What Happens When We Die

In our culture, we grow up being taught that nobody knows what happens when we die.

Which also means we have a real problem with dead people who don't actually know how to get where they need to be once they no longer have their bodies, which means they're still here in the land of the living.

Where they don't belong.

I realized that I often refer to ghosts or disembodied spirits or dead people when talking about other topics, but I haven't spent much time talking about how they got that way or how we can help them.

Because they definitely need our help.

We've been conditioned to be fearful of the dead through popular media. But by and large they are just people like you and me who got a little lost on their way to their next destination.

Their GPS stopped working and now they're just hanging out in your home, which may have once been their home.

In fact, have you seen the Nicole Kidman movie The Others? If not, I'm going to spoil the plot a bit for you here.

She and her two children live in their home they believe to be haunted.

Until a shocking twist at the end when she discovers that she and her children are also dead.


They're all ghosts.

And they didn't know it.

That's exactly what's happening with most of the ghosts you might trip across in your day to day life.

We've been conditioned to believe that the moment we die, we report to some version of heaven (or hell I suppose) and God takes it from there.

So the ones that are still hanging around must be full of ill intent.

But no.

I've done enough work with dead people at this point to know that's not how it works.

And because we don't talk about what to expect at the moment of our death and what our responsibilities are when that happens, many people get trapped in this plane, don't know what to do next, and certainly don't want to trust a stranger (like me) who shows up in their house saying….

There's this other place you can go to where everything is going to be okay.

Just trust me.


Sometimes that can be a hard sell.

So let's work through some of the things we need to know so we don't all have to be so confused and scared of death or dead people.

So what happens when we die?

We don't magically change into some all-knowing being at the moment of our deaths, we just lose our bodies. Everything else stays the same.

And while I don't want to fill you with too much doom and gloom here, this includes people who die thinking that death is a solution or will somehow free them from their physical or emotional pain.

You CAN get to the other side in those scenarios, but you have to know how to do it or have someone help you. Just like everyone else.

One of the most painful things that can happen is when someone ends their life thinking it will be a relief and then they realize that literally nothing has changed. Except their ability to make changes to their situation.

They're in the same amount of pain, just without a body.

Last year I did a property reading for a home that was the site of a murder-suicide. Both spirits were still present and still in an incredible amount of pain. She was still terrified and he was still angry.

If you lived in a house with spirits like that, you would feel some version of that pain, I promise you.

And time doesn't really exist in the same way once you've left your body, so they had been trapped in this moment of time for years until I came along and had a discussion with them and helped them reunite with their families on the other side.

This goes for less dramatic situations too, but know that who you are in life is who you are in death.

Until you get the chance to review your life and get all the way back to source energy, you don't change.

If you were a jerk person, you're a jerk ghost until you cross over and learn whatever lessons you need from that life.

So then, how exactly do we cross over?

At the time of our death, a door opens for a window of time where we will likely see our family members who have crossed over ahead of us, maybe a beloved pet, or angels or any number of beings who will make this process more comfortable for us.

We may begin to experience these visions a few days before our death, depending on the circumstances.

What we see during this time doesn't actually have anything to do with religion.

However, if through a religion in life, we are taught to expect to see something specific when we die, we likely will. Because that's going to help us make the transition.

There is a large coordination of loving energy from the spirit world standing by to support us at this time.

And there's a short window of time to work with that specific energy.

I've been told somewhere around four days. Or by the conclusion of the funeral, if there is one.

After that point, the door closes. And it gets a whole lot more challenging to get to the other side on your own.

I find this happens especially when someone passes in a very quick or unexpected way. They don't realize they've died and they just go right on living their life as if nothing has happened.

This is why it's so important if you have mediumship or journeying skills to check in on your friends and family shortly after they've passed.

Go looking for them.

Be ready to have a conversation and explain what happened.

And ask them to look for the light or the door or a group of family members (or someone specific like their parents or grandparents or spouse or child – someone who has already passed).

It's so much easier for this to happen when it's someone they recognize who comes into their awareness to break the news and give them some instructions about what to do next.

I get it.

If you haven't done this before, it sounds scary.

But I promise.

It might be sad. And you may have to sob your way through it. But it won't be scary.

It's an act of service and love.

And there's nobody else in the universe who has this job other than living humans to help dead humans get back to source.

This is where we as a society are falling down on our jobs.

God (or whomever) is not going to come grab you by the hand and take you where you need to be.

It is our job to get ourselves and our loved ones there.

Indigenous cultures teach their children from a young age what to do when they die. Many have traditions related to getting their people to the land of the dead – sending them on a boat or up a mountain.

That's because they understand that it's our collective responsibility to get back to source or reunite with our ancestors, however you'd like to think of it.

So if you have the opportunity to discuss these topics with your children or with family members facing their impending death, it's the compassionate thing to do.

It all can happen quickly and easily when we leave our bodies.

But what happens when we don't?

We don't go to the light, we don't know we're dead and time passes.

Then what?

Well, once we're missing our bodies, we need energy to continue to function. If we're not getting it from source (aka we didn't cross over), then we need to get it from a living human.

That's what an attachment spirit is. A spirit who has attached themselves to your energy to get energy to continue functioning in our dimension.

It's not typically done with an intent to harm you.

It's usually innocent. You've just got something they need in order to continue functioning.

But it will harm you.

You're literally sharing your energy with a spirit who really isn't concerned about how much your energy is drained. Because if you're tapped out, they can move onto someone else.

And worse, if they had an addiction in life, they may be trying to continue that addiction in death through you.

