I've been thinking a lot about what it must be like to die, though obviously I never have, I have some theories. I've written some of them before, and probably more succinctly, but I feel the need to work it out as I write again.
I think dying will be a lot like being born. There are so many allegories in our natural life that I think God created to help us accept the perfected versions of what we will experience in eternity. I think being born is one of them.
Life in the womb is a strong allegory to this life, the life before "real life" in heaven. In the womb baby will grow, practice breathing, baby can hear and bond with their parents, baby will develop until they are prepared for life outside the womb.
I've come to believe that the meaning of life, this life, is to help us develop and prepare for the real life, eternal life. To find out who we are and who Jesus is- as he was the one who took it upon himself to destroy the power of sin, making death result in life again, the way God intended death to work.
This life is when we begin to hear God's voice and bond with him, just as a baby can hear its father in the womb. This life is when we practice love, which will be as essential as breathing in heaven. And though a baby's life in the womb is often considered insignificant to the life it will live once its born, it's a critical time of growth.
I think death will be a lot like birth, but I think it's interesting how we grieve for those dying, but not those being born. The helpless baby is frightened, pushed, and pained as it travels the birth canal, leaving behind everything it understood as life before... but we on the outside, we who know that a bigger, better life is coming...we cheer.
I think death will likely be as painful as being born, if not physically, then certainly mentally. But I don't think any of us will remember the pain of the process once we're in heaven, just as none of us can remember the pain of the birth.
All we'll know of our death, once we've reached eternity, will be photos showing our the rejoicing of grandmas and grandpas already in heaven, the excited siblings, and of our delighted Father who immediately cherished us as his own.
And then "real" life will begin as life was originally meant to be. We will be our truest selves, healed physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. We will live at peace with ourselves, with God, with the people around us, and even with the animals and our environment.
We will thrive in a life that is bigger, better, and that is a life I look forward to. In that mentality, I hope to enter into death one day with at least some excitement for what comes next.
P.S. I don't think life on this earth is a requirement for heaven. I think having DNA might be a requirement since I think life begins at conception, but I think life on Earth is an allegory, not a requirement. I think 1/4 of heaven's population will be people who died before being born, as 1 in 4 conceptions end in miscarriage, and I'm eager to meet a race of people who will be as pure and innocent as Adam and Even before the fall.
I wrote this about death a few years ago:
The process of leaving our mother's wombs is a frightening and painful experience. The transition is abrupt and unexpected. It is a process that leaves us cold, vulnerable, and weak. Yet our pain and effort is small compared to the labor of our mothers who did for us what we could never do for ourselves.
If we had the capacity to remember that day I think we would be deeply traumatized. We would be terrified that perhaps we would be suddenly expelled from this world into another unknown life. And of course, the fear of death is exactly that.
As I daily walk towards that time that I should die I will remember that it is natural that death should be similar to birth. Death is also a relatively short, often painful transition that brings us to life. Eternal life, that is. Yet our suffering and effort is small compared to the painful labors of our Savior Jesus. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves.
When we die and are birthed into heaven, I don't think we will be grieved by the experience. I don't think we'll have any residual trauma. It is likely we will even celebrate that day as our true birthday. For that will be the day we came into the fullness of life.
"Just as Jesus was raised as the first of the harvest, then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back." 1 Cor 15:23