“He’s in a Better Place.” …oh rly?

he's in a better place

– My friend says all his life, “Yeah I don’t really care for Albuquerque.”
– When he turns up missing someday… I will not insist that he’s in Albuquerque.

Ever hear the gut response to someone dying is declaring that the person is “in a better place?”

It’s positive, and anything positive, regardless of how cliché it might be, offers even just a spritz of welcomed comfort.  But feel strongly I can love and grieve using far more meaningful condolences, especially without commenting on the person’s eternal state.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the almighty God. I have limited insight into the soul of a stranger. Therefore my commentary on the person’s eternal state may in fact be out of line. Certainly if I intimately know the person, that’s a different story.  But consider this: In the same way I shouldn’t say, “I didn’t know him, but he’s in a better place,” I similarly would never declare, “I didn’t know him… but he’s probably in hell.”  My personal goal is I will never critique and decide—whether for good or bad—where a stranger’s heart is.

That’s where some people stop.  But is there a time and place where we can guess people’s hearts? Absolutely. 

Reading through what Jesus said, we find this answer. But of course in love, respect, tenderness, and a desire to improve people. 

they're in a better place

My point is it’s okay to take the person at his word; if I’ve heard the man say, “I don’t like Albuquerque,” and his choices (“fruits”) consistently prove it, naturally I am inclined to believe him. I’ll take him at his word.  

Judging people we didn’t really know—whether insisting they’re in heaven or hell—is still considered judging, which Christ expressly warned us about. 

Of course we should all speak kindly and respectfully about all people, but let’s not make up stuff about people we don’t know … even positive things.

So next time someone dies, don’t immediately promise, “they’re in a better place,” unless you really know the person.