What is life generally like for souls or recently departed spirits after death? Wide experience has shown me that when people come into the next life they do not realize they are there. They think they are still in the world and in fact in their bodies. They are so convinced of this that if you tell them they are spirits, they are amazed and dumbfounded, for two reasons. One is that they seem completely human in respect to their senses, desires, and thoughts. The other is their previous disbelief, when they lived in the world, that they were spirits or (in some cases) that spirits could even be like this.
A second thing is that spirits’ powers of sensation are much more highly developed than when they lived in the body, as is their gift for thinking and speaking. These abilities are so much greater that they can hardly even be compared. Still, spirits are unaware of the change until the Lord leads them to reflect on it.
Avoid succumbing to the false opinion that spirits lack the power of sensation, and sensation much keener than they had while living in the body. I know the opposite to be true from thousands and thousands of experiences. If you do not want to believe, because of assumptions you make about the spirit, keep it to yourself when you enter the other life. There actual experience will make a believer out of you.
Spirits have eyesight, since they live in light, and good spirits, angelic spirits, and angels live in such bright light that the world’s noonday light can hardly be compared to it. (More will be said later on [Sections 1521-1534], with the Lord’s divine mercy, about the light that they live in and see by.)
Not only that, they also have hearing, and such sensitive hearing that their [former,] physical hearing cannot be measured against it. They have talked with me almost continually for several years now (but more about their speech will also be told later on [Sections 1634–1650, 1757–1764], with the Lord’s divine mercy).
They have a sense of smell (also dealt with later [Section 1516], with the Lord’s divine mercy).
They have an extremely sensitive sense of touch, from which come the excruciating pangs of hell. All the senses relate to touch, since they are simply different varieties of it.
They have desires and feelings to which, again, the ones they had during physical existence cannot be compared. (These too will be expanded on below [section 994:3], with the Lord’s divine mercy.)
They think much more clearly and precisely than they did during the life of the body, packing more into a single mental image than they did into a thousand when they engaged in thought during bodily life.
They talk to each other with such great acumen, subtlety, wisdom, and clarity that if we perceived only part of what they said we would be astounded.
In short, they have lost absolutely nothing they need in order to be human—and more perfectly human at that—except flesh and bones, and the accompanying imperfections.
They acknowledge and perceive that during bodily life the spirit was what actually sensed things. Although sensation seemed to take place in their bodies it was not, in fact, physical. Consequently when the body has been laid aside, sensation lives on with much greater acuity and perfection. Life consists in sensation because without it there is no life, and the quality of sensation determines the quality of life, as anyone can recognize.
from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 320-322