Answer me this

by Lori Lavender Luz on August 29, 2009

in Answer me this,Death & dying

What do you think happens after a person dies?

(I’m not asking for any particular reason. It’s just that I find myself wondering about stuff while driving or showering, and my next thought is: what do my friends think about this? So I’m asking.)

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Lollipop Goldstein April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

This is really deep. I’m not sure I’ve worked it out entirely in my head because many of my ideas contradict each other, because one part of me believes that nothing happens–you’re simply dead and the power source that was generating the energy for your personality is shut off and…that’s it. The other part of me believe that while the body is no longer working, the n’shama–the part of you that makes you YOU (that makes you hate the rain or love the pool or despise chocolate or crave onion soup) lingers in different places–on old recipe cards and in houses and such. And can communicate sometimes with those still living (I swear, my cousin communicates with me by changing the time on my clocks–a strange story, but one that I’m convinced is true) and sometimes even returns to earth. There are aspects of the Wolvog so connected to his great grandfather (and he was born on his GG birthday) that I sometimes think that a bit of his GG ended up reincarnated in him.

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excavator April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Keeping this family streak going, I don’t think I can add much to what you’ve said.

My slight variation on the theme would be the ‘wave’ merging back into the ocean, which is pretty much what Luz said.

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Sheri April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

That’s deep…both the question and your answer.

I believe at the moment of our death (passing on from this life), we have a sudden realization of truth. This is truth about our existence, life on this planet, life beyond our comprehension of the universe, etc.

Our energy moves out of this dimension and back into the collective whole to reunite with the energy of the divine.

When life is created on this planet, in this dimension, it is a collection of energy from the divine that comes into being once again. A full cycle/circle of energy shifting from one consciousness to another.

Now that I’ve typed it out, that sounds pretty deep too!

Thanks for asking to prompt my pondering. I’m curious what others think.

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Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I think a person’s essence (spirit, soul) returns to Source and becomes undifferentiated from the essence of All. Like a drop of water (discrete) returning to a vast ocean (continuous).

So I don’t really believe in reincarnation, per se (because the person’s spirit is no longer separate/discrete). Nor in Grandpa looking down on you.

I’m guessing the reunion of the soul and Source is simply divine.

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HC April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Interesting question. I believe the soul leaves the body behind but carries forward all the impressions and all that it has learnt in this life. It then chooses to be born in another life where it can continue its spiritual growth. It chooses the circumstances and experiences of the next life, that will help the soul grow in aspects its lagging. The cycle continues until you can find and understand the divine soul and be one with it (moksha as they call it). Then you are liberated from chain of birth and death.

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Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I am enjoying reading these so much.

Let me revisit the idea of reincarnation.

I like the holographic idea of the drop and the ocean. The whole contains all the parts AND each part contains the whole.

So, in a sense, every body IS a reincarnation of All energies. The drop IS the ocean.

So the essence of GG (which is also what we called our children’s great-grandma) really IS everywhere.

But those who love her (or orbit her) are most able to resonate with her energy, present on recipe cards and in personalities.

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Martha April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I think of the poem, Death is nothing at all where death is another dimension of which our shallow senses cannot perceive. A divine mystery.
Thanks, LL.

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Calliope April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I like to believe that when I die that I can be reconnected to people and animals in my life that have passed away. I think part of me wishes for a sweet reunion and then everyone comes back- reincarnated. I can’t quite put my finger on what I really believe. The closest concept that felt right was in a movie called Defending Your Life. I like the idea that we have life lessons and if we have more to learn from life we come back and start over and if we are ready to move on- we do that.

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Billy April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Good question [I am now in one of those death fearing phases, really for no reason..)
I am not completely sure, but I don't believe you die and that's it.
I think I believe in reincarnation, and that the souls of our loved ones who have passed, are watching over us [and these two ideas probably contradict].
Like Calliope, I believe that we on earth have our life lessons to learn, and that until we learn them, we come back again and again to earth, moving on to the next sphere when we have learnt our lessons.

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PFM April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I believe the soul and spirit live on. I don’t know where but I believe that the living are visited by the dead all the time.

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Amber April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Great question–I think something like this would be a great post topic at MHM (along the lines of what do you teach your children about death?)

We Mormon folk believe life is without beginning and end. Meaning, we believe in a pre-mortal existence and that after we die, we will all go do a sort of spirit paradise to await the resurrection and judgment, after which everyone will go to a kingdom of glory.

Reincarnation never settled well with me. I would like to think that is the entire point of our existence–to gain knowledge, take it with us that will remain with us forever.

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Kristin April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I do believe in the traditional God and Heaven. And, I do believe that there are some cases of reincarnation (not everyone of course) because I believe we are put here on earth with a purpose and, if we don’t achieve that, we might come back.

This is a very simplified version of my belief because my head is not feeling great right now (damn those headaches).

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Baby Smiling In Back Seat April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Reincarnation. At the very least, the atoms get recycled into other living matter. But probably more. I have known too many “old souls” to think that we all have the same starting point.

Reincarnation also makes for some excellent screwball comedies.

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Deathstar April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I concur with Lavender Luz. I’d add to wait for another crest in the ocean to “become” once more.

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kate April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I have to be one of those terribly atheistic people and say that nothing happens, at least nothing tangible, or of any consequence to our current existence.

However…

Believing that we all have energy, and that there is some material form to that energy, and that as such laws of physics apply and matter does not simply cease to exist, and that the “energy” (as it were) is what creates that essence/spirit/soul/intangible-self-within-the-mind, then I like to feel that our general disposition of mind continues on in some fashion, that there is some sort of great pool of energy, and that some people tap into that source more readily than others do. I am far too hard-headed to tap into it at all. But I know so many people with such a real spiritual sense, that I have to believe that they are connecting with something and that for me, that something (that they may call God, or higher power, etc.) is this great collective pool of energy that we all at some point add to or take from.

