Afterlife FAQs: What happens When We Die?
For most people, the most anxiety-provoking aspect of death is the fear of the unknown. The many validations that I receive during any given reading do a lot to reassure my clients that our souls survive physical death, but people often leave with unanswered questions about the Afterlife that we simply didn't have time to cover. I created this list of FAQs to answer some of those questions and (hopefully) put more minds at ease, by sharing what I have learned from my friends in the Spirit World about the soul's journey after life on the physical plane.
What happens right after we die?
Just as cutting the umbilical cord connecting us to our mother at birth ushers us into our new life, when physical death occurs, the ethereal cord connecting our souls to our bodies is cut and we begin our journey back Home. As any Hospice nurse could probably attest, depending on the circumstances surrounding our passing, we may see and hear loved ones who have already departed even before we die. Whether we experience this pre-game "tailgate" reunion or not, however, once our bodies cease to function, this cord is fully severed and each and every one of us is greeted by loved ones, Spirit Guides and Angels who have come to escort us to the Other Side. Though we may stick around for a bit to check up on the loved ones we left behind (which is why many people report seeing the deceased in the hours or days following their death), when we are ready, the spiritual welcoming committee described above accompanies us on our journey into the what is commonly referred to as The Light. At some point shortly thereafter (time really has no meaning beyond the physical plane, so it's difficult to say exactly when), we undergo a Life Review. During this review we see the highlights and low points of our lives flash before our eyes. This review allows us to assess which soul lessons we have mastered, and which we may need to work on in the Afterlife or during subsequent incarnations. We then move on and go about living our best Afterlives, while continuing to learn and grow in the Spirit World.
How will I recognize my loved ones if we no longer have bodies?
Our souls are the essence of who we are, made up of pure energy, and each soul has it's own unique vibration or frequency. Our souls also have built-in radar that helps us to recognize the soul frequencies of those we loved, much the same way that a police radar detector senses what speed your car is traveling. As a medium, I often recognize a familiar soul before I see or hear anything, based on their vibration or frequency. Even before I became a medium, however, I could sense when my grandfather was present, despite the fact that I could not yet see or hear him the way that I do now. Once you are dead, you don't need to be a medium to accomplish this because it's second nature to everyone in the Spirit World.
Where do we go when we die? Does it matter what religion we are?
No, it makes no difference what religion you are, we all return Home to the same place. What does matter is how you lived your life. I have never seen anything on the Other Side resembling Hell, but if it does exist, I can assure you that it is reserved for only the most evil, inhuman entities. We basic human souls, no matter how flawed, return safely Home. There are, however, many different levels of what most people refer to as Heaven. I refer to it as Home or the Afterlife, to account for the many different belief systems that call it something else. Regardless of who, what or how you worshipped, if you more or less followed the Golden Rule and did unto others as you would have done to you, you will spend the Afterlife/your time between lives (before you choose to reincarnate again) somewhere quite lovely, surrounded by your nearest and dearest.
What if I did some really bad things when I was alive? Where will I go when I die?
If you regularly made the Top Ten on Santa's naughty list or worse (if you spent most of your life in prison, or perhaps should have but were never caught, for example), you will be assigned to a lower level of the Afterlife described above. There won’t be any flames or rabid hounds nipping at your heels, but you will not enjoy the same freedom and privileges that other souls who played by most of the rules do. I often compare the Afterlife to a school campus with various classrooms which represent the levels described earlier. You are assigned to a level (or "classroom") depending on what soul lessons you need to work on. Non-violent criminals are assigned to the equivalent of after school detention. The more dangerous criminals are corralled in a space that is akin to juvie or reform school here on earth. Fun fact: People from higher levels can choose to visit loved ones on lower levels, but the elevator UP is off limits to those who have proven that they cannot work and play well with others.
Please do not get hung up worrying about these levels/classrooms in the Afterlife. You may not have been in all the same classes in high school with your bffs, but you still had plenty of opportunities to hang out between classes, at lunch and after school, right? The same goes in our lives Above. My mother was a veritable saint compared to my father (and compared to me, for that matter). Although I have been shown that they are working on different levels and in different ways to grow on a soul level, I can assure you that my mom, who is hanging with the overachievers in a "GT" soul class, still spends her free time with my dad, who was given the opportunity to learn more soul lessons by being assigned as my Gatekeeper or "Spirit bouncer". He helps keep the streets that I travel between worlds safe for me by ejecting any riffraff or crusty spirits that try to stick around too long after I have helped them.
Can I redeem myself in the Afterlife?
