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Old 03-01-2014, 10:18 AM
 
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I became an atheist awhile ago, it just gradually happened. I no longer could believe in many of the things that religion asks you to believe in.
As that happened, I lost a MAJOR security blanket, the notion that there is an afterlife and you don't just disappear after death.
This doesn't bother me so much while in the daytime but a few times, while asleep or half asleep, I find myself thinking about dying and just being… nothing. That or just floating in nothingness, like limbo, which I realize is nonsense. But it's fear of mortality, fear of death, fear of ceasing to be anything. Sometimes, I wake with a start, sometimes briefly yell out like I'm startled and then I startle my wife.

Anyone else? How did you cope with it? Does it ever go away?
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Old 03-01-2014, 10:44 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,481 posts, read 18,692,091 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark3455 View Post
Does it ever go away?
The actualization of the fear is also the solution, you are speaking of existential angst and the only absolute cure is death.

There isn't really anything to fear about being dead, you will not be aware of it, you will not be frustrated by not being alive, it will be the same state you were in before you were conceived and you handled that well enough, didn't you?
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Old 03-01-2014, 11:19 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,198 posts, read 9,135,789 times
Reputation: 6081
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark3455 View Post
I became an atheist awhile ago, it just gradually happened. I no longer could believe in many of the things that religion asks you to believe in.
As that happened, I lost a MAJOR security blanket, the notion that there is an afterlife and you don't just disappear after death.
This doesn't bother me so much while in the daytime but a few times, while asleep or half asleep, I find myself thinking about dying and just being… nothing. That or just floating in nothingness, like limbo, which I realize is nonsense. But it's fear of mortality, fear of death, fear of ceasing to be anything. Sometimes, I wake with a start, sometimes briefly yell out like I'm startled and then I startle my wife.

Anyone else? How did you cope with it? Does it ever go away?
I never have bad dreams about being dead ... but I have had them now and then about being alive. Now that I have acclimated myself to reality as it actually is, those are exceedingly rare anymore, and not that unambiguous either, to the point where I can't be sure that their cause isn't simply what I ate for dinner.

My "unthinkables" as a theist had far less to do with "there is no heaven" than with "everyone and everything I care about can be taken from me at any time for any reason or for no reason". Once I realized this just is what it is and it's not at all personal, even that lost its power over me. Once that happens, death is actually a comforting idea; that there is an endpoint and a limit to what one can be obliged to endure. True, the same endpoint exists for what one can enjoy, but the non-existent do not pine for old pleasures.

What might be helpful to you is to look at the Buddhist concept of the impermanence of all things, especially the illusion of the fixed self. I'm not suggesting you become a Buddhist (I haven't), only that the Buddhists have got their poop in a group on this topic. Much of the aversion to being mortal comes from attachment to a fixed concept of an immutable self, and Buddhism makes a convincing argument that this is nothing more than an illusion. In fact, an emphasis of Buddhism is to think about one's eventual dissolution every day, to gain acceptance of it and freedom from the illusion of permanence. You are just another thing that is "arising and falling". The ideal Buddhist death is a good death, free of anxiety or grasping.
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Old 03-01-2014, 02:01 PM
 
3,321 posts, read 1,893,853 times
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Be thankful this only plagues you when you are sleeping. I am not an atheist (probly agnostic) but with all the scenarios they all sound scary to me. I used to have some dreams about death or about to die. With me, it has gotten better but it's never gone away. However, I find that when I think about how I'm not where I should be in life it may be that is where I get most afraid. I know that the fear will always be there but I think it will subside if I find my calling. Maybe this is your issue as well. Perhaps there is something in your life that you need to improve.
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Old 03-01-2014, 02:19 PM
 
Location: Florida
4,538 posts, read 3,951,046 times
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No, not really.

Dead happens to everyone. Billions are already dead. The world kept turning. Once you accept that you are a tiny speck on a tiny speck planet in a tiny speck galaxy, you get over yourself.
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Old 03-01-2014, 02:48 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,198 posts, read 9,135,789 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickchick View Post
I find that when I think about how I'm not where I should be in life it may be that is where I get most afraid. I know that the fear will always be there but I think it will subside if I find my calling.
How does one determine where one "should" be in life?

