“I believe in Jesus, but it’s not helping the bad thoughts. I keep thinking about what’s going to happen to me when I die…”
Those were words spoken by my six-year-old son last night, right before silent tears started rolling down his freckled cheeks.
My heart completely stopped in my chest. I stood frozen in place, just looking down at him, as tears welled up in my own eyes. I had to stifle the urge to cry over the desolate hole that death can leave behind for the loved ones left living. I didn’t want to think about him dying either, to horrifically envision what everyday of my life would be like without him in it. Losing a child is a pain I can’t even fathom. I also didn’t want to think about what would happen to them if I were to die while they were still young, before I could teach them everything I wanted to teach them. In that moment, I was afraid, but allowing my fears to surface would only frighten him more. Instead of showing him fear and uncertainty, I had to show him faith and hope.
All of my faith is put in the belief that there is an afterlife and I stand rather strong on the idea that there is something more for us. Of course, it is still a giant leap of faith. You can’t prove that Heaven exists. It’s not somewhere we can visit, or put on any map. We can’t even really say if it’s up or down or just all around us. Heaven is a place of dreams, a place that we can only hope exists, that we can only assume we’ll get to see.
Even if I’m wrong, the worst case scenario is that there is no Heaven. We die and absolutely nothing happens, death is permanent and loved ones lost would be loved ones lost forever. Our bodies would go back to the ground and our souls would disappear. Well, that’s depressing. Personally, I would rather live hopefully. Shadows of doubt cross my mind occasionally but ever fiber of my being fights them every time. In my soul, I honestly believe that death is only another step of life.
I do live life like it’s the only one I’ll ever get. I believe that the afterlife is going to be something completely different than this and that this life, these human experiences, are the only ones we’ll ever get to have. So I try on a daily basis to really pay attention to everything around me. To allow myself to delight in being alive and to teach my children to do the same.
Last night, I was hit with the realization that I had failed to teach my child the art of being hopeful.
He was terrified of death because he couldn’t comprehend it, and that saddened my heart. Even if I can’t always make sense of it myself, it’s my purpose to teach them that’s what faith is for and that it’s alright to believe in something greater. In this life, when God seems so far from us, the greatest gift He can give us is hope.
What do you think about the afterlife? Do you believe in life after death, and if so, what do you think it would be like? If you have children, what would you tell them if they asked you?