This is much more common than you might believe.

Most people get an attachment at some point in their lives because frankly, there's so damn many ghosts hanging around EVERYWHERE looking for an energy source.

Which is another reason we need to help people get crossed over.

But you can remove attachment spirits. Or have them removed by a shaman or healer.

This is one of the reasons we need to be so mindful of our energy and notice when something isn't right or some energy may have hooked into our field.

The faster you can be aware of it and remove it, the less damage it can do.

Sarah Petruno offers a very affordable spirit attachment release guided healing journey if you'd like to do this yourself.

So now, what about the random ghosts we may come across in our daily lives?

In our homes, our workplaces, or roaming around outside.

You don't know them, and they don't know you, but you're very much aware of them. For these spirits, you have a few options.

The most benevolent thing you can do is help them cross over.

That being said, because ghosts are such an epidemic in our culture at the moment, you could literally spend all day, every day crossing over spirits and never get done.

So I highly suggest that you have some boundaries and decide how much time and energy you're willing to devote to this act of public service.

I have noticed that if part of your calling or soul contract is specifically to counsel spirits and help them cross over, you have likely experienced these spirits in your environment for most of your life.

And I'm not talking about spirits of all kinds, I'm talking specifically about dead people who haven't crossed over and they're probably asking you for help. They're crowding into your bedroom at night, they're standing on the sidewalk in front of your house, they're standing next to you while you're working.

They WANT something.

If this has been your experience, I would encourage you to learn more about and practice psychopomp work (quite literally the art of crossing spirits over) if you're interested. This is one of your special gifts and your role is likely going to be more involved than just asking for a door to be opened to let a spirit to cross over.

The special cases are going to get handed to you.

The ones that need a bit more help or counseling.

And you're going to want some very specific rules and guidelines for when these spirits can come to you so you're not getting followed around by ghosts 24/7.

Many people with this gift turn it off or block it out in childhood.

Because it can be really scary to a child, especially if they don't have anyone to explain it to them or help them set boundaries.

So depending on where you're at in your spiritual journey, you may want some help opening back up to these gifts in a way that feels safe and comfortable.

If this is not your situation (ghosts following you around), then you have a choice. You can ignore the situation altogether and just help educate your family and friends to make sure they get where they need to be when it's their time.

Or you can selectively help spirits cross over.

Which is what I do.

In my case, it's not a major part of my calling, but since I know how to do it, I will help out when a situation seems to need the help.

Like if I encounter ghosts during a property reading.

Or I check into a haunted AirBnB.

Or I find a large group that's somehow stuck together.

But the first thing I always ask is…..Is this my job to do?

Because sometimes it isn't. But if it is, then I'll have a chat with the spirit and see if I can get them to cross over.

I usually work with Archangel Michael to actually open the door and bring forward whomever the spirit might recognize to help encourage them to step over the threshold (since I'm a bit of a mystery character to them).

When I worked with so many Mormon spirits this summer, I called on Jesus instead of Michael since that religion doesn't teach about Archangels. A great example of spirit showing you what you need to help you through the transition.

And again, there's nothing to be fearful of when doing this work.

When I first started learning how to work in shamanic journey states, most of the information I came across taught about working in the upper and lower worlds and just to stay out of the middle world if you don't know what you're doing because that's where all the scary stuff is.

Okay, yeah.

That's not untrue.

But guess what else lives in the middle world?


Yep. Us living people are 100% in the middle world every day. With all the “scary” stuff.

And for the most part, the ghosts aren't the scary ones. They are somebody's loved one who got lost on their way to the other side.

So if we can have some compassion for them, we can help to clean up some of the energy that doesn't belong here in the middle world with us.

You're going to want to have a process for interacting in the middle world in spirit so that you can clearly identify energies connected with source and those that aren't so they can't easily connect with your energy. But other than that, there's no need to be nervous.

It's one of the very first things I teach in the Earth Tenders Academy.

How to set the stage to safely work with spirit and interact in these other planes of existence. And then when we get into clearing and healing work, we specifically practice crossing spirits over.

So if this work is of interest to you, check it out here.

And what about the scary stuff?

It does exist.

I've talked in depth about fear in spiritual work over here, but know that your fear will bring the low vibe energies closer to you. That's exactly what they're looking for.


Which is why it's important to have at least a few skills along with your regular energetic hygiene routine – to help build your confidence that you can handle anything that comes your way.

Or at least boot it from your environment.

Start with my meditation to call Guardian spirits to your home. Knowing you have other spirits on standby to handle anything you don't want in your home will help ease your mind so you don't have to be on alert all the time.

And before I wrap this up, I just want to share this message that came through from the spirit of deer who wanted to say that there is an important distinction between death and dying.

Deer said that we can spend our entire lives dying.

I mean, quite technically we are.

But actual death is simply the door closing on our opportunity to make any more changes in this lifetime.

Every day we have a choice to really live our lives or just die a little bit more than the day before.

So wise, deer.

Death isn't the end. But it is a reset button. And what we choose to do with our time before the reset button is hit will determine how helpful of an ancestor we will be and what kind of situation we'll deal with the next time around.

Will we have to do it all again because we didn't live our soul's purpose in this lifetime? Or will we graduate to the next level.

I hope you choose to really live while you're here.

And that you'll be able to dance into the arms of your waiting ancestors when your time here is complete.

We don't talk much in our culture about what happens when we die, which means we have a whole lot of stuck, confused spirits who don't know how to get to the other side. Click through to read all about what actually happens when we die, and how we can help get spirits to the other side.