When we lose somebody in death, we often are desperate for any sign that we are still connected. Some of theses signs are quite baseless. For instance, I have noticed recently a mime on facebook claiming that a cardinal at the bird-feeder is a loved one checking up on us. Even if it helps, this is bad idea to perpetuate. Where would an idea like this come from in the first place? It comes from the New Age movement and intentionally manipulates our wishful thinking.
Another idea is that our dead loved ones are watching us and that we can speak with them in a fashion similar to prayer. The likely source of this idea is Hebrews 12:1:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
The picture is that the living are on the field and the dead are in the stands watching. This, however, is a misinterpretation of this passage. The “witnesses” are not people witnessing us but rather witnessing to us. This refers to all the stories of people of great faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11, not deceased loved ones.
When somebody dies, it is unbiblical to say that:
- They have become an angel (Angels are not humans)
- They are assigned as our guardian
- Or that they are hanging out with other dead relatives
These ideas are merely comforting projections of things for which we still long.
The connection that does still remain is this: we are still part of the Body of Christ together. Both the Christians who occupy Heaven and those who still occupy Earth are all a part of the Kingdom of God and all are united to Christ. As such, we all are concerned for the ongoing work of God and we all are eager for Christ’s return.
Might information about our actions and well-being be shared with those who went ahead of us? Sure. I would expect that to be likely. Might God give our loved ones some opportunity to encourage us or help us grieve? That does seem like the type of being God is. He is compassionate and understanding. So then, maybe the cardinal could a loved one? No, I’m pretty sure it is just a bird.