The well-written, informative webpage at afterlifedata.com by Michelle Szabo and Dennis Gregga has reports from people living in the life after this life about what happens when the body dies. Some of the accounts follow.
Spirits will often come to meet a spirit on its return to the spirit-world and help to free it from the bonds of matter. Others, which a spirit knew but lost sight of on Earth, will also come to meet it. Finally, it can both see those in the spirit-world and visit the ones who are still incarnated. (The Spirits Book: Modern English Edition, Allan Kardec, 95, 2003)
At the moment of death, our soul rises out of its host body. Most souls I work with are met by guides just outside earth’s astral plane. A young soul, or a child who has died, may be a little disoriented until someone comes closer to ground level for them. (Destiny of Souls, Michael Newton, 1, 2003)
All my research with subjects in a higher state of consciousness indicates to me that upon death we go directly from one astral plane around Earth through the gateway into the spirit world . . . Many describe a tunnel effect. All souls from Earth then quickly move into the bright light of the spirit world. This is a single ethereal space without zones or barriers around it. (Destiny of Souls, Michael Newton, 52, 2003)
But we find by experience that when we come forward to offer our help to people who have just left the earth at their “death,” and who, knowing nothing of the true state of life here, fervently and fearfully believe that they are to be dragged off to a frightful Judgement, we find in such case that the force of our numbers adds weight to our words as we each individually explain to the sorely perplexed soul that there is nothing to fear, nothing to cause the least anxiety. That soul can turn from one to another of us, three different personalities, different in feature and form, real and human in appearance and voice, and he can see corroboration–and find it. (Heaven and Earth, Anthony Borgia, 1, 1948).
Now, all this arises from the fact that the average person does not know of what he himself is composed. He knows he has a physical body, of course. There are not many who can easily forget it! But leaving the earth in the common act of “dying” is a perfectly natural and normal process, which has been going on continuously, without intermission, for thousands upon thousands of earthly years. (from channeled spirit of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, Here and Hereafter, Anthony Borgia, Chapter 1, 1968)
The whole process of leaving the earth, of dying, is a perfectly natural one. It is merely the operation of a natural law. But for thousands of years the generality of people have lived in entire ignorance of the truth of “dying” and of the “hereafter.” And in this, as in so many cases, ignorance, or lack of knowledge, means fear. It is fear of the future following upon “death” that has surrounded the act of transition with so many mournful and morbid solemnities and doleful trappings. Sorrow is but natural in human hearts at the parting of loved ones and in their removal from physical sight, but sorrow is aggravated and increased by the lack of knowledge of what precisely has taken place. Orthodox religion is largely responsible for this state of affairs. The one who is mourned has gone to an unknown land where, presumably, an omnipotent God reigns supreme, ready to mete out judgment to all who enter that world. It behoves us, therefore, orthodoxy would urge in effect, that we should do all that we can to placate this Great Judge, that He may deal mercifully with our departed brother. Such a situation, it would be further urged, is no time for anything but the gravest demeanour, the most solemn behaviour. And how does the departed soul view all these adjuncts of “death” Sometimes with disgust, sometimes with amazement at their stupidity, sometimes, and especially with those whose sense of humour is well-developed, with undisguised mirth! And what of all the paraphernalia of “death” Has it availed the departed soul anything? No, nothing. Black garments, drawn blinds, ponderous solemnity, hushed voices, and countenances of exaggerated gloom are utterly worthless to help the soul upon its way. Indeed, the reverse can, in many cases, be the result. But of that I will speak to you later. For the moment I wish to show you that “dying” is the operation of a simple and natural law that it is healthy and normal to consider the subject, and discuss it, and find out all about it. (from channeled spirit of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson. Here and Hereafter, Anthony Borgia, Chapter 1, 1968)
