I know this is all we get, but I can’t accept it.
December 2, 2008 5:18 PM Subscribe
I know that we all die and that there’s absolutely no way around that. I know and accept that one day I will die as well, and I’m not afraid of dying, per se. What I am afraid of—terrified of really—is no longer existing, no longer being conscious of everything that’s happening in this great wide world, no longer being sentient, I guess. What can I do?
posted by anonymous to Religion & Philosophy (88 answers total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
Long explanation, as all anonymous questions tend to have…
I am not religious or spiritual. I do not believe in God or a god or a higher being. I do not believe that there is an afterlife or that there is a heaven and hell, nor do I believe that we will be reunited with our loved ones in the hereafter. But I really, really, really wish I believed in any of that, especially the whole hereafter/loved ones thing. I am nearly paralyzed by the thought that once I die, that’s it: there is no more awareness of what is going on, there is no more learning, there is no more thinking or problem-solving or interaction. You just…don’t exist anymore. That’s what I cannot wrap my head around.
Many people believe that you have a soul (what I guess I’m referring to as consciousness or existence) and that when you die, it’s just your body that stops, but your soul continues on, either going to heaven or being reincarnated or something else entirely. If I believed in that I’d be laying awake at night worrying about other things instead of trying to figure out what it feels like to not exist.
If I knew for certain that my mind/soul/existence would carry on after this body died, I think I’d be okay. But I don’t know that (I suppose no one knows for sure, but so many people believe) and that really stresses me out. Since I don’t know, and I don’t believe, I’m left with death = nothingness: no body, no mind, no floating awareness of the universe. I just don’t know how to accept that or rationalize it or be okay with that.
Do other people worry about this (I know people worry about dying, but do they worry about this weird aspect of it that I’m talking about?)? How do they deal with it? What can I do to try to deal with it and accept it and wrap my head around it? Is it possible for me to become some kind of believer, such that I’ll start believing there’s an after-existence?
I’ve figured out what “the meaning of life” is, at least for me, so that isn’t a question about that. I’m not asking how to find religion. I know that a ton of people are going to throw out “therapy” as a one word answer, but really, how is a therapist going to convince me some part of me will continue to exist after I die? Or that, really, it’ll be okay? (I generally dislike all the shrinks I’ve had and none of them have ever “got” me and I can’t deal with any more platitudes about this particular topic.)
I’ve been worried about this off and on since I was a kid, but I worry about it more and more lately, and every time I think about it I break down and cry and it consumes me. Other people don’t seem to have this problem, either they believe in something after, or they don’t and they accept it. I just…haven’t reached that point yet, and I don’t know if I can.
Throwaway email: email@example.com
Anonymous because I don’t want my mefi friends to know how fucked up I am.