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I have been feeling really oppressed recently and have been thinking constantly about my own death and what misery the death of a loved one would bring to me as I am stranger to that feeling. I don’t believe anything has triggered this thinking, I am of nature very anxious and overthinking is a big problem for me. Also being very curious I started asking myself all those questions and it has brought a lot of sadness and stress to me. Eventually those ‘over thoughts’ go away quite quickly but I am worried I will struggle to forget about the human’s only destiny, death.

This is the type of questions / thoughts that harass my head and I will like some help to put them into perspective …

  1. Why am I ‘me’ in this era ? How in all those millions of years , am I being in 2018 ? Is it as simple as my parents having intercourse and me being the fastest sperm ? Are there any odds in the fact that I could have been born during the Middle Ages ?

  2. How does it feel like when we are dead? How to stop thinking about how the emptiness will feel like even though it will not feel like anything ? I am petrified about death, I am very adventurous and like living the life on the edge but the fact that there will not even be blackness because blackness can only be felt if our organs were still working is terrifying …

  3. Can anyone enlighten me on the fact that we only know about to be as humans, we have no memories whatsoever of the past of the universe. We only know how to be humans since our hearts started beating, so does this mean we don’t only have one life ? I know there are religious believes for everyone but I am more likely looking for an atheist answer.

  4. If we live in a body, why couldn’t we live in another body in the future ? Without any memories of the life we lived in.

  5. How do I stop from worrying about loosing my partner or loosing my own life and how devastated It would be if any happened ?

  6. Is the daunting feeling of knowing the universe will keep on going even when we are gone as scary as I think it is ? Or am I really the only one …

PS : Are there any resources / books I could read to help understand our existence and why the universe is the way it is ?

Thank you for your help !

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    The question has too many assumptions in it to address is squarely. For instance, you say we have no memories prior to our current life and that death will be just blackness etc., but do not know this. You ask for an atheist to come and cheer you up but this is not very likely I fear, and they will also just be guessing.
    – user20253
    Apr 4, 2018 at 10:30
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    This is a good English language book on French Existentialism :) Not only French, because he covers Karl Jaspers too. Interestingly, he covers G. Marcel well I think. archive.org/details/frenchexistentia013201mbp Shin Buddhism: Title Tariki : embracing despair, discovering peaceAuthor Itsuki, Hiroyuki, 1932- Publisher:New York :Pub date:c2001. Thomist-Catholic, theological virtues: archive.org/details/virtuesaccording00unse
    – Gordon
    Apr 4, 2018 at 14:47
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    Unfortunately, volume 2 of this short Catholic book is not on the Archive! But you could find a book on the cardinal virtues. It is not surprising that the monotheists offer the more complete systems, and you may desire a complete system of some kind for all of your questions.
    – Gordon
    Apr 4, 2018 at 14:55
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    Great, @PeterJ. Don't trust the sciences and don't trust the faith-based institutions. Only trust philosophers who make claims that are commonly refuted by academics and faith-based institutions. Apr 19, 2018 at 16:15
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    “I... have been thinking constantly about my own death...” Talk to somebody. Face-to-face. Today. Apr 20, 2018 at 0:27

5 Answers 5

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My approach to this may seem unkind. The questions you are asking yourself are hollow. I mean they resonate as empty of suitable reliable answers. Your difficulty is dealing with the uncertainty of being a human being, and rightfully so. We are frail, fragile, and always in need of protection and social connections. Your dilemma seems to be related to accepting this status and working within it. One of my favorite, short, synoptic and useful guides has been "An Eschatological Laundry list: By Sheldon Kopp". Written in 1974. It covers items like: 12. It's a random universe to which we bring meaning. 13. You really don't control anything. 14. You can't make anyone love you. 15. No one is any stronger or any weaker than anyone else. 16. Everyone is, in his own way, vulnerable. It is not religious, or philosophical, but it is a useful grounding to the general human condition.

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    Kopp is writing from the view of a psychotherapist. The list is an appendage to one of his books. #15 makes the idea that you should not diminish your own strengths waiting for someone to 'make you' better than you already are. You make your life better. No one can do that better for you, than you. The book title is, "If You Meet Buddha on the Road, Kill Him" (because if you follow a Buddha, as anything other than a teacher, you will become lost - and inauthentic.) Apr 26, 2018 at 1:21
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It sounds like you feel lonely. If that is the case, you need to make friends.

According to Aristotle, a friend is a person who will try to help you for your own sake. You can be a friend to anybody in your proximity by doing something for that person for their own sake.

According to Jesus, friends are really important. He says at Luke 16:9, "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."

Also, please don't dismiss "religion" because of the way some people talk. Religious people can be really hurtful with their superiority and judgmentalism, hypocrisy, "ghosting", political views, and many other things. But "religion" is the only place to get access to the special revelation that god/God may have already provided for people.

