Excerpts From Life After Death
Rediscovering Life After the Loss of a Loved One

Life After Death by Tony CookeExcerpt from the Introduction
You may have picked up this book for one of several reasons. Perhaps someone you love has died, and you need comfort in this challenging time, wisdom on how to put matters into perspective, and strength to move on with your life. Maybe you are trying to make sense of what happened, and you wonder if anything will ever be normal again.
Perhaps you have a friend who has lost a loved one and you feel inadequate to help him or her. Your heart goes out to your friend, but you just don’t know what to say. It is also possible that you simply desire to be better prepared and equipped for helping others when the inevitable losses of life occur.

There are many different types of loss in life that affect us. Some people are laid off from jobs, others experience divorce, some have prized possessions stolen, and others have a home destroyed by fire or natural disaster. While this book emphasizes issues pertaining to the death of a loved one, it should be noted that any type of loss could trigger reactions in our lives.

Chapter 1: The Origin of Death

Subtitles for this chapter include:

  • An Intruder Called Death
  • Three Types of Death
  • God Is the Author of Life

Excerpts from Chapter 1:
Questions about death invariably lead people to look to God—to ask questions and form opinions about Him. If we arrive at wrong conclusions, we can feel disenchanted, disillusioned, and hopeless. We can even feel as though God is distant, uncaring, undependable, or even sadistic. This is why it is vital to consider God’s perspective on death and to arrive at correct conclusions about the issue of death.
Reading the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis, it becomes clear that death was never a part of God’s original purpose or intention for mankind. Death is not a reflection of God’s wonderful nature toward us.

The believer needs to understand that God is not the author of death. It would be difficult for a person to trust in or love a God who was deemed to be the originator of something that has brought so much pain and heartache to humanity. Jesus wanted to make sure we understood the difference between God’s goodness and Satan’s destructive nature. He said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Chapter 2: What Happens When We Die?

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • An Outward Man and an Inward Man
  • Departure and Decease
  • Better for Whom?
  • A Win/Win Proposition

Excerpt from Chapter 2:
Never think of life and death as a win/lose proposition. Some mistakenly think that if a Christian recovers from an illness, it is a victory, but if he dies, it is a defeat. For the Christian, life and death is a win/win proposition. Remember Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” God wants us to live our life here on earth serving and loving Him. And we can live confidently, knowing that when the time of our departure comes, our wonderful Lord will welcome us home and our homecoming will be precious in His sight.

Chapter 3: This Can’t Be Happening! (Dealing With Shock and Denial)

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Shock or Grace?
  • God’s Grace Is Consistent

Excerpts from Chapter 3:
Upon receiving traumatic or distressing news, our mind and body can adversely react in diverse ways. People have described their feelings of shock in various terms. Some say they are stunned; others say disbelief. And some say life seems unreal.

One author described this sense of numbness and disbelief as an “anesthetic” and as a “psychological shock absorber” that creates “an insulation from the reality of the death until one is more able to tolerate what one doesn’t want to believe.”

Chapter 4: Stages: Grief Recovery Is a Process

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Description Versus Prescription
  • Phases of Recovery
  • ‘Sorrow Not’ Versus ‘Sorrow Not, Even as Others Which Have No Hope’
  • Is There Such Thing as a Timetable?
  • Event Versus Process
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All
  • What Do You Do?

Excerpts from Chapter 4:

Christians sometimes struggle with the idea that grief recovery is a process that takes time. They will protest, “We are Christians! We know our loved one is in heaven. After all, the Bible says that Christians are not supposed to grieve!”

As much as we would all like automatic exemption from grief, or at least, an immediate and instantaneous recovery from all emotional pain, such desire is based more on wishful thinking than on an accurate understanding of Scripture.

Obviously, timetables will be as varied and unique as the individuals who are grieving. It is wise not to put a time limit for recovery upon yourself, or upon a friend who may be grieving. We can give ourselves time to recover, and we can minister to others with mercy and tenderness regardless of how long their particular recovery takes.

As humans, we would rather have a grief recovery event than a grief recovery process. Who would not want instant and absolute relief, a quick fix, and a cure-all?

