They said Grandma went to Heaven, but I saw her in a box.

Death seems to be all around us.  COVID has left in its wake too many dying alone, grieving alone, and without goodbyes or closure.  Little ones ask questions of grownups who have questions.  This is the story of one small six-year-old child whose grandmother went away, but she needed to know where.  

“Hi, Evie,” Nannygranne said as she bent down to her little friend’s level.  “I’m so sad your Grandma passed away.  My Grandma did, too, but I’ll always remember her. I’m just glad I’ll get to see her again in Heaven someday.”

Evie stood motionless, looking into Nannygranne’s eyes, her eyes wide with confusion peeking over her butterfly mask.  “They said Granma went to Heaven, but I saw her in that box with the flowers on it.”

“Are you afraid she really didn’t get to go to heaven?” 

With an almost imperceptible nod, Evie’s eyes brimmed with tears.

Looking up at Evie’s mom, Nannygranne asked, “Could Evie and I go for a walk?”  Evie’s mom nodded with a grateful smile.  Nannygranne held her hand out to Evie and said, “Evie, I saw something over by that big tree I’d like to show you.  Have you ever seen a cicada?”

Evie shook her head and took Nannygranne’s hand, glad to be distracted from the happenings at the cemetery.  

As they approached the tree, Nannygranne whispered, “Ok, Evie, tell me if you see anything sitting on that tree.  You’ll have to look really close.”  

Soon Evie pointed, then hid behind Nannygranne. “It’s some bugs!” she squealed.

“Wait, Evie.  Let’s look closer.  Those are bug HOUSES…the bugs have flown away.  They are called cicadas, and they are very special bugs.  When it was hot this summer, and we were at the park, do you remember the bugs singing? Some people called them locusts.”

“Uh-huh,” Evie answered.

“It didn’t like its house?” Evie asked.

“It did for a long time, but now it can fly and sing, and it’s got big beautiful wings and can go so far.  It lived in the ground under this tree for years and years and ate tree juices and grassroots in this house.  But God made this cicada to fly and sing, and finally, its time came.”

“Does his family miss him?” Evie whispered.

“Well, I’m not sure.  But even if they do, I bet they look forward to getting to fly and sing, too.  What do you think?”

“I think they should get to fly, too.”

“You know, Evie, your Granma lived here on this earth a long time.  Her body got sick, and it hurt her to live in it.  So God let her leave her house so her real self could fly away to Him where they sing.  What you saw in that big box was just her shell.”  

Nannygranne handed Evie the cicada shell.  

She held the fragile treasure in her tiny hand. “So Granma’s real self is with God, and they just put her shell in that box?”

“That’s right, Evie.  That’s what happens when we die.”  Then taking a deep, happy breath, Nannygranne added, “But I have some really good news, Evie!  Jesus said that when He comes back, He’ll bring your Grandma and mine with him.  Then He’s going to wake up their shells and make them well for their real selves to move back in.  Then we’ll all get to fly away together with Him to our new home He’s making right now.”2

“She gets to come back?”

“That’s what the Bible says, and I believe it.” Nannygranne declared.  “But just long enough to pick up her new body and for us to join them all and then go to God’s world.”

” For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus…For the Lord, himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with God’s trumpet.  The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.  So we will be with the Lord forever.”

Evie was silent, staring at the abandoned shell.

“You can keep that if you like, Evie.  Maybe it’ll remind you that Granma’s with Jesus waiting to come back for you when it’s time.  You know, Evie, every time I hear a cicada sing, I think of my Granma and others who are with Jesus and how pretty their singing must be.”

Holding hands again, they returned to Evie’s family.  Evie ran to her mother, “Mama!  That’s just Granma’s shell in that box.  Her real self has flown away to sing with Jesus!  See?  A shell like this one…”

Evie’s mother waved and blew a kiss to Nannygranne, who caught it gratefully.  Flying away to sing with Jesus sounded so beautiful.


I Thessalonians 4:14-18; John 14:3


I am a mother, grandmother, nanny, and writer—with a passionate concern about children, all children. With the help of my son Travis (who has a graduate degree in apologetics) I hope to share some thoughts that will be helpful to all who have the same concern.

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