You grow to heaven. You don’t go to heaven. — Edgar Cayce
Attainment to the next level involves a form of ascension; a transformation into a new reality. This immediate next reality is one where thoughts create forms; it is free-flowing and can be whatever you want, heaven or hell. This level can also be accessed without death, such as through the out-of-body experience or lucid dreaming.
Robert Monroe once remarked that he was mortified when he traveled into this next level because all beings there could see his thoughts since they manifested instantaneously as he thought them. His thoughts were conducive with human thoughts (therefore more base or basic) and not with the beings in this level who are more enlightened and aware.
In this regard, Hindu philosophy focuses on a dying person’s last thought, the idea being if the thought is spiritual in nature, positive and geared toward the light, the person will pass into the next reality which will resemble these thoughts.
This is why many religiously-oriented people see religious type imagery upon death; this is what they expect because this is what they think. Therefore this is what manifests.
The notion of praying for the recently departed also addresses this next phase. Souls can get lost or disoriented, especially those unaccustomed or hostile to spiritual notions. Prayers for the recently dead assist them in passing into the next phase (beyond the initial entrance into non-physical reality) because our prayers and directed intentions here on earth manifest in forms within the deceased person’s immediate next reality.