Even if your life was a complete dumpster fire before you died, there are plenty of opportunities for redemption in the Afterlife, and in future lives, should you choose to reincarnate and come back to earth for another go-round. We all have opportunities to further develop our souls while here on earth, as well as in the Afterlife, allowing us to move on up, just like George and Weezie did on The Jeffersons. Depending on what you did (or didn't do) during your most recent life, you will face similar and/or new challenges that offer you the opportunity to get it right. Although life is more difficult on the physical plane, you can move through these lessons a lot faster as a human than you can during the blissful existence between lives on the Other Side. The best advice I can give you is to try your best not to royally screw people over in this lifetime in order to avoid bad karma in future lives. You know the old saying, "What goes around comes around"? Well, chances are if you were a homewrecker in this life, you'll be the homewreckee in the next, so you may want to think twice before you sleep with your BFF's spouse. I am a firm believer in karma being the most patient gangster ever, and I, for one, have not personally enjoyed some of the things that I've experienced in this life that were clearly the result of some very selfish or poor decisions I made in my previous lives.
Someone I love committed suicide. Will they still go to Heaven?
Absolutely. Although several religions teach that those who commit suicide are not welcomed into The Light, nothing could be further from the truth. Contrary to popular belief, when someone kills themselves, it is not out of selfishness, but because they have completely lost all sense of self and can no longer find their way back to who they were born to be. This desperate spiritual state deserves understanding rather than judgment, which is exactly what the soul of a suicide receives on the other side... unconditional love and acceptance. In some cases, suicide was chosen by the most selfless of souls before they were born because it serves the greater good in some way. I personally know one such soul, whose ultimate sacrifice led to a law that has saved the lives of untold others, and has the potential to save an infinite number more in the future.
I have, sadly, encountered quite a few souls who have needed my help crossing over/finding peace. This was not because they were rejected by God (nor anyone else waiting for them in The Light), but because they were afraid of being rejected based on what they were taught at home or in church. I'm fairly certain that whoever started the fake news about suicide getting a soul blacklisted from a peaceful Afterlife had good intentions (they were trying to scare people into not doing it), but it has honestly done more harm than good. The fear that this belief instills affects not only the soul who saw no other way out than to take their own life, but adds to the trauma and grief of those who are left behind and may still believe that garbage as well. Not surprisingly, the same beautiful soul that I spoke of earlier also works hand in hand with me to help the other more fragile and frightened souls trust that they will be welcomed Home, despite having taken their own lives.
Will I be banned from Heaven based on my sexual preference?
More fake news. The fact that I am still asked this question in the year 2020 makes my heart hurt (insert loud sigh). God loves everyone and he/she does not make mistakes. The gender of your soul is irrelevant in the Spirit World, and completely separate from that of your physical body, which explains why we are sometimes attracted to people of the same gender here on earth. Hard truth: The people who hate on others based on their sexual preference have a lot more to learn about love (and will probably find themselves in a lower soul school in the Afterlife) than those they waste their time and energy hating on here.
What is the Afterlife like? Will I be able to do the things that I loved?
Kind of. I am often shown that someone is doing whatever it is they loved here on earth (golfing, fishing, knitting, dancing, etc.) so that their loved ones know that they are back to their old selves and happily enjoying the Afterlife. We aren't actually doing these things because we no longer have (or need) physical bodies. It's more like virtual reality... as if we can slip on a set of VR goggles and relive or re-experience the things that we enjoyed during life. Both my father and my uncle enjoyed a good happy hour. When my dad greeted my uncle and escorted him into The Light, he also acted as an ambassador or guide, showing him the ropes. When I checked in on them for my cousin, I saw them relaxing in a bar, waiting for my uncle's turn at the Life Review. They weren't actually boozing it up (I'm fairly certain that The Pearly Gate Pub does not exist), but they wanted to reassure me that they were together, relaxing and reminiscing, and that all was well.
A word of caution: Those who have chosen not to cross over (earthbound souls, aka ghosts) sometimes lurk around trying to live vicariously through us. Engaging in unhealthy or negative activities can attract negative energy from either side, which is why it's best to keep the partying and whatnot to a minimum. For more on this phenomena, click here and read: Why Spirits and Spirits Don't Mix.
My deceased spouse was the love of my life. If I get remarried will I still get to spend eternity with him/her?
Yes. When you die your soul gets to choose whom they spend time with in the Afterlife. Rest assured that you can move forward with your life here on earth and he/she will still be there to greet you when it's your turn to cross over. I am sometimes shown that a person would have been jealous about being replaced in life, but this is, once again, simply a validation of who they were/what their personality was like when they were alive. In the end, they always express a desire for their surviving spouse or partner to find love and happiness during their remaining time on the earthly plane.
Will I be reunited with my beloved fur babies who have passed on the Other Side?
Yes! I cannot tell you the number of times a spirit has shown up during a reading with a pet (either yours or theirs) at their side. Animals have souls just as we do, and cats and dogs make regular appearances during readings. They aren't the only pets who come through, however. I have also heard from birds, hamsters, guinea pigs and horses, to name a few.
