Is there life after death?

As one who has experienced the searing loss of a loved one, I have many times pondered about what happens when one dies. Questions I’ve asked include: does a soul go to “heaven” or somewhere else; can we still communicate with a person who has died, even though his/her physical body is gone; and are we being looked after by the souls (or angels) of our lost friend or family member? Although there are no definitive answers, evidence from different fields of study seem to point in the direction that our “beingingness” continues to exist after physical death.

This question may be looked at religiously, spiritually, and even scientifically. Let me lead you down the path of my search for the answer.

A difference in religious beliefs seems to be at the center of world discordance today, as it has always been throughout the ages. At the heart of the problem is man’s conviction that if he is right, another must be wrong. Acceptance that there is more than one way and more than one answer is THE ANSWER in all areas of life.

While some religions will have us believe simply in the importance of leading a “good” earthly life with no concern of an afterlife, the precepts of a good majority of religions are based on the presumption that life continues after death.

At their inception, many religions created the concept of heaven vs hell. This was done, in part, to instill a “fear of God” in its followers, so they would lead a more righteous life in hope of a heavenly reward upon their demise. These religions would have us believe in an afterlife with a God who “punishes” those who do not lead a moral life. Other religions would have us believe nirvana in the afterlife is achieved by slaying one’s earthly enemies.

Whatever one’s religious bent, I find it difficult to believe in a vengeful God who seeks to either reward or punish. If we are all God’s creatures, He accepts us as we are – just as we accept our children, naughty or nice.

Consider the thought that if a person has committed bad acts during a lifetime, he/she simply gets to think about how he/she can do better next time – possibly in a subsequent lifetime.

From a more spiritual viewpoint, I have always intuitively felt a universal force (call it what you will) surrounding us all. It’s not a force of good or evil, as some religions would have us believe, but one that is always present and one that always allows us the free will to choose our own path. And on this path, we must keep our senses open to the universe and accept that everything happens for a purpose. This allows one to realize that there are no coincidences. For example, when we encounter people whom we feel we’ve known forever, we most probably have – perhaps in another life or an alternative dimension.

This brings us to the topic of reincarnation, where theories abound. Again, it is difficult for me to believe that this life is the only one an individual soul will experience. In comparison to eternity, the blink of an eye that one spends in a single lifetime is so minute and inconsequential. This leads me to the conclusion that there must be more to a soul’s existence than his/her time on Earth. It also gives me great comfort to believe that my deceased loved ones’ souls may be watching over me, and, perhaps, I might see one of them in another incarnation during my present lifetime.

Although most of what I’ve stated is conjecture, there does exist some empirical evidence to substantiate the theory of life after death –in particular, the near-death experience. There are many documented cases of people, despite being pronounced clinically dead, who report a continued consciousness or awareness of being. Each of these reports has much in common.

1. They describe how, at the time of (near) death, the person’s spirit rose above its physical body, and this spirit was able to observe mortals mourn his/her passing. The spirit eventually returns to the body, if it is not the time for it to leave its earthly body.

2. There is often a mention of a brilliant white light and a tunnel. To explain this “white light”, consider this explanation by Melinda Vail, the Southwest’s leading intuitive therapist: “There is a thin line of energy running through the body called the Kundalini Energy. People who have had a Near Death Experience usually report moving through a tunnel or seeing a white light upon death. When a person dies, the Kundalini Energy (the soul) is released and travels upward as a white light through the tunnel of its life support system (one’s body).”

3. It is usually reported back that previously deceased family members met the spirit.

Giving additional weight to the theory that our spirits are still “alive” and living in another dimension, there are reports of many psychics and mediums who profess to be a conduit for deceased loved ones to send messages to the living. One such person is Rosemary Altea. Ms. Altea, author of Proud Spirit, states “People seem to think we need the spirits because it assures us there is more than this life, but they need us just as much. They want us to know they are there to pass on things that will prepare us for death. We’re very important to them.”

