What Does Heaven Look like?

I had a lot of conversations about death with Emilie before she died.  After she lost her Grandpa, she had lots of questions she came to me with in trying to fully understand Heaven.  I tried to answer as best as I could, but the truth was I didn’t have all the answers.  A few months later, after Emilie was killed, my mind once again swirled around the same questions about what Heaven looked like to me.  Since then I have thought a lot about Heaven.  What does Heaven looks like?  What are our loved ones on the other side are doing?  How involved are these sweet angels in our lives?  I have read so much and experienced so much and I have been so uplifted by the shared experiences of so many.  There is power in storytelling and sharing experiences and I have been so thankful for those that have shared those experiences with me.  

For the first time, I want to pose a question to all of you who read my blog.  I want to know what your feelings and experiences are with Heaven.  Do you believe in Heaven and why and what do you think it looks like?  

Until now I have not allowed comments on any of my posts, but I wanted to turn the comment section on just this once.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, since it is near and dear to my heart.  Thanks so much!  

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120 responses to “What Does Heaven Look like?

  1. Hi Alissa,
    First and foremost, thank you so much for writing all of your thoughts down in this beautiful website for your daughter & family for “us” to read. You are an amazing mama & I truly admire your ability to get up every day and put one foot in front of the other. My mother was pregnant with me when my father died (young & tragically.) I am not a very religious person, but I do believe in Heaven… and I am pretty sure he is hanging out there. I like to think that he and the other people in my life who have passed are surrounding me with love and light during the good times and the bad. I hope that all those friends and family members are enjoying peace, love and serenity. I like to think that these people have formed their own little families just because they have connected through knowing me and watching over me. I hope you and your family are doing well. I wish you lots of luck & many hugs as you send your littles back to school. Courtney

  2. Alissa,
    I have taken time to read your blog since the early months following Emilie’s passing. What a privilege for us to be made privy to the exceptional little girl she was through your words and pictures. In this way alone, she can never be truly lost as you have done so much to keep her memory alive. I like many others waver in terms of religion. However, because of multiple experiences in the past year, I wholeheartedly believe in the existence of heaven. I see heaven as an equalizer, where our loved ones are able to reunite without the burden of illness/disability/pain and find peace. However, I believe they retain their connection to those they have left behind and it is because of those ties that we may be blessed with signs from them. After losing both of my grandmothers within 9 months of one another, my parents and I began to experience spiritual moments. Perhaps you have heard of the sweet little “pennies from heaven” poem? We have found many pennies in our hours of deep struggles, often with dates that have real meaning to our family. My cousin, in the wake of my one grandmother’s death, moved into her house and has reported to us familiar sounds, smells, and even sights that would indicate our loved ones have been sending us signs. Could these incidents be considered coincidences? Absolutely. But I choose to have faith otherwise. I believe that if we are willing to open our minds to the possibility that our loved ones are watching, we can accept the bits of guidance they have to offer. It does not take away my pain, but it is of comfort to me to keep faith that my grandparents are not too far away until we can one day be reunited.

