Eternity does not start with death. We are in eternity now.
- Norman Vincent Peale
I recently had a conversation with a friend whose mother had died within the past month; it was not an easy death for her or those who loved her.
She had always been a very happy, positive, upbeat person, even through her illness, but near the end of her life she developed what we often refer to as “terminal agitation.” During those last few days, she tossed and turned a great deal, seemed to be in great discomfort and was angry at all those who tried to help her. This was distressing both for the patient and for those around her who knew her so differently.
People often wonder if this experience means their loved one was frightened at the end or saw something that caused them to worry; sometimes loved ones even worry the person close to death is afraid of not going to heaven. When the brain is getting less oxygen than it normally does, as is the case many times when someone is near their time, they often behave in this way. They are often not even aware of it and cannot control it, and it comes across as frightening to those around them. I have explained this phenomenon so many times that I have lost count, and it comforts loved ones who are experiencing just this kind of reaction, but God in his infinite mercy often handles it his own way.
This friend explained to me that about one week after her mom died, she had a wonderful dream of her. She looked beautiful, was smiling and happy and conveyed to her daughter that she was in a joyful place and enjoying herself immensely. No words spoken by well-meaning medical people, friends or pastors gave her the peace that this dream did. It was simply the best gift she could have ever received.
How well God knows each of us to allow this kind of understanding to come to us after he has taken a loved one to heaven with him. We are blessed that our father knows us so well and cares about us to this degree all the time. We belong to God from our first moment until we are safely with him in heaven. Like it or not, we belong to him.