To add to this preponderance of evidence, the study of quantum physics indicates there exists more than what we can see and touch. In 1999, Gary E.R. Schwartz, Ph.D. and Linda G.S. Russek, Ph.D. wrote The Living Energy Universe, A Fundamental Discovery That Transforms Science and Medicine. The book hypothesizes that there is a possibility of life after death. Both well-respected scientists and academicians (professors at University of Arizona in Tucson), they conducted double-blind and multi-centered experiments to prove their universal living memory theory. In an interview by Biography magazine (May 2001, page 97-99), the scientists made the following statements about the universal living memory theory.

“Just like the light from distant stars extends into space and continues forever, the energy and information that comes from us and our bodies constantly generate electromagnetic information and energy. This information and energy not only continues, but it circulates in such a way that it is eternal and shows all the properties of life and evolution.”

When asked what would this theory suggest about life—or the survival of consciousness—after death, they replied:

“If everything that comprises us—our brains, our eyes, our hearts—and all the complex information that defines us in the physical is contained as living information and energy just like the light in a star, then when our physical bodies deconstruct, the energy and the information that was living inside the cells continues in the same way that the light from the distant stars continues long after the physical star has “died.” When you physically depart, the information and energy within your body is released.”

So it seems most everyone has an opinion on the subject of life after death, and the few ideas I’ve discussed barely scrape the surface when investigating this matter. Of course, it is an individual choice which concepts a person opts to accept or deny - or perhaps it is more like a smorgasbord, and you can take a little from each school of thought to reach your own conclusion. Moreover, although I’ve wondered about this subject, I’m not in any particular hurry to find out the “real answer”!

Ellen Gerst, a Life Coach who specializes in grief and relationships, is the author of A Practical Guide to Widow/erhood. Born out of Ellen's own experiences as a young widow, A Practical Guide provides "how-to" information to help a griever re-adjust each aspect of his/her life without his/her loved one. Her newest book, 101 Tips and Thoughts on Coping with Grief, is an easy-to-read reference guide filled with suggestions for every day use on moving forward through the grief journey. Ellen has also written Love After Loss: Writing the Rest of Your Story, a step-by step guide on how to redesign your life to include a new love connection after the loss of a partner. For more detailed information on products and coaching services, visit her website.

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Comment by Guy Dusseault on February 9, 2011 at 9:17am

Hello Ellen:  I would like to share our experience about the afterlife. Our son Billy crossed over to "heaven" on June 26 2004. About 10 months after Billy crossed over we have been able and continue to receive many signs from him, mostly through photographs, our favorite being the heart shaped images of the moon and christmas tree lights.  We have a website which you can visit read our story and view a few pages of the type of signs that we continue to receive from Billy.



Comment by high_jinx on August 16, 2010 at 7:10pm
very nice your a smart women
Comment by Leslie Lloyd on February 16, 2010 at 4:55pm
I could write a book about "afterlife" experiences I've had since the loss of my Son. They can do things with energy, because they are energy. My son passed in November, and I will tell you just 1 of my many stories. When my son was alive, he would visit with his girlfriend at my home and my boyfriend had alot of plumeria trees. They are beautiful and fragrant. Each time a flower would fall to the floor, he would pick it up, smell it, and either give it to me or his girlfriend. each winter they are brought inside and stipped of all leaves so they can go dormant for the wintertime. He passed away in November of '07 and I have my area in the garage where I make jewelry. I spent alot of time out there, mostly just staring at the pieces that needed to be put together. I felt as though he took all of my joy and creativity with him when he died. I had to pass by these plumeria trees each time I went in or out of the garage. In December, the trees started putting out flower stalks! And not just flower stalks, but DOUBLE flower stalks out of each tip possible. We are talking about 11 trees that had been stripped of all life and not watered. Each day that passed the stalks just got bigger and brighter than they had EVER been in the summer time, except it didn't put out any leaves. Just HUGE WHOPPING DOUBLE flower stalks. By Christmas they were in full bloom, and I knew that this was a sign from my son that he is still with me. It is now 2 years later and guess what? My plumeria trees have sprouted flower stalks in December again! These are my gifts from my son. And his way of saying "HI MOM!" Look around. Your loved one's will leave you signs too. You just have to realize that the little syncronycities you see are messages from spirit.

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