“I’m a very devoted Catholic and I believe that after we die we will go to heaven and I believe that I will see my loved ones again. My dad passed away—it will be two years in March—every single day I think of him, every single day. I know that I will see him again but it is still very difficult. I’m really scared, I’m afraid of dying because I have a son, I have a five year old. I think of what if I die young, what will happen to him?” explained Joanna.
It’s a common contradiction that many of us struggle with—belief in life after death, but also fear of what’s to come. Why is this?
“Let’s start by first acknowledging that death is not natural; that’s why we’re so afraid of it and that’s why it’s so fearful to us. Your normal human emotions, Joanna, are ones that we all experience because God did not create us for death. And in the garden when Adam and Eve, before they sinned and they were there enjoying the garden there should have been no death for them. But they sinned, as you know, and sin introduced death for the human race. So as it says in the epistle to the Romans, ‘Through one man came sin and death with it,’” explained Patrick Madrid, host of The Patrick Madrid Show on Relevant Radio®.
“So we’re dealing with something deeply unnatural and that is why you have the emotions you have. You love your father; you miss him. You know that at some deep level he shouldn’t have died, he should have lived forever, and thankfully, he will live forever. So please keep that in your mind that in God’s plan, by Jesus dying on the cross those who love the Lord will go to heaven and be with him happy forever. And eventually, God willing, you will join him there in heaven (assuming he’s in heaven already).”
Patrick also offered some advice for coping with the persistent grief over the death of her father. “I think that part of your healing is going to be that daily persistent prayer for your father, knowing that if in fact he hasn’t made it to heaven yet as Saint Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3, that some people who have built their life on Jesus Christ, after death nonetheless have some things that need to be purified and removed from them—he talks about them as wood, hay, and straw, things that are flammable and they burn up. He says that this process involved suffering and the man will be saved but only as though through fire, this is referring to the fires of Purgatory, he’s describing Purgatory here.
“So I think, at least human nature and experience of other people being an indicator, that your daily prayers for your father, in addition to thinking about him, in addition to pining away for him and missing him and all those normal human emotions that you’re experiencing, to channel that energy into prayer on his behalf will bring you consolation. It will help to heal the wound of grief that you’re experiencing right now because you’re going to be doing something that actually can help him. Now, if he’s already in heaven, no problem, because God will apply your prayers to some other soul in Purgatory or in some other way. You don’t have to worry about your prayers going to waste.”
He also suggested a prayer for Joanna to say that may help to ease her anxiety and fear of death and prepare her soul for eternal life. Frequently pray this verse from Psalm 27: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Hear the full conversation here: