My blog today is a shared work from a woman I respect and admire. Her writing speaks to me and I connect with her ideas about spirituality and family. Pam Boccia is a mother, wife, teacher, exceptional writer and fellow blogger. You can find her work at Zachellamom.com.
I have long been fascinated by our children’s connection to the “other side”. I love to read accounts from parents about the things their children say in regards to death, heaven and deceased loved ones. It is my belief that children are so connected to the other side because their journey is brand new. It’s only as we grow and our mind gets filled up with Ego illusions and body connection that we “forget.” I think we can help them remember as much as possible by encouraging the dialogue. I know my readers will enjoy this piece from Pam.
My children have been blessed to know many of their great-grandparents. Such a blessing also means they experienced the loss of four close relatives (the 5th died when my son was 6 months old), with three passing away this year. I have had concerns about my son, at 5-years-old, being exposed to so much death in such a short period of time, but ironically he has been the one to help me through the loss with his innocent insights about death and heaven.
Observant and curious, he asked questions about where people go when they die. Both my husband and I believe that every person has a soul that lives on after death, so it seemed natural to introduce the idea of “heaven” to my son.
At first he asked many honest and adorable questions like, “If we had to drive to heaven, how long would it take to get there?” and “Does great-grandpa still have that cough in heaven?” He seemed to accept the idea of heaven and added his own interpretation to it.
When each person walked up to place a rose on the casket at my grandfather’s funeral, we went up as a family and placed our roses. As we walked away, my son said, “When we see Tata again, he’s going to have those flowers.” I nodded and managed a “yes” through tears. Of course, he would have those flowers.
My son brings his great-grandparents to life quite often through imaginary play. It usually starts, “Mommy, so-and-so is coming to visit,” and then he walks in the room taking on the role of his deceased great-grandparent. The first time he did this it made me a little uneasy, but now it’s become quite commonplace in our house to bring to life deceased relatives. I know I will miss this one day when he outgrows imaginary play, or as his great-grandparents fade from his memory.
Our next-door neighbor also died this summer. Being an observant and imaginative child, he would often talk about these neighbors and sometimes pretend to be them when playing. While part of me worried about how much he’s had to hear about death in the past few months, I decided to tell him that our neighbor, “Mr. Miller,” passed away. He asked me a few questions about Mr. Miller “passing out,” another adorable interpretation that I did not bother correcting because it was so sweet. Could death be more like passing out and waking up in another place? Maybe he knows something I don’t.
Later that day, at the playground, my son was climbing a ladder up to a higher level of equipment. Smiling, he called down to me, “Mommy, look, it’s Mr. Miller going up to heaven!” It was beautiful, innocent, and true. I knew it was a moment I would hold in my heart forever.
While the seeds of my son’s idea of heaven were planted by us, his parents, he has taught me much about what it means to not just believe in something with your mind, but to know it in your heart. Even though I believe in an afterlife where we are reunited with a greater being, I forget what I believe every day. I’m the one who gave him the idea that heaven is place of love, not suffering, so why was I surprised when he joyfully imitated our neighbor going up to heaven? Do I believe what I tell him? Do I know it in my heart? My son has reminded me of what I know to be true in my inner being, during moments of stillness, beyond fear—that heaven is a place of pure love.
My children’s last living great-grandparent died on July 13, 2015 at 102 years old. When my husband shared this news with my son, he responded saying, “Well, at least she won’t be alone.” She definitely won’t be. We also know that according to my son’s interpretation, she won’t be far away.
Heaven Through a Child’s Eyes
Going to the afterlife is as beautiful and seamless as climbing up to a higher level at the playground.
We don’t suffer from the ailments that plagued us on earth.
We can hear the thoughts and words sent up to us by our family and friends.
We can visit our relatives on earth whenever we want, even just to play with our grandchildren.
We will be holding the flowers strewn upon us by loved ones, why did we ever doubt that?
We will be holding those flowers in good health, mingling with our loved ones who have gone before us, coming back for the occasional visit, especially with creative and innocent children who call upon us at whim to join in their games and the world of the impermanent for a time.
Where did he conceive of this heaven? From the little bit we’ve told him, from his own intuitive knowing, by seeing the world and heaven through his own eyes, the eyes of a child.
I wanted to protect my son from dealing with so much loss at a young age, but instead he taught me much about losing the ones we love and how to keep their memory and spirit alive. While this was the year that our three loved ones departed this world to go to heaven, it has also been the year my son taught me what it means to believe in something with your whole heart.
If he forgets what he knows about heaven as he grows up, as most of us do, I would encourage him to question his beliefs, as true faith can only come through personal experience. However, if he asks me why I believe in heaven, I might tell him this:
Why I Believe In Heaven
If you want to know the truth about life and death
Be present in nature
Observe a child
Spend time with what you find to be beautiful in this world
Sit in stillness and listen for a while
You can ask, pray, beg if you have to, but then be sure to listen
Answers may come at unexpected times, from unexpected places, so stay alert
The heart knows. The body knows.
Faith lives there.
The mind is often the last to know.
If you feel fear, sadness, or anger–
Sit with it.
See what’s behind it.
It could be a beauty beyond your imagining
You don’t want to miss it.
Thank you for sharing your heart and stories of your family with us, Pam ❤️