Coping with the death of a loved one comes with several questions on the connection between life and death and if there is life after death. In society and with different religions, there are several controversies on death and the afterlife. Every individual has their perspective of death and the afterlife rooted in either society or religion and even scientific facts from scientists. Death is the cessation of series of occasions that happens when the body mechanism advances (Charlier 14). On the other hand, the afterlife is the continuation of life succeeding death; it can be within the physical body or outside. This research aims at discussing the comparison and contrast between death and the afterlife regarding; The five people you meet in heaven, Spook, and The whole death catalog.
Over the years, discussions on causes, definition, circumstances and occurrence of death have been done in most societies, globally. According to The whole death catalog, death is the end goal of life for every individual, and it is an unavoidable stage (Schechter 9). However, human beings differ in their knowledge of death compared to animals; animals try to avoid death but are less aware of timelines of death.
The main question is always on the next stage after death. Historically, people pleaded with God to cease death but, after some time, requested for it to be brought back to avoid the loss of generation. There are several myths on the cause of death; for instance, the Indonesian myth and the Australian Aboriginal myth by Ronald and Catherine Berndt (Schechter 3). The outcome of death is always fear and anxiety with numerous questions (Schechter 8). Generally, concerns on death should be discussed freely by the community elders or leaders to avoid these outcomes.
Answering the question about death has brought several controversies and opinions from people. Some believe there is life after death but others are still uncertain. The views and beliefs change over time since research is always done; despite lacking clear evidence and facts. These views and beliefs also vary in the various societies. Nobody is certain of the exact details of what lies beyond life.
The cultural attitude about death is conclusive depending on the culture. According to The whole death catalog, perspective on death differs on the various cultures in the world (Shechter 10). People live depending on their cultural attitudes towards death.
For instance, the Babylonians believed in living a joyous mood before death. The aboriginal people believed in death as artificial and not natural death (10). The Brazilian people viewed death as a menace, and if it occurs, the affected people migrate, while Hinduism death was sinister (9). Other cultures, such as the western culture, have been advancing their perspective over time. New concepts and research are done, and with technology, religion and science are contradicting. With all these cultures, there is no definite source and perspective on death. In some society discussions on death are taboos, and anyone involved in such discussions is punished by the community. The punishments depend on the decision of the elders and can be intense.
History on afterlife has been elaborated in different research done. The book The five people you meet in heaven is about a mechanic named Eddie who died and went to heaven where he met five people that he impacted (Albom and Singer 11). The first person Eddie met was the Blueman, and Eddie hardly recognized the man (32). From the conversation with the Blue man, Eddie learned that despite everything, everyone and everything has an aim in life, even the little things that people ignore, and everything is connected (43). The second person Eddie met was his former captain from the army (49).
The captain told him about the war and how he lost his life during the war; he learned that sacrifices are important and do not matter if it is small or big. Eddie met Ruby, a girl he did not even know before, yet the girl knew her (83). The girl told him about his father’s death; Eddie’s view of his fathers’ death was different. Ruby encouraged him to forgive his father, who had mistreated him over the years and free the anger he had towards him.
There are several people to be met in heaven after death. Eddie met his wife while in heaven, Marguerita, although he had visions of his wife (Albom and Singer 123). With his wife, they attended various weddings in heaven with different traditions. It is clear that even after death, love still exists through Eddie meeting the wife and having nostalgia. Eddie learned that love never disappears but advances and has contrasting forms.
The last person Eddie met was children, and he did not know any of them (145). He had a conversation with a girl named Tala among the children. Additionally, during his war, he saw a shadow of a girl and was prevented from following it. Eddie had no idea what the shadow was but noticed in heaven it was Tana. He learned that he was meant to secure children and that his presence in heaven due to the actions he did and the decisions he made. From the five people, it is clear that Eddie received different lessons from every individual. Eddie’s afterlife elaborates the connection between everything and every action and their importance. The book creates a detailed explanation of death and the afterlife regarding Eddie.
The various researchers have come up with several theories on death. In Spook, the theory of death and the afterlife is linked to reincarnation (Roach 1). Reincarnation is the transition of a being from a single body to a different person (Santucci 256). Research on reincarnation has been done in India with evidence of individuals such as Aishwary; his family believes he has been reincarnated (Roach 2).
It has a deep and complicated history in the Native American traditions, Judaic tradition, and other immigrant traditions located in the Western Esotericism (Nnamdi and Stephen 41). After the biological death of a human being, the physical body takes a different form in the afterlife that can be human, animal, or spiritual, relying on the principled quality of the past life’s actions. All the actions done before death determine the afterlife of an individual. The body of a human being vanishes, but the soul is eternal. The afterlife in the reincarnation concept involves the soul and not the physical body. Identification of a reincarnated soul is through similar physical expression, body, and physical traits.
In Christianity, the connection between death and life is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Historically, there is a belief in a spirit world; heaven and hell. Christians believe that spirits in a person do not take a different form but remain as it was before death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was evidence of Him as the son of God rescuing people from sins. It elaborates that after repenting, one can have eternal life and meet with Jesus Christ and other people in heaven. It is through the actions of an individual that determines their afterlife. The teachings are given, and implementation of these teachings also determines eternal life.
For instance, avoiding temptation such as drug abuse among the youths will lead to eternal life in heaven, and those that abuse drugs will go to hell to face punishment following their actions. Heaven has more freedom than hell since it is known as a higher place, and individuals can either ascend or descend depending on their location. During burials, the dead are often prayed for and wishes granted for their soul to directly go to heaven.
With various research and theories on life after death, there is detailed information afterlife. Most people who believe in life afterlife refer to their culture and tradition because they have a tremendous significance on individual belief. In all cultures, death is the same, but the afterlife differs. In the modern world, belief in the afterlife is linked to religion. Culture and traditions are being eliminated by modern practices, and religions are expanding. Scientists are also finding data that are non-religious to attest to the afterlife theory based on scientific facts. Additionally, scientific facts differ in defining death from the religious aspect of it.
An individual can choose where to rely on comparing and contrasting death and the afterlife based on available data. Covering both the cultural, religious, and scientific view of death and the afterlife, death is not the end but the dawn of another life; it can either be of happiness or terrible life. The afterlife experience is different and takes different explanations regarding culture, scientific studies, and religion. However, more research can be done and advanced with time for more credibility and clear pieces of evidence provided.
Albom, Mitch, and Erik Singer. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, 2003.
Charlier, Philippe, and Djillali Annane. “Time For A New Definition of Death?.” Resuscitation Vol. 127, 2018, pp. 14-15.
Nnamdi, Ani Stephen. “Reincarnation in Igbo Ontology: A Socio-Metaphysical Reconsideration.“. Web.
Roach, Mary. Spook. Text Publishing, 2007.
Santucci, James A. “Reincarnation.” The Routledge Companion to Death and Dying. Routledge, 2017, pp. 256-266.
Schechter, Harold. The Whole Death Catalog. Ballantine, 2009.