I still get panic attacks went contemplating my own mortality. Any help/advice?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by aaqucnaona, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

    Its been two years since I lost my faith. This never used to be a problem because the issue could always be delayed to an afterlife concern. The issue is this - its equally unsettling to me to die or live forever.

    In the first case, especially if I am just passing the time browsing something, it suddenly hits me that these moments have little value to me but at some point in time they will end for me. Even if we somehow manage to stave off aging, death is just an accident away. And nothing can get past the heat death anyway. This all is very abstract but I get this image in my head, of closing my eyes and seeing the world for the last time. Of moving my last muscle or taking my last breath. And no matter what I do, how well I take care of myself, that moment is coming.

    Even the time taken to write this has only brought me closer to it. And then I will not exist. No perception, no thoughts and nothing. Everything that happened, good or bad, will simply cease to matter. All my successes and failings will be for nothing. All so that some fucking genes can pass onto to another generation. The panic is strong enough to bring to tears and keep me up for the better part of the night. This happens every few dozen days regardless of my mood or other activities in my life. I don't know what to do, where to find solace or a way out of this mental torment. Any help or advice on what to do? Any similiar experiences to share?

    Ps. I know of Dawkins' "We are going to die and that makes us the lucky ones" but I can't get myself to agree. Its like asking if its better to give nothing to a child or give it an ice-cream and then snatch it back.
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  3. Number 9 Bus Shelter Registered Member

    You are not the first and won't be the last to think about and fear death. My opinion is that to die isn't a bad thing. It isn't a good thing either - it is neutral.

    A dead person won't feel sad because he's dead, nor happy. So why bother? Just live your life. The more you worry about death, the more life you're throwing in the trash can
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  5. Mazulu Banned Banned

    Near death experience from the point of view of the surgeons.

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  7. Dazz Registered Senior Member

    We are the absolute lucky ones man.

    There is no such thing as eternity, every single thing in the universe, and the very universe will come to it's end one day.
    I think about such matters myself and, i get nowhere as much as you do. Just one thing keeps me from panicking and it totally applies to my person and may not, probably won't, apply to you: Dramatizing a problem doesn't solve it, the more drama i make the more time i waste, the farther i get from solution.
    Unfortunately there's no solution for the infamous death, but it is what makes life ... LIFE.
    There is no how to comprehend what is light if there was no shadow, the previous phrase is probably the only one useful here but anyway...
    Try to leave a legacy man, that really can push you forward and if you happen to achieve such a feat, you won't be forgotten.
    Hope it helps, probably won't .....
  8. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    “For to fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise without really being wise, for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For no one knows whether death may not be the greatest good that can happen to man.”

    ― Plato, Apology

    “Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.”

    ― Grace Hansen

    “I know my time will come soon enough, but I will not dwell on it. What is the purpose? We might as well dwell on the work of our teeth or on the mechanics of our walk. It is there, it will always be there, and I don't intend to spend my glorious hours looking over my shoulder to see death's icy face.”

    ― Alberto Manguel, Stevenson Under the Palm Trees

    “In my opinion, anyone who says they have no anxiety at all over experiencing their own physical death is not in touch with their humanity".

    ~R. Alan Woods [2012]”

    “When we face our fear of death and slow down our busy lives, we come to realize our relationships are precious, a part of life’s foundation. Knowing this fact helps us to understand that death’s true purpose is to teach us how to live.”
    ― Molly Friedenfeld, The Book of Simple Human Truths
  9. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member


    aaqucnaona, I must preface this Post with making sure that you read my moniker and understand that I am in no way, shape or form a professional or licensed or accredited!

    Okay, so...might it be that whatever "faith" you "lost" may have been put there using fear as the main prodding tool in the first place?
    I have no idea what happened/occurred/took place to cause your "loss" - actually, that is something only you can truly know. At any rate my wrinkled old Grey Matter, had two things pop up:

