Hello all. I am in my late sixties and the older we get, the closer we get to the afterlife and wondering exactly what it might be like. I am Catholic and I suppose like many of us, I probably share a similar image of what I think Heaven might be like with the angels, the singing, the beautiful gardens… On the surface it all sounds wonderful at least for a short period of time. What’s a short period of time, a couple of days, months, years, decades. It doesn’t really matter as any of them are a drop in the bucket when compared with eternity.
I have two real problems and I hope it’s not sacrilegious to say them. Firstly, I cannot imagine what Heaven might really be like. Many of the best things on Earth have come from struggling to attain or accomplish something and none of that has meaning without the possibility of failure or pain. What will we do for eternity, how we will occupy our time? Mark Twain actually wrote some very interesting stuff on this very topic, and though his works were meant mostly to be sarcastic, they are also thought provoking as he brings up a lot of questions about Heaven I don’t have answers for.
The second issue is will we remember our loved ones and our time on Earth. The easy answer is no because if the answer is yes then all sorts of difficulties arise. For example, parents who lost a child at a young age, what might be Heaven for them might be to get that opportunity to raise that child again. How could that possibly work? What about the man who lost his loving wife to cancer that remarried years later and loved deeply again. What about literally a million other difficult scenarios that we all could come up with. Could each of us have their own personal Heaven tailored just for them, that doesn’t sound right either. That’s why I said that not remembering our life on Earth was the easy answer, but unfortunately that also sounds pretty awful to me, kind of like an eternal lobotomy and not much like a paradise at all.
Of course perhaps the most troubling question is how can Heaven be a paradise if some of our loved ones are suffering for eternity in Hell. I spoke to a priest about this and his answer was that God wants us all in Heaven, but people have to want Heaven and choose it for themselves while they are alive. Many people will not. While I agree with that on one level, it does not alleviate the issue for me. If my son goes to jail because he stole some money, he deserves to go to jail, but my heart still breaks for him. How much worse would it be for me if he is in Hell for eternity.
A friend who I recently met told me about his Dad. His father was a wonderful caring family man and he loved him deeply. In his father’s later years he was a widower and in terminal health and in a lot of pain. As citizens of Canada it is legal to choose assisted death and much to my friend’s dismay that is what his father chose to do. Now my friend asks me if that means his father is doomed to go to Hell and if so how could Heaven ever be a paradise for him knowing his father was in Hell. I wish I had a good answer that I believed as so many of us have a similar question.
I hope fervently that Heaven is truly the paradise we hope it to be and that our human minds are just not capable of envisioning the reality of it all, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t keep me up nights wondering about it. Thanks for listening. If you have any thoughts on the subject I’d love to hear them.