what happens when we die?

What Happens When We Die?

Recently there was an officer involved shooting near our home. Two men were wounded, and unfortunately, one of the police officers died. At our son’s school, kids were given the opportunity to write letters and draw pictures to encourage the local police department. When he came home from school and shared what he knew about the incident, our other son launched into a textbook “Why does God allow evil?” interrogation. He was so upset in that moment by the injustice and the loss of life.

Eventually, our conversation led us to God’s justice and our eternal home. I explained that our forever home with God will dwarf our suffering during this life. Neither child could conceptualize where people “are” after they die, or where they’ll be for eternity. They had the vocabulary mostly right, but there was a disconnect between the words and the meaning, and they were obviously confused. So we sat down and drew a diagram to help them “see” what happens when we die.

An Outline of When We Die

So, the drawing that I laid out for them was bare bones: simple terms, arrows and stick figures, left to right. Because of the simplicity, I hope it will be a useful tool for the kids in your life. Whether you’re Calvinist leaning or Arminian; pre-trib, post-trib, etc.; your views of what heaven, hell and the new earth might be like; your understanding of the exact relationship between heaven and earth; this diagram can act as a neutral starting point. The language is intentionally vague to allow you to fill in the details as needed or as warranted by the child’s line of questioning.

Diagram of what happens to soul and body
Click to view the 8.5″x11″ PDF for print or download

A Quick Breakdown of the 4 “Steps”

  1. Now: We are living on earth as body and soul. Pink=body and blue=soul, together they mix to make purple. Some might add spirit, and they’re welcome to write that in where necessary.
  2. Next: When we die, our body remains on earth. Our soul will either go to heaven to be with God or be separated from God. If we trusted in Jesus, we will be in heaven.
  3. Then: Everyone will be resurrected. Their soul will be reunited with their perfect, eternal body whether they have trusted in Jesus or not. The judgement will take place.
  4. Forever: Depending on the judgement, believers will live in God’s presence forever on the new earth. Those who have not trusted will spend eternity separated from God in hell.

Please let us know if this diagram helped your conversation about eternity with your children. We’d love to hear how you’ve used it. Also, if you’re interested in reading more about the soul and where the soul comes from, we have a 3 part series about that here.

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What happens when we die? Free PDF helps kids visualize what comes next for Christians and nonbelievers alike


One response to “What Happens When We Die?”

  1. […] After an officer-related shooting death occurred a few miles from our home, our boys were asking with refreshed interest “What happens when we die?” The popularity of this post reflects that this is a question that EVERYONE asks, regardless of age. Read it here. […]