I personally think about death pretty much every day.

When I wake up, I think to myself, well, I get another day - that's not bad.

During the day I get occasional thoughts about death. Am I making the most of my time? What should I be doing differently? Do others think about it regularly as well, I wonder?

It's something that is almost never discussed (in my experience). Why is that? We are all heading to the same place, after all. Perhaps it's because the thought is too unbearable? It's not just us atheists that are bashful about death - it's rare that you hear religious people talk about it either (e.g. "I can't wait to be dead! Boy, I am going to have fun in heaven, I am going to do X, Y and Z"). It seems paradoxical to me. Death has to be the biggest event that will happen to all of us, yet we seem to be mostly in a state of frightened denial, the most we can do in most cases is make awkward jokes.

Well, it's late and I'm off to bed. Hopefully I'll get another day :-)

-BT

P.S. If you are one of those people who thinks they might just die one day, join us over at The Exit if you feel like talking about it.

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Replies to This Discussion

Often, but yet it doesn't seem to bother me.
Death is all around but only occasionally does it affect me personally enough to make a difference in my life. And even then, I go through a brief period of reflection but then return to "life as usual" within a few days.
"Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not."-Epicurus

For some reason, when I discovered this quote I was able to let go of some of the fear I felt concerning death. How will I experience death if every moment leading up to the extinction of my consciousness is part of life, not death?
That's about as philosophical as it gets for me, now living; that's a whole other can of worms.
That's a good quote. Here are some other quotes that I think are good also:

I am convinced that it is not the fear of death, of our lives ending that haunts our sleep so much as the fear... that as far as the world is concerned, we might as well never have lived.
Harold Kushner

As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.
-Leonardo da Vinci

Some die too young, some die too old; the precept sounds strange, but die at the right age.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

If I think more about death than some other people, it is probably because I love life more than they do.
-Angelina Jolie

It is neccessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.
-Alexandre Dumas Père
Good quotes. I really like the Kushner one.
I think the quote that encapsulates my view on death

"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."
Mark Twain
I have always been aware of the bittersweet-ness of life. I didn't understand it, sometimes, but I always knew/felt that everything is sweet and bitter at the same time. All things come to an end, good things, bad things, everything ends.

Yes, I think about death a lot. I am recent "convert" to agnosticism/atheism/freethought. At first I was relieved that there is no big "judgement", whether I was good ENOUGH, etc. That somehow made it easier to thing about death. Made it easier, SOMETIMES.

Othertimes, I think about there being nothingness. The world and time will go on without me. I like the idea of seeing my grandma again, and seeing my dogs again. "All dogs go to heaven" sort of thing (assuming that I would be in heaven that is). I get upset that there is no afterlife when I think that way.

The fact that there is no afterlife makes this life all the more important, and every minute and second more precious, and time with family and friends and puppies more prized. I find it almost overwhelming at times. (I don't like my job, and I think that every minute I spend there is MY precious time wasted (although the money does pay the bills), but how can I rationalize spending my time this way, and what should I be doing with my hours?) And then I go back to work on Monday, and my shoulder to the grindstone, and don't think about it for a few days.

Michelle
Hi Michelle, I know what you mean about the job - that takes up SO much time that it's especially painful if you don't like it. I find the idea of heaven interesting - a wonderful place, so they say. But, you never really hear much about what's going to happen in heaven (or the equivalent places that most religions seem to have). What do people do there all day? It's very much a grey area!
I really love my life, and although I appreciate death for making life so precious, I find it incredibly sad as well. To know I'll have to say goodbye to my loved ones and this Earth is just plain sad. But what an incredible motivator to get stuff done!!

And then I also feel so lucky. Lucky to even have one day of consciousness in the universe. I think Dawkins talks about the incredible odds of all the sequences of events that had to occur for me to exist at all, and somehow that makes me smile!
You sounds like you are in a good place. I am sort of there too but it took me a while to get there. I went through the following stages:

1) Denial of death. Death is for other people, I am not going to die (despite being raised loosely Catholic)
2) Crap! I am going to die. Shit! Shit! Shit! I don't want to die! This stage hit me surprisingly recently, under 10 years ago and I am 42 now.
3) Acceptance - enjoy yourself now and make the most of it. This has been gradual and I find myself appreciating each day more than the last. It takes a lot to bring my mood down any more because I realize how lucky I am.
I think I have been less of a risk taker since first becoming aware of myown mortality at the age of 10.
Very young to have this realization, but it woke me straight awake one night.
Now, I think about death, and the turning point for me from agnostic to full atheist was when I had surgery.
I "died" and when I woke up I was so glad to be "back" and I realized there is nothing when we die... no afterlife, no great awakening to the universe, nothing.
I may not take great risks, but I enjoy my days. I try to enjoy the part of my day that isn't spent actively on my job... the in-between moments. This life is all there is and if I'm morbid when asked how I am and I say, "I woke up today, so I'm great" well, then so be it.

Enjoy this life! Death awaits, and then you won't know it. :-)
Research has also recently stated most people do not know they are about to die, it takes too long for the brain to register what is about to happen and so we die never knowing we did.
If I find the link to that article again, I'll post it here.
Hi MJ, thanks for the thoughts. Yes you were very young to become aware of your own mortality. I was a "late bloomer" (I think) - in my 30's and very much in denial before that! On the other hand, my 5 y.o. son said this evening "I have the most life" - meaning out of all of our family members, he has the most life left, because he is the youngest. I thought that was pretty profound for such a little boy and sort of poignant. It makes me very sad to think that all of us including him are mortal. Anyway, as you say, you just have to make the most of it, eh?

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