How do I respond to people who say my child is now an angel?
Nancy, how do I respond to well-meaning people, who want to comfort me, but say things like "Your daughter is an angel in heaven now" or "My daughter that died last year is watching over your daughter now" or "Our children choose us, you know. They choose what families they are born into." I want to acknowledge their desire to comfort; however, I have a hard time with their words, because it might be an opportunity to speak truth to them. How can I (gently, kindly) correct their theology, without coming across as "she-who-has-all-the-truth"?
Oh, these odd things people say in their effort to comfort. And it is so hard to know what to say back. I think it is okay to challenge them and it is okay to let it go depending on who it is and the situation you are in. Here are some thoughts about what you might say to the specific comments you mentioned:
To: "Your daughter is an angel in heaven now," you might say, "Oh, I am grateful to know that my daughter is in heaven, but of course she hasn't become an angel. Angels are their own created order. Humans don't become angels when they die. But she is with the angels in heaven doing what everyone there does which is worship Christ."
To: "My daughter that died last year is watching over your daughter now," you might say, "It is sweet to think about our children being together. But what is even sweeter is to know that they are in the presence of God. He has taken them to himself and he is the one taking care of them until resurrection day."
To: "Our children choose us, you know. They choose what families they are born into," you might say, "What we know from the Bible is that God is the one who knits a child together in a mother's womb. He is the one who places children into families. We don't have that power of choice and that is good because God is so much wiser than we are and always does what is right."