What happens when a Christian dies? The simple answer is that he or she goes immediately to Heaven. There are no stopovers. There are no suspended states of animation. There is no soul sleep. No, a Christian goes straight into God's presence. The apostle Paul wrote that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5:8). This is clear in the Scriptures.
Those who have put their faith in Christ will go to Heaven one day. There are two basic ways we will get there: through death or the Rapture. We don't know whether we are the generation who will be caught up to Heaven in the Rapture, which Revelation 20 calls the first resurrection: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power . . ." (verse 6).
Referring to this event, Paul wrote, "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory' " (1 Corinthians 15:53–54).
This means the believer doesn't have to fear death. This means that a Christian never dies. The soul lives on. That will never die.
Of course, when we lose a loved one, we grieve like anyone else does. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We know where our Christian loved ones are who have preceded us to Heaven. In a technical sense, someone isn't lost if you know where he or she is. We know we will be with our loved ones in Christ once again. Death is not the end.