Such is the state of spiritual enlightenment of the earth that in many cases these folk are completely unaware that they have died. That means simply that they have never ceased to live there has been an unbroken continuity of life for them, as indeed there is for all of us. This situation frequently arises among people who pass into the spirit world suddenly and perhaps without warning. Their lack of knowledge of conditions existing in the spirit world produces this state of bewilderment, and if there is added to that ignorance also the fact that, during their earthly life, they never gave any heed to a future life in the spirit world, then their situation becomes a doubly unhappy one. But there is in the spirit world a vast organization of all its immense resources, and it must not be thought that these bewildered souls are left to shift for themselves. They are soon taken in hand by others long resident in spirit lands–as you judge time–who devote their spirit lives to such work. Our task is often a difficult one because it is not always easy for the soul to grasp what has happened. The mental equipment of the individual may cause a reluctance to accept the truth. On the other hand, those who are mentally alert will soon see for themselves the exact situation. If only knowledge of the laws and conditions of spirit life were universally diffused throughout the earth world, what a wealth of difference it would make to each soul as he came to reside in these lands. (Here and Hereafter, Anthony Borgia, Chapter 1, 1968)
The “death” of the physical body is a tragedy to the earth world. To the spirit world it is the operation of a natural law unattended by any mournful solemnities. While the physical body is being consigned to its earthly abode accompanied by all the ceremonial trappings and dismal black habiliments of minister and mourners, the spirit body containing the real and everlasting substance of personality has gone to its proper abode in the spirit world. In these realms we receive our friends amid great rejoicings. Another friend has come to join us. We wear no black, we do not recite long gloomy prayers or perform harrowing ceremonies. Nor do we have a reception committee of “angels,” as many people are disposed to imagine is, or ought to be, the case. We merely behave in a normal rational human manner as one would expect from normal rational human beings. We are not pontifically welcomed among the “elect.” We are not made free citizens of these realms because we have been “saved” through believing in some strange, obscure theological creed. We are not here because we have been “redeemed” through the offices of another. We are here solely because we have, by our lives on earth or by our progress in the spirit world, earned the right to call ourselves citizens of these realms. We are here because no one can keep us out! Once we have the right to be here, no one can gainsay that right, no one can dispute it, no one would dispute it even if he could. (from channeled spirit of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, Here and Hereafter, Anthony Borgia, Chapter 1, 1968)
“I had a sinking feeling. The daylight seemed to go. I swayed about in the dark and felt slightly giddy. Then the atmosphere became light and I heard the voices of my dear boys [who had “passed on”]. After a time of unconsciousness I suddenly became clearer . . . and saw my boys, my brothers and many others round me.” (Rev. C. Drayton Thomas, In The Dawn Beyond Death, pg.20, The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 14, 1974)
Never be afraid of death. It is only the final sleep of the mortal mind, and has no power to affect the spirit mind. That grows stronger and brighter and more active from the moment of separation, until it becomes so educated and balanced that it is the all-in-all of spirit life. I found it so, for I went to sleep in the mortal mind, and discovered at last that I was more vividly awake than ever. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth in Life Here and Hereafter, Fred Rafferty, ed. Charlotte E. Dresser, medium,1927 p.92, The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 1974)
I had formed no very definite ideas of this life, but I did have a firm belief that personality continued. I was not ill long, so I arrived with little loss of vigor, and with little to unlearn. I realize that I was extremely fortunate, for I see so many who have much difficulty in understanding what this life means. (Newcomer to spirit in in Life Here and Hereafter, Fred Rafferty, ed. Charlotte E. Dresser, medium,1927, 38, The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 1974)
But we find by experience that when we come forward to offer our help to people who have just left the earth at their “death,” and who, knowing nothing of the true state of life here, fervently and fearfully believe that they are to be dragged off to a frightful Judgement, we find in such case that the force of our numbers adds weight to our words as we each individually explain to the sorely perplexed soul that there is nothing to fear, nothing to cause the least anxiety. That soul can turn from one to another of us, three different personalities, different in feature and form, real and human in appearance and voice, and he can see corroboration–and find it. (Heaven and Earth, Anthony Borgia, 1, 1948)
“How does it feel to be “dead”? One can’t explain because there’s nothing in it. I simply felt free and light. My being seemed to have expanded.” (W.T. Stead in Life Eternal, 1933, pg. 170, cited in The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 17, 1974).