  3. I was raised Catholic and in my later teenage years I lost some dear friends tragically to multiple car accidents and it lead me to question my Faith. I went on to college where I valued education and research more then faith. I thought that if Heaven was real we’d have tangible evidence to prove its’s existence. I wanted proof. I remember being in an airplane flying above the clouds and thinking where is heaven? As I completed my undergraduate program and got engaged to my high school sweetheart I decided to get married in a Catholic Church. I wanted faith in my life, but still longed for proof of an afterlife. I started reading about mediums and the research around connecting with the dead and past lives and I found two books that helped me on my journey to regaining my faith. The first is Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian L Weiss. I read the entire book from start to finish in one sitting during the Super Bowl (I’m not a big football fan). It was so interesting and based on research. I loved the brain stimulation and comfort it brought me. I have since purchased the book for friends and colleagues (no matter their religion) when they have suffered the loss of a loved one. Everyone I have purchased it for has since purchased it for someone else in return. The second book I found is called everything Happens for a Reason by Suzane Northrop. I was so impacted by her book that I went to see her on multiple occasions for workshops when she was in Connecticut. Her writing and experiences have helped to strengthen my faith and confidence in my own ability to connect beyond the physical world and body. I have been reading your blog since you began writing about your journey. I live in Connecticut and also have three daughters and I was amazed by your husbands strength to speak publicly on the eve of the shooting. I was in awe of your strength and honesty through such a tragic loss. You have inspired me and made me a better mother through sharing your most vulnerable feelings and experiences. I have always wanted to thank you but inever thought I’d have the chance. When I read your blog about what heaven looks like I realized that I could share my experiences and hopefully give back to you a little of what you have given to me and so many others over the past few years. So to answer your question I do believe in Heaven but I’m not sure what it looks like.

  4. dear alissa, i have already made a small comment, but i would like to say more. in 1973 my light inside was shown to me in meditation. i can see ,feel, hear my light inside thru meditation.everything is inside of us,god ,soul, light ,and heaven.when you go inside you can feel emilies love, its there no one can take her love away, take a deep breath ,and feel her love. emilie is home where we all have to go. she is pure love, yes she is in heaven ,and heaven is inside,jimmy

  5. Alissa I have followed your blog and have learned much from you. Thank you for sharing your feelings with all of us. My father passed away when I was very young. I don’t know that I have any impressions of what heaven may look like however, I have had many experiences with my father since his passing. As I have grown there were many times in my life that I knew he was there. I have been given priesthood blessings that tell me things he wants me to know. That has touched me deeply. I have had sacred moments in the temple that are too sacred to share publicly. I testify to you that the veil is very thin. They are with us always, in one priesthood blessing I was told that he along with others who love me are praying for me on the other side of the veil. That confirmed to my heart that they very much are aware of us and our needs and what is happening here. Alissa there is nothing that will ever completely take away the pain of losing a child. I am so sorry that this has happened to you. I do know that as I keep my covenants and maintain my worthiness I am more prone to these little moments of communication. As I stay focused on what matters they manifest themselves to me when I most need them. I love the plan of salvation and am so so grateful for the knowledge that as painful as death is it is not the end. I hope you find love and joy on your journey. Thank you for letting us share.

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us about Emilie and her family. I do, indeed, believe there is a heaven. I’ve never thought a lot about what it looked like. For me, it’s more of a feeling. I believe feelings ‘look’ different to everyone. I see love, happiness, healing, comfort and God’s grace. It’s a beautiful place. What does beautiful look like to you? I bet it’s different that what I think it looks. But we’re both right, at least from our earthly viewpoint. Why do I believe? How could I not? Look at a newborn baby. How on this earth could any of us have created that? I think each baby is a work of art. I believe God would not have created us to become nothing. I know there’s a heaven just like I know there is a God. I know he loves me. I know he forgives me. I know he has a place for me. I know Emilie is there waiting. She is happy. She is loved. She will be so happy to see you one day. I know there are loved ones waiting for me. I just know all the pain, all the joy that we experience here on earth is not all there is.

    Thanks for opening you comments. I understand that it is not something you can do often. I come here often to check on you and I pray for you.

    Beverly Atkins

  7. Alissa,
    We have talked about this before. It is a touchy subject for me to talk about (as you may already know). I have tried to figure out what I believe in and the truth is I just don’t know what happens after you go. Knowing this about myself I researched it, I asked my dad, I asked grandma, and I found out that I am Agnostic. Although I don’t know what happens after you die, I do know something for sure, there is a heaven. I know this because I have felt grandpa, very strong. I am so thankful for this experience. I would really like to talk more on this next weekend, if you would like to. I enjoy talking with you about Emilie, grandpa and religion, because you are so open minded; you make me feel safe and not judged, and I love that about you. I am so grateful for these blog posts, because they help with my grieving over Emilie. I love you Alissa, your niece Claire💗

