An LDS friend of mine experienced some spiritual dissonance a few years ago when her non-member father died. At his funeral, all his non-Mormon friends were talking freely and confidently about seeing him again in Heaven. They talked with fondness about what they imagined him doing at that moment as he enjoyed Heaven with others who had gone on before. My LDS friend asked me how non-Mormons could say such things. As she understood what she had been taught in the LDS Church, Mormons were the only people who believed you could be together forever with those you loved. She had been told Christians believe that in Heaven everyone will be sitting on their own clouds playing harps eternally. She was serious. She thought non-Mormons looked forward to a Heaven where people will not recognize one another; they will not know those they had loved on earth; death will have separated them forever.
I remember reading something supporting this mistaken LDS belief a while back in a Mormon newspaper. I can’t remember the details (and I couldn’t find the article in a search for it online), but at a Mormon funeral following a tragedy that took a young person’s life, the officiator talked about temple blessings. He said it was because of those ordinances that Latter-day Saints do not mourn and grieve as others — even Christians – do; because the temple makes it possible to see their loved ones again.
These things came to mind this week as I learned of the death of a twelve-year-old boy (Noah) whose family attended my church before moving to another state. In an email sent to friends and family, Noah’s parents and sister wrote:
As some of you may know, our lives were tragically altered two days ago (on Saturday). While we were inside getting ready to leave following a visit with our friends at their mountain home in the Poconos (not quite 2 hours from our home), Noah and his buddy hopped on a utility-type golf cart for a little joy ride on the property. Noah’s friend was driving down a slight incline on the driveway and came to a curve where they lost control and the cart flipped on its side, landing on Noah. We found out that he died instantly and, seemingly, with that famous smile still on his face. Though we are heartsick and in pain beyond words, we are also at peace knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is with His Lord in heaven, climbing the pearly gates and eating all the warm chocolate chip cookies and mint chocolate Oreo blizzards he wants (okay, well, we’re not sure about the climbing and the eating, but it’s at least that great for him with no more food allergies!) – and he was so ready. Noah had had a great summer and had a fantastic last week, doing so many activities he loves and also lavishing his love on us as he was so good at doing. We are blessed to have little regret about our final moments with him. We are being bathed in prayer by so many and are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we are experiencing. It is still a very surreal experience for us, knowing he is gone, but sometimes feeling like he’s just away somewhere and will be back soon….
Please don’t forget our “Little Mr. Exuberant,” who lived life to the fullest in his own very special way, but sprinted through way too fast – and be sure to hug your loved ones every day!
In Deep Sorrow (though swamped with fantastic memories),
This is the way Christians, with God’s grace, face the death of a loved one – filled with peace, comforted in the sure knowledge that God is good. Noah’s family knows where Noah is, and they know he is blessed beyond measure. Though they have not stated it in their letter, they know they will see him again, his famous smile firmly in place. They know they will hug him one day, and rejoice with him together in the presence of the Lord for all eternity.
Noah’s family will lay Noah to rest today (Friday), bidding him a temporary but sad farewell. Please pray for Noah’s family and friends who will miss him — until they meet again.
At the end of their email, Noah’s family included a Bible verse. They know it’s true, and it is in this, the promise of God, that they place their hope.
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9