The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

What happens to us after we die? Did you know approximately one hundred thousand people search on Google each month for the answer to that question?  

Obviously, death provides us all with a compelling mystery, and many people search for an answer. But guess what—Google doesn’t know! All of the factual information and data stored on the Web cannot answer that basic human mystery.

Seriously: not Google, or Siri, or Alexa, or Databot has any idea how to address that fundamental enigma. After all, how can anyone really know when it comes to answering questions about life after death? No living person has any first-hand knowledge, unless you believe the remarkably similar accounts of those who’ve had near-death experiences. The only people who truly have the answer aren’t telling.

Also, it doesn’t help that we don’t like to talk about it much. In Western cultures, death and dying do not make for popular topics of conversation. Instead of confronting our mortality, we tend to label such talk as morbid or unpleasant. As a result, we try to stave it off, along with death itself, for as long as we possibly can.

We often view death as a failure of medicine, rather than a natural, expected and inevitable stage of human life. We want the miracle of modern medicine to let us “dodge the bullet,” at least for a little while longer. This medicalized view of death frequently results in people dying in institutions, cut off from their loved ones and the comforts of familiar surroundings. According to research done at Stanford University, for example, 60% of Americans die in acute care hospitals, 20% in nursing homes and only 20% at home.

Actually, the huge number of Google searches on the subject indicates something important, especially when most people don’t want to think or do much about it—at least until death becomes urgent or imminent.

So here’s the question: If we don’t think about it, how can we try to understand death or prepare for it?  How do you prepare for something you don’t want to think about, and don’t really comprehend even when you do think about it? If no one wants to discuss death—which, after all, represents the one inescapable fact of all human life—then how can we face it?

Sooner or later, we all face the stark reality that we are going to die. Our inevitable death—whether anticipated, accidental, comfortable or painful—will be the end of life as we have known it.

Only religion can prepare us for what to expect after we die. It doesn’t tell us exactly what the other side of the threshold will look like, but all of the world’s great Faiths tell us a threshold does exist, and that crossing it will bring us to another side to life—that our souls are immortal, and will continue to exist after the physical demise of our bodies. The Baha’i Faith promises that the soul is immortal and death is nothing to fear:

To hold that the spirit is annihilated upon the death of the body is to imagine that a bird imprisoned in a cage would perish if the cage were to be broken, though the bird has nothing to fear from the breaking of the cage. This body is even as the cage and the spirit is like the bird: We observe that this bird, unencumbered by its cage, soars freely… Therefore, should the cage be broken, the bird would not only continue to exist but its senses would be heightened, its perception would be expanded, and its joy would grow more intense. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 262.

When death occurs, the Baha’i teachings assure us, the body returns to the world of dust, but our souls remain immortal and we continue to progress:

The spirit is changeless, indestructible. The progress and development of the soul, the joy and sorrow of the soul, are independent of the physical body. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 20.

Death, then, is nothing more than an illusion. Compare it, metaphorically, to boiling water or to evaporation: water turns to steam and seems to disappear into thin air—yet the water still exists as vapor. That we cannot see it, that it has changed its form, does not mean it has died or is gone forever, into oblivion:

Through his ignorance man fears death, but the death he shrinks from is imaginary and absolutely unreal; it is only human imagination. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 88.

Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:

… concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 155.

This spiritual message can provide much assurance and inspiration. Not only is death nothing to fear, the Baha’i teachings tell us, it truly is something to look forward to and prepare for:

O Son of Man! Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory.  – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 7.

28 Comments

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  • Johnny Espinoza
    4 days ago
    Death is similar to sleep. We have dreams that we can't explain in some dreams we are rich in some dreams we are flying in some dreams we are fearing but like all dreams we cannot bring them or the context back with us. When we die life as we know becomes the dream. We can't take anything with us. So I believe we awaken into another life.
  • Amy Lynn Karbowski
    Oct 30, 2019
    This is a great article, I do believe in most cases, it’s not the fear of death itself that over comes is, it’s what we leave behind. Our families and friends, our children and pets. When it comes to death, the last thing most people think about is themselves.
  • John Anthony Zingalie
    Aug 27, 2019
    Well after you die your family has you taken by a funeral home then thay take you to a grave and have you baried
  • Renee Lynn Walsh
    Jul 17, 2019
    I have always questioned, do we really see our loved ones once again?
    • Alan Dworak
      Jul 20, 2019
      Hi Renee - Here is a quote from Abdul Baha: "Those who have passed on through death, have a sphere of their own. It is not removed from ours; the work of the Kingdom, is ours; but it is sanctified from we call “time and place.” Time with us is measured by the sun. When there is no more sunrise, and no more sunset, that kind of time does not exist for man. Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation….’ – Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 96. ...
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  • Renee Lynn Walsh
    Jul 17, 2019
    My question has always been is do we see our loved ones again after we've passed.
  • Alan Dworak
    Jul 01, 2019
    Hi Genevieve. I believe the journey continues...just not here on Earth again. Thanks for the comment.
  • Genevieve Thompson
    Jun 30, 2019
    I believe that we have many life's. Each one is a step in a staircase.
    • Alan Dworak
      Jul 01, 2019
      Hi Genevieve! I believe the journey continues as well, just not here on Earth again. Thanks for the comment.
  • Dianne Williams
    Jun 26, 2019
    I myself had a near death in 1979,o died on the table and as I was floating out of my body I heard them tell my husband they lost,me it was so peacefull,the tunnel ,the light ,at the end I saw Jesus,waiting on me ,and etc.i didn't want to come BK but I got a second time
    • Alan Dworak
      Jul 01, 2019
      Hi Dianne - Good to have you back!
  • Pamela Carlson DesJardins
    Jun 25, 2019
    I think any God would forgive all humans. No matter what. I think the Bible has been ruined by the many multiple times it has been rewritten by man through the years... the original Bible has never been found.
    • Ronald Shearer
      Jun 30, 2019
      Jesus teaches us that no one comes to the FATHER except through him. Even Moses talked of the Messiah. God sent his only begotten son to die on the cross for our sins. You have to be born again by accepting Jesus as your one and only savior. Repent of your sins and take up Jesus's cross and walk in the light. God knew we could not be perfect so he taught us to forgive others as he forgives us. The bible is the word. Jesus said in Matthew " If the eye deceives you, better to cut ...it out and cast it away, for it is better to let the eye die than the whole body to burn in hell". Yes, there is a hell waiting on all evil doers. I trust and believe what the bible says. My trust and faith is in Jesus Christ, for Jesus is the only way.
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    • Carol Pennington
      Jun 26, 2019
      I do not think God allows it to be changed from His inspired Words. He keeps inspiring those that interpret His Words. Very, very old Bibles have the same texts, with same meanings as the more recently inspired ones. The Dead Sea scrolls have also proven to translate , confirming His Word and Events. There has been many ancient manuscripts that has helped prove events, etc. of the Bible!!
  • Tom Autore
    Jun 17, 2019
    Thank you you are a bright and spiritual man and my beliefs run along the same lines I will always read your articulate posts
    • Alan Dworak
      Jul 01, 2019
      Thanks for the kind words, Tom.