Recently, a woman I know passed away. Days after what was a long battle with an illness was over, her boss, determined to cement his place in the “Worst Boss Ever” hall of fame, sent out an email to all her friends, family members and coworkers. In it he said,
“More than anything Susan would want us to continue working through what is the worst economic crisis this country and our company has faced. She would want us to push through this recession.”
When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask God at least two questions:
1. What was the deal with fire ants?
2. How did you not just continually strike that guy with lightning bolts all day long?
Seriously, that is the worst post death message I’ve ever heard. To use someone’s passing as a platform to move more sales of your product is unbelievable. And her boss sent out multiple rounds of that same idea, just to make sure the point was driven home.
Rumor has it that one day, I too, will die, but I’m not worried about an email like that circulating about me. I don’t fear that fate because as my friend Bruce reminded me, Christians excel at coming up with creative ways to say, “He died.” Like few people on the planet, we can eulogize the loss of a friend. And if I do go anytime soon, I hope you’ll pick one of these four popular methods to say “He’s dead.”:
1. “Heaven got a new football coach.”
I read this one the other day in a newspaper article and although it won’t fit perfectly for me or maybe you, the concept works. Whatever you were doing on earth just so happens to be something they needed in heaven and now you’ll be able to fulfill that role beyond the pearly white gates. In this case, the guy was a football coach, in my case, a sarcastic writer. Either way, it’s kind of funny because it calls to mind a bunch of angels sitting around on a field with some former NFL stars wishing they had a coach who could lead them through some drills. All of the sudden, poof, he’s there and the angels are finally able to practice and eventually play the demons that Frank Peretti created in his book “Facing the Darkness.” (The demon football team by the way uses the Raiders uniform and the angels are modeled after the New England Patriots. You’ll probably claim bias on my part since I’m from New England but I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible.)
2. “He’s looking down on us from heaven.”
Based on what we say when someone passes away, heaven involves a lot of looking down. When you get up there, there’s just a big window back to earth and instead of TV, you just watch what the people you love are doing. If that’s true, I have to imagine that some of the people watching me, like my grandfather, are like people at a horror movie that yell at the screen. Instead of screaming, “Don’t open that closet,” my grandfather says things like, “Don’t take that job Jon! Stop thinking about money first. Write your second book instead of watching an MTV Real World marathon. Oh no, you are killing me.” He probably doesn’t say that last sentence, but I do have to confess that it feels a little egotistical to assume that when someone goes to heaven, one of the main activities they do is watch our lives. They’re in heaven. No offense, I’ll keep tabs on ya’ll with whatever sort of angelic Twitter they have in heaven but I have to believe there will be a majillionity other cool things to do in heaven that don’t involve me watching you go to the grocery store or file your taxes.
3. “He’s with his wife now.”
Although I’ve cleared my wife to marry someone who is shorter, less funny and less handsome than me should I die an early death, according to what many people say, she’ll come hang out with me when it’s all over. It’s very popular to imagine heaven like this bus depot where our loved ones are waiting for us to finally join them. Is that what heaven is like? Do all your buddies and family members that passed away before you make a welcome home banner that they hang from palm trees (my version of heaven is all palm trees) and then when you get there, they say, “That took forever, we’ve been trying to put together a foursome for Frisbie golf. Finally.” I don’t know about that one, tough call.
4. “He’s gone to a better place.”
One of my favorite things about being a Christian is that you never have to say the phrase, “It doesn’t get any better than this,” because it does. Even if you’re one of those people I see on the television show International House Hunters where they go look at three different houses in foreign locations like the Grand Caymans Islands and then buy one and say, “We love it here. We’re so glad we’re not a middle class copywriter living in Georgia who doesn’t get to tickle dolphins every morning when the sun wakes us up from our beds, which by the way, are hammocks woven of happiness.” Even if you’re that guy, it does get better. Heaven is better, and I’m a big fan of the simplicity of “He’s gone to a better place.”
I’m not sure what people will say after I die, hopefully it will be something from that list because those are my four favorite options.
But I promise I missed some.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever heard someone say after someone else passed away?