This question is possibly one of the oldest and most discussed philosophical questions of all time. It has provided the foundation for countless religions and late night conversations. So, reach down into the depths of your soul, and see what you think it is that will happen when the Grim Reaper comes a-knockin'.
This is a question that I have pondered on many turbulent flights. What is going to happen when I die? I've had a fair look at a number of religions, and have had many conversations with many people about this subject. I've weighed my own heart to try to gain a personal feeling as to what I think it is that happens, and have come to a couple of conclusions, that are likely to be completely wrong.
I'm not a believer in any sort of after-death judgement. I personally believe that we are free to behave in any manner that we see fit, and that no measure of depravity will see us burning for eternity any more than being a lovely person will somehow grant me the keys to Paradise. I'd like to think of myself as Agnostic, and since I think of myself as a pretty nice guy, I have an feeling that deep down inside, I'm hedging my bets a bit.
But I digress.
Having given the matter much thought, I have come to the conclusion that our existence is a never-ending series of reincarnation. I think that when we die, we cease to exist until such a time that the exact circumstances necessary for our coming into existence again arise. The reason I think this is that there is a real, definite chance that I was born. It has happened once already, so in the infinite stretches of time, who's to say that the exact (or close enough) environment won't be recreated at some time in the future that will enable my birth again? It's entirely possible that in some unimaginable timeline, this exact universe will be recreated again, which will afford me the chance to live again as well.
Interestingly enough, with this little theory of mine, since I will cease to exist in the interim time between lives, I will not perceive the passage of time, which means that immediately after I die, I will be reborn (from my point of view). I can wait an eternity and it won't seem more than a blink of an eye to me.
The one caveat, I suppose, is that I won't carry any of my memories with me between existences, but at least I can still be me!
No. There is no life after death. To believe there is, is to fool one's self into a false sense of safety, security, comfort, meaning, and purpose that are given to us, instead of accepting the truth of the responsibility of making those things for ourselves.
I believe death is a complete end for us. When our body and brain ceases to function, all of our memory is lost of course, and along with that our conceptualized soul. One part of me wishes for eternal life in the conventional sense. I wish for that both out of fear, because life is all I've known and it is hard to wrap my mind around not existing, and out of interest in how the rest of the world will end. I don't like the idea of the story going on without me. I'd like to see how the lives of all of my loved ones play out. Another side of me finds the idea of living forever and an everlasting consciousness as exhausting and nightmarish.
I agree with William and find Ali's post is probably not the way it works but very interesting. I am reminded of the Robin Williams movie "What Dreams May Come" based on the book by Richard Mattheson. The basic premise is that you "live on" in a state of mind. Robin Williams lived on in a heaven-like paradise, while his wife, who died by suicide lived on in a hell-like world of darkness and depression. I think it is a better movie than most seem to give it credit for and worth watching for a pretty well realized alternative concept of what the afterlife could be like.
I could add that we may live on in the minds of other living beings. I would like to think my dog will lift her head and wag her tail when she hears the garage door opening even after I am gone...for a day or two, anyway.
From what I've read and understand; there really should not be an "afterlife". I mean the pearly gates and your long lost relatives type. What is possible, if you need a concept to hold on to; is the release and re-integration of your weak electromagnetic field and the heat energy stored in your body. As energy cannot be destroyed; it has to go somewhere when we are no longer in use of it. Possibly back into the Earth; where it originated. If this energy is what really keeps us going then its release and re-integration could be the "white light" and the "heaven" so many have written about over the ages. Or, if you believe in the philosophy of Lao Tzu; this energy is never disconnected from the place of its origin and so, never are we.
Sorry if this is a little scattered. Theories like these are really hard to test.