    !.) Maybe you haven't completely "lost" this "faith" at all.
    You may be going through the spiritual/religious "trials and tribulations" that will eventually solidify your true "faith".
    Possibly the fear that may have put it there in the first place -is now coming out as some kind of inner "shit or get off the pot" message, to let you know that you've got to "go all in" one way or the other to get on with enjoying life.
    In my 57 years on this planet, I have met a few, probably less than 100 or so, people who were honestly at ease with themselves and had what seemed to be true peace of mind in regards to their own spirituality/religion/atheism/...whatever. Those few were composed of all kinds - Cristian, Catholic, Jewish, Atheist, New Ager, Secular...etc.
    Anyhow, the rest of us cannot help but have a few "what ifs" bouncing around in our head at times! But if that becomes debilitating or leads to repeated bouts of deep depressing dwelling that seriously affects our daily reality - it would seem to be time to either immediately look that fear in the face and overcome it by figuring out if you have only misplaced your belief or that it should not have been there in the first place!
    So..."shit or get of the pot"! The longer you sit there, the more it is going to stink! And, seriously you can surely think of better things to do than just "sitting on the pot"!!

    2.) Maybe there is a medical/emotional aspect that may be "causing" what you are experiencing. Again you may possibly know of this other aspect of your life that may be causing this, or you may not.
    Whether you do know it or not, it sounds like you might want to contact a professional if you do not succeed in overcoming it very soon. There are many medical/emotional issues that can more or less lead to what they refer to as "clinical depression", which it seems, if allowed to go on too long can get a lot worse than what you are currently going through.
    Heck, that may be the root of what led to your "loss" in the first place!

    Sorry if this diatribe does not help much, but it is all that I can offer.

    aaqucnaona, I sincerely hope that you can get this problem behind you!

    Life is about living - Death is about dying!
    While your alive, you should enjoy the heck out of life, be rather hard to do it afterwards!
    Deal with death when you are dead, spending time on it now just sucks away the time you get to enjoy the life that you have now!

    Hang in there! Head up, eyes open! Put a smile on your face! Think positive thoughts! Hug a loved one! Pet a kitty! Make someone/everyone else smile!
    Make those things a habit, and before you know it life will be lining up all around you to bring you nothing but joy!
  10. Mazulu Banned Banned

    There are thousands of people who have been to the edge between life and death. They have reported and continue to report that we are loved. When we die, we will pass into love.

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    And we have a soul
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Obviously you are not a spacetime realist[3], who would accordingly take into account that one's life history does not disappear from existence. Obviously you are not a believer in any form of generic subjectivity, elaborated upon here at naturalism.org (quoted abstract at [1] below). Or, as what seems your being just another run-of-the-mill extinctivist, one who obviously can't take comfort in being unable to verify your own death[2]. Your distant, future extinction as well bringing about the very elimination of all the needs and addictions that compel you to want to be alive to begin with, including these seizures of hopelessness revolving around death: Apparently you can find little solace in even that.

    So essentially, since you are one of the lucky group [amiable sarcasm] on this planet that has cornered yourself into being absolutely certain about your beliefs in matters of personal eschatology (not that grand kind concerning all of humanity and the world).... Then perhaps you should just allow nature to take its course and allow this growing nihilism to keep drawing / sucking you downward into its spiraling pit of meaninglessness. Just regard it as evolution's psychological mechanism for culling out the "reproducers" who can't handle the consequences of their own treating of science's output as a sterile philosophical worldview, rather than science being another systematic enterprise.

    Nah, if I really felt that way about you, I wouldn't bother. Simply choose and strap yourself to one of the more optimistic philosophies or conclusion-generations out there and cease this unfruitful fretting. It's not like you are surrounded by a barren desert when it comes to rescue ships and beacons of purpose. Stop being a recluse from the dazzlement of being conscious -- and conscious of a wondrous world -- wallow in the awe of being more than mere mineral or mindless meat.

    [1] Thomas W. Clark: This paper critiques the widespread secular misunderstanding of death as a plunge into oblivion. It uses a thought experiment about personal identity similar to those employed by British philosopher Derek Parfit in his tour de force Reasons and Persons. By degrees, the reader is supposed to see that the notion of a blank or emptiness following death is incoherent, and that therefore we should not anticipate the end of experience when we die. This conclusion has a bit of a mystical feel to it, even though the premises are naturalistic. This paper was originally published as a cover article for the Humanist, and is reprinted in The Experience of Philosophy, Wadsworth Publishing, Daniel Kolak and Ray Martin, editors. Wayne Stewart has developed, quite independently, a remarkably similar view... --Death, Nothingness, and Subjectivity http://www.naturalism.org/death.htm