I have spoken with a few people who experienced what they described as a very remarkable and speedy recovery following the death of a loved one, but my observations are that most people experience a gradual recovery over time. When relationships were close and strong, the quick recovery is the exception, not the rule.

Chapter 5: It’s Okay To Cry

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Various Responses to Emotion
  • Finding Emotional Equilibrium Can Take Time
  • God Gave You Emotions

Excerpts from Chapter 5:

One of the major issues encountered in dealing with the death of a loved one pertains to human emotions. Some people have been taught that if a person really has faith, they will not or should not experience any kind of negative emotions following a loved one’s death. But is this idea in line with the teaching of the Bible?

Ecclesiastes 3:4 states that there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Jesus expressed the supportive and consoling nature of God toward those distressed by loss when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4). He certainly did not say, “Shame on those who mourn,” or any other condemning words. Jesus also entered fully into the experience of human sorrow when He wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35).

New Testament believers are seen expressing their grief in Acts 8:2 as “godly men [who] buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him” (NIV). The Apostle Paul, a man of great faith, acknowledged his own humanness when he spoke of the fact that his friend, Epaphroditus, had been sick and was very close to death. He stated, “God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow” (Philippians 2:27).

You need to know that God did not create you to be a robot. He gave you emotions, and they have a significant role in your life. God gave you the ability to feel—the ability that causes you to feel emotional pain is the same ability that enables you to give and receive joy and love.

God did not create you to be emotionless, but neither did He create you so that emotions and feelings would be the lord of your life. Talk to God about what you’re going through. Be honest with Him. Pour out your heart before Him. He’s not offended by your emotions, and He wants to walk through this process with you.

Chapter 6: Coming To Grips With Guilt

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • ‘Normal’ Guilt Versus ‘Neurotic’ Guilt
  • Do We Need Forgiveness or Reassurance?
  • Godly Sorrow Versus The Sorrow of the World
  • The Hardest Person to Forgive
  • We Can’t Change the Past
  • No Longer a Slave to Guilt
  • A Prayer for Forgiveness
  • Staying Free From Guilt

Excerpt from Chapter 6:

It seems as though it’s easier for us to forgive others than it is for us to forgive ourselves. But the deceased would not want us languishing in guilt and lamenting our remorse either. Our deceased loved ones would recognize that all of us (including them!) have failed and been less than perfect in our relationships. Life is all about grace and mercy—forgiving ourselves and forgiving others.

Chapter 7: Why Am I Angry?

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Jesus and Anger
  • The Apostle Paul on Anger
  • ‘I’m Going To Scream!’
  • Job Lashed Out in Anger
  • Does Injustice Deserve Forgiveness?
  • Jesus’ Personal Reaction To a Great Injustice
  • The Power of Forgiveness
  • What the Apostle James Said About Anger
  • Steps to Overcoming Anger

Excerpts from Chapter 7:

Anger is a form of protest. When we consider something to be unfair or unjust, when something (or someone) we value is taken from us, or when we feel threatened, we naturally have an emotional response. Something within us reacts. We may say it out loud or merely feel it within ourselves, but something says, This is not fair! This is not right! I object! I protest!

Many have been trained to believe that anger is undesirable and wrong—that anger is a sin. As a result, many people are not honest with themselves or with others and they seek to hide or repress their anger. They may say the socially appropriate and acceptable words—what they think people expect them to say—and they may “act” properly, but inside they are dealing with anger.

Chapter 8: Tackling the Tough Questions

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Ways to Deal With Disappointment
  • Four Major Questions
  • Three Types of Storms in Scripture
  • The Misconception of the Disciples: ‘Who Sinned?’
  • ‘Did I Not Have Faith?’
  • ‘Why?’
  • When There Doesn’t Seem To Be an Easy Answer
  • More Scriptures To Guide Us
  • Sometimes We Do Know Some Reasons
  • ‘Can I Ever Trust God Again?’
  • Being in the Know Means You Can Say ‘No!’

Excerpts from Chapter 8:

When a loved one dies, we are faced with emotions to handle, decisions to make, duties to attend to, responsibilities to bear, and—often hardest of all—questions to answer.

