I went from Christianity to Atheism about a few years ago. I’ve noticed an increase in my death anxiety. I can’t enjoy anything with out thinking how it won’t matter cause I’ll be dead and everything I am and love will be gone. I know I won’t know I am dead but there is something so tragic and heartbreaking that everything I am will be gone. And same for others too. When we die, a universe dies with us. I can’t stand it. What do y’all do to help?

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Not for nothing but not for naught does not seem like it is a lot but if it is tomfoolery that you got then play with words 

Bert, you may be a genius of some kind.

The idea of owing Ma and Pa Nature a death takes me past the idea of owing my parents and their being unable to collect. 

Its scaring me alternates with its exciting me; Its depressing me alternates with its stimulating me. I rarely used alcohol to escape it, and pot never. I often used masturbating (usually with fantasy sex) to escape it.

And humor works.

All of the above? The rattling sound may be a memoir wanting out.

Can't remember where I saw that comment lo! those many years ago, but it's always stuck with me. Would love to cop to your genius award, but nope, nicked it. It does seem to qualify as an ineluctable truth though, and they're getting hard to come by these days.

So do tell - is your memoir a comedy or a tragedy? Or all of the above? Oh, and since you're bringing parents in, nothing like a touch of Philip Larkin . . . 

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

Your comments are very helpful. I’m struggling with death anxiety and I feel like you’re making it worse

Raine, consider seeing a psychiatrist to get a prescription. 

Hope it gets better.

Correction: Are NOT helpful.

Raine, please tell us to whom you are responding.

Frankie dapper. The comment about everything being for naught and all of that. That is exactly what I am feeling and wanting help with!

Raine, if you think your life is "everything being for naught" then it is. 

Life offers us choices; we can choose to be happy, sad, glad, afraid, ashamed, etc.  

Others have had bad things happen to them and it does not define them. Many had unhealthy parenting and they had to make the efforts to learn healthy parenting for themselves. Many lived in dreadful environments and some used those experiences as opportunities to learn how to live good lives. 

I grew up in a violent family seeing and hearing terrible things a child should not witness. I married and became a battered wife. My mother died a battered wife and I was destined to follow in her footsteps. If I wanted a better life I had to take action. No one was going to rescue me or protect me from fists and insults.

With three children, I packed the car and left, I ran away, determined that I would never be hit again and that I was going to be happy. 

I had a lot of help; I had therapy to understand what happened to me and why. I earned an education with a focus on family violence. I wrote "Toward a Theory of Family Violence, its Antecedents, Treatment, and Prevention," and "A Splendid Heresy" about the role of religion in maintaining and perpetuating family violence. 

I had medically supervised help with depression; I didn't need it often and for very long, just long enough to get me over the hard times. I am now actively involved in resisting a silicon smelter coming into our beautiful valley.

if you think your life is "everything being for naught" then it is.

I share the perspective that "When we die, a universe dies with us." Each of us is, in a sense, a creator, making sense of sensory inputs as a universe from his or her perspective. In fact the universe as we know it is the totality of all such "creations". Absent life, there's just matter that doesn't know itself.

image source

I take some comfort in other people also being centers of our shared universe. Even looking into the eyes of a pet brings realization of how they also each create a universe. By identifying with humanity as a whole, and our future potential, I'm grounded. Not everything that matters to me is about me. Hence my efforts to communicate here on climate change and Partnership Culture. Much that I love will endure when this aged carcass and ever-fraying 73 -year-old mind has finished its run. I can make a difference for them.

To escape constant thoughts of your personal death, I recommend expanding your identity horizons. A sense of belonging and something greater than yourself is waiting to replace that seeming void.

Ruth, that Sagan quote may be his most confused.

Each of us has ideas of the cosmos within; I doubt the universe’s being there.

Stars are made of us-stuff  is too.

Sagan perhaps had within him the idea that the universe knows itself; I have no such idea..

Normally I don't respond to forum posts, but my heart goes out to you.

Many years ago, when I was a young soldier, I got myself into near-death situations more than once.  The first time, my thought was, Im sorry to my parents, for putting them through the grief of losing a young son.

The next time, I thought, what I was doing was important.  It might mean saved lives.

Years later, my best friend killed himself rather than go through the horrors and indignities of end stage AIDS.  A month later, my partner died of the same condition.  I thought, maybe Im at risk too, because at the time the infectiousness was not clear, and there was no treatment.  I worried about stigma, and grief that I might cause others.  It turned out, there was nothing there for me to worry about as far as my health went, but I didn't know that.

Many more years later, I went tnrough an unexpected pain crisis.  Before the ambulance came, I mentally went through possible causes - dissecting aneurysm?  bleeding ulcer?  atypical heart attack?  it turnded out that this was a tumor announcing itself by rupturing.  I didnt know that yet.  I did an assessment for about 15 minutes - should I just see what happens?  Who would be adversely affected if I died.  I thought about it.  I decided I should take care of somse unfinished business - how my going would affect others - and called 911.  That gave some time to put things in order, thank a few people for being who they were, and I went into surgery with a clear mind.

Reading over those stories, the important part is our connections to others.  Im definetly no saint, Ive broken many of the Bible's commandments, plus I'm atheist, and I've caused some hurt a few times.  But I know that suffering is real, in ourselves and in others.  So is joy.  So is deprivation.  So is contentment.  To the extent that we feel connected to others, reduce suffering and deprivation, increase joy and contentment, our lives matter.  Sometimes it's just a little gesture - give some fresh tomatoes to a neighbor.  If we are purely narcississistic, nihilistic, money and sensation grubbing parasites - well, those lives dont matter.  At least in any positive way.  But if someone is a good hearted person - atheist or theist, liberal or conservative, urban or rural, human or canine - their life matters.

As does yours.

One last practical thing.  Last winter when I was going through a perfect storm of bad events and crazy human behaviors, I downloaded some meditation apps onto my cellphone.  They are not all woowoo.  One called "Headspace" did a world of good for me.  Functilnal MRI and neuroscience have shown the benefits of meditation.  It's worth a try.exe3

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