    [2] Jesse Bering: Consider the rather startling fact that you will never know you have died. You may feel yourself slipping away, but it isn't as though there will be a ''you" around who is capable of ascertaining that, once all is said and done, it has actually happened. Just to remind you, you need a working cerebral cortex to harbor propositional knowledge of any sort, including the fact that you've died, and once you've died your brain is about as phenomenally generative as a head of lettuce. In a 2007 article published in the journal Synthese, University of Arizona philosopher Shaun Nichols puts it this way: "When I try to imagine my own non-existence I have to imagine that I perceive or know about my non-existence. No wonder there's an obstacle! This observation may not sound like a major revelation to you, but I bet you've never considered what it actually means, which is that your own mortality is unfalsifiable from the first-person perspective. This obstacle is why writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe allegedly remarked that "everyone carries the proof of his own immortality within himself." --Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=never-say-die

    [3] Brian Greene: And in moments of loss I've taken comfort from the knowledge that all events exist eternally in the expanse of space and time, with the partition into past, present and future being a useful but subjective organization. --The Time We Thought We Knew

    Roger Penrose: I think there is a positive side to this picture of space and time being laid out there as 4 dimensions, because it tells you that all times are there once and it can affect the way one thinks about people who have died. I mean, I remember thinking in this kind of way when my mother died. In some sense she was still there because her existence is still out there in space/time although in our time she is not alive. A colleague of mine had a son who died in tragic circumstances and I presented this idea to him and it helped his understanding also. This was before I heard that Einstein had a colleague died and he wrote to the man's wife that Bessa was still out there, and that somehow this was reassuring. I certainly think this way often, that space/time is laid out and that things in the past and things in the future are out there still. --from transcript of an old BBC documentary about the nature of time in physics

    Paul Davies: Physicists prefer to think of time as laid out in its entirety - a timescape, analogous to a landscape - with all past and future events located there together .... Completely absent from this description of nature is anything that singles out a privileged special moment as the present or any process that would systematically turn future events into the present, then past, events. In short, the time of the physicist does not pass or flow. --That Mysterious Flow

    - - - - -

    SEAN CARROLL: If you believe the laws of physics, there's just as much reality to the future and the past as there is to the present moment.

    MAX TEGMARK: The past is not gone, and the future isn't non-existent. The past, the future and the present are all existing in exactly the same way.

    BRIAN GREENE: Just as we think of all of space as being "out there," we should think of all of time as being "out there" too. Everything that has ever happened or will happen, it all exists, from Leonardo da Vinci laying the final brushstroke on the Mona Lisa; to the signing of the Declaration of Independence; to your first day of school; to events that, from our perspective, are yet to happen, like the first humans landing on Mars.

    With this bold insight, Einstein shattered one of the most basic concepts of how we experience time. "The distinction between past, present, and future," he once said, "is only an illusion, however persistent."

    But if every moment in time already exists, then how do we explain the very real feeling that time, like this river, seems to endlessly rush forward?

    Well, maybe we've been deceived, and time does not flow. Perhaps the river of time is more like a frozen river.

    DAVID ALBERT: The most vivid example about the way the world is has to do with this flow of time. Physics does radical violence to this everyday experience of time.

    JANNA LEVIN: Our entire experience of time is constantly in the present. And all we ever grasp is that instant moment.

    MAX TEGMARK: There is nothing in the laws of physics that picks out one now over any other now. And it's just from our subjective viewpoint that it feels like things are changing.

    BRIAN GREENE: Just the way an entire movie exists on celluloid, think of all moments of time as already existing too. The difference is that in the movies, a projector lights up or selects each frame as it goes by, but in the laws of physics, there is no evidence of something like a projector light that selects one moment over another. Our brains may create this impression, but in reality, what we all experience as the flow of time really may be nothing more than an illusion.