How does finding one's "calling" help with that?

In my experience, "wherever you go, there you are". You can construct "shoulds" by comparing yourself (usually inaccurately or speciously) to others of similar age and background and/or gender, etc., but in reality you can only do what anyone else can do, which is be your best self you know how to be with the understanding of life that you currently have. It helps to be curious and observant so as to improve your understanding, but that can only happen so fast.

If all you're talking about is that you haven't had some kind of "aha" moment drop from the sky so that you find what you were "meant" to do ... well, it doesn't work that way. Just go do stuff until something sticks. That's all anyone really does. Yes, it helps to have an idea of what interests you and get appropriate education and experience but the truth is, most people don't really know when they are young what their passion is, their education is often "wrong" for the path they end up on, and it works out anyway. Life is not an orderly progression that way; it is sort of a grand experiment, really. Most people's lives are full of false fits and starts -- they just gloss over that when explaining it to you, because they want to seem decisive and confident when they really aren't.

We all just make it up as we go. It's just that we don't want to admit it -- to ourselves or to each other.
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Old 03-01-2014, 03:52 PM
 
Location: The land where cats rule
10,946 posts, read 8,284,842 times
Reputation: 3602
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark3455 View Post
I became an atheist awhile ago, it just gradually happened. I no longer could believe in many of the things that religion asks you to believe in.
As that happened, I lost a MAJOR security blanket, the notion that there is an afterlife and you don't just disappear after death.
This doesn't bother me so much while in the daytime but a few times, while asleep or half asleep, I find myself thinking about dying and just being… nothing. That or just floating in nothingness, like limbo, which I realize is nonsense. But it's fear of mortality, fear of death, fear of ceasing to be anything. Sometimes, I wake with a start, sometimes briefly yell out like I'm startled and then I startle my wife.

Anyone else? How did you cope with it? Does it ever go away?
Simple answer, no. The process leading to death, sometimes.
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Old 03-01-2014, 04:48 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,481 posts, read 18,692,091 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post

We all just make it up as we go.
You just made that up, didn't you? It could be something else tomorrow.
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:51 PM
 
Location: New Jersey, USA
618 posts, read 454,330 times
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Hello mark3455.

Putting aside any possibility of an afterlife, when I think of death I often think of my father and my son. For some reason this gives me comfort...your mileage may vary.

I remember being my son's age and thinking of how powerful, strong, and capable my father seemed when he was in his prime. That was his time to create the best life he could for himself. Now my father is gone. Now is my time. Someday I will be gone, and it will be my children's turn to make for themselves the best life that they can. We are like ocean waves striking the shore...one following the next...each its own wave but all part of same endless tide.

Now is my time, and it can't be wasted worrying about the time that's past or the time to come. The tide is forever, but this time is mine.

Thanks.

PS - I am well aware that humanity isn't really "endless" and "forever." I use these terms metaphorically to mean "a very long time."
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:00 PM
 
3,321 posts, read 1,893,853 times
Reputation: 1858
Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
How does one determine where one "should" be in life?

How does finding one's "calling" help with that?

In my experience, "wherever you go, there you are". You can construct "shoulds" by comparing yourself (usually inaccurately or speciously) to others of similar age and background and/or gender, etc., but in reality you can only do what anyone else can do, which is be your best self you know how to be with the understanding of life that you currently have. It helps to be curious and observant so as to improve your understanding, but that can only happen so fast.

If all you're talking about is that you haven't had some kind of "aha" moment drop from the sky so that you find what you were "meant" to do ... well, it doesn't work that way. Just go do stuff until something sticks. That's all anyone really does. Yes, it helps to have an idea of what interests you and get appropriate education and experience but the truth is, most people don't really know when they are young what their passion is, their education is often "wrong" for the path they end up on, and it works out anyway. Life is not an orderly progression that way; it is sort of a grand experiment, really. Most people's lives are full of false fits and starts -- they just gloss over that when explaining it to you, because they want to seem decisive and confident when they really aren't.

We all just make it up as we go. It's just that we don't want to admit it -- to ourselves or to each other.

Oh believe me I am quite sure of what I was meant to do but the issue is no one wants to give me a chance. Everytime I look for what I think I could do, it always has a certain amount of experience next to the job listing.
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