lifetime here on earth, we can’t always control the things that have affected and are affecting our physical hearth. We may be mildly or severely ill or disabled even if we have done nothing at all to cause it.

Physical health in the spiritual world

But that’s only how it works here in the physical world.

In the spiritual world, the health of our spiritual body depends entirely on our own choices and our own mental, emotional, and spiritual state. No external factors beyond our control can bring ill health or handicap to our spiritual body.

That’s because there is nothing physical in the spiritual world.

Yes, we may loosely speak of “physical health” in the spiritual world, since we do have a body there that is every bit as real, touchable, and huggable as our physical body here on earth. But unlike our physical body here in the material world, our spiritual body in the spiritual world is made entirely of spiritual substance, not of physical matter. And spiritual substance directly reflects and responds to the spiritual realities of our love, understanding, ideas, attitudes, and intentions.

This means that in the spiritual world, it is not possible for any “external” factors to cause us to be sick or handicapped against our will, or through no fault of our own. In the spiritual world, our outer self fully and exactly expresses our inner self—our thoughts and feelings, loves, beliefs, and motivations.

Does this mean we can never be sick in the spiritual world?

Not at all. If our mind and heart are filled with sick, disgusting, and wrong attitudes, motives, and desires, those will be reflected in bodily disfigurement and disease in the spiritual world. If through our life here on earth we have become self-centered, greedy, thoughtless, and power-hungry people, our twisted and inhuman mental and spiritual state will result in a twisted and disfigured body. That’s why in both religious and secular artwork, evil, selfish people (and other beings) are commonly pictured as physically, ugly, fearsome, twisted, and disfigured.

But if through our life here on earth we have become thoughtful, caring, concerned about our fellow human beings, and motivated to do what we can in service of other people, our healthy and very human mental and spiritual state will result in a healthy, beautiful, and very human spiritual body. For more on this, please see the article, “Will My Body be the Right Weight and Appearance in the Afterlife?

With these principles in mind, we can better understand what happens to our physical health when we die and move on to the spiritual world.

In the spiritual world, physical conditions are taken away

For most of us here on earth, there is no clear correlation between our physical health and the quality of our character.

Yes, some morose and negative people do bring physical illness upon themselves by constantly focusing on how terrible life is, and neglecting their physical health as a result.

But for most of us, being physically sick does not mean we are evil, selfish people. It simply means that various genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors all conspired together to cause our physical body not to be fully sound and healthy. Most mental illnesses are the same: they are not brought about by any evil intent on the part of the person affected, but by forces beyond their control.

In the spiritual world, all of those genetic and environmental factors, not to mention most of the lifestyle factors, no longer have any effect upon us. Those causes are purely physical. And the spiritual world exists on a plane of reality that is above and beyond the material universe, and only slightly affected by it.

This means that in the spiritual world, every physical cause of handicap, disfigurement, and disease is taken away, and no longer affects us.

After death, in the spiritual world:

  • People born with physical or mental handicaps are brought to full health and soundness of mind and body.
  • If a mental handicap caused a person not to achieve full mental adulthood and maturity, he or she will grow from his or her current mental age to full adulthood in the spiritual world.
  • People whose physical health was damaged or destroyed by genetic issues, accidents, and environmental factors are also restored to full health.
  • Even people whose negative mental attitudes brought about physical disease will be freed from those conditions if they were good, thoughtful, and loving people at heart.
  • The only way for us to be sick and disfigured in the spiritual world is if we willfully persist in negative, destructive, selfish, and greedy desires and attitudes.

Only people who go to hell have persistent diseases and handicaps

Let’s take up that last point for a minute.

As explained above, in the spiritual world, our bodily health or disease is a direct expression of our inner, mental and spiritual health and disease. And this does not mean “mental illness” as that is usually defined in our medicine and psychology here on earth, which mostly involves malfunctions of physical brain and body chemistry. Rather, it means whether we have freely chosen, to the best of our ability, to be a good and thoughtful person or an evil and selfish person.

The purpose of our life here on earth is to make a choice about what sort of person we want to be. In the Bible, this is expressed especially clearly in the book of Deuteronomy:

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:15–20)

In this passage, God is speaking to the ancient Israelites as they are preparing to enter their Holy Land. They faced very worldly choices of good or evil, God or idols, which would result in blessings or curses coming down upon them as they entered their new life in the Holy Land.