  8. Alissa, I discovered your blog a little over a year ago and have read it like a novel, I cried, I laughed, I felt anger for you, my heart wound sink when you talked about triggers or when you would describe what it was like to miss Emilie. But mostly I felt how much Emilie was loved. She was given such a great life filled with love. Thank you for letting us know her and letting us know exactly what was taken that day.
    I believe in heaven, I think maybe it is whatever you need it to be? I have no doubt you feel peace and love and are reunited with others that have loved you when you were on earth. I think maybe it’s like having the best dream you ever had and not having to worry about being woken up. I have no doubt that we are given signs from those who have passed. They visit us often. You gave Emilie such a great gift teaching her about God and heaven.

  9. Alissa. I moved with my daughter to neighboring New Milford, CT in 2008 from Brooklyn, NY as a single mother. My husband (whom I met in 2009) is from Monroe, CT. On that day, my daughter was in 4th Grade, in lock-down with the rest of her classmates, for over 1/2 an hour, with the lights off after they had taped copy paper to the windows…we were lucky. We moved back to Brooklyn, NY in 2013, largely because of what had happened.

    Now, I take the subway to work and often think about that day and the days that followed while living in CT. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I look up, and there is a Poem about Heaven as part of the MTA Poetry in Motion series. I’d like to share this with you now, since you asked.

    by Patrick Phillips

    It will be the past
    and we’ll live there together.

    Not as it was to live
    but as it is remembered.

    It will be the past.
    We’ll all go back together.

    Everyone we ever loved,
    and lost, and must remember.

    It will be the past.
    And it will last forever.

  10. Dear Alyssa,
    Thank you for allowing us to meet Emilie through your many posts. I am often quite sad after reading a post and my friends ask why do I do it. I guess I believe that if I can read your posts, then somehow, my sadness will take away a little sadness from you, that I will help you somehow by walking this journey with you. Anyway, I have given so much thought to what Heaven is like. For surely there is a heaven. No one who has lost a loved one can deny that it is impossible for someone’s character, personality, spirit, soul to just leave and never be again. It is just impossible. I lost my dad when I was young and lost my mom when my children were 5, 2 and I was pregnant with my third. I believe that Heaven is timeless. I know from scripture that God can see as now, as we were when we were born and what we will be. I believe that those we loved and we have lost are not sad and are not missing us because we are with them. Since Heaven is timeless, we are already with them in Heaven. Yes, in 2015 on earth, our mortal bodies are here, but in Heaven there is no time, no year, no date. We are there with them. They are not sad because they know. We are the ones who are suffering here, not them. However, I do not believe they cannot easily communicate with us in the here and now. There is a vast divide between us. Sometimes, through dreams, I believe God lets them communicate to us or in a feeling, a memory, but I don’t believe it is that often, because, as I said they know we are with them and they are happy. They already know the outcome and it is there with them! I hope that makes sense because I cannot describe it any other way and, I feel strongly about this belief. God bless you Alyssa. There are so many of us who want to support you through this difficult journey. Thank you for sharing with us. I hope you can sense our support and love to you.

  11. Hello Alissa. I want to introduce myself. I have been keeping up with your blog and I want you to know I cry and laugh with you. My name is Tania and I live in San Antonio Texas. I have there children a Beautiful 8 year old girl and a 5 and 3 year old boys.
    To answer your question I do believe in heaven. I believe That God gives us angel wings that we earn to go to heaven with him. I also feel that God picks the best!! I think that heaven is like a big garden where everyone knows everyone else. I also believe that we will be reunited with the people/creatures/animals we have lost in heaven. I think that it is harder for us here on earth because in heaven all is peace, love and happiness. Nobody gets sick in heaven it is just a peaceful calm place where you rest with God for eternity.
    Thank You for giving us the opportunity to write. I will never forget you or your family as you are always in my prayers.

