Epicurus said that fearing nonexistence is not only stupid, it even gets in the way of enjoying life. I agree with Epicurus and I am trying to stop fearing death by thinking about it logically. I now have peace with as far as I know every aspect of death except for one thing. That is called 'FOMO' or the 'fear of missing out'.

If I would die today I would never see humans land on Mars for example. Some argue that if there is no feeling of deep loss at what you missed before your birth, why would there be such a thing after your death? I do quite disagree with this, because I can read about the past or think about what might have happened. Events in the future are unpredictable and by dying some questions can never be answered. They will remain to be a mystery forever.

So to conclude I think my only fear of death is the fear of missing out. What do you think?

  • 7
    youtu.be/waoEVI9FN5Q Shelly Kagan lecture "Why Is Death Bad?"
    – Dave
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 17:10
  • 2
    Fear of death is a good thing because it leads people to come to terms with their accruing moral debt. The worse thing we can do is try to alleviate that fear (by denial or with wishful-thinking "philosophy") without truly dealing with the underlying problem.
    – user3017
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 10:08
  • 3
    I think you have no reason to fear death; it's just regret that you'll miss the ballgame, or something. Death doesn't seem to you an evil, but an inconvenience.
    – user25574
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 20:15
  • 1
    “Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.”
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 23:03

6 Answers 6


Philosophers like Tomas Aquinas and Agustin Hipona wrote that we have fear of death because we were not born for it. Agustin Hipona, De Civitate Dei/City of God, Book XI, Ch. 11, 27

What! do not even all irrational animals, to whom such calculations are unknown, from the huge dragons down to the least worms, all testify that they wish to exist, and therefore shun death by every movement in their power? Nay, the very plants and shrubs, which have no such life as enables them to shun destruction by movements we can see, do not they all seek, in their own fashion, to conserve their existence, by rooting themselves more and more deeply in the earth, that so they may draw nourishment, and throw out healthy branches towards the sky? In fine, even the lifeless bodies, which want not only sensation but seminal life, yet either seek the upper air or sink deep, or are balanced in an intermediate position, so that they may protect their existence in that situation where they can exist in most accordance with their nature.

Quid? animalia omnia etiam irrationalia, quibus datum non est ista cogitare, ab immensis draconibus usque ad exiguos vermiculos nonne se esse velle atque ob hoc interitum fugere omnibus quibus possunt motibus indicant? Quid? arbusta omnesque frutices, quibus nullus est sensus ad vitandam manifesta motione perniciem, nonne ut in auras tutum cacuminis germen emittant, aliud terrae radicis affigunt, quo alimentum trahant atque ita suum quodam modo esse conservent? Ipsa postremo corpora, quibus non solum sensus, sed nec ulla saltem seminalis est vita, ita tamen vel exiliunt in superna vel in ima descendunt vel librantur in mediis, ut essentiam suam, ubi secundum naturam possunt esse, custodiant.

(I prefer that one in Latin because To translate is to betray)

So those who share Life are afraid to lose it, and living things share Life, because if death was ours then we couldn't lose it.

For theist philosophers like Plato, Plotinus, Aristotle, Socrates, and more, you should be afraid of death because at the end (when humankind dies) we will be judged by God if we have loved one another.

Another, more poetic, point of view come from

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Ch. 1, Of the beginning of days

[Iluvatar] But to the Atani I will give a new gift.

On the beginning of world that host the adventures of Middle-Earth Iluvator, that is the name of the Creator on Tolkien, gives the death is a gift to the Atani/humankind. Elfs instead remain alive still the World is life. Basically there are strong linked with the World but that doesn't make them happy indeed the prefer go back to Valinor where the Valar lives

  • 1
    What does the latin mean? I am not fluent I am sorry.
    – Raymond
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 7:04
  • 1
    @RaymondTimmermans have a look on: archive.org/details/cityofgodtransla02auguuoft C. 11, 27 Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 7:20
  • i fear you are not answering the question. Fearless John wants to be afraid, and finds no reasons to do so.
    – user25574
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 19:21
  • 2
    You bring up some interesting points, but your answer needs work. The Latin quote should be translated. Also, Plato, et. al. are not atheists but theists. Finally, the Silmarillion quote is a fine quote, but it needs an explanation for those who are not Tolkien scholars. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 18:30
  • 1
    @GregGraham I will do it Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 3:52

Nowadays, and for the first time ever, molecular biology and genetic engineering hold out the possibility of actually controlling the aging process, and preventing death-by-aging (accidents, bullets, etc, notwithstanding). So fearing death is a very good thing because fear encourages people to do something about what they fear. There used to be no possibility of doing anything about death, so people just rationalized away fear of death, by afterlife, religion, etc. But now that we're on the verge of actually being able to do something about it, we're better off fearing the heck out of death, to encourage funding research and hurrying up its "cure".