After you die, the soul suddenly seems to expand. (W.T. Pole, Private Dowding, 1917, pg 107, cited in The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 17, 1974)
“I came to consciousness with my new body resting parallel over my old one and about a yard away, immediately above it . . . A cord from the solar plexus linked me to my old body. I remained floating and swaying, realizing that I was still bound . . . Then something seemed to snap, and I began to take an upright position. Then I saw that the cord had snapped. I was free, a new man in a new body. I was surrounded by all the dear ones . . . born again!” (F.T. Robertson, Celestial Voices, pg 265, cited in The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 19, 1974)
It is commonly understood that man is composed of body, soul, and spirit. The physical body he is fairly conversant with, but what of the soul and spirit? Of these two, man knows little indeed. What he does not realize is that he is a spirit, first, last, and always. The physical body is merely a vehicle for his spirit body upon his journey through his earthly life. The mind belongs to the spirit body. Every human experience, every thought, word, and deed, that go to make up the sum of earthly human experience is infallibly and ineradicably recorded upon what is called the subconscious mind through the agency of the physical brain, and when the time comes for man to leave the earth, he discards the physical body forever, leaves it behind him upon the earth, and passes into the realms of the spirit world. His spirit body he will find is a counterpart of the earthly body he has just left behind him. He will then find that what he called the subconscious mind when he was incarnate has now assumed its rightful place in his new scheme of existence. And it is not long before it begins to show its particular attributes to its owner. By its principal ability of ineffaceable and infallible recording, this mind reveals itself as a complete and perfect chronicle of its owner’s life upon earth. The revelations, therefore, that are attendant upon the person newly arrived in the spirit world can be sufficiently startling. (from channeled spirit of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, Here and Hereafter, Anthony Borgia, Chapter 1, 1968)
As consciousness returned, the scenes of my whole life moved before me like a panorama. So rapidly did it pass that I had little time for reflection. (From Matter to Spirit, 1863, pg 142, cited in The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 20, 1974)
Death is but an incident. Parting is only for a moment. And heaven is right at hand. If only this could be comprehended, we feel that life there would be more nearly one of contentment and happiness. (Unnamed spirit in Life Here and Hereafter, Fred Rafferty, ed. Charlotte E. Dresser, medium,1927 p.97, The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 1974)
So many processes and procedures become as second nature to us here in the course of our lives that we scarcely stop to ponder just when this condition first exerted itself so to speak, and became part of our lives. Some things, of course, are very apparent. For instance, the first occasion upon which Ruth and I made the attempt to move ourselves by the thought process instead of using our legs in the old method of locomotion, which we had employed hitherto. That we shall never forget. It was such a revolutionary event in our lives. I fancy that there are not many of us who will forget an experience of that nature for it made us realize very early the immense power of our minds. The most I can say, then, with regard to our absolute knowledge that we are free to possess some particular thing or another, whatever it may be, is that we are conscious that we lack that object, and that we have a strong, deep desire for it. Then we are aware that our desire has passed out from our minds, and in place of the desire there is the unmistakable certainty that we are at liberty to possess. So that the procedure comes to this, first one has the desire to possess, and that thought leaves us. Whence it goes, I am unable to say. If, after the wish to possess has been projected from our minds, we are entitled to possess, the desire will no longer be as a yearning, for in its place will come the knowledge that nothing debars us from becoming owner of what we want. We are, ipso facto, virtual possessors. We have then only to take the necessary steps towards actual ownership. But if we have not yet earned the right to possess, then the desire will remain with us as an unfulfilled desire until such time as we have advanced spiritually. We shall be aware of a positive barrier. In saying that a knowledge of the right to posses takes the place of the former desire to possess, I would not have you understand that our interest wanes. That is not so. Our interest, in good truth, actually increases. But there is a vast difference between a desire that is only a desire and which must remain unfulfilled and a desire that can be transformed into an immediate fulfilment. Your own unhappy experiences during an earthly life will speak with sufficient eloquence upon that point! This is, I am afraid, a very unsatisfactory account of a very natural process in these lands, but you will understand that there are so many matters upon which we are as yet uninformed. (from channeled spirit of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, Heaven and Earth, Anthony Borgia, Chapter 1, 1948)
