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People come into the world as babies. Throughout their lives, they embark on an exciting journey with their bodies. In the process, they experience happy phases and unpleasant times in equal measure. Most people graduate from school, start working, start a family, retire after a few decades and spend their twilight years surrounded by their loved ones. Then, at some point, the time comes when they die. No one lives forever – everyone has to die at some point.
This is true not only for us humans but for all living things. Plants can become very old, but they also die at some point. It is the same with animals. Some animals live longer than humans. Others only live for a few days.
Death is a scary subject for many people. Because we humans know many things. But as far as death is concerned, we have little or no idea. No one really knows what happens to us after death.
Because this topic is on the minds of many kids, we would like to give you some information about dying, death and mourning today.
Why Do Living Beings Die?
When a living thing ceases to exist, it dies. This is the end of its life. The transition from life to death is called dying. It is not unique to the earth. Throughout the universe, things come into being while others decay. Planets form, others are destroyed by an asteroid or simply disintegrate.
It is a law of nature that everything has an end sometimes. Accordingly, no life would be possible if there were not also a death.
Because the death of a living being is the condition for a new life. Imagine that nothing on our planet would die. Within a few years our planet would be overpopulated. This would lead to the fact that at some point no life at all would be possible on the planet, because all resources would be used up and all forests would have disappeared.
It makes us sad when a living being dies. That is completely okay. Because mourning is an important process in a person’s life that is simply part of it. We must not suppress grief, because it too has its place in life.
Nevertheless, death makes room for a new life. And with this new life, new ideas and concepts can arise. Because life is always evolving, death enables the new to assert itself in the world. In order to better cope with conditions on Earth, new living things are always evolving. We humans, for example, live longer and are healthier today than we were in the past.
Emergence and decay is a cycle over which we have no influence. It is true that people today try to maintain their lives as long as possible by treating diseases and eating well. But in the end they have no influence on their mortality.
What Remains After Death?
Many stories and suppositions entwine around what comes after death. This matter is the content of many religions. Thus there are meanwhile the most different assumptions and opinions to this topic. While some people assume that after death nothing further happens and one simply ceases to exist, many others believe in a life after death. Everyone has the right to their own opinion. And everyone has their own way of dealing with this issue. In the following we would like to present you some views.
In two eastern religions (Buddhism and Hinduism) there is a belief in reincarnation after death. Reincarnation means something like rebirth. Depending on how we have led our lives, we come back into the world as humans or animals. What our next life looks like depends on our karma. Karma is, so to speak, the balance between good and bad deeds that we have committed. Thus, the balance in the universe is restored and everyone gets what is due to him.
Whether this belief is true or not, we do not know. However, very many people believe in being reborn. Their belief has the same justification as the eternal life of the Christians.
Most Europeans are Christians. They believe that Jesus Christ came into the world as the Son of God to save us from our sins. Also, Christians believe that (if they keep God’s commandments) they will have eternal life in heaven after death. Actually, this belief is not so dissimilar to Eastern theories of reincarnation. The only difference is that Christians do not believe in reincarnation, but in continuing to live in heaven.
Enjoying Life Itself
There are not only people in the world who believe in a God or an afterlife. Some assume that neither exists. They enjoy life to the fullest and make the most of it. People who do not believe in God are called atheists. They rely on what science has been able to find out so far and stick to what they see, feel and experience themselves. Of course, some atheists are afraid of death because they do not believe in an afterlife. But many are still at peace with themselves and can enjoy life even without faith.
I Know That I Know Nothing
As human beings, we cannot know anything. We are not able to imagine the infinite size of the universe or its creation. What happens after death is also beyond our imagination. That is why some people refrain from limiting themselves to a particular set of beliefs. This group is called agnostics. They admit to themselves that they cannot know what awaits us after life or whether there really is a God. Unlike atheists, they do not assume that we have only one life. They never answer this question for themselves, but simply leave it open. Quite freely according to the motto: You don’t have to know everything.
Just like atheists, agnostics enjoy their lives without being influenced by a religion in their way of life. Some adopt parts of nature religions or eastern religions into their lives and thus live out their spirituality in a very individual way.
What We Know
Above you have read about some theories about death. All these stories could not be proven yet. Because people who have died cannot come back to tell us what comes after. Many things are uncertain. However, a few things are certain in this regard.
People Leave Footprints
Every person leaves their footprints on the earth. Our loved ones remember us and continue to tell stories about us when we are no longer in the world. Artists, musicians, architects and scientists influence their posterity, even after they are long gone. In some cases, the memory of the most important people in our history endures for thousands of years without being forgotten.
In this way, a part of us remains even after death.
Living On In The Descendants
Most people create their own family at some point in their lives. They pass on their genes and experiences to their descendants. This is because from generation to generation, genes and knowledge are passed on to the youngest. Thus, in a sense, people live on through their descendants.
But even those who have not fathered children live on in their posterity in the form of memories.
Commemoration In The Context Of Festivals And Customs
In religious circles in particular, people regularly commemorate the deceased. Customs and festivals dedicated exclusively to the deceased are celebrated together. For example, did you know that Halloween is associated with spooky things because it is a memorial festival honoring ancestors? It’s quite similar to the Central European festival of All Saints. On this day, people go to the cemetery and remember their loved ones who have already passed away. Sometimes prayers are said and sometimes a few tears are shed. Because even if we have already overcome the loss of these people, sometimes we miss them.
These celebrations and customs are a good way to deal with grief. For in doing so, we create a place and a time for remembering the dead. It is only natural that we miss deceased fellow human beings and pets. That’s why we need time and space to live out our grief. This is true even if the person died a long time ago.
What Happens When You Die?
People die for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways. People who have already reached an advanced age die at some point because they become too weak and at some point the body can no longer maintain its functions.
Others die because they are sick. When the organs no longer function properly, the body can no longer be supplied with everything it needs. If the heart stops, for example, blood can no longer be pumped through the body.
Accidents or excessive drug use also result in many deaths. These cases are particularly tragic because they usually happen unexpectedly.
People do not always go out of life involuntarily. Some take their own lives because they are so desperate that they can’t take it any longer. This usually happens after years of depression or other mental illness. Not infrequently, these people are lonely and sad. They then think they have no more reason to live. If this topic concerns you, you can also read our article on suicide.
When we die, the body stops working. That which makes up the human being seems to leave the body. The “soul” is no longer there. Where it goes, we do not know. What we do know is that the body remains as an empty shell. It no longer moves and is lifeless. Over time, it begins to decay, eventually becoming again that from which it is built. At some point, our mortal remains have become earth again and serve as a foundation for new life. Again, you see: Death is the condition for the emergence of new life.
Depending on what religion you belong to, the human body has a different meaning for you. Most people see it only as a shell for the soul. They assume that the soul is immortal and may even come back to earth in the form of a new human being.
Worksheet For The Text
1) Explain the difficult words from the text.
2) Why is death a part of life? Write or draw any thoughts that come to mind here.
3) What do you think: What will happen after death? How do you imagine life there? Which people you once knew will you meet? Draw a picture or write a text about it.
Photo: inarik / bigstockphoto.com