Death Is Necessary
When my sons were small, we lived for a time in the same house with Poppa and Grandma, my parents. Poppa’s Alzheimer’s didn’t bother the boys at all, and it certainly didn’t hinder their grandfather from loving these little boys. Matthew, however, had a special relationship with Poppa. They shared a quiet intensity of spirit and could often be seen just sitting on the sofa, not saying anything, just enjoying being close.
When Matthew was 5-years-old, Poppa died. After tearfully breaking the news to the boys, that quiet intensity caused Matthew to simply cock his head to the side and ask, “So Poppa’s in heaven, right?”
When I said yes, he queried, “Then why are you crying? Heaven is a good place. I want to go too.”
Somehow I was able to convince Matthew that it wasn’t time for him to go yet and the matter was settled for the moment.
Several days later, though, we arrived at the mortuary. When Matthew saw Poppa in the casket, his logical mind remembered our former conversation. “I thought you said Poppa was in heaven.” Matthew looked at me as if to say, Lady, you’d better straighten this one out, and quick! Okay, so how was I going to explain the separation of body and spirit to a five-year-old?
After a quick prayer for help, the answer formed in my mind. I have since written about this whole incident in a poem, so here’s what I said, only fixed up now in verse:
“Since our bodies weren’t created
To just fly away through space,
He had to leave his body here,
To see God face to face.”
“The part of him that loved us
Will live on in memory.
He now no longer lives in pain;
He’s happy as can be.”
“Please try to understand that
Almost from his time of birth,
Poppa loved others right up close,
And loved God from the earth.”
“Now Poppa loves God right up close;
I think he’s having fun.
He’s hanging out around the Throne,
Just talking with the Son.”
– From Mommy Cried This Morning, Sharon Norris Elliott ©1996
Poppa has been away from us for 18 years now, and I’m still able to look back with wonderful memories of growing up with a father who sincerely lived his whole life for the moment of his death. The Bible tells of the necessity of death if we really plan to get to heaven:
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body … Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 50 NKJV)
People I have dearly loved have died. As hard as it is for us to let go, facing the death of loved ones is not nearly as crippling when we realize believers who have died are much better off in heaven than they would ever have been in this life here on earth. Their death is our loss, not theirs. They have received the ultimate inheritance, only possible through death because “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”
One day, that fabulous inheritance – the kingdom of God – awaits us as well. It’s so great, it’s to die for!
Copyright © Sharon Elliott, used with permission.