How does time work in Heaven? What are our deceased loved ones doing? What is the right thing to say after a death has occurred?
I have no idea how you feel time in Heaven – I'll let you know when I get there. For now, we just don't know. Do people who died 1000 years ago feel like it's been forever? Or maybe time flies by and you never even noticed. We don’t get much detail on the timeframe. There is also no indication in Scripture that those in Heaven can see/hear what is going on down on Earth, any more than we can know what’s going on up there.
And I've always said about the people who get up there, the last thing they care about is what's going on down here anyway! We care about it, because we're still here. But they're not sitting up there thinking, gee, I wonder what's on the news this week? You know, they're just glad they’re not having to watch the news anymore.
So when people say “My dear departed father, or family member, is looking down from heaven and smiling”, how do we help them know that that's not necessarily true? Firstly, it's not our job to help them on that point. We don't have to fix it. But secondly, you're looking at someone who obviously has a limited understanding of these two realms and how they work. For all we know, they may not even know Who the Lord is, and wouldn’t think about religion any other day of the week…but when somebody’s dying or has died, all of a sudden they talk about it.
Instead of fixing their viewpoint, use the opening to talk about something more meaningful. So depending on the person and your relationship to them, you might turn it to, “well, why do you think they're in Heaven again?” or “How did they get to Heaven?” or “What do you believe about Heaven?” or “What do you believe about death?”…something that makes the conversation turn into a bigger conversation.
I always talk very specifically with people when I know they're a believer. And when they start asking questions I'm able to say…well, this is probably what's going on right now and they're not missing you nearly as much as you're missing them…You'd be surprised how much that stuff actually is comforting to somebody. And they realize that if their loved one could come back right now, they probably wouldn’t. But this is a process of mourning…I've lost somebody, it's hard, but if I could feel like they feel it would actually be okay, and if they're mature enough in their faith, it can work. But be careful with that stuff with people who aren’t mature in their faith as sometimes it can become not so encouraging.