Death is an integral part of evolution in our present earthly phase. It is important that we develop an understanding of its function and significance so that when the time comes the process can take place smoothly, and indeed joyfully.
Accounts of death have been given by persons still living, those who have undergone certified clinical death, then returned to life. These are known as "near-death experiences" and many have been documented in recent years. The experiences recounted show a remarkable consistency in certain fundamental respects: the sense of being in a bright tunnel, the presence of a great light at the end of it, a remarkable clarity of thought, strong feelings of warmth and love. Many report experiencing panoramic memory, a moving recollection of their entire life story. Individual cases of "near-death experiences" are recounted in Raymond Moody's book Life After Life and clearly indicate that "death" is not the "eternal blackout" which some people thoughtlessly assume.
There are indeed numerous sources of teaching which describe the process of death and the various paths which may be taken thereafter, from ancient Tibetan manuscripts to contemporary accounts given through transmission by those who have passed over.
Those who are mentally prepared and "die in peace" are likely to leave the dead physical body in full consciousness, able to observe the soul-self's departure as it rises gently above the now discarded physical casing. It is usual for a spiritual guide to be on hand to greet the arriving soul, leading him or her to the higher spheres. Alternatively, the departing soul may travel alone rapidly through a bright tunnel towards an intense light, to emerge in a world full of brilliant colors and scenes of great beauty.
The time and place of death is known well beforehand by the Spiritual Hierarchy as well as by the incarnated soul's own higher-self as part of the agreement made with the Lords of Karma and one's spiritual guides before incarnation. Relatives and former friends who have already passed over are alerted to an impending transition, and will be on hand to greet one's arrival on the new plane.
At the critical moment of death we are assisted by an Angelic Being, known as an Angel of Mercy, who has been charged with the special responsibility of cutting the life-cord, an etheric cord that connects our physical body with our higher spiritual bodies.