All over the world, when a loved one departs from earth, we the living grieve for the person who has left us. But have you ever thought about the feelings of a person who leaves loved ones, leaves earth where he or she had once lived, leaves all the many things that have become familiar over a life time, and faces a journey into the unknown? You’ll be surprised. Why? Because for the person who is dying or has just died there is of course the pain of parting from loved ones on earth, but equally, there is the joy and happiness of being re-united with loved ones who had “passed over” and who they had thought they would never “see” or meet again. The happiness at re-unification is particularly pronounced for those who have lost a loved one before their own death, especially a child, under sudden or tragic circumstances.
The fact is that as I’ve written earlier, contrary to common perceptions, when you die, you experience both joy and pain. How’s that, you might well ask. How can happiness or joy be linked to death? Mourning, grief, the excruciating pain of parting, the knowledge that you won’t ever see a particular person again or be with that person again, fear of facing life without a loved one, regrets, memories, are some of the usual and very natural sentiments associated with death. However, these emotions generally emanate from those of us who remain on earth. Feedback from the astral world reveals that several feelings are common to those who are still alive and a person who has died. For instance, a person who has died also experiences grief, the pain of parting, the knowledge that you won’t ever see a particular person again or be with that person again in the same physical form, regrets. There is also a fear of facing the unknown, of starting a new journey and coming to terms with the tremendous transition from a soul living in a physical body to actually being a soul without a physical body. After dying, many people initially refuse to believe that they have died. Besides, the manner of death also conditions the responses of the “transiting” soul. Some people die peacefully, with the soul passing out of the body almost effortlessly. In other cases, it is a struggle for the soul to leave the body and there are cases where the soul has left the body so forcefully that it shattered the skull. After a long and painful illness, the soul force too weakens and the passage of the soul, unless assisted by special prayers, is often a prolonged process. Violent—including suicide—and accidental deaths fall into their own category.
In a great many cases, particularly of those who are aged or ill, what begins as a premonition of death soon becomes a certainty for the person who is about to die. How? Through visits from loved ones and friends who have already died. Since times immemorial, visits from the dead are a well known indicator of approaching death. Seeing dead relatives or dead friends is not confined to the aged or to those who are ill. Even those who have died at an early age have often reported seeing dead people a short while before they breathed their last.
Many of those who die connect briefly with the divine and a feeling of bliss envelops them. There have been innumerable accounts, regardless of the religion or creed of a dying or dead person of contact with a “Being of Light” who radiates tremendous warmth and peace, lending a new dimension to the process of death. In the case of those who are undergoing a painful illness, particularly cancer, death is a joyful release from suffering. There are those too, who have reached a certain level of awareness and evolution and decide that it is time for them to take leave of their body. Usually, such people have mastered the technique of leaving the body.
Average people too often make a conscious decision about how they’re going to die and when. In fact, the belief in dying on a special day or at a special place and attaining salvation thereby is an age-old one. To give one out of countless examples, Hseuin-Tsang, the acclaimed 7th century Chinese traveler wrote on his travels in India that at the Sangam where three holy rivers meet in Prayag—present day Allahabad, renamed Prayagraj very recently—pilgrims would take a boat to the confluence and throw themselves in the water to drown so that they could win salvation by dying at such a holy place and they often chose a holy day as well. Even today, several people travel to Varanasi—the eternal city—to die and many people have a wish that their cremation or last rites should take place in Haridwar or some other holy city.
Most times, loved ones who are dead, dead friends and others in the astral world have pre-knowledge of the time of your death and are there to receive you. Even for those who die young, there are caring souls waiting to reach out—maybe a grandparent, aunt or uncle or friend or compassionate spirit guides. As my mother often answered, half seriously, half jokingly when asked about her feelings about death, “What’s there to fear or be scared about ? When you die, you get a wonderful, touching farewell from all those who were fond of you—a sort of “Farewell Committee”. Almost simultaneously, you get a wonderful, caring welcome from those who have remained linked to you despite being dead—a sort of “Reception Committee”. If your deeds have been good, you have a chance to ascend to the higher levels. What more can you ask for?”
Death is an end in one way, true. But more important, it is a new beginning, a new opportunity to fulfill your desires and attain a higher level of consciousness. The very realisation that you are not dead after dying is momentous for the average ‘dead’ person. Death involves a farewell to one world and a welcome to a new life in a new world. One more thing is certain: no matter what the age or the manner of leaving, death is rarely a lonely experience. You may be alone on earth when you die, but the moment you transit to the other side, there are always “people” waiting for you—warm, caring “people”, ready to guide you to a new existence.