What Happens After Death?

A majority of people in the United States believe that after death, they will go to heaven.

A majority of people in the United States believe that after death, they will go to heaven.

What happens after death? This question is one most people ask for all of their life, and there is really no proven answer. While there are many different theories and scientific research, this mystery is not one that can ever have a simple solution. Different cultures, religions, and scientists all believe that the afterlife exists, but what is it? There are many ideas regarding this puzzling question, and they range from heaven to reincarnation. 

A study done by Chapman University shows that the fear of dying, or the fear of a loved one dying, ranks numbers 5 and 6 on a list of the top ten fears that the United States faces. This fear of death leads to lifelong anxiety, depression, and curiosity. This fear of one day not being able to see loved ones is one that drives lives. Many make decisions and actions based on the fact that they want to be remembered and make a mark on this Earth. 

A study done in 2018 lists death as one of the top ten fears in America. (Chapman University)

It is proven that younger people are more afraid of death. A psychology study done by Cleveland Clinic states that children and teens between the ages of 6 and 16 are more likely to have a rational fear of death. Pryce Savidge was one person who has this fear. This freshman stated, “ I mean yeah I am afraid, I don’t like thinking about what happens after I die.” 

This is just one end of the spectrum as many do not fear death, and rather think of it as a motivator. A psychologist at the University of Oxford shares, “Religious people are less afraid of death than nonreligious people. It may well be that atheism also provides comfort from death.” Religion is seen as one answer to the question of what happens after death, as religions spanning from Hinduism to Christianity have theories or concepts of an afterlife. Some non-religious people do not fear death, just because they accept it and choose to focus on living rather than dying. 

Freshman Curtis Esta is one person who does not have this fear. Esta says, “No not really, I’m not that afraid of dying”. He is not afraid to die because he has found refuge in one idea of the afterlife after death, “I think I’ll go to heaven”, states Esta. 

There are many different beliefs about different afterlives or fates after death. Some of the most popular and well-known are heaven, hell, reincarnation, and rebirth. There are many more answers about what happens after death. These versions of the afterlife offer peace and calm to many, as they know that they will not just disappear after their death.


Pew Research’s statistics state that about 33% of Americans believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation is the idea that after death, one’s soul is reborn into a new life on Earth. This idea is most popular among Hindus and Buddhists, who believe in a caste system. This system gives many people hope, as they can always have another life or a redo. While reincarnation may be highly associated with certain religions, many atheists and nonreligious people believe in this afterlife. 

Reincarnation, popular not only in Hinduism but worldwide, has many stages of rebirth. (Flickr)

Heaven vs. Hell: 

The concept of heaven and hell is one of the most popular in the world and in the United States. Another study done by Pew Research says that about 73% of Americans believe in heaven and hell. Those who believe in this see heaven as a place where those who did well during their life go. If a person is selfless and good-hearted, they get to go to heaven and live a carefree and happy afterlife. Hell is supposed to be where people who were bad during their life on Earth go. It is a reminder that doing bad in life has consequences even when one dies. 

Some people believe in heaven, and not in hell. This idea of heaven is not strictly just accepted by a specific religion but is a popular world belief. A majority of people believe in heaven, and it is the most widespread idea of what happens after death. 

Heaven offers comfort, as those who are afraid of dying are put at ease due to the fact that there is a next step, even if it is not on Earth. Esta states, “I think heaven is all white and everything you can imagine will be there.”  

There are many different ideas of what heaven looks like, and it is interpreted differently by everyone. Freshman Brandon Garland believes, “Heaven is all gold, with gold streets. It’s something like that.”     

While these are just two answers to what happens after death, there are many more. A majority of people are not just afraid of death, but they are also curious about what the afterlife looks like. Religion offers answers to the question of what happens after death, but so do many other things. No matter what happens after death, it is important to remember to live in the moment and find an idea of the afterlife that brings hope to you.