• Megan Hernandez-Greene

What’s Next?

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

The topic of death is a sensitive one that people may or may not have a hard time talking about. It is close to Día de Los Muertos, and indigenous holiday celebrated in Latin America. It is a celebration of life of those who have passed on, as it is believed that they come back to visit the living on Earth.

The photo is of a dear friend who painted half of her face as traditional Catrina [skull] makeup, a traditional activity for many to do when celebrating the holiday.

As someone one of Mexican heritage, I’ve always known about the two-day holiday, but personally never really celebrated it myself. With movies like Coco and The Book of Life, the afterlife is shown so beautifully. I've seen my friends and communities build ofrendas (altars) where they place pictures of loved ones, offerings, and other objects on display to welcome the spirits home. With this in mind I wondered, how do people of different religions conceptualize death? It’s never easy to think that one day we won’t be here anymore, but the big question is, what is next for us when we die?

I asked people to send me what they think happens along with their religious identity/ worldview:


I’m still working on my concrete belief, but I think a possibility could be that the place we go when we die is the last place we conceptualize in our minds. For instance, people who are suffering might find mental comfort in a specific location such as their childhood farmhouse where friends and family would gather. I think we all have some sort of happy place that we wish to reside in which I think could be sort of an individual heaven for us all! Individual Spiritualism, not sure if that is even a actual title but it’s the best I got right now
I believe when we die all people will be made new and perfect by the grace of God! Progressive Christian
As far as death goes I've always liked to think of it as a sort of state of rest. You know that feeling whenever you're really tired, like extra level exhausted, and your head hits the pillow and it's just this moment of absolute bliss before you close your eyes and drift off? I'd like to think death is like that. Soft and warm and restful, peaceful even. Solitary Practitioner Pagan
Reincarnation or nothing Atheist
I definitely believe in reincarnation. This might sound weird, but I think a lot about death and what happens after this life. I just can’t fathom the whole “you only live once”. I don’t know, I really do think we are reincarnated, I’m just not sure if it’s an immediate reincarnation or not. Grew up Catholic but I no longer identify as such, still believes in a higher power

Islam has the most scripture about what happens when you die. There’s a saying that goes “When we die we wake up”. There’s life beyond this physical life that is like a hyper reality. The Qur'an speaks about a garden and a fire and how we use our free will which can affect what space we will occupy in the afterlife.Muslim

6 different religious/worldview backgrounds, 6 (mostly) different concepts of death. In the end none of us fully know what to expect. It’s not something we can fully prepare for, but I do believe it is a topic worth conversing over, especially with those who have a different understanding than you do. I do believe that we can find comfort in each other’s belief of what happens, because often times, it is a place where people hope to happily exist in.

A friend standing in front of an ofrenda (altar) at her university.

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