Nearly every pastor will agree that when he or she deals with family members after a loved one’s death, the most frequently asked questions have to do with Why? This is especially true when the loved one dies at a young age, when the death is sudden and tragic, or when a person suffers much before dying. One person expressed this struggle by saying, “The most troubling feeling was that of blaming God, or just crying out, ‘Why, God, why?’”

Chapter 9: Adjusting To the New Reality

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Why Can’t Things Just Stay the Way They Are?
  • Everything Changes
  • Dependency Issues
  • Identity Issues
  • Companionship Issues
  • A Look at King David’s Recovery

Excerpts from Chapter 9:

Whenever we lose a loved one, we are forced to make many adjustments. While some adjustments are practical and external, others are emotional and internal. Some may seem trivial—others monumental. Any and every adjustment can be difficult to make, simply because change itself is difficult.

Adjustment is going to be different for each person. Every individual has his or her own unique personality and temperament that processes information and perceives events differently. Each grieving person had his own unique relationship with the person who died, and each one will have to make adjustments accordingly.

Missing someone you love is a tribute to that person and to his or her influence in your life. Moving forward, making the necessary adjustments, and finding new purpose for yourself is a tribute to God and to His influence in your life.

Chapter 10: How To Help and Not Hurt: Insights on Giving and Receiving Comfort

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Confronting Our Own Insecurities
  • Taking the Pressure Off
  • ‘The Thing That Helped Me Most…’
  • When ‘Help’ Isn’t Helpful
  • When People Fail Us
  • A Matter of Perceptions and Expectations
  • Benefiting Either Way
  • The Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother
  • Being Helpful in Practical Ways
  • Provide the ‘Ministry of Presence’
  • Help With Organizational Matters
  • Help With Practical Matters
  • Be Specific in Your Offers of Assistance
  • Don’t Feel Obligated To Preach or Be Omniscient
  • Touch Base Regularly
  • Help Your Friend Reintegrate Into Life’s Activities
  • Refer When Appropriate
  • Don’t Put Unreasonable Expectations on Your Friend
  • Bring up ‘the Topic’ and Talk About the Person Who Died
  • Remember That Children Need Help in Dealing With Grief
  • Parents Who Experience a Miscarriage or Stillbirth Also Need Expressions of Love and Support

Excerpts from Chapter 10:

As the bereaved adjust to their new reality, friends and family will typically reach out in an attempt to lend a helping hand. If you have ever felt the sting of an insensitive remark or the kindness of a gentle word aptly spoken, then you know the power we wield when trying to comfort the grieving. We can either wound with our words or play a vital part in helping to mend the brokenhearted.

Perhaps one of the best things we can do to take this pressure off ourselves is to realize that it is not our job to make the person’s grief disappear. If we are uneasy with someone’s manifestation of emotions or tears, we may scramble to say some kind of “magic words” to make them stop crying and to extinguish their emotional expression. In such cases, what we are really doing is trying to control the situation—and the person—to minimize our own discomfort. But whose needs are we trying to meet at that moment? The fact is that the other person may need to cry or release their emotions at that point. Is it our job to make them stop crying so we won’t feel uncomfortable? No, a true comforter is focused on meeting the needs of the other person, not on catering to his own comfort level.

Chapter 11: Freedom From the Fear of Death

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • When Fear Began
  • Security Breeds Confidence
  • Overcoming Fear and the Guilt of Being Afraid
  • Faith in the Face of Death
  • Confident Christians’ Last Words

Excerpts from Chapter 11:

It seems that some people, perhaps because of fear, simply want to avoid thinking about death at all. Perhaps they think if they don’t give death any thought, it won’t happen. Such thinking may lead them to the same place in which Caesar Borgia found himself when he said, “I have provided in the course of my life for everything except death; and now alas! I am to die entirely unprepared.”

The introduction of fear into the human race coincided with mankind’s sin in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve transgressed the commandment of God, they entered into a realm of separation from God. When God called out to Adam, he responded, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10).

