How do we say goodbye to a beloved family member, friend, mentor or pet? Their time on this earth might have been shortened by a sickness, a surprise accident, or a natural disaster. Whatever the cause, they are not with us any longer. How do we handle emotions of grief? Are our children able to express and release their grief in an appropriate manor?
Recently our dog, Crystal, passed away. She did not always understand us, but was a faithful companion for almost 14 years. One day she walked a mile with me, and the next day she was vomiting, which was very puzzling. After making it through the night, it was clear that a vet appointment was required! This sweet little dog’s symptoms seemed to point to the beginning of the end of her life. She was diagnosed with pancreatitis, and no matter what we did for her, her health continued to decline. Her death, the following Monday, saddened all three of us, but it was harder to watch her sickness smother her life with blinding pain. God gave Crystal to us and that is a huge blessing. The pain is a memory of what happened to her recently, but we have many more positive memories which have been built over the years, without pain and with joy.
My grandfather died on my 16th birthday. His month long stay in the hospital will not be remembered, but his farm work ethic and his love for Christ will. He loved his family so much! Many years after his death, one important truth stands out to me. He was so ready to go home to be with his Lord and Savior, and to see Grandma, his loving wife. My grandparents were such a great couple, because of their great foundation in Christ. Their earthly pains were conquered by a Loving Lord and Savior. Life was not always easy for them, but they did not dwell on that. They called upon what was important. My grandfather had a joy for life, and for loving his Lord and family. He always placed specific emphasis on the brevity of life, and the importance of values. Grandpa’s death brought up so many memories, but the biggest release came for me when I was able to give him back to Jesus. After all, it was now God’s time with Grandpa! We have all missed him over the years, but would not wish him back. He is with His Lord and Savior.
Releasing a loved one is a tedious process and can be very different for each person. Whether the loved one is a human or a pet, grief is still prominent. God does not promise us that we will see our pets in Heaven. However, they are God’s creation and if God chooses to use them again, He can, because He is Sovereign. Human loved ones might not always profess to know Jesus while here, but the Lord knows their heart. Is that not invigorating and quieting at the same time?
Death is an important tool that God can use in our lives to bring us closer to Him, and to others. Do we have the right mindset to follow God’s leading in times of grief?
I’ve seen my share of death, and I’m convinced that once someone enters Heaven for just a few minutes, there is no way they would want to come back to Earth. Keeping this in mind will help us have the right perspective when Christians die.
Here are a few verses to review.
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death to life.” John 5:24 NLT
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” John 11:25-26 NLT
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord; We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NLT