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What Happens When We Die

If you, like me, enjoy hearing what other people think happens when we die (but prefer not to have to ask them this question yourself) this may be a good film choice.

I don’t know (just in case you were wondering).

In fact, I have no idea what happens.

However, intriguingly, I am not in as large of a majority here as I once thought.

As this is my 46th year of life, certainly it crosses my mind from time to time…like nearly every day.

But it has always been like this for me. Give me 99 things I could know for sure and 1 thing I never will, and that will be all I can think about.

Last year a sweet Facebook friend sent me a book recommendation. It was the true story of a sister who became the posthumous biographer for her brother. I found it to be a soothing read – so much so that I’ve read it at least 6 times now (oh, and I blogged about it here).

It also made me want to learn more about what other people think about what happens after we die.

Recently I came across a documentary with an eye-catching title, “Afterlife.” It features short interviews with “real people” (aka people like me) as well as “afterlife experts” (aka people not like me).

In all fairness, the experts have each had their own powerful near-death experiences, as have some of the real people they interviewed.

I have not had a near-death experience, although I did nearly die as a young girl. It happened when I over-estimated my swimming prowess and a lifeguard had to jump in and fish me out.

But all I remember was feeling heavy and cold. No glowing tunnels, no celestial beings, no unearthly blue-gold light or feelings of unconditional love for me. And no hovering over my own body to watch the whole thing go down….sigh.

Many of the interviewees (experts and regular folks) in “Afterlife” have had these exact kinds of experiences. They also say that afterwards, they lost all fear of death.

To which I respond: must. be. nice. 

I am not afraid TO die, per se. I mean, like one of the interviewees in the film, I would prefer not to be in pain and to go quietly.

But mostly I’m afraid I won’t like what happens AFTER I die. Like, okay, I’m dead now, so now what? What are my options? What is there to do around here? Will the locals like me? Will I like them? What if I get lonely, or miss someone, or want to go back to “life” for a visit? And do they allow pets (specifically, parrots and turtles)?

Watching “Afterlife” and hearing so many people who have had actual near-death experiences say that it was wonderful, they were at peace, they felt love and bliss, they had no pain, they didn’t want to come back, it felt like home….well, that helped.

A little.

Everyone seemed to give “the afterlife” 5 stars. No one said, “It was just awful. Worst place I’ve ever been. I’d never go back.”

While part of my mind – the devil’s-advocate part – has to wonder if the producers might have cherry-picked their witnesses, so to speak, what the folks in the film said mirrors what I read in the book and what I’ve read in other books and heard in other films about near death or actual death experiences.

There are more books and films on the topic than I’ll ever have time to take in (not to mention that, since I’m here now and quite busy living, it doesn’t make total sense to immerse myself in what may or may not be yet to come).

I just find it interesting that, in the smattering of reading and watching I have done, the accounts do seem quite similar, quite favorable and quite firm in their assessments that life after death is not something to fear.

Perhaps, just as it used to be easier for me to focus on calories and pounds and shape and size than all the truly uncontrollable real issues in my life, it now feels easier to focus on the one shadow-fear I will never truly face down than all the daily real fears ceaselessly egging me on for a showdown.

What “Afterlife” did teach me is yes, other people who seem a lot like regular ol’ me really do think about the question “What happens after we die?” I know this because, when the interviewers asked them the question, they responded with answers.

This makes me feel better. I’m not sure why it makes me feel better, but it does.

Today’s Takeaway: What do you think happens after we die? Or are you not at all sure like me? If you are sure (or pretty sure) about your answer to this question, what helped you get to that point?

What Happens When We Die

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2017). What Happens When We Die. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Dec 2017
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