I think you will be intellectually satisfied if you learn about Christianity, but the real value has to do with supernatural things like the afterlife and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. If you're philosophically inclined, read some articles by William Lane Craig or Alvin Plantinga. Also, anybody can read translations of Christian scriptures into their own language. It is common to begin by reading "the book of John".

Other religions also make claims about the supernatural and the afterlife. See if you like them better! You will find a wide spectrum from the logical to the mystical, the self-helpish to the ascetic.

For a non-religious view, read magazines like Psychology Today or Mother Earth News to see who is talking and writing about these things.

Keep your head! Hang in there! Find the best!

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I am an atheist and I have come to the (preliminary?) conclusion that the only absolute is consciousness. It just is and this is the only thing we can really be sure of. Somehow it must be intrinsic to the very structure of being (even if it is only some kind of epiphenomenon or emergent it still has its own ontological status in the scheme of things). So, in a way consciousness is the meaning the universe gives to itself... and I have the feeling that this is not the end of the story but that there is more hidden beneath. When you look at the strange developments of modern quantum mechanics it could very well be that consciousness plays a much larger role than we think at the moment.

Edit
I wrote a blog post some time ago where I elaborate on some of those ideas:
Learning Machines: Will AI become conscious any time soon?

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  • Agree with the direction of thinking, if you permit me to comment. However, to be "absolute" consciousness has to be non-substantial (a Sartrian argument out of cartesian troubles). Consciousness is just pure opening (of phenomena), it is, like clean window, completely transparent; there is nothing in consciuosness: the world is entirely outside of it, before it. Epiphenomenalism is simply irrelevant (even it is "true" for some theories) because (to someone) there can be no things or processes except those for consciousness.
    – ttnphns
    Apr 19, 2018 at 8:09
  • For example there can no exist pain besides the consciousness of pain. There can no exist faculties except the consciousness of faculties. And this isn't idealism, since consciousness does not have internal contents: it just opens, and no thing can exist but only as being opened.
    – ttnphns
    Apr 19, 2018 at 8:13
  • @ttnphns: I agree, when I say that consciousness is absolute I mean that the sensations, the feelings are absolute.
    – vonjd
    Apr 19, 2018 at 8:17
  • I wouldn't put "sensations" at the head or start of some "chain" that ends up with "ideas", if you mean to say that. Is an old-fashioned empiricism and is wrong, to me (or to phenomenology). From the start, there appears the "project (outline) of the total world", it is that project which define our sensations. That is, interpretation of a feeling and the occurence of it is the same occasion.
    – ttnphns
    Apr 19, 2018 at 8:29
  • @ttnphns maybe subtly changing your "content" to "composition" would be more felicitous and eidetic? Since per Brentano intentionality is the mark of the conscious mind which is always about something, thus in natural language one is certainly correct to claim consciousness always has content (even the intentional inexistence). But it's still correct to say in such case that consciousness has no decomposable composition... Jan 1, 2023 at 0:52
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Try some stoicism. This philosophy aims to shift attention from things it is meaningless to speculate about, and over which you have no power to change, to areas where you can have a positive impact. Helping from slaves to emperors eg https://dailystoic.com/medjitations-marcus-aurelius/

When Marcus speaks of the certainty of death and how relatively soon it will come, he is not idly philosophizing. He is recommending that this fact advise our decision-making and how we view the events in our lives.

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Death is not what you think it is. Death is a gate, to another life.

How To Prove It?

Look around you, do you think anything without purpose? No, everything has a purpose.

Now look at what the purpose is. The purpose of all non-human things is to in some way be beneficial for humans.

If you think there are things that humans don't get benefit from then consider the potential usage, consider them be ready and prepared, to be used by humans whenever humans want to use them.

There are things we use to satisfy our curiosity, to have something to keep our minds busy in. In that way they are used to prevent pain that comes from doing nothing - the boredom.

There are things that give us pleasure. There are things that entertain us. There are many, many things each having its purpose.

Now, the last point, whats the purpose of humans? Some would say that humans are made to make each other happy or reduce each other pain but this cannot be the actual purpose. Humans have to be made for someone above humans, or it would be like saying river is made for river.

Things are made to be useful for not themselves but for others.

In totality, what are humans made for? There is no logical answer to that other than humans are made for the Creator Himself.

See, everything else is there to serve humans. Bees make more honey than they can ever use. Cows have more milk even in wild than their calves need. A seed of plant give birth to dozens, even hundreds, of other seeds.

What are stars useful for? You cannot say they are of any significant use for any being other than humans.

You are here for a purpose. Please the Creator. Find what He want you to do and do it. Then you will not be afraid of death. You will look forward towards meeting your Creator.

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