    - - - - - -

    Robert Geroch: "There is no dynamics within space-time itself: nothing ever moves therein; nothing happens; nothing changes. [...] In particular, one does not think of particles as 'moving through' space-time, or as 'following along' their world-lines. Rather, particles are just 'in' space-time, once and for all, and the world-line represents, all at once the complete life history of the particle." --General Relativity from A to B

    Paul Davies: "Peter Lynds's reasonable and widely accepted assertion that the flow of time is an illusion (25 October, p 33) does not imply that time itself is an illusion. It is perfectly meaningful to state that two events may be separated by a certain duration, while denying that time mysteriously flows from one event to the other. Crick compares our perception of time to that of space. Quite right. Space does not flow either, but it's still 'there'." --New Scientist, 6 December 2003, Sec. Letters

    Hermann Weyl: "The objective world simply IS, it does not HAPPEN. Only to the gaze of my consciousness, crawling upward along the life line [worldline] of my body, does a certain section of this world come to life as a fleeting image in space which continuously changes in time." --Philosophy of Mathematics and Natural Science
  12. Balerion Banned Banned


    That's some pretty serious existential dread, my friend. My suggestion would be seeking psychiatric help if it's really becoming a burden. Maybe you just need to talk it out once in a while. (Or once a week!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    ) As a fellow sufferer of panic attacks, I can tell you that airing out those thoughts with a professional, or even just a sympathetic friend or family member, can take a huge weight off.

    I'd also suggest that you're looking at things the wrong way. Just because we die doesn't mean that the things we care about stop mattering. The people we leave behind will carry on, and those concerns, passions, fears, and achievements will be just as important to others as they are to us now. Ultimate futility is a concept larger than the universe itself, so why should any of us concern ourselves with it? Whatever comes, comes. In the meantime, we have lives to live, and the things we do matter on the only scale that has ever been or will ever be relevant to humanity.
  13. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    No proof of a soul can be factually documented. It is a belief not a fact.
  14. arauca Banned Banned

    You must have panicking . because of panicking you have memorized the saying , which you have quoted
  15. siledre Registered Senior Member

    there is no set answer to set your mind at ease, that must come from you, instead of contemplating the end, contemplate the moment. I've always lived at most week to week but mostly day to day, I only think of the future when asked what my plans are for a specific time and date. I've lost 2 brothers and my mom and have almost died several times myself. I think the most important thing is to find enjoyment in your life, barring that, a distraction, barring that, work your ass off. no matter what though, don't waste your time contemplating the end, life has that part covered for you leaving you free to do other things.
  16. someguy1 Registered Senior Member

    I believe that the people who worry about death the most are the ones who are not doing what they are meant to be doing every day in their lives. If you are living a good life you don't worry about death. But then again there's Ray Kurzweil, who want to live forever and thinks about death a lot. Very interesting fellow.

    "What it's like to pursue immortality"

  17. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    I know the feeling, even though I have faith in God I still have doubts and can easily recognise the agony you're experiencing. Chances are though, that if there is no God there is still existence after you die, it's good to have a parachute of sorts, so if you want to you can contemplate this:

    There is no "after" you die, there is dying and then there is nothing. Time doesn't exist for you, and by all means you are reset to nothing just as before you were born. Just think about it, you were once the same nothing before you were born, there are no alternative nothings, and in nothing the world doesn't go on (as is popularly argued), this is a misconception, for you the world has seised to exist and is also at the state when it didn't exist. So don't think of death as the end, think of it as the reset to the beginning of everything.

    What accounts for your self-awareness? We don't know, but it is what makes you exist. I would guess that if you were born without a arm or without a leg you would still be you, popular belief states that the brain or a structure in the brain is all that it takes. So if a structure in the brain fully accounts for your unique self-awareness then that structure could potentially happen again in the universe, even if it would take a gazillion of years - but you wouldn't notice that time since you can only notice anything when you exist.

    I do encourage you to find faith again though, there is a point to life and everything, I sincerily believe so, we aren't here just by chance and our oppinion/belief can only be shown to be right, if it's wrong then we wouldn't know about it.
  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    My own mother passed away yesterday at 7:37 in the morning. She had been in hospice for like 3 days due to kidney failure, which on the great roulette wheel of ways to die is like jackpot. As her kidneys ceased filtering out toxins, the nitrogen levels in the blood increased and she just slept for like 3 days. On Christmas morning I got there about 7:20 and spoke to her, assuring her it was ok to go. She heard me. In 10 minutes she stopped breathing her labored breaths and moved on. So peaceful and amazing. And get this: the nurse brings me a phone with the hospice nurse on it and after I hang up with her that phone rings once. Only once mind you, and on the caller ID is my mother's name Lisa. What a strange coincidence eh? If you don't believe in things like this that is. I kinda do now. I had asked my mom to give me a sign from the other side and I think she did. We think we know what death is. But none of us have a clue what really lies beyond all this. I'm thinking it's better than we think.
  19. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    My condolences on your mothers passing. May you celebrate her passing with more joy than mourning!
  20. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Very sorry to hear about your loss, MR. But as you say, a passing more merciful and serene in its own way than the slow and agonizing trek which those among us might sometimes witness their relatives and friends depart.

