When Does the Soul Leave the Body?


Thank you to for answering my previous question on the death of my son. I do however have another question. My son hanged himself. When we took him down, he was unsconcious but had a pulse. He was taken to hospital, and a day later we were told he was brain dead and that there was no hope for him. After 6 days in hospital we decided to turn the machines off. My question is: When did his soul leave his body? Was it the time when he hanged himself, or was it when we switched the machines off?

—Roshni Pillay, South Africa


Dear Roshni,

Thank you for writing. Again, I’m very sorry for your loss. I can answer your questions about the soul before and after death from what I’ve learned of the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. I would highly recommend that you read his book Karma and Reincarnation. There you will find excellent answers to your questions and much more.

It is impossible to say what happened in the case of your son or exactly when the soul left the body. It is a process of dying. When a person dies suddenly the soul probably leaves quickly with no time to reconcile to the dying process. On the other hand, when a person is dying over time, e.g. from old age or illness, he becomes aware of the process. The senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing vanish in succession. Then the soul finds itself relieved of the body’s weight, the necessity of breathing, and any physical pain. When the soul realizes that its body is gone, it becomes reconciled to dying and experiences a sense of soaring through a very peaceful tunnel. The timing is as different as each person and each circumstance is different.

Could it be that your son’s soul did not leave the body immediately and used that time to gain more in lessons, understanding of his individual karma and come to a peace? Only a great master can know for certain. Those of us left after a loved one passes from this world can take comfort in the fact that the soul is ever-conscious. Even if the brain is not functioning in the ‘normal’ way the soul doesn’t die. Possibly your son used those last days to grow spiritually on his journey. His soul may have stayed in a limbo state with his body during those 6 days. Again, working out complicated karma. We just don’t know.

Another aspect of this situation where you can play a positive role is to now send your son thoughts and prayers offered with calmness and unconditional love. Your son will receive those loving vibrations. This way you are still helping with his process for his soul to feel a sense of well being and a sense of being loved.

You can be certain, and take heart, that everything is in perfect alignment with a bigger picture: tThat life goes on and death is unreal, only a change from one form to another. Ask God in the language of your heart for His help and guidance in trusting His divine plan.

Many blessings on you and your family.

Joy to you,
Nayaswami Hassi