Kobe Bryant, described by ‘Time’ as “one of the greatest basketball players of all time”, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, her basketball teammate Alyssa Altobelli, her mother, Keri, and her father, John, a baseball coach, Payton Chester, another teammate of Gianna’s, and Payton’s mother Sarah, Christina Mauser, a school basketball assistant coach, and pilot, Ara Zobayan, were killed recently in a helicopter crash in the United States. Millions across the world were shocked and saddened. But what about those who lost their lives, lost potentially exceptionally bright futures on earth, experienced a crash of their hopes and dreams? Do such untimely deaths of positive, dynamic people block souls and make it harder to come to terms with a transition to the other world?
Generally, if you’re a positive, loving person during your life time, after the initial testing period of separation from loved ones and loved places and things, it does make it easier to transit to the other world when the time arrives for the crossing. But conversely, this very set of factors also makes the initial period of separation harder to take and move on to the other world. Life has been good to you and there’s so much to look forward to—exciting challenges, satisfying achievements, fame and fortune perhaps, hopes and dreams to fulfill, wish fulfillment at more than one level. Would anyone be happy to leave all that behind suddenly, forever, and be confronted instead with a journey into the unknown?
For those on earth the grief over such deaths cuts deep but for those who have left earth under such circumstances the grief doesn’t “probably” cuts deeper—it is known that it cuts deeper. Gaurav, for instance was the brightest in the group preparing for the civil services examination in India and a spirited, talented, versatile individual who loved living life to the fullest through many interests. One day, when my hopes and dreams are fulfilled, you’ll be truly proud of me he would often tell his parents. But his life, hopes and dreams were cut short in a road accident. It was the dashed hopes and dreams rather than unfinished business, which is amongst the most common causes which impede a transition to the other world, which held back Gaurav from moving on. Why did this happen to me was the thought which haunted and troubled his soul for more than a year and resulted in turn in Gaurav haunting his truamatised family. It was the same story with Garima and many others I’ve known whose lives were suddenly cut short without any warning, underlining the reality that your physical body dies, but your personality with all its traits doesn’t dissolve immediately. Neither do your emotions evaporate in one stroke.
It is also well established that strong emotions, particularly ‘attachment’ or dynamic thoughts, ambitious thoughts are amongst the reasons for a person being unable to make the crossing to the other world. It can be a long haul before such souls move on for post-death processing and reflection and healing. I’ve cited “Ancient Origins” earlier for the reference which says that to die with a heavy heart was a fate worse than death in ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians believed that a soul would be judged by Osiris in the Hall of Truth, by measuring the soul’s heart against the weight of a feather. If the heart was lighter, the soul continued on its journey. If the heart was heavier, it was devoured by a monster and would no longer exist—nonexistence was considered a fate worse than death.
But it also seems from innumerable accounts that to die with a happy heart in the prime of life is the worst fate of all for those who meet such a death. One reads quite often about a bridegroom and escorting relatives perishing, usually in a road accident, while on their way to the wedding venue. Are any of them likely to be happy when death strikes them down suddenly and so cruelly, just when some major hopes in their lives are about to blossom?
It is evident from innumerable other instances that not only in life but in the afterlife as well, no matter what phase it may be, personality traits and emotions are a very powerful force and cannot be obliterated, erased or deleted easily, if at all, or discounted. I’ll quote author Earl Riney again: “Our emotions are the driving power of our lives” and this seems to apply equally to the afterlife as well. After all, the physical body dies, but the soul never dies. It is also known that memories survive after death, making it even harder for a person who has died an untimely death to move on.
Yet there is a question here, based on a considerable amount of scientific research has been undertaken with more underway on the survival of memories and consciousness after death. For instance, Lawrence Peacock M.D., in an absorbing article—Memories in an Afterlife—in Psychology Today raised several intriguing questions and one that could apply to those who die young, happy and fulfilled and on the path to richer fulfillment: Who or what is the “self” that survives, he asked, in any other plane of existence? Who are we in the absence of our beliefs, memories, and personality traits?
To console those who have lost loved ones to untimely deaths by saying “death represents a new beginning” does not mitigate the excruciating pain of parting, or wipe away the knowledge that you won’t ever see a particular person again or be with that person again, regrets, precious memories. From this angle, it is tougher for the person who has died in the prime of life, because he or she 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, ambitions, hopes, dreams destroyed. Along with this, no matter how positive the personality, there is also an apprehension 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.
As I’ve written before, after dying, many people initially refuse to believe that they have died. It is more than evident neither does dying write “finis” to emotional bonds and this applies to both the dead and the living. But to what extent do emotional bonds, unfulfilled hopes and dreams, regrets at a life in bloom being severed hold back the transition to another world? For how long do such souls remain ‘stuck’ on earth and how can they and how do they move on? The solutions are no less intriguing and amazing than every other aspect of an after life.