But mostly, I think that we just cease to exist, and that if some vague thing does happen which continues our energy forward, then our minds as they currently exist are no longer capable of understanding or perceiving it post-death. And since I am a huge proponent of the physical mind being irrevocably linked and massively important to the concept of self, that this self cannot continue without the physical operation of the brain and body (which by definition do not physically operate after death). And thus, I come back to the idea that we simply cease to be.

Ahem. A little tour around my brain, I guess. Interesting discussion…

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chicklet April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

They stop stressing out over those f*g PILES the husband leaves all over the house! :-)

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Sunny April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Wow, love the question. And your answer.

I wish I had some deep response… belief in connections and continuation. But if I’m truly honest… DEEP DEEP DOWN… I think it may just be…

… the end.

But I welcome (and appreciate) any evidence or argument to dispute that!

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Angel April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

stopping by from Blogger Bingo:

Personally I haven’t quite finished it all in my mind yet, but I have kind of a mixed up view. I believe in Heaven, and Hell, and even in purgatory or limbo (even though I have been Catholic in years) I believe in Angels and people watching over you and looking down, But I also believe that after a while they start to loose the clarity and move on to what they will do next, I believe in reincarnation, not karma type where you are bad you are a bug, but that everyone gets more than one chance.

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IdleMindOfBeth April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

oh Lord – nothing like making us think, and I mean REALLY THINK, on a Monday morning.

I don’t think I have some textbook 9 steps of death (this happens, than this, and then that) answer, or even belief.

I agree with Lolli, that the spirit of the person continues. But, I’m not sure if that continuation of spirit is driven by the person themselves, or by those of us that are left remembering them. I tend to lean towards the latter.

Either way, my Grandpa is still my moral compass, and when I KNOW I’m doing/about to do something that he wouldn’t agree with, I can close my eyes and see him giving me his version of “the look”.

Still being afraid of disappointing a man that’s been gone for over 5 years… now THAT’s power!

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Jamie April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I love reading these comments!

I’m not sure exactly what happens but to think we just cease to exist upon death fills me with a feeling of despair. It leads me back to the ol’ “What is it all for?” question.

I agree with several of the above comments – I think our soul returns to the Creator and becomes a part of everything around us. But in times of great need, I think that soul or energy can be called on for comfort or guidance.

Of course, it could be my overly active imagination. But there have been times where I would swear . . .

In particular, my own GG. I like the idea of being able to identify or ~feel~ her energy resonate in the things I most identify with her. I can’t think that she is just gone.

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Geohde April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I am very dull. I think you just die.

Told you I was dull.

g

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May April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Well, I am the fact-loving, scientific method-embracing scientist here. I teach college bio and we dance our way around these topics in my courses. My personal opinion is that we die, and the consciousness that our brains supported dies too.

This, however, doesn’t make me sad at all. I don’t believe in God, or any divine being. But I can’t deny that consciousness certainly seems (locally, at least) to defy the laws of physics, particularly the concept of entropy. Despite a natural drive toward disorder, we are supremely orderly beings. I can’t explain with absolute certainty how that started, though I have my Darwinian theories, as do many scientific types.

I do, in my heart, know that we live on in the minds of those who love us. My grandfather has been dead for 15 years, and yet I think of him often, and he makes me smile. Surely that’s a kind of afterlife?

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once April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Such an interesting question, and one that’s really timely for me. Thanks for this–both your prompt and how it encouraged conversation in all its complication.

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Furrow April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I like a lot of these comments. I’m in a death fearing phase because I don’t have any firm beliefs. I’d like to work on that at some point. It’s on my list.

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Leigh April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Wow, these comments certainly make you think!

I was raised in a fairly religious household, but even at a young age I couldn’t get on board with the concepts of heaven and hell. Take Heaven for example. How does someone qualify for acceptance? My parents taught me that if you accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you’re in. They taught me that being a good person or doing good deeds is not enough. So does that mean that a “bad” person who has committed crimes his/her whole life but on his/her deathbed genuinely accepts J.C.A.H.S. then (s)he’s in?

And on the flip side, what about all those sweet little babies that are too small to make that commitment? What about them? Or what about people who live in a corner of the world where my parents’ religion hasn’t reached them? God is just going to ship them off to Hell? I have never been able to accept that.

And what would Heaven look like? What would we look like IN Heaven? If it’s MY version of paradise, how can you all be there too, given that I’m sure your version of paradise is different. And what age are we? Do we see ourselves in a body? Do we float around like streaks of light? I just can’t grasp the concept.

Nor can I accept a firey inferno where people are punished for eternity. Do people who cheat on their taxes, lie to their spouses about credit card debt, or don’t accept J.C.A.T.S. all go to the same version of Hell as murderers?

….so…I clearly have some issues with that. At the same time, I can’t believe we just cease to exist. I think the spiritual “essence” of all of us is too strong, and I do think we’re all connected to the Earth and to a supreme power…but what becomes of us? I don’t know, nor do I think we’re meant to know.

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beebles April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

I want to believe that I will see the people that have gone before me. Perhaps it is just a wish – a longing.

I don’t really know that I will.

I do believe we are all part of a collective spirit, but I think there is a possibility that we can differentiate ourselves or return to that spirit at any time. Perhaps it is cyclical – we merge – we emerge – we merge again – whenever the need or whim or energy bursts.

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