When a family member passes, it is comforting to hope that we will one day be reunited again in heaven. But what does family in heaven look like? Will we maintain our family bonds or will those pass away in our life after death?
Recently on The Inner Life™ a listener called in whose father-in-law recently passed away, and she found herself pondering these very questions. She asked:
I know, based on the Bible, that a husband and wife are no longer married in heaven – but does that apply to every family member? Is my father-in-law still my husband’s dad? What is our relationship when we all pass away?
Father Daniel Schuster, a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay and a regular contributor on The Inner Life™, responded, “I like your question, because I think a lot of people have in their mind that heaven is when all the relatives are together – we’re all back together. And there certainly must be an element of that.”
While we don’t know exactly what heaven will look like or be like, Fr. Schuster suggested taking it to prayer to seek understanding.
“There is a line from Pope Benedict that really opened up my heart to take this to prayer,” Fr. Schuster said. “He said, ‘Heaven is God.’ So, is it a reunion? Is it an event? Is it a place? There might be elements of all that, but just imagine heaven as God, and then pray with that.”
But can we know if there is an aspect of heaven where we will recognize each other? Fr. Schuster explained that Scripture suggests there is.
“You see that with the Lord on the Mount of the Transfiguration, Elijah and Moses were there,” he pointed out. “They were prophets and they were there. So there are people there, you will recognize each other, but not with our eyes – with our spiritual senses.”
When it comes to the question of whether we will have those same family bonds in heaven, the answer is that we just don’t know. But that should not be a cause for discouragement or sadness. Scripture tells us that “eye has not seen, and ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love him.” So whatever awaits will be better than we could imagine.
“Something so great that supersedes marriage is going to be there, and that just blows your mind to think about that,” Fr. Schuster said. “Of course we’re going to love one another in a perfect kind of love, but God will be all in all, says the Scripture. God will be all in all.”
Listen to the full conversation below: