We’ve all wondered what heaven will be like. Even people who profess no religion have given it some thought. Our leaders have offered us some ideas. Brigham Young reminded us that our departed loved ones are all around us, not sitting atop some distant cloud in the vast universe. We can’t see them, but they are here in this realm with us. David O. McKay beheld a beautiful white city in a vision, with concourses of people gathered around the Savior. He even described their clothing, the foliage, and the sky. And many departed loved ones have appeared to those of us left behind, offering assurances of peace and joy in the life to come.
Our doctrine, and numerous statements from our leaders, tell us that heaven is a busy place, with a lot of wonderful work underway. Missionary work and record-keeping are part of the well-organized labors there. And we know that countless ancestors are helping in unseen ways, to bring temple work to pass, and to secure eternal families. Many of them attend our temple ceremonies, and we have felt their presence. Every sealing of a husband and wife, after all, is a joyous wedding day for that couple.
One thing all people seem to understand is that in heaven, people are happy. Knowing how much Heavenly Father and Jesus love us would bring unspeakable happiness to any heart. But I don’t think it’s happiness as the world defines it. The world seems to think happiness results when you are without a care in the world-hence the popularity of recreational pursuits (and even drinking and drug use) that help you forget your troubles and seek pure pleasure. I don’t believe that when someone passes into the next life they receive an instant amnesia drip, and they forget all about their former life in mortality. They do not forget their loved ones.
I was speaking to a single mother this week, whose brother died while still in his forties. He had been such an involved uncle to her daughter, and both were mourning the loss of his presence in the girl’s life. And, without question, we grieve at losing those we love, even though we know it’s just a temporary separation. But what we need to remember is that heaven is happy. Follow the logic. If the brother is to be happy, he will be following that girl’s progress, and exerting whatever influence he is permitted, to help her along life’s journey. In many ways, she will feel his presence more than if he had remained in mortality. Could he be happy if he were unable to continue to love and bless her? I don’t think so.
Surely those who loved us here, still love us there. And Heavenly Father knows the joy they will experience if they can remain involved, in whatever way possible. Even distant ancestors– people we don’t remember at the moment, but who absolutely know us-can guide and guard us. These departed loved ones are still rooting for us and helping to lead us along. When someone is taken home before we think they should be, it calls for an extra measure of faith. We need to trust in God’s plan and remember just how close these people are. They do not step into an amusement park in a distant galaxy, where they’re thrill-seeking and forgetting about us. Quite the reverse: They are now even more focused upon their loved ones than mortality ever allowed them to be. And that has to make them exceptionally happy.
Joni Hilton’s award-winning play, “GIFTED,” will be performed this week at The American Globe Theatre in Times Square, New York. Be sure to read her blog at jonihilton.blogspot.com, and listen to her radio program on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. PST, streaming live at AM-1380 KTKZ. Check Amazon and Createspace.com for her books, as well as www.mormonbooksandauthors.com