It's scary (at least to me) when you think about what's going to happen after death. No one really knows; there's no "Afterlife for Dummies" book in your local Barnes and Noble, and there's no prep guide. The closest thing I came to ever really prepare myself for anything related to death after life was a retreat that I went on and helped lead in high school -- The name being B.I.B.L.E.: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.
After that we really have no idea. It blows my mind that there is all this time that happened before I even existed -- and all of this time that will exist after my death. Being a Catholic, we believe in eternal life after death, once we cleansed of sin through purgatory (the place where we will be punished for all of the sins we have committed over a lifetime... yeahhh.... not really looking forward to that). But the thought of where I go after death is absolutely terrifying.
I sometimes imagine it as maybe being in a dream -- who you can see everything that's happening but you're not really aware that you exist ... everything is sort of fuzzy and anything you try to do happens in a sluggish manner and you feel like you are having an out-of-body experience. But to be honest, we don't know, and that's the whole mystery behind it.
Some people are really anti-religion -- I don't really see what they have to lose by believing. I do believe that you should really choose whatever path makes you happy -- if that path happens to be religion-less, that's completely okay. But I think we can all agree something is going to happen after death. And maybe that something is that we all just dissipate into nothingness and dissolve into the sands of time. But maybe, just maybe, there is something more there. I believe that I will have eternal life. And that I will be able to be reunited with people like Jerry Ceres (someone I looked up to while I was in scouts, who died when he was 18), my grandfather, and others. They're up there, I know it.
If you don't believe in anything, and it turns out you're wrong, you are a tad bit screwed. If I believe with all my heart that eternal life is what happens after death, and I'm wrong, well there is nothing there after all and thus it doesn't really matter anyways.
Sorry to get all religiously philosophical. Death after life and religious beliefs kinda tend to go hand in hand.
An interesting story comes to mind -- my grandfather (mom's dad) had recently passed, and my mom was still grieving -- we all really were. I happened to walk in her room and she was passed out on her bed, which was extremely unusual. Once she's up for the day she never ever falls asleep until it's time to go to sleep for the night, especially not in the middle of the afternoon. And even if she were feeling terribly sick, she would at least change and get under the covers before going to sleep. Instead she was just sprawled out over the bed. I didn't think much of it at the time, but when she woke up, she explained that her dad had spoken to her. Some higher power somewhere allowed them to connect, and my grandfather was able to communicate that he was okay, and he just kept sending a vision of a heart to my mom over and over. She could see it, feel it, breathe it. She says it was like no experience she'd ever had before.
I don't think anyone will ever know what happens for sure after death. Some people who have had near-death experiences have written books on what happened to them. But I trust that what happens to me will be best, and I hope that as I progress through life that I become less scared about what will happen and in a way, excited for this great love that has been promised. Religion is tough because you need to believe without even seeing. And thinking about leaving this earth, whether you feel you have led a fulfilling life or not, is scary. I can only hope I am welcomed with open arms when that time comes.
It's weird that this topic has been on my mind lately. I guess I have an eery feeling that my time is coming sooner than I'd like it to. No one knows for sure, and that's why I try to make sure I live every day to the fullest, like it's the last and best day I'll ever have. Some days I do better than others. I have a ton of goals I'd love to have happen over the course of the rest of my life... whether that happens or not, is really up to me. But I do know one thing: by the time I breathe my last breath, I want it not to be a stressful breath, but one of inner peace and closure and relaxation.