I have a hard time with the concept of an afterlife. I am downright terrified about dying, so I feel like that fear makes me want — or rather NEED — to have some kind of belief regarding life after death. I don’t know where specifically my fear comes from. I think every human being on earth has a natural desire to want to live, for the most part, and maybe it has more to do with that. I want to live, want to be here on earth with my family and loved ones, and dying would take me away from that. It’s hard to believe that there’s something in the afterlife that could be better than where I am right now. But the fact that you can’t really talk to anyone about dying is terrifying. Every other horrible tragedy in life — illness, injury, catastrophe — has survivors. People who lived through the experience and can tell you what it’s like, even if you couldn’t possible comprehend their description. There’s some comfort in knowing that no matter what else happens to me, there’s someone who can relate. Who’s been there. And while there’s people who have died for a brief moment, I don’t know if that really counts. If they really got a chance to see what it’s truly like. So it’s scary knowing that one day I will walk into the true unknown — and that I really have no control over when that day comes.
I was raised in a very Catholic setting. I went to Catholic school for my entire kindergarten through senior year time, and went to church for a good portion of that (required at a Catholic school — we didn’t go as a family). The typical Catholic belief is that you die and either go to Heaven or Hell. I think, if that’s the case, that even though I haven’t spent much time, if any, being religious, that I would end up in Heaven. But what IS Heaven? Is it the same for everyone, or does it change for each individual person? Will my loved ones who have died be there? Will it be filled with my favorite things? A never-ending bowl of guacamole, kittens running free, and a mountain of cupcakes? Somehow, even with those promises, it’s not very comforting to me. Plus the idea of anything happening for INFINITY? Scares the shit out of me. Everything we as human beings know has an end. This day, the TV show I’m watching, our lives, this sentence. My mind can’t wrap itself around the concept of anything being “forever”.
My most common belief regarding the afterlife is that we are reincarnated. It just makes so much sense. A decent chunk of our karma comes from our experiences in past lives, not necessarily this current life. We are either punished or rewarded for the deeds that we’ve done. We have memories we can’t explain that sometimes manifest in the form of deja vu, or dreams, or feeling like a place or person that we’ve never encountered before (that we can consciously recall, anyway) is familiar. I for one am constantly curious about why things are the way they are. Why do some people just have a natural ability or talent? Some are amazing at math while others can play the piano with the best. Some people are “old souls”. Some children have memories that can’t possibly be explained by anything other than being young enough (and open enough) to remember a past life. And for me? It’s very comforting to think that my soul will move on after this life, either to a new person, animal, or entity. Keeping my karma intact does more my moral fiber than any threat by a god ever could.