    Not surprised by the telephone incident. I've had my own share of intermittent bundles of coincidences and synchronicities. While I'm sure that all such incidents would have their bookkeeping affairs in good order if the auditors came to inspect the accounts in the Statistics and Probabilities Department, this is still the neatly tied-up box which even those of us "who need more" should expect. As Kant offered, all influences submitted for manifestation and co-existence with other phenomenal representations in the "natural order" would be properly "converted" as such, made into members of the scheme: Intertwined within and explicated by causal relationships and other regulatory conditions necessary for an empirical world to be so. Like a coin exhibiting strict interdependence of its contents on the tails side, and liberation of the one from the "many" on the heads side.
  21. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

    Roger Ebert put it this way about contemplating his own death...

    I, too know I have less life left than most people, but I don't fear death, in some ways it will be a great relief.


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  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm lucky. As a third-generation atheist I never heard of gods and heaven and angels and religion until I was seven.

    You need to recalibrate your way of thinking. Put more of your effort and attention into the present instead of the future. The present is, after all, where we live.

    Nonetheless, as a responsible member of a highly social species, you can take pride and a sense of accomplishment in your contribution to the advance of civilization. If you honestly try to leave this place a little better than you found it, that's all you need to be happy.

    In other words, care about the other seven billion people! Life and the universe are not about you or me, but about everyone, including the ones who aren't born yet. Leave this mortal existence with a sense of having accomplished something to give back to all the people who share the planet with you, and the ones who follow them.

    As a member of the species Homo sapiens, you have an instinct to function as a member of society, not as an individual trying to make the most for himself. Most of the intelligent mammals have this social instinct: wolves, elephants, dolphins... This is why wolves, elephants and dolphins will sacrifice their lives for the good of the pack. Humans do that too, every day.

    Somewhere along the line you weren't well-socialized by your family or the other people you spent time with. I don't know anything about your parents, but if I generalize from most parents, yours probably tried to give you a good life. Assuming that they succeeded, they died happy.

    Try to think less about yourself and more about others. Paradoxically, this will help. You're part of a magnificent project called "civilization." It lives on, even though its individual members pop in and out of existence.

    Just look at what we (and our ancestors) accomplished, starting with the first permanent farming villages, through the first cities, the discovery of metallurgy, the domestication of draft and riding animals, the invention of writing, the discovery of the principles of science, and now, finally, modern medicine that has reduced infant mortality from 80% clear up into the late 19th century, to less than one percent in the developed countries.

    No wonder people needed the fantasy of an afterlife. Everybody had six or eight or ten dead children that he never had the chance to see grow up. He wanted to be reunited with them in heaven. But today, you probably don't know three people who lost a child. We have the luxury of enjoying life on earth; we don't have to fantasize about heaven.

    Stop being so self-centered. There are seven billion other people out there. Ask them how they deal with this stuff. I'll bet most of them will tell you that they don't spend much time thinking about it!

    And in any case, even though you're gone, the great things you accomplished while you're here will enrich the lives of the people who come after. Don't you think the people who invented irrigation, the wheel, the principles of science, electric light, the computer, etc., were pretty satisfied with their lives?

    No it won't! There are seven billion people to whom it matters. And those are just the ones who are alive today. The billions who come after will be grateful for what you did too, even if they don't know your name.

    You're taking a selfish perspective again. Everything you do will continue to matter to the people who live after you.

    Have you tracked down a Jungian psychoanalyst in your town? This is a little beyond the ability of the average participant in an online forum. Whatever you do, don't settle for a Freudian.

    No it's not! That's an absolutely crappy analogy.

    And BTW, even though I am indeed a third-generation atheist, I have never found a kindred spirit in Dawkins.

    Anyway, you're sure an unusual person. I'd guess that you're not American. Most Americans don't think about the future at all. It's very hard to get them to buy health insurance or life insurance, until they're so old that the premiums are unaffordable.
  23. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    The only cure for angst is death.

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