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The Afterlife Print E-mail

What happens to someone when they die?
Does Heaven exist?
Can you be reincarnated as a butterfly?

These are questions that are not easy to answer because no-one can be certain what happens when somebody dies, it is really a matter of what you believe. Here are some popular religious and spiritual beliefs about what happens to a person after death.

Christian cross and fishChristians believe in Heaven, a wonderful place where there is no suffering, no pain and everyone is looked after by God. Heaven isn?t ?up there? in the literal sense, but in another world which human beings cannot fully understand.

Moon and Crescent of IslamMuslims believe in Paradise. This is the same concept as Heaven and is a place where Muslims can be with Allah (God). It is described as a beautiful place with green pastures and flowing rivers.

Hindu Aum symbolHindus believe in reincarnation. This means that when a person dies, only their physical body dies. Their soul is reborn into a new body, which could be a person, animal or a plant. If they are really good and devoted to God Hindus believe the person will eventually stop being reborn and go to Moksha (Heaven) to be with God.

Buddhist wheelBuddhists also believe in reincarnation but long to escape from the continuous cycle of birth, illness and death. The way to do this is to accept that people die and let them go, and stop longing for what we can?t have. We can then let go of things in this world and escape rebirth to reach Nirvana, which is total peace or rest, a state of no longer existing in any form.

Jewish Hanukah CandleMost Jews believe in eternal life of some sort, but they think that it is more important to concentrate on this life than the afterlife. What is important is living a good life whilst on earth rather than thinking about the promise of anything to come.

Here are some other ideas about life after death:

"Before Luke died he told us that everytime someone dies, a new star is born. He said that every star in the sky is the soul of a person and that when he died we could look up whenever we wanted to see him and that he would watch over us.""I don't believe people go to heaven or are reincarnated. They just die and that's it. But Nan was in pain and that means she is at total peace now.""I believe in heaven, but I think people there can look down and keep an eye on us, and if we talk to them they can hear us." "I believe that when some people die they stay around for a while as a spirit. My Dad died last year and I like to think that he is looking after me, like a guardian angel."

"I don't know about life after death but Mum lives on in our memories and thoughts and that's all I need to know."

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