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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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..

Daniel, as always, your gentle manner, kind words, and clear descriptions empower one to feel less helpless while thinking of positive ways to face life's challenges. You were there for me and you continue to be present with the ones in turmoil. 

Thank you for being who you are. 

Aw-ww, Bert, if you disagreed would you have posted it?

- - - - - - - - 

Because people use language to either reveal or conceal, when I see prose like that, I sometimes replace second person or plural pronouns (you, your) with first person singular pronouns (I, my). Kornfield’s passage would read

My breath, my heartbeats, my thoughts all arise as pulsing waves. I see... et cetera.

Many people do physical exercise. Not so many people do emotional exercise. Or maybe I’m a narcissist.

OK, Tom, let's do it:

"My breath, my heartbeat, my thoughts all arise as pulsing waves. I see that there is nothing solid, nothing static, nothing steady that goes from one year to the next, one month to the next, one moment to the next. The mind-body is a flux of constant creation and dissolution. There is no possibility of holding on, although sometimes I try very hard to do so. When I experience this process of change in a very immediate and intimate way, I realize that who I am is the ever-changing waves, and the fear of death begins to dissolve because I see that there never has been anything solid or permanent. I no longer consider death some kind of failure, apart from the natural order of things. I can be more at peace."

~Jack Kornfield, modified

I took a seminar with Jack Kornfield. His ideas offer worthy action plans. 




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