Will I have to see the people I didn't like on the Other Side?
No. You can avoid the slutty cousin that hits on your spouse every Thanksgiving (and her father, that annoying druncle) on the Other Side just as you do here, by boycotting the holidays they attend. You can, and should, set healthy boundaries both here and in the Afterlife. Good news: if someone makes your soul cringe on the earthly plane and the rest of the family pretty much feels the same way about them (and for the same reasons), there's a good chance they'll be in a different soul classroom on the Other Side, and your paths won't even cross. If you have had a difficult relationship with a parent (or perhaps an ex-spouse), I recommend doing your best to resolve it before you both move on to the next life. If you can honestly say that you've owned your part in it and done your best to repair things, but their continued bad behavior and/or decisions have kept you from doing so, you can relax knowing that you won't have to experience a "do-over" with them in a future life. They may have to go through the same thing again, but it will be with a someone other than you. Their karmic "mulligan" will involve another soul who needs to learn the same lesson.
We did not respect my mother/father's final wishes when they passed. Will they be angry when we see them again on the Other Side?
No. Many people have strong opinions about their funeral arrangements, but once they have passed on they realize that the disposition and/or location of their bodies is irrelevant. Whether we are buried or cremated makes no difference at all because after death we have zero need for our physical bodies, which are nothing more than meat suits that allow us to function here on earth. Please don't lose any sleep over where your loved one is buried (or scattered) either. If mom and dad are unable to be side by side in the cemetery because your evil step-monster "stole" the adjoining plot, it will have no affect on anyone's relationship in the Afterlife. Relax and let karma take care of the grave robber.
My late spouse was a packrat. Will they be mad if I get rid of their junk?
Whether they were a packrat or a full-blown hoarder, they won't get angry if you get rid of their stuff, because it’s just stuff and they no longer have any use for or attachment to it. They sometimes show me that you cleaned out the basement and made a trip to Good Will or the dump, but only as a means of validation or "proof" that they still know what’s going on.
Can spirits drop in to say "Hello" once they have crossed over to the Other Side?
Yes. Just as they come a bit closer or “meet me halfway” in order to better communicate during readings, they can come even closer to let their presence be known. They often come close enough to use their energy to manipulate objects or animals, or to mess with the lights and electronics in the hopes that you will recognize these occurrences as signs that they are still with you. This is how they leave pennies & other coins for you to find, or send birds & butterflies your way. This does not mean they are earthbound/“stuck”, or not at peace on the Other Side... it’s kind of like taking a hall pass in order to visit a friend during class. Once they accomplish their mission, they go back where they belong, just as you did when you ducked in and out of class in high school. Don't be upset if you sense their presence or see lots of signs during certain periods of time more than others. These visitations are more likely to occur when you are going through a rough time and they feel the need to come closer to reassure you of their continued presence and support.
Will the spirits of my loved ones be able to find me if I move?
Yes. Your loved ones remain connected to you after they cross to the Other Side, no matter where you are. It’s as if there is an invisible cord of energy linking their soul to yours, no matter what the distance. Remember the two empty soup cans tied together with string that we played “telephone” with back in the day? It wasn’t an actual phone line, but it more or less worked. Soul connections that remain after death are the same basic idea, just a much longer, stronger cord. If your loved ones weren’t still connected to you in a meaningful way, they wouldn’t be able to show me that you have moved (or any of the other details about your life that they share since their passing) during a reading. You don’t have to worry about making it back to the cemetery on a regular basis either. If it makes you feel good, then by all means go as often as you like; just know that they only show up there because you do. They spend the rest of their time on the Other Side, living their best Afterlife and watching over you, wherever you happen to be.
The biggest lesson that I have learned from those on the Other Side is that the Beatles got it right when they sang, "All you need is love." Focusing on learning to love yourself and others unconditionally during your short stay here on the earthly plane not only sets the stage for a better life, but a better Afterlife as well. If what you read piques your interest even further, consider buying my book, Madame Medium: Unleash Your Inner Psychic with a French Teacher Turned Psychic Medium. In addition to helping you recognize and develop the sixth sense that we are all born with, there is an entire section devoted to explaining the Spirit World and how it works.
Before becoming a professional psychic medium, Beth taught high school French, Spanish, Italian and ESOL. In addition to conducting mediumship and general psychic readings across the country and abroad, she is also conducts paranormal investigations and offers psychic development mentoring for adults and children. Her book, Madame Medium: Unleash Your Inner Psychic with a French Teacher Turned Psychic Medium , was written to help others uncover and hone their own intuitive abilities. Beth lives just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband, Scott, their dog, Waffle, and their resident house spirit.