God, however, was not content to see humanity, His prized creation (see Psalm 8:3-6), separated from Him and suffering the consequences of Satan’s rule. God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to be our Savior. What did God’s plan accomplish? “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).

We can see clearly from Scripture that deliverance from fear is a vital part of what God desired to accomplish in our lives.

Hebrews 2:14,15
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Chapter 12: Heaven: The Believer’s Hope

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • How Much Emphasis Should We Place on Heaven?
  • Just Passing Through
  • Loving Life—Desiring Heaven
  • Is Heaven on Our Mind?
  • A Look at the Afterlife Through ‘Heaven’s Waiting Room’
  • The Rich Man and Lazarus
  • Paradise Relocated
  • Who and What Are in Heaven?
  • What Will We Experience in Heaven?
  • Heaven: No Evil—Only Good
  • Running Our Race; Reaching for Heaven

Excerpts from Chapter 12:

When you go to heaven, you will not be going as an unwelcome stranger, nor will you be merely “tolerated” as some type of divine concession. No! God has loved you with an everlasting love, and He has drawn you to Himself. He wants you to be with Him, and He has a Kingdom for you to inherit, a Kingdom that has been waiting for you from the foundation of the world. Jesus went to heaven with the specific intention of preparing a place for you!

In this wonderful place called heaven, there will be no evil, no wickedness, no unrighteousness, no ungodliness, and no sin. This is not wishful thinking—it is the world to which all of God’s children are going. It is real, tangible, and eternal.

The heaven to which we are headed is a place without crime, without corruption, without pain, sorrows, and tears. There are no sirens, no deadbolts, and no alarm systems. There will be no barbed wire or razor wire. There is no adversity there, no trials, and no tribulation.

There are no ambulances, hospitals, cemeteries, or prisons. There are no plagues in heaven and no funerals. No one will be hungry or homeless, and earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and raging fires will no longer exist to ravage mankind.

Heaven will be free from all sin, and there will be no temptation there. No one will be confused, and misunderstandings will simply not occur. No hateful words will ever be spoken there; crude, offensive behavior will not exist. Every motive of every person will be pure. Envy, covetousness, grudges, jealousies, and suspicions will be things of the distant past.
There will be no abuse, exploitation, or violence in heaven, no strife and no broken hearts. No one will suffer from physical maladies, emotional disturbances, chemical imbalances, addictions, or handicaps of any kind—they simply won’t exist in heaven. No one will be weary or exhausted. Worry, fear, and anxiety will not be present. All bondages that afflicted and tormented people on earth will have been absolutely vanquished—eliminated entirely!

Chapter 13: Eternal Life: Know Where You’re Going

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • What Does the Bible Say?
  • You Can Receive This Gift Right Now!
  • Now That You’ve Received the Gift of Eternal Life…
  • If You Are Tempted To Doubt…
  • Let Us Hear From You!

Excerpts from Chapter 13:

The most important issue you will ever face in life pertains to where you will spend eternity. For many years, this matter of eternity was unresolved in my own life. I was raised in church, believed in God, and tried to be a good person. I believed heaven existed, and I hoped to go there when I died. However, I lacked the assurance of knowing that I had eternal life and would spend eternity in heaven. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t sure what it took to get into heaven. Like many people, I assumed that acceptance by God was largely based on my own works and efforts. In other words, I believed that if I was good enough, God would let me into heaven. But there was a nagging concern that maybe I wasn’t quite good enough. After all, I really didn’t know exactly what “good enough” was as far as God was concerned.

Chapter 14: The Glorious Resurrection

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • A Glorious Reunion
  • New Testament Proof of a Resurrection
  • When Will the Resurrection Take Place?
  • In the end…

Excerpts from Chapter 14:

Some people have mistakenly thought that the afterlife consists of vapor-like spirits floating around the clouds. The fact is, though, that God created human beings as whole people—spirit, soul, and body—and that is exactly how we will live throughout eternity.

At the resurrection, our corruptible and mortal bodies are made incorruptible and immortal by the power of God. God will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body (Philippians 3:21). The Bible teaches two wonderful, parallel truths: our spirits are immortal, and our bodies will be resurrected.

