I want to believe that after the end of existence here, there's somewhere else that you find yourself, able to continue on with your memories, ideas, and beliefs. The total cessation of existence isn't the best thought (but there are many, many, many possibilities that are even worse).

Unfortunately, intellectual integrity prevents me from lending any truth to any of them. Because any afterlife takes place somewhere else, in ways that we really can't imagine, there is no method of finding out what does happen, and then taking that knowledge and returning it here. So, unfortunately, any afterlife must honestly be considered part of the realm of hopes, dreams, and wishes, with little relevance to what does happen.

Though the idea that we're just consciences, being developed and nutured in a computer-created reality, with acceptable ones being put into real bodies after their "end" in the simulation, intrigues me.

Though, honestly, I don't plan on dying for quite a long (centuries) time. I'm participating in the race between lifespan and technology. But if I must, then I'm going to allow this container called my body to become the property of science, to benefit people in death, and not waste yet more ground.

"Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good, for one of two things: - either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by the sight of dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man, I will not say a private man, but even the great king, will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if death is like this, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthus and Aeacus and Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were righteous in their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer? Nay, if this be true, let me die again and again. I, too, shall have a wonderful interest in a place where I can converse with Palamedes, and Aias the son of Telamon, and other heroes of old, who have suffered death through an unjust judgment; and there will be no small pleasure, as I think, in comparing my own sufferings with theirs. Above all, I shall be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in that; I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not. What would not a man give, O judges, to be able to examine the leader of the great Trojan expedition; or Odysseus or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and women too! What infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions! For in that world they do not put a man to death for this; certainly not. For besides being happier in that world than in this, they will be immortal, if what is said is true.

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth - that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that to die and be released was better for me; and therefore the oracle gave no sign. For which reason also, I am not angry with my accusers, or my condemners; they have done me no harm, although neither of them meant to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them.

Still I have a favor to ask of them. When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing, - then reprove them, as I have reproved you, for not caring about that for which they ought to care, and thinking that they are something when they are really nothing. And if you do this, I and my sons will have received justice at your hands.

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways - I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows."

Socrates, the end of The Apology of Socrates.

First, in order to understand what happens when we die, we have to understand what happens when we're born. Each individual has always existed, and always will, but before this life, was a spirit, and before that, an formless intelligence. In the pre-existence (perhaps more accurately referred to as the pre-life, as opposed to after-life) there was a war, not physical, but a war of ideology. Of course, Satan and his followers lost and were banished to the outside... here, without body. Those that remained valiant, about 2/3 of the hosts of heaven, receive or received bodies, our second estate.

That war will be discussed in further detail later.

So, anyway, we came here, as a sort of test, and receive bodies, and after we die, our spirits leave our bodies and enter the spirit world, which is divided into spirit prison (commonly known as hell, but it isn't the end), and spiritual paradise. Which one a person enters depends on how he or she lived in this life. We remain there until resurrection, which, really, could happen at any time, but the large majority will have to wait until the Millennium. After the Millennium, we have final judgement, and, based on how we've lived and if we've repented, we can enter one of three kingdoms of glory. The lowest, the telestial, is reserved for the most wicked, and it is far greater and more glorious than we can imagine in this life, such that if you were to see it in your mortal state, it would probably kill you from shock. The second, the terrestrial, is more amazing than that. The highest, the celestial, is for only those who were most valiant and repentant. Unless one enters the celestial, progression comes to an end, and that's it. Those who enter the highest degree of the celestial kingdom receive exaltation, and become as God.

The first thing that happens when you die is they take your credit cards.

Next, they take your belt and your shoelaces.

Finally, they shave your head and paint a big yellow smiley face on the back. I'm sorry, it's policy. There's nothing we can do about it.

Then they judge you. You'll have to recite the Twenty-Third Psalm really fast ten times in a row. If you're a smartass and you say "adenoid" for "adonoi", they'll kick your ass real hard so don't try it.

If you can get through the recitation without tripping over your tongue or otherwise making an ass of yourself, you're in. You'll be ten feet tall, you'll never again sweat or belch, and if you're real nice to God He may even let you drive the Camaro.