Another of Davis’s communicators mentioned “expanding thoughts” and said: “A super-consciousness pervaded me and my Spirit was endowed with immortal sensibilities.” He continued: “Lo! instead of seeing the external forms of my friends [mourners], I beheld their interior life and read their inmost thoughts . . . Directing my perceptions to where I saw them gaze, I beheld (in their thoughts) the body which I myself had worn! I strove to tell them that the deserted tenement was nothing, and that I possessed a body and stood among them: but there could be no communication between us.” (The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 16, 1974)
“A.B”’s communicator (One Step Higher, 1937, pg. 22, 76, 115) said that when he died his soul “expanded,” his consciousness “widened”: “Time stood still and space meant nothing” (The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 16, 1974)
There was a crash and a blackness. It was not really pain as most people think of pain–a rending crash and then gone . . . I lay quiet and pictures came before me of myself as a little boy . . . Then I saw a car coming. I saw it brake and push something along the road. I looked, and it was my body. I looked at myself and saw my own body [double] seeming quite real and solid . . . Suddenly I saw Grandpapa, standing smiling all lit up, and knew I was killed. I said at once, “Then mother was right–I have got an etheric body!” I felt terribly muddled and confused. Then came the thought of you . . . so I began to walk along the road . . . You opened the window and called, but did not see me. Yet I could see what you were thinking-how frightened you were! Suddenly I remembered what you said-that spirits can go through matter. I said, “Here goes! and ran at the door-and passed right through it. I tried it two or three times . . . I shall be at the funeral tomorrow . . . I am still mixed up with the earth.” (Alice Gilbert, Philip in Two Worlds, 1948, pg 89, cited in The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 24, 1974)
“Something struck hard . . . I fell and found myself outside myself! What a small incident this dying is! . . . You see what a small thing death is, even the violent death of war! . . . If there be a shock, it is not the shock of physical death. Shock comes later when comprehension dawns: “Where is my body? Surely I am not dead?.” . . . I was so little dead that I imagined I was still [physically]alive. I had been struck by a shell-splinter. There was no pain . . . I had thrown my overcoat away. The coat was my body. I felt free and light. I am still evidently in a body of some sort. After I had recovered from the shock of realizing I was dead, I was above the battlefield. It seemed as if I was floating in a mist that muffled sound and blurred the vision. Everything was distant, misty, unreal. . . I think I fell asleep for the second time [=a second momentary coma, the “second death,” due to shedding the “vehicle of vitality”]. At last I awoke [in the un-enshrouded Soul Body]. I am alive . . . ”Life” is strangely similar to earth life. (W.T. Pole, Private Dowding, 1917, pg. 13, cited in The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 25-26, 1974)
Never be afraid of death. It is only the final sleep of the mortal mind, and has no power to affect the spirit mind. That grows stronger and brighter and more active from the moment of separation, until it becomes so educated and balanced that it is the all-in-all of spirit life. I found it so, for I went to sleep in the mortal mind, and discovered at last that I was more vividly awake than ever. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth in Life Here and Hereafter, Fred Rafferty, ed. Charlotte E. Dresser, medium,1927 p.92, cited in The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications, Robert Crookall, 1974)
There are those spirit souls who are so evolved that they do not find it necessary to remain connected to those on earth for they know that there are other angels and spirit guides with those who have remained on earth and they are ready to move into their more highly evolved true selves.
. . . there is no one after-death reality, but [that] each experience is different. Generally speaking, however, there are dimensions into which these individual experiences will fall. For example, there is an initial stage for those who are still focused strongly in physical reality, and for those who need a period of recuperation and rest. On this level there will be hospitals and rest homes. The patients do not yet realize that there is nothing wrong with them at all. In some cases, the idea of illness is so strong that they have built their earthly years about this psychological center. They are given various kinds of treatment of a psychic nature, and told that the condition of that body is being brought about by the nature of their own beliefs. There are also training centers. In these the nature of reality is explained in accordance with an individual’s ability to understand and perceive it . . . some individuals do not undergo any such periods, but because of development and progress during their past lives, they are ready to begin more ambitious programs. (Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul, Jane Roberts, 129, 1994)