Appendix A: Too Young Too Die

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Gender Differences In the Grieving Process
  • We Look for Answers
  • Are Babies Saved?

Excerpts from Appendix A:

Typically, we can understand, at least intellectually, when an older person dies. We usually accept the passing of someone who has lived a long, full life. However, it seems so contrary to the natural order of things when a child dies or when an infant is stillborn.

The impact of a child’s death on parents is so traumatic that an estimated seventy to eighty percent of those marriages result in divorce.

We feel a great need to find answers for the important questions that arise when dealing with miscarriages and stillbirths. What happens to a baby’s spirit upon death? Do babies go to heaven? What about a baby that never lives outside his or her mother’s womb? The Word of God makes some very powerful statements about God’s hand and power in the formation of a baby even before birth.

Psalm 139:13-16 (New Living Translation)
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Appendix B: Spiritualism: Talking With the Dead?

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Human Deception Or Supernatural Factors?
  • Are There Any Exceptions?
  • Jesus Spoke to Moses and Elijah On the Mount of Transfiguration

Excerpts from Appendix B:

For centuries, people have sought to establish contact and communicate with their deceased loved ones. Today, spiritualism takes the form of television entertainment as mediums (people through whom the dead supposedly speak) convey alleged messages from dead relatives and friends to fascinated and awe-struck members of the viewing audience.

This practice may appear on the surface to be comforting and helpful, but the Bible very strongly and specifically denounces it.

Involvement with fortune-telling, magic, psychics, séances, or conversations with the dead places the believer on extremely dangerous ground! This is why the Bible explicitly forbids God’s children to become involved in any way in the occult. God’s command that we not speak to the dead is not given because God is mean or wants to deny us meaningful interaction with our deceased loved ones.

God tells us the truth for our benefit. He has a way for us to interact with our deceased loved ones, but it is His way, on His terms, and in His timing. When we acknowledge that our loved ones are in another realm and that communication with them will not take place until we are together in heaven, we are exhibiting patience and are submitting to God’s revealed truth. Impatience and rebellion, believing that we can circumvent God’s established ways, will only lead to trouble.

Appendix C: Dealing With Suicide

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • How To Approach the Subject of Suicide
  • Five Biblical Principles Concerning Suicide
  • Scriptural Examples of Suicide
  • Is There a Place for Mercy?

Excerpts from Appendix C:

One of the most difficult situations a person can face is having a loved one commit suicide. In addition to dealing with an intensified form of normal grief issues (guilt, anger, confusion, and so forth), surviving family members frequently feel isolated from friends and others in their church and community. They may feel a sense of shame about the manner of their loved one’s death and simply not know what to say or how to explain the situation. Those who would normally offer support to the family may also feel uncomfortable about the situation. They may keep their distance due to their awkward feelings and their own difficulty of not knowing what to say.

Ultimately, we must leave each person’s eternal destiny in God’s hands. You are not the Judge, and neither am I. It is not our responsibility to make the call as to how God will judge each particular person. We may know certain things about what went on externally, but we don’t know all that went on inside of a particular person. Only God truly knows all the facts. While we never seek to justify suicide, we must also recognize that we are not necessarily aware of the pressures, the pain, or the perceptions that were present within an individual. As with any kind of death, we must simply commit the spirit of an individual who took his life into the hands of an all-knowing, righteous, and merciful God.

Appendix D: Raising the Dead

Subtitles from this chapter include:

  • Let’s Consider the Facts
  • Why Is the Miracle of Raising the Dead So Exceptional?

Excerpt from Appendix D:

As honorable as it is to have an intense desire to see someone we love continue with us, it is also necessary sometimes to release that person to the care of God in heaven. Recognizing our human limitations is a part of life. There are times when we come face-to-face with the realization that we cannot control every person and every circumstance. However, we can choose to place and keep our trust in God no matter what. God is God, and He always will be God, regardless of the outcome of any specific situation.

Appendix E: Scriptures of Comfort and Strength

This section contains 87 different scripture references that are especially helpful when comfort, strength, and hope are needed.