If you fail, however, you'll go to Hell. Hell sucks. Hell is a vast Buick dealership full of baseball fans who want to tell you all about the Red Sox.
If God is standing there with a checklist (featuring at least 10 items on which to judge me), my initial reaction will be to say "Dear God, what a coincidence!", so great will be my shock that the Bible actually got it right.

As you can probably guess, I don't allow ideas of what happens after death to really affect my life much. There has never been reason to believe any particular divine being or realm to exist, so I tend not to bother. I believe that if I did believe, however, I would believe in a god who doesn't require belief (always struck me as a singularly needy and irrational thing for gods to desire of me - take Yahweh for example. Expecting me to believe in 'im just on the basis of the bible and threatening me with hell if I don't is the sort of behaviour that would see him barred entry to second-level philosophy on account of idiocy... aaanyway) so I don't feel like I'm insulting any supreme beings there might be out there - using the powers en may have endowed me with to live a kind and honest life on my own virtues, without allowing any of the thousands of clamouring preachers in this world to sway me to their arbitrary idea of religion strikes me as a far greater respect to them than accepting, say, the Bible as my gospel truth.

If God was there, though, and I was wrong about this whole 'God is fairly smart and reasonable' thing, I'm going straight to hell. I'd fall down on a few of the sexual things, most of the food things, all of the blasphemy things, but (I think) none of the 10 commandments. Oh, also I'd be wise-cracking for all I was worth, because, you know, I only get one chance at God and with eternal damnation looming I don't exactly have a lot to lose.

So, if my picture of the universe is more or less correct and God wants us to be as smart and as strong and as nice as we can without any threats needed or given, I should be set for whatever comes next. Of course, I think I'll just stop there and all that'll be left is everything I've done to the world during my life (which won't be much, but overall it'll be better than if it weren't there), but I'm open to other offers.

Like being an undead superhero! That'd be wicked!

When I die, my family will grieve, my friends will too. Nobody will rejoice, until they get to the bit in my will where I order them to. Somewhere, small amounts of inertia that I hope to build up in my life, little ripples of joy or compassion, will run on for a while...

What I hope to do with my life is create something that makes those ripples come from as many people as possible to as many people as possible.
If I continue to exist only as a small wave of human kindness, or as a fond memory or a beneficent organisation, that's really enough. In some ways, even, it's more than I am now.

After you die, your body will begin to decompose just like any other organic material. The process of decay on a human body:

  • One hour after death; the muscles relax totally.
  • Three hours after death; rigor mortis sets in.
  • One day after death; the body has fully returned to room temperature.
  • One day-on after death: the skin shrinks and contracts giving the appearance that the hair and nails have grown.
  • Within one to two days of death; if flies are around, they will begin laying eggs which will hatch into maggots in available areas of the body.
  • After two days from death; rigor mortis relaxes.
  • After two days-on from death; the internal tissue begins the process of decay; starting to turn into gasses and liquids.
  • Within one week of death; the flesh has become liquid-like under the skin.
  • Within two weeks of death; the stomach distends due to accumulation of gasses and this can lead to the discharge of a dark, bloody liquid from the nose and mouth of the corpse.
  • After three to four weeks of death; the body is extremely decayed, hair and nails can be easily pulled out; the trunk has swollen to twice its size; while the face has gone a purple green and the tongue protrudes.
  • After five to six weeks of death; the body has become soup-like.
  • If a body is buried in the ground; after a time of ten years all the tissue has turned to liquid and gas and been absorbed by the surrounding soil leaving only the bones.

This is what happens to everyone after their body dies. Unless, of course, you have paid in advance to be frozen in liquid nitrogen until future technology can revive you (in that case, see: Cryonic Companies Who Will Freeze You If You Pay Them.)

The people you have known throughout your life will continue to live, except for those died before you did. Those who still live will continue to live until they too die. Some of them will mourn your passing more than others while they live, but things will pretty much go on as they always have. Inventions will be invented. Explorers will still go exploring. Teachers will still teach. Students will still learn. Philosophers will still ..uhm, drink beer and waft on and on about what it all means...

