It is a fact that from the moment we are born, we will die. Death is as much a part of life as life is. So why are we so afraid of death? It seems that humans have a fear of anything unknown and what happens after we die is an unknown entity. Different faiths believe many things about death, but until we experience death itself, we can only have hope. Examining some of these beliefs gives us and our family members comfort and hope that life does not end with death.
Followers of Christ will spend eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ. Christians die; their bodies are buried but their spirits (or souls) immediately enter the presence of the Lord in heaven. When Jesus Christ returns to earth, Christians' bodies will be raised from the dead, made perfect, and then be reunited with their spirits to live forever with Jesus. Non-Christians, murderers, sexually immoral people, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars shall have a part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: the second death. All will die, but Christians don't experience the second death.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that every spiritual soul "is immortal: It does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection" At death, the soul separates from the body, is immediately judged, and enters either heaven (immediately or through purgatory) or hell.
Death is a temporary separation of the spirit from the body. Spirits dwell in the spirit world. People who accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and lived righteously are assigned to paradise. People who rejected the gospel and those who died without a knowledge of the truth are assigned to spirit prison (hell).
The righteous spirits in paradise teach the wicked spirits in hell. They can repent, which opens the prison doors and enables those bound with the chains of hell to free themselves from darkness, unbelief, ignorance, and sin. They can leave hell that imprisons them and dwell with the righteous in paradise until the Resurrection and Judgment.
After the resurrection and judgment, we will dwell in one of three kingdoms of glory. There are different degrees of righteousness on the earth, and there are kingdoms of differing glory in the next life: the celestial kingdom is the highest, followed by the terrestrial and the telestial. To reward many different levels of faithfulness, there will be "many mansions." Those who attain the Celestial kingdom will be exalted to the godlike state referred to as eternal life. Eternal life includes a loving Father in Heaven, our family members, our ancestors and our posterity.
The soul passes through a cycle of successive lives and its next incarnation is dependent on how the previous life was lived (karma).
People build up karma, good and bad, based on their actions within that lifetime. Karma affects their future lives and existences. People must take responsibility for their actions in each life. Death is the last cycle of life referred to as the "last sacrifice."
Moksha is the end of the death and rebirth cycle and is classed as the fourth and ultimate goal. It is achieved by overcoming ignorance and desires.
Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence but does not have much opinion about the afterlife, thus leaving room for personal opinion. An Orthodox Jew can believe that the souls of the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian heaven, or that they are reincarnated through many lifetimes, or that they simply wait until the coming of the messiah, when they will be resurrected. They can believe that the souls of the wicked are tormented by demons of their own creation, or that wicked souls are destroyed at death, ceasing to exist.
Heaven and Hell are realities to be faced on the Day of Judgment; to be granted Allah's mercy and enter Paradise, or enter Hellfire. No one will enter them before the Day of Judgment. Rather, both body and soul will spend time in their graves while they wait for that day. The grave of a believer will be well lit, spacious, and comfortable. The grave of nonbelievers will be dark, cramped, and frightening.
Buddhists believe in reincarnation. Personalities will change and be modified by conscious effort and conditioning factors like education, parental influence and society. But at death, it will reestablish itself as life in a new being. This process of dying and rebirth continues until cravings and ignorance cease. Then, instead of being reborn, the mind attains a state called Nirvana.
Those who imagine evil where there is none, and do not see evil where it is (upholding false views) go to states of woe. Those who see wrong as wrong and right as right go to realms of bliss.
Whatever the faith, all of these agree that there is life after death and we can be comforted knowing that the quality of that life we call death depends on how we live now. Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.