Yet the choice set before them of physical life or death, blessings or curses, in a physical land is a metaphor for the spiritual choices each one of us makes during the course of our spiritual journey into our own spiritual Holy Land.

That Holy Land, for us, is our eternal life in the spiritual world. Each one of us has a choice to make:

  • Will we follow God’s way of loving God above all, and loving our fellow human beings just as we love ourselves?
  • Or will we instead bow down to the idols of worldly wealth and power and physical pleasure for ourselves, with no regard for God’s commandments and no regard for the welfare of our fellow human beings?

It is only people who make that second choice, for evil and selfishness over goodness, God, and concern for others, who will experience physical disfigurement and disease in the spiritual world. That’s because they will be in hell, where hatred and evil twists us into horrible travesties of our true human form.

And that is 100% our own choice. For more on this, please see: “Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?

I should also mention that even the evil residents of hell think of themselves as being healthy and normal, and see themselves that way. That’s because in their minds the way they live—as sick and twisted as it looks to good people looking in from the outside—is totally normal.

Physical conditions may briefly persist even for good people

For people who have made the choice to love God and care for their fellow human beings, their spiritual health and humaneness will be reflected in the afterlife in full physical health in a very sound and very human spiritual body.

Most people will immediately wake up in the spiritual world with a fully healthy spiritual body. They will leave behind all of their physical sicknesses and handicaps because the physical causes of these things no longer have any effect in the spiritual world.

However, even some good people might continue for a shorter or longer time to experience their physical handicaps or sicknesses in the spiritual world. Here are some examples of why this might happen:

  • Some people seem to glory in their illnesses and handicaps, bragging about just how sick or how handicapped they are, as if it were some sort of achievement! Because of this mental attitude, these people may require some time to let go of their attachments to their physical illnesses and handicaps before achieving full bodily health and moving on to heaven.
  • Some people have been sick or handicapped for so many years that they have a hard time thinking of themselves as being fully healthy. These people, too, may require some time to adjust mentally to the concept that they no longer have to be sick or handicapped.
  • Some people who were born with genetic handicaps or diseases, or struck with them at a very young age, may have little or no experience of ever being fully healthy mentally and physically. These people may need some time to grow from their former physically impaired state into a state of full health and full mental maturity.

And yet, every single person who has a good heart through choices made in this life will, in time, achieve full physical and mental health in the afterlife.

And people who never had a shot at self-responsible adulthood due to severe mental handicaps from birth or early childhood will all grow up to be fully physically and mentally healthy angels in heaven, just as all people who die in childhood grow up to be angels in heaven. For more on what happens to children who die, please see: “Where are my Children who have Died? Will I Ever See Them Again?” The same principles explained in that article apply to people with mental handicaps so severe that they remain children mentally, even if they may be adults physically.

Good people will have full health in heaven

All of this is why I can say confidently to A. Watson:

Assuming your father was a good and thoughtful person, he will be quickly healed of the effects of his stroke once he enters the spiritual world. There, he will enjoy full physical and mental health.

In fact, he will have a greater sense of health and wellbeing than he ever experienced here on earth, even when he was in the peak physical condition of his youth. That’s because our spiritual body does not have the limitations of our physical body. It responds immediately and fully to everything that is in our mind and heart.

In the spiritual world, it really is true that “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” (Napoleon Hill).

So for A. Watson and anyone else who has lost a loved one whose body was ill or handicapped, take heart! These physical afflictions no longer affect us in the spiritual world. Your beloved family member or friend who has passed on is by now enjoying a level of physical and mental health that he or she could hardly even imagine before! And the longer he or she lives in the spiritual world, the more youthful, energetic, healthy, and mentally sharp he or she will become.

That’s just how things work in heaven.

Where did all of this come from?

The Bible itself tells us, not just in Deuteronomy, but in many other places that if we follow God’s commandments by loving God and loving and serving our neighbor, God will give us many blessings, including eternal life in an incorruptible spiritual body.

If you want more detail, I invite you to read Heaven and Hell, by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772). This spiritual classic offers a full guided tour of the spiritual realms that has stood the test of time.

