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The wish to speak with our loved ones who’ve died is a natural part of the grieving process. We long to see them one more time, hear their voice again, or tell them something we wish we’d said. We find ourselves hoping that our loved one can listen and respond from heaven. Good-intentioned friends might say the departed can hear us and are guiding us and watching over us. They might even suggest that our loved one is now an angel. Still, what does the Bible say? Should we try to communicate with our loved ones who have died? Can they talk to us from heaven?

Can our loved ones in heaven hear us?

The Bible doesn’t offer evidence to suggest that legitimate, two-way communication between the dead and the living is possible. On the contrary, the Bible forbids believers from trying to do so, as detailed in Leviticus 19:31. At least one Bible verse, Hebrews 12:1, suggests that our saved loved ones can see us from heaven and, to some extent, know what’s happening on earth. Some scholars think this crowd of witnesses to the life of faith are the saints in heaven who’ve crossed the finish line of their race but turned back to watch us and cheer us on to the splendid end. Others think the description is figurative.

The heroes of faith bear witness from the Bible, and we’re encouraged along the way by remembering their testimonies. Since the Bible doesn’t definitively say that the saints in heaven are watching us and we shouldn’t put too much confidence in the prospect, we can only speculate. The Bible does warn believers not to be deceived by lying spirits, as detailed in 1 Kings 22:22-23 and 1 Timothy 4:1. The devil is a liar, and the demons can likely imitate the appearance or voice of our departed loved ones and, in that way, lead us astray. Purposely seeking a message from beyond is spiritually dangerous.

Since Jesus is the only mediator between humanity and God, we shouldn’t pray to dead saints, as detailed in 1 Timothy 2:5. However, praying to a saint and talking to a dead loved one are two different things. Would it be okay to say something occasionally to loved ones in heaven, as long as we don’t expect to hear back from them? Nothing in the Bible says this is wrong or a violation of God’s will, but wouldn’t it be better to speak with Jesus or pray to Him about your loved one? Author Randy Alcorn says that he’s more comfortable praying to Jesus, asking Him to hug his mother and tell her it’s from him, instead of trying to speak directly to his mother, saying He knows God hears it and trusts that God will do what He knows is best.

Instead of seeking comfort from the dead, we have the Bible and God’s Spirit to give us all the guidance and comfort we need. We can look to God when we feel overwhelmed by the loss of a loved one because, in Him, there are endless reservoirs of hope, help, and strength, as detailed in Psalm 27:10. In Psalm 34:18, the psalmist affirms that God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. We find numerous examples of God speaking with us through His Word, as explained in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Bible is the main way in which God talks to us, and Psalm 119:105 reminds us that His Word is our guiding light.

Will we recognize our friends and family in heaven?

Many people think that the first thing they want to do when they get to heaven is see all their loved ones and friends who’ve passed on before them. That will indeed be a happy time as believers reunite to worship God, fellowship, and enjoy heaven’s glorious wonders. One of the blessings is that we’ll know our family members and friends in heaven, and we’ll be known. Our ability to recognize people in the afterlife is implied in several Bible verses.

At the transfiguration of Jesus, Elijah and Moses appeared and they were recognizable. Though they’d departed this world centuries before, both Moses and Elijah remained distinct persons who hadn’t lost their identity. In this and other examples, the Bible indicated that after death, we’ll still be recognizable to each other. God knows the pain that we go through when dealing with the loss of a loved one. However, God assures us that our deceased loved ones are with Him and in His care, which is the best place to be.

Take your hurt and petitions to God.

No matter the situation, we can take our heartaches and hurts to God, knowing He perfectly understands how we feel. In Jesus, we have a High Priest who understands our weaknesses. Because of Him, we can go to the throne of our gracious God boldly because there, we will accept His mercy and find grace to help us, as detailed in Hebrews 4:15-16.

With losing a loved one, the pain can be consuming. We may miss talking with them and want to reconnect in some way. In those times, God wants us to turn to Him because He is our comforter. He heals our brokenness and brings peace to our hearts, which we desperately need, as detailed in John 14:27 and Philippians 4:6-7. If we trust God with our grief, He’ll show us how to move forward despite the painful loss. What’s more, He assures us that our loved ones are whole in heaven with Him, which is better than anything we can imagine on earth.

Our departed loved ones aren’t angels, but they’re God’s chosen family, the assembly of His firstborn children whose names are written in heaven and the spirits of the righteous in heaven who have now been made perfect, as we read in Hebrews 12:23. One day, we’ll be reunited with our redeemed loved ones and share life in perfect fellowship with each other and God for all eternity.

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