In light of Randy’s study on Heaven, is there any basis to believe that someone in Heaven consciously thinks about and continues to love the ones left behind? Is there reason to believe my spouse can still love and think about me from there, or do those in Heaven forget earthly relationships until all are taken to glory?
I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Randy’s wife Nanci passed away in early 2022 from cancer, so he can truly relate to your questions about our loved ones in Heaven. It’s natural to wonder what life is like for them there. We grieve because we love, and our hearts still long for a connection with those now in Jesus’ presence.
Randy wrote a few weeks after Nanci’s death, “It’s true that I haven’t lost Nanci because I know where she is. I’m not concerned about her safety or well-being because she is safely home, and better off than she ever was in this world under the Curse. But I miss her so much. I frequently have the instinct to ‘tell Nanci.’ Yet I am so aware of where she is. I often ask Jesus to tell her about her grandsons’ tennis and track accomplishments, and I have no doubt He does, as I can’t think of a single reason He wouldn’t.”
He also wrote, “Jesus is Nanci’s best friend and my best friend. She is there with Him, and He is here with me. So Jesus is the bridge that keeps us connected until we live in that new world, with new bodies and minds, that He is preparing for us. The connection I feel to her through Him is profound.”
Though our believing loved ones have truly gained an eternal perspective being with Jesus, there’s no reason to believe they’ve forgotten their loved ones on Earth or no longer care about them. This makes me think of a quote Randy has shared: when asked if we would recognize friends in Heaven, George MacDonald responded, “Shall we be greater fools in Paradise than we are here?” I’d reword this quote in light of your question, “Shall those in Heaven love less than they loved here?” I would guess that in many ways, they love us even more because they are free from all sin and selfishness, and are with the Source of love Himself.
Randy has written about how those in Heaven don’t forget their former lives. He says, “Memory is a basic element of personality. If it is truly us in Heaven, there must be some continuity of memory from earth to Heaven. We are not different people, but the same people marvelously relocated and transformed. …At death we are relocated, but this does not relegate our earthly lives to insignificance.”
He has also written about how it is reasonable to think that those now in Heaven pray for those on Earth.
Randy writes, “We don’t cease to be the people God made us to be when we die. We don’t lose our memories and lose our love and fondness for our families. And if God lets some people in Heaven know what’s going on in some places and times down on Earth, which I believe is clear, shouldn’t we assume He would do it with people related to their beloved children and grandchildren and dear friends? I actually think the burden of proof would be upon those who do not believe this likely happens, as opposed to those who do believe it.”
My mom died four years ago. I’ve told myself frequently that my mom’s love isn’t gone; it’s just relocated. In fact, since she is now in Jesus’ presence, and praying is simply talking to God, I wouldn’t be surprised if she prays for me more now than she did before. She’ll be one of the first faces I look for when I enter Heaven someday.
I pray that as you draw close to Jesus, He will comfort you and give you the peace that only He can give. He is the God “who comforts the downcast” (2 Corinthians 7:6). “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18). “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). I’ve read Beyond the Darkness: A Gentle Guide for Living with Grief and Thriving after Loss by Clarissa Moll and would recommend it to you. It’s both wise and practical, and I’ve found it helpful.
God bless you.
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.