This article is a response to a spiritual conundrum submitted by a reader.

For further reading:


Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Pain and Suffering, The Afterlife
14 comments on “Will Sick or Disabled People Return to Good Health in the Spiritual World?
  1. Brian says:

    Thanks for the post Lee!

    I’m not sure if Swedenborg ever wrote about this, or if it was even much of a thing in those days, but I’m curious if people who have substance addictions carry those cravings into the next life. Would that be part of the physical body or the spirit? Even more common things such as tobacco and alcohol can be ingrained in the daily life of many people. Of course in a spiritual world, those physical substances might not exist at all; but for those that have such persistent & psychological habits, surely there would be some sort of detoxing so to speak for them to get on a new track. What are your thoughts?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Brian,

      Good question. Addiction is a tricky one, since as you say, it has both physical and psychological components to it. I tend to think that most addictions are primarily psychological, in that they fill in and cover for some lack in the person’s life or character development that remains unresolved, and is less likely to be resolved as long as the addiction continues. As such, I suspect most addictions don’t just instantly vanish once the person moves over to the other world, but continue for a shorter or longer time until those issues are resolved—assuming the person is headed in a heavenward direction.

      I should add that I don’t think of most addictions as “mortal sins.” Sometimes they do become highly destructive and envelop the person’s life—and in that case they certainly are serious. But the average person who smokes or subsists on pain pills is not an evil person. Just a person with a problem. And we all have our problems.

  2. Rod says:

    Hi. Thank you for this article. I’m glad this also includes mental and emotional issues. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and I don’t know what it’s like to think clearly and have peace of mind. All the time I have a multitude of thoughts that afflict me and I want them to shut up but they don’t, I have nowhere to run, there is nothing I can do to make it stop. It’s hard for me to focus on anything. Even when I read books I often have to reread a paragraph or even a whole page because of a thousand intrusive thoughts getting on my way. Not pleasant thoughts, only annoying patterns that bring only fear and anxiety.

    Unfortunately, as the years go by it gets worse. I refuse to accept OCD as a part of who I am and I have hope that in the afterlife I will be free of patterns of fearful thoughts and ritualistic behaviors that ruin all the experiences of my life that should be normal or happy. I hate OCD and I hate all the health issues that make my life miserable. On the bad days it’s just hell, it destroys my optimism and it kills my joy, it worsens my anxiety and I’m afraid of getting into a depression. I’m still young and I don’t want to look at all the years that I still have here on Earth with fear. Other people don’t seem to understand so I end up suffering in silence and alone…

    I want life to be a gift, not a burden; a blessing, not a curse. It’s very hard for me to think about the future having to go through this hell again and again, minute after minute, ALL THE TIME. I wake up in the morning and I try to focus only on today, only on getting through today, and as Jesus said, tomorrow will take care of itself.

    I’m not asking any specific question here, I’m just talking about my struggles and I’m almost crying. I guess we all have our cross to bear…

    • K says:

      I know of someone with OCD and it’s a similar story. I fear that intrusive thoughts could associate with certain stimuli and become an integral part of an eternal personality. Hopefully God is not negligent enough to allow such a hellish situation.

      • Lee says:

        Hi K,

        Now that I look at it, I realize that I never replied to the comment you’re replying to, which was posted over two years ago. That’s a pity.

        But to answer quickly now, from a spiritual and Swedenborgian perspective, intrusive thoughts are not intrinsic to the person’s own mind, but are in fact the thoughts of the evil spirits surrounding that person intruding into that person’s mind. As such, they will be removed in heaven because the evil spirits surrounding the person will be removed.

        For more on this, see the links and videos provided in a comment on another post, here. To my knowledge, Jerry Marzinsky, who is featured in the videos, is not a Swedenborgian. But his approach to mental illness is very much in line with what Swedenborg wrote about the nature of mental illness.