  12. My mother was in hospice care and, I believe, her soul had already flown free from her dying body; she had not been conscious for a week. At the same time, my brother was having a major surgery to treat Cancer. So our family was split up to attend to each one. I was sitting in the surgical waiting room and the surgeon met me there and reported that my brother had a successful surgery. I remember praying and thanking God for this and part of my prayer also went to my mom letting her know that her son was ok. As my prayer ended, my cell phone rang with the news that my mother had just taken her last breath. I knew then and there that Heaven is a place where our loved ones continue to feel love and hope and touch us in many ways and we touch them with our thoughts and prayers. Although my mother was gone in most ways, she did not take her last breath until she heard my prayers and knew her son was ok. Heaven is where there is no pain or limitations other than that of physical separation from earth and those of us still on it.

  13. Hi Alissa,
    Thank you for opening your blog for responses. You are truly an amazing woman and part of an amazing family. Your children are lucky that they have you for a mom.
    I do believe that after we die our consciousness, our soul, our spirit (not sure what to call it) continues. I have no doubt. I have read so much on the subject, both the spiritual and scientific. I have also had some personal experiences of my own with the other side. I believe it is a place where there is only love and light. I don’t think we are fully capable of understanding the depth of that love in the material world. I believe a sense of time as we know it does not exist there. I believe our loved ones who have passed are still and always will be a part of us and are aware of what is happening in our material lives. Our relationship with them never dies, it just changes until we meet again. I also believe that they try to contact us whenever possible. But, we must be open to believing and receiving their signs. Much love and peace to you and your family, and may you feel Emilie’s presence around you often.

  14. Thank you for sharing your heart on this site. I often pray for your family after reading your updates. I ask God to give your family peace, joy and strength as you continue to “do life.”

    There is a book about heaven that my children (who are young like yours) and I love…the children’s version of “Heaven is for real” told by a little boy who had a near death experience. The illustrations are lovely and the story told from the little boy’s point of view is so uplifting and leaves one looking forward to heaven. My children bring this book up a lot and love the stories that the boy shared about what Jesus was like with the children in heaven. The images he shares of children playing with all kinds of animals and the laughter and happiness there left me so encouraged. I hope it might do the same for you and your girls. Take Care!

  15. Alissa,
    First and foremost I would like to thank you for sharing your beautiful stories with us about your precious Emilie. Also, I love hearing the occasional updates on how you and your family, (especially the littles) are doing! Your family has such a special place in my heart. I am an 18 year old girl that lives in Connecticut and I recently had an experience that had me thinking deeper about heaven. In November of 2013 a friend of mine, who was only 16 at the time, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. This news shocked our community considering it was such a rarity to have this type of cancer. The tumor was located on her brain stem which controls many every day functions such as eyesight, chewing, swallowing and even walking. I watched and followed Nina’s story as she went through many radiations, chemo and surgeries. She continued to go to school and participate in cheerleading and stayed strong but by July of 2014 she had become paralyzed on her left side and had lost the ability to talk. It is devastating to see such a beautiful person, on the inside and out, deteriorate so quickly. Nina passed away November 1st 2014. After she died there was such an outpouring from the community, people all across Connecticut and even out of state that came to a vigil that was set up in her honor. It was at that moment at her vigil that I felt her presence. I believe that our loved ones who pass are always with you when you need them most. Although I can’t describe to you what heaven looks like I strongly believe that it is out there and we will be reunited with our love ones one day. Nina’s sister Cara described that a few months after her sister died she was feeling especially depressed thinking about Nina before she went to sleep. That night she had a dream that she saw her and it felt so real and in that moment she felt the most love she’s ever felt in her life, it was hard for her to even describe. Cara’s story really brought me to a deeper understanding of how our loved ones may not be here physically but they can still visit us, which means they are still out there, wherever there is. Sending my love your way as you send your little ones back to school this year!

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