I was reading a short religious text recently that asked us to be consoled that our dear departed live on in Heaven at the side of God and that when we die we will join them; such is the utility of Faith.
Here’s a naturalistic/humanist way of looking at it (in the same glass-half-full manner) that I think is actually more conceptually poetic and just as consoling.
The latest advances in cosmology suggest that our universe may be one of an infinite number of universes and that while time, as we know it, started when our universe was born, the birth and death of universes is an eternal process in a meta space-time.
It follows, as sure as night follows day, that our departed relatives and friends are alive and well in other universes, enjoying long and happy lives, free from any ailments that may have cursed them and prematurely taken them from this universe. Not only that, they will reemerge and live those same and similar long and happy lives in an infinite number of universes yet to be born.
In our own universe, consciousness is an emergent property of matter and contingent on a 14 billion year old natural process, including the birth and explosive death of stars; the debris of which we are made.
Thus we are literally made of star stuff and we are the collective consciousness of our universe; billions of individual brief flutterings of universal self-insight across a landscape of time, allowing our universe to introspect and understand itself as our short lives; we are our universe.
When we die, we become that from which other fragments of collective consciousness can emerge. We affect and contribute to the future of our own universe in both life and death.
Not only are the notes from which we are composed eternal in the ever changing symphony of life within our own universe, but there is a cacophony of infinite symphonies playing out across the multiverse – the space of infinite universes – within some of which we are all together again, enjoying long and happy lives.