        • Rod says:

          Hi Lee. I was the one who posted that comment, so don’t worry, I was just ranting really since OCD can be pretty exhausting and suck the joy out of life. I read this website often and I appreciate a lot everything that you do, always giving great answers to all the questions that you get here, so thank you so much for doing God’s work, I learned more from your articles than in years reading about religion. About OCD, it is comforting to know that it will be gone in the afterlife and I look forward to it. Here on Earth, I just have to accept that I’ll have to deal with it until the day I die and until them I just have to soldier through, there’s no other way. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of joy or satisfaction in life and I’m only living in this world because I have to, not because I want to, but still, I do try to do as many good things as I possibly can, and if I can’t have a happy life, I try to have at least a useful one, even though I don’t have the resources or skills to do even 1% of what I wish I could do, but I guess the intention matters too. Thank you again for everything, God bless!

        • Lee says:

          Hi WorldQuestioner,

          I had surmised as much.

        • K says:

          And this is the case even though intrusive OCD thoughts may seem at least somewhat voluntary, though they are unwanted anyway?

        • Lee says:

          Hi K,

          The particular evil spirits who are with us are with us because they correspond to the evil parts of our own character. They will therefore pull out and emphasize things that are in our mind and heart, not things that are totally alien to us. That’s what evil spirits do. If their influence is taken away, as it is for OCD people who go to heaven, although those things will still exist in us, we will no longer be involuntarily obsessive about them.

  3. Could one not have both spirit and physics? Why didn’t God create people as spiritual beings? Why did he have them be born on Earth and die to go to the spiritual world? You said that there are no space limitations in the spiritual world for popuilation, so just a boom up there wouldn’t be a problem. If you say that physical people on Earth propogate forever… Does the Bible not mention an apocalypse and resurrection? Also, do you believe in extraterrestrial life? Do you believe in parallel creation?

    • Lee says:

      Hi WorldQuestioner,

      These are all good questions.

      In the spiritual world there is indeed something analogous to the physics of the physical world. When we get there, we may not even be able to tell the difference at first. But one difference is that there is no time and space as we know it here in the material universe. You can’t measure things in miles or kilometers, nor can you measure time in hours or seconds. Rather, time and space reflect our states of mind and heart, as do all of our surroundings.

      Why aren’t we just born in the spiritual world? For the same reason we spend nine months in the womb before beginning our life in the outside world. We start out in the womb, not in the outside world, because we need a place where we can develop into a fully functioning human being, capable of living and breathing on its own—albeit still under the care of our parents or guardians at first.

      Similarly, the physical world serves as a place where we develop into the angel or evil spirit that we will be to eternity. We need a place where we can engage in the struggle and make the critical decisions about who and what we will be as a person. In the spiritual world, everything around us reflects our current state. That’s great for when we already have a settled character. But when our character is still forming, we need a place that doesn’t always reflect what we are right now, but shows us various possibilities, both good and bad, of what we could become. That’s what we have here on earth.

      About the Apocalypse, please see:

      Is the World Coming to an End? What about the Second Coming?

      The great time of judgment described in the Bible is talking about the end of a whole spiritual era, such as the ancient Israelite/Jewish era or the Christian era, not the end of the physical world. There will not be a literal time when everyone rises from the grave and stands before God’s throne of judgment. Rather, each one of us has our individual time of judgment right after we die. See:

      What Happens To Us When We Die?

      I think it’s very likely that there are many other planets in the universe inhabited by intelligent, and yes, human beings. But I don’t think many of them will develop technology as we do. This is a very materialistic planet. The people of most planets, I believe, will be much more spiritual in focus, and will therefore not be interested in developing high technology. I’ll be posting an article about this soon.

      What do you mean by “parallel creation”?

  4. Ray says:

    Hi Lee. So what if the person is bad. They suffer with their ailments when they are in Hell even though they have spiritual bodies there as well. Also, I read somewhere that immature people get to go to Heaven, but is it only if they are so immature that they don’t know right from wrong?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Ray,

      Yes, people in hell can and do have physical ailments. But those ailments aren’t continuations of any ailments they had in the physical world. They are ailments and deformities that correspond to their evil desires and false ideas.

      Yes, children, and even adults who are stuck at a child’s level of mental and emotional development, always go to heaven after they die. However, the dividing line is not knowing right from wrong, but being mature enough to take responsibility for one’s own life, and make one’s own moral and ethical decisions without reference or reaction to parents or guardians. In other words, becoming a self-responsible adult.

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