My Idea of Heaven

Today, a friend said to me, “I notice in Cemetery Tours, you fall short of describing what Heaven is like.  Have you ever written down what it might be like?” And I realized, no, I haven’t.

Have I thought about it?  Of course.  I think that anyone who has ever lost someone close to them has wondered where they are.  Or perhaps wondered where, as mortal beings, we’re all going after we die.  I know some believe that there is no after.  We die, that’s it.  We cease to exist.  But I don’t believe that.  I can’t believe that.  If that’s the case, then what’s the point of anything?

Seriously, have you ever thought about how the human body works?  Heck, how life itself works?  The fact that our bodies work at all is a miracle.  Life is too brilliantly designed to end with death.

That leads me to my idea of Heaven.  I’m not sure I can tell you what I think it will look like or how you get there.  I’ve read multiple accounts of Near Death Experiences, including 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon.  I notice that with all of these accounts, however, the description of Heaven itself isn’t as visual as it is experienced.  Instead of a physical description, all these authors describe a feeling of warmth, love, and exceptional joy and happiness.  They know that they are in the presence of their loved ones who had gone before them and in the presence of God.  It’s a very comforting thought.

Whenever I personally think about Heaven, I think first about the people (and animals) I will get to see.  I’ll get to see my Mimi again.  I’ll get to finally meet my grandfather, Jack, for whom I am named.  I’ll get to hold all my kitties again.  I’ll get to ask all the questions that I’ve carried with me throughout my life.  I’m really hoping I’ll get to meet Shakespeare and John Lennon and Steve Irwin and Walt Disney.  I’ll probably be just as much of a fangirl in Heaven as I am here on Earth.

As for what Heaven looks like, I’ve always kind of had the idea that it will look like Earth as it was intended at the dawn of Creation.  Perfect nature: crystal blue oceans, towering mountains, vast, endless forests.   When I was in college, I took a philosophy class.  For the life of me, I can’t remember who the philosopher was, but he said something along the lines of how he felt closer to God amidst the trees and nature.  Nature is a tabernacle hand-crafted by God.  It’s His own temple.  That really resonated with me, so I imagine that, just as we are crafted in His own image, our Earth was crafted in Heaven’s image.

As for the experience, I imagine Heaven will be awesome.  I fully intend to swim with killer whales all day long without having to take a breath.  I imagine I’ll be able to run freely as fast as I can without having to worry about time or place.  I’m really hoping I’ll be able to fly, or at least glide from one place to another.  I’ve always been told that Heaven is a place of perfect happiness.  That leads me to believe that Heaven will be what we want it to be.  It also means that there will be animals.  I’ve been told far too many times in my life that Heaven is not a place for animals.  I can’t even begin to fathom a place of eternal happiness without them.  They’re God’s creatures, and the only ones who exhibit unconditional love.  How could they not be welcomed into Paradise?

So, there you have it.  My idea of Heaven.  I’m very happy here on Earth and I hope I get to stay here for a while, at least another fifty or sixty years, but I do believe that Heaven is waiting, and that it’s going to be amazing.

Mourning

I realize this is sort of an odd topic for a blog that mostly focuses on writing and publishing, but I figure that since I wrote a book about ghosts and cemeteries and stuff, this also has it’s place here.

Last week, I was hanging out with a group of friends I see every week.  Somehow, we got on the topic of loss and grieving.  Depressing, I know, but we’ve all lost love ones, some of us more recently than others, and it just came up. 

Unless you’re a sociopath, chances are you’ve mourned the loss of someone at least once in your life, be it a pet, a grandparent, a friend.  Losing someone is awful and it’s painful.  Sometimes, it shakes you up so much that you have a hard time figuring out how to go on now that that person or pet is gone.  In such circumstances, grieving is only natural.  According to a few of my friends, however, it is also selfish.

Now, I’ve mourned the loss of three grandparents, several cats, a bird, a fish, a killer whale, and even my mom’s best friend.  But I’ve never thought of mourning someone as selfish.  To me, it always seemed like the least selfish thing in the world.  I mean, no one likes to grieve.  It’s no fun at all to feel your heart break every time you think about your loss.  

My friends’ reasoning, however, is that when you grieve, you’re crying because you’re sad for yourself.  You’re sad that you’re never going to see that person (in life) again when really, you should be glad that they’re not in pain or suffering anymore.  I get that.  I remember when my oldest cat, Basil, passed away, I was so relieved that she wasn’t in pain anymore.  That doesn’t mean that it didn’t break my heart to not have her with me anymore.  

If you ask me (and technically, no one did, but I’m going to tell you anyway), grieving for someone is not selfish.  In fact, it’s the opposite of selfish.  Grieving means you loved someone enough to miss them when they are gone.  As humans, yes, we are selfish by nature, but I think the fact that we are capable of feeling loss proves how unselfish we actually are.  If we were truly selfish, we’d be thinking, “Oh, good.  One less person breathing my air and taking up all the good parking spaces.”  To be able to love someone so much that it hurts when they’ve gone is extraordinary.  It’s not selfish at all.  Heck, I’d be really mad if I died and no one mourned me.  I’d come back to haunt them!     

Furthermore, how is it selfish when dogs grieve for their owners?  I’ve read stories of dogs who spend the rest of their lives at the graves of their masters.  Those dogs are incapable of selfishness.  Or what about 9/11?  I didn’t know anyone who died in those towers.  My life shouldn’t have been altered in the slightest.  Yet my entire class cried for those lost in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon and in the field.  I still cry for those families.  I cry for animals that don’t have homes, or who have been abandoned, or who have died because they were mistreated or neglected.  Heck, I’ve cried for fictional characters in books and movies more times than I can count: Rue from The Hunger Games, Jack from Titanic, every single one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter.  That might make me a little crazy, but I hope it doesn’t make me selfish. 

I don’t think it does.  I think it makes me… I don’t know.  I can’t even say “human,” because humans are not the only animals who grieve.  I think it means that we are all capable of love and compassion.  I also think it means that there is more to life, and death, than any of us will ever know.