  • Right, there are some things we can mitigate, but larger things will always be beyond our control, so there will always be something to fear.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 12:37

I'm 35. Once, I did my own independent thinking and saw that it was separate from remembering the past of how I looked ahead at the future. So I thought of it as a property of the past and did my own pure abstract thinking that I was conceiving of a concept higher than anything I could have conceived of before. So my brain adapted to stop anticipating the future. I live like month long chapters ad am like this is the environment and my awareness of the next one is very nil. Once it comes, I then learn about it and remember the previous one and am like "I thought it would never come." I have a little tiny bit of awareness of the next one and know that just because it's as though it doesn't exist doesn't mean it's truly never coming and when it does come, I will think from scratch and self claim that it's higher than the previous one even though it's not. The true joys of it. It is a different kind of enjoyment than the feeling of a distant future time being magic. Now it's normal in my mind to have awareness in the past direction but not in the future direction. Using the little tiny bit of awareness of the future that I have, I guess we would design a plan according to the laws of physics where death is nowhere to be found and we have no concept of death by envisioning how I would adapt if God was real and did it that way before we were born if we thought like me. I would take it when it comes and not pay no attention now to how things will be in 300 years. I once did get a little bit of a feeling of it being a bit magic seeming being such a late time. Once, I played Super Mario Galaxy 2 an then it was a bit like magic when I reached and entered the second last galaxy in the game, "Flip-Out Galaxy." The future is in the future and can theoretically be changed. What is it that you want. Once you get it, theoretically nature could throw you a future of a next chapter a month later and then you would say "I already got what I wanted at the time." and then get a natural curiosity about the next one after it pops up and be thinking in it and claim to have the next one. This could keep going for ever. Now if life were infinite, how would you adapt. If you're like "The next one is eventually coming so I'll wait for it." only to find that once it comes, you're like "The next one is coming so I'll wait for it," it becomes never that you have it. I think I maybe heard in a YouTube video that some people think that way when they're young and then eventually come to their senses around 40 or 45 and say they arrived. But it's not in seeing that they won the game. It's in thinking from scratch independently of the previous one and then after thinking from scratch, it will naturally come to them 5 minutes later to see that they arrived in this chapter. They will semi sort of remember the past also but it will be buried. I guess mostly, it's thinking from scratch and a little bit, it's seeing that they arrived gotten from the thinking from scratch they were doing 5 minutes earlier. Some young people might be able to learn in actuality what mind they will adopt eventually as a low discovery thing. But they're not truly feeling it and once they get there, they will see thinking independently from scratch and not seeing it as the thing they already knew how was gonna go. Once it is that time, they will think of how they already looked ahead at it as a property of the past and and self claim that they thought it would never come.

  • Sounds like approaching Nonduality. Have you seen the movie Arrival?
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 12:33
  • My own answer is probably more interesting to me than the movie would be and satisfies my desires already. That movie is really not on my mind as something to do. This answer is like one of many things I do in my life. It might become small and insignificant in a month. The reality of how I think probably won't be because it's around me all the time but the answer itself that came from it probably will. So the idea of watching the movie will become even smaller and less significant and not on my mind. The reality is that when somebody gets shown it, it feels normal to have seen it because they
    – Timothy
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 2:31
  • already got thrown it in front of their eyes by the outside environment. Pushing myself to watch it would be making decision by which train of thought have the strongest muscles. Maybe it will come naturally. The reality of that way of seeing the future is around me all the time kind of making that fact unique and different. Maybe for that reason, it will come to me naturally to watch that movie when my mind randomly wanders to it.
    – Timothy
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 2:34
  • Thank you. I wasn't suggesting watching so I could "learn you something", I meant it as a common point of reference. What you wrote reminds me of my experience in some ways, and the nearest common midpoint in the world is the view in the movie. I rarely hear anyone talk about their experience in this way, and wish that it was better known. Millions have seen the movie, for example, (or lots of well-known books etc) but they still see "with, but not through the eye".
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 12:06

If there is truly no difference between death and nonexistence, then the only thing you would miss out on is the death of the universe signaling definitively that there was ultimately nothing significant about humanity outside of our imagination. From the perspective you fear missing out on, human existence would turn out to be something like a long-running TV show that ends with no satisfactory conclusion.

In contrast, if we can depend upon our perception that justice and beauty have something to do with the nature of the reality that brought us into being, then it might be worth trusting that there is more to death than nonexistence. Thus, many fear consciousness persisting after death. For example, the traditional Christian definition of death is simply the separation of the soul from the body. I.e., the body shuts down and consciousness/personhood remains. The prospect of being aware of the world without being able to interact with and/or affect it is profoundly unnatural and unappealing (unless all you want is to know what happens next). Furthermore, those who anticipate resurrection or reincarnation might fear the prospect of judgement after death, and might prefer nonexistence to justice if their conscience isn't clear.

In short, if human existence is metaphysically significant, then death is something to be feared and/or opposed. Otherwise, you're not missing anything because history is going nowhere. FOMO seems irrational either way.


There is abstract fear of death - which is pointless since you are going to die one day, whether you fear it or not, and if the feeling of fear hurts you, and stops you from enjoying your life, then it is irrational.

On the other hand, fear is a mechanism that influences you to avoid avoidable negative consequences. If you saw a lion in the street, you’d feel fear and that fear would drive you to avoid the risk of an unnecessary death.

So fear, even fear of death, often had a good purpose - as long as you’re not overdoing it.


I submit that we fear death for evolutionary reasons; those of us with a genetic predisposition to be comfortable with death have tended to die while those who fear death most keenly have tended to survive. That in itself doesn’t make fear of death either a good or a bad thing. But if you are predisposed to fear death than you will naturally look for justifications of that position, and there are of course many.

  • I think this doesn't answer the question. The question was the conscious reason and not the evolutionary reason. We have brains and can think. I think that consciously, it's because we can't fathom what it's like to be dead. As long as that method works to stop us from killing ourselves, evolution doesn't care how we do it.
    – Timothy
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 1:35
  • @Timothy we can think but many of our conceptions are driven not purely by philosophical discourse but by evolutionary forces. Sexual attraction being an obvious example, with fear of death following close behind.
    – Frog
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 5:34
  • BTW the question is ‘what do you think’.
    – Frog
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 5:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .