From This Plane to the Next: Afterlife Beliefs of 5 World Religions

To quote a trending song, “when we all fall asleep, where do we go?”

That’s a good question, and the song means it in terms of the afterlife. Different people and religions have different answers to that question.

Interested in learning the similarities and differences in four major religions? Learn four major afterlife beliefs, below.

Christian Afterlife

Most people know the beliefs of the Christian afterlife, but there are subtle differences within each sub-category of Christianity.

The main idea is that good and kind people, who follow god’s rules and word, go to heaven. Heaven is a place in the sky where everything is great and you can reunite with old family members and friends, as long as they were good people.

If you’re a bad person and you don’t follow god’s word or be kind to people, you go to hell. Hell is depicted as a place down under the earth, where things are bad and always unpleasant.

The New Testament gets into some gory details of just how bad hell will be.

Some sub-religions, like Baptists, talk about hell more than others. Catholics talk about hell as well, but their version of the afterlife also involves “purgatory”. ‘

Purgatory is an in-between place, where you go until your fate is decided by people praying for you down on earth.

Buddhist Afterlife

The Buddhists don’t believe in an afterlife. In their view, our time on earth is somewhat about suffering, and achieving nothingness equals achieving nirvana.

Nirvana is a state of non-existence, which isn’t viewed as bleak. It’s like the ultimate state of meditation, quiet mind, quiet body, 100% at peace.


The religion of Islam is very similar to Christianity when you filter out the extremists (who are a very tiny population).

They believe in a type of paradise or heaven, along with a punishment center, or hell. Unlike the Christian version of hell, in some sub-deviations, you can go to Islamic heaven as long as you followed the rules of god.

Even if you were a mean person, their god is all-forgiving, given you follow the five pillars of Islam.

Mormon Afterlife Beliefs

Mormons, too, have a heaven and hell. But their concept of how you get to heaven is a little different. They believe there’s a sort of purgatory, or middle step, where you can learn about the gospel, then use your newfound knowledge to get to heaven or not.

If you’re going to heaven, then you essentially have three choices. If you adhered by God’s word and rules very closely and with great commitment, you get to go to the highest form of heaven, the one with the most “glory”.

The less committed you are to the religion, the lower down in heaven levels you go.

What Do You Believe?

Our job is to lay people to rest in a way that assures they’ll have peace and that those they’re leaving behind will feel as good as possible as they pass on. If you have specific afterlife beliefs that you want to integrate into your service, please let us know.

You can pre-plan, if you’re a planner, or talk to a planner as a loved one after the fact, right here.