Your body will decay. Other smaller creatures which you have ignored or been occasionally annoyed by in your life will slowly approach what's left of you and will become the caretakers of your corpse. Flies and other creepycrawlies of carrion will help your shell's mad rush towards oblivion. They take what matter they can from your mortal coil to keep their own bodies going, and will leave the rest for the natural tendencies of this universe to veer into chaos when there is a lack of order. Why chaos didn't just overtake the order of molecular bonding inside your flesh while you lived is what most would call a mystery. Some think they have all the answers. Some think there is no mystery; that's it's all a cosmic coincidence.

Your memory may or may not live on in the hearts and minds of others. That depends a lot on what you did while you lived. What happens to the rest of you? Your inner essence? Your soul? Well philosophers will certainly continue talking about what happens to it, if anything at all; if in fact a soul exists at all. And many of them will go on talk show circuits, or write books. They probably won't mention you by name, but they'll be talking about you just the same.

And wherever you go, if in fact your soul goes anywhere, chances are it won't be anything like you can imagine now. Why? Because despite all those great minds talking and writing and making money on the idea of an afterlife and despite the Bible and the Torah and the Necronomicon and the Apocrypha and all those books we people examine and memorize and use to verify the existence or nonexistence of God, the fact of the matter is we honestly don't know.

It won't matter to you any longer, either way. Either you'll have much more important and interesting things to be concerned about, or you won't notice because you'll have absolutely nothing at all to be concerned about. Either you'll have an entire new perspective of reality to explore, or you'll literally cease to exist in all true senses of the word. Either way, it's not going to hurt. Why? Your body used to tell you what hurt and what didn't, and you won't have that any more. So whether there's an afterlife or not, we know for certain it's not going to hurt.

Those who believe fervently and zealously that there is an afterlife, and those who believe fervently and zealously that there is not an afterlife, will continue to hash it out. Perhaps someday those still living will find out the truth about death, but that would be like reading the last page of a book before you're done with the first chapter. It would take all the fun out of it.

So when you die, don't come back and tell us all how it goes okay? It would spoil the surprise.

I know the answer.

Let's say we die in a hospital. The time of death is noted, as are any of our last words. The doctor will then prepare a certificate stating time and cause of death. If the cause of death has not been established, a post-mortem examination (autopsy) is performed.

Once the hospital has completed its paperwork, we are released to our family so they can choose a method of disposal. Let's assume we're gonna be buried.

The body is sent to a funeral home where preparation begins. The funeral director will lay our body out on a table and remove all of our clothing. The clothing is either washed and returned to our family, or destroyed. Jewlery and glasses are then inventoried.

The body's surface is then sponge-cleaned with a disinfectant solution. Once we're all clean, we are positioned. Rigor Mortis is relieved by massaging and flexing our limbs, and they are usually straightened.

A small incision is then made in both the carotid artery and the jugular vein (ouch!) to drain the blood from the body. A pumping tube is placed into the carotid artery, and a drain tube is placed in the jugular vein. Embalming fluid is then pumped into the carotid artery pushing the blood out through the jugular vein. This fluid circulates through the body for disinfection, and our blood is disposed of. (I wonder how this would feel. I'd imagine it's none too pleasant.)

Another small incision is made above the navel, and a long needle is inserted into the abdominal and thoracic cavities (ouch again!). Blood is then drained from these cavities. Once the blood has been drained, a strong disinfectant solution is pumped into the body's organs.

When the incisions have been closed, the body is again washed with cool water and a germicidal solution containing bleach. Our fingernails are cleaned, and solvents are used to remove any remaining stains on our body. They wash our hair, trim and/or remove facial hair, and remove nose/ear hair.

The body is then dressed with a full set of clothing, and the face is cosmetized with either store bought, or special mortuary cosmetics. The remains are then placed into a casket, positioning the body in a natural, relaxed position. Final touch-ups are also made to the body and the casket, and are prepared for viewing.

A wake takes place where friends and family say their last goodbyes, and the casket is closed and buried in a cemetery.

Then we decompose.

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