How do you cope with your mortality?

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How do you deal with the realization that after your death, you will be absolutely nothing for billions-trillions of years until the end of time? How do you cope with the prospect of absolute non-being, such that the entire universe itself may as well become non-existent at the moment you die? Death is analogous to the region outside our Milky Way/corner of the universe of which our species may be eternally unaware-it entails the profundity of an existence so much greater than oneself and the paltriness of one's human life. Myself, I find it rather difficult to cope with this thought. I'd rather religious people not reply here; I am an atheist and so would prefer to hear from other atheists.
 

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  • #2
The main thing involved with not being able to 'cope with mortality' is fear. Fear is caused by the understanding that there is no control over this fact of life. One must accept it as the only one truth anyone can know. Once the fear is gone, it is not an issue.
 
  • #3
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How do you deal with the realization that after your death, you will be absolutely nothing for billions-trillions of years until the end of time?
By realising that immortality would be unbearable, and that the value of life lies in the journey, and not the destination.

By realising that to find the value, purpose in your life, you must make it yourself, you must conceive of it in your mind. That no matter how unimportant you are to the rest of the world, for a short, fortunate time you did live, and this was precious to you.

By seeing that change is a neccessity, and so the only plausible possibility is acceptance.
 
  • #4
Kerrie
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live every day as best as i can...
 
  • #5
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Realize that without life is without thought and then realize that it's silly to dwell on such things for which you have no control over. You say for billions and billions of years, well think of living and thinking for billions and billions of years and ask yourself which is worse? Death without thought or ethernal life?
 
  • #6
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Why would eternal life be a negative thing? If you didn't have the option to end it then it might get boring, but it would give one opportunities to do great things that an ordinary life span doesn't allow. ("The life so short, the craft so long to learn"). Yes, the quality not the quantity of life is what's important, but a greater quantity would complement the quality. No matter how you like at it, death comes far too early to anyone who truly values and enjoys life. On the surface, it makes sense to focus on living and ignore death (especially when I'm healthy and young), however I find it hard to ignore the dark spectre altogether, as far away as it seems now. It is such an omnipotent force, for from a subjective point of view, it has the power to utterly destroy the entire universe. I wouldn't want immortality, but another 1000 years (instead of 50-100) would be nice, and would afford me the opportunity to achieve some significant things. With the time I or anyone else has there's really not a whole lot we can do before we have to leave. But then, non-acceptance isn't an option, so I agree that complaining or being afraid, although very natural, is irrational and ultimately counterproductive. To whom can an atheist address his complaints?
 
  • #7
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All you can do is live your life to the best of your ability. You only get one life, so use it well. dwelling on death is pointless, because it is only wasted time. You can't change the inevitable(except me- I'm going to live forever.. hehe)So why frustrate yourself with something you cannot control?

I hate to be cliche, but in Lord of the Rings Gandalf proundly remarks that though everyone who sees hard times wishes they never had, it's not thiers to decide, only to decide what to do with the time they are given. Good words.
 
  • #8
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I cope by looking not at the ending point that I will never no but at whats going on now, that I know
 
  • #9
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It is not eternal life if you can choose to end it when you get sick of it. That's the point. The question of what's worse is Eternal life until the end of time if there is an end or death without thought after your normal existing life ends. 1000 years would probably be nice but is still isn't eternal life. I personally see death as a blessing. No thought means peace in a way. The resolution between good and bad and right and wrong lies between them both.
 
  • #10
Another God
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This is a question that I have put much much thought into. It is probably my original philosophical question. I thought m uch the same thoughts as you plum: I realised that after death there will be nothing, and as soon as that moment occurs, your life also may well have not existed. As soon as you are nothing, you have no memory etc, and so everything you did in your life, no matter how well you lived, is no longer relevent.

So i decided, based on these thoughts, there appear only two rational options: End it right here, right now. Or live forever. Of course, there is also the third option, ignore the truth and just carry on...but whatever.

I chose to live forever (and I choose to ignore the nay sayers who talk about eternal life as if it is a bad thing. They can have their opinion. I am not sure why they assume everyone thinks that living forever is such a bad thing).

There are important reasons that I chose to live forever (OK, lets make it a little more realistic: Live as long as is possible.)

1. I am enjoying myself, and my curiosity to see what happens next, overwhelms my dismay at the end. Like a good book you can't put down, my life has cliffhanger after cliffhanger. I simply don't want it to end yet (even though I know it 'doesn't matter' in the end...that doesn't change how I feel now.)

2. More importantly: I could be wrong. We both may be wrong. There might be a god. There might be parallel universes. This might be a game show where we are contestants, playing it out for the amusment of some alter dimensional beings... Whatever. We might be wrong. So, dealing with what I have, it is my life quest to figure out what the truth is, so i can make a more informed decision.
 
  • #11
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I agree with your last paragraph. No one has 100% faith in a God or afterlife. (well excluding some Bellevue residents). I happen to belief in an afterlife and a designer (information).In fact, I am religious to the extreme, but not 100% sure. that would be a fallacy.
 
  • #12
russ_watters
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Originally posted by plum
How do you deal with the realization that after your death....
Being 28, I still have yet to see any clear evidence that I am mortal. Sorry, I don't think this thread applies to me.
 
  • #13
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I think we have misconceptions about death and nonexistence. I will never 'be absolutely nothing' for millions of years because there will be no 'I' to 'be nothing'. Nothing is not a state just as nobody is not a person. This 'nothingness' does not exist. There will never be a time for me when the end of me is in my past.

In the same way, I wasn't waiting for billions of years to be conceived (or hoping against the odds to be conceived).

There is only existence.
 
  • #14
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Easy, since i can not concieve of a time that i didn't exist, i believe that i always existed. therefore, this is but one stop in an eternal trip through the universe.

there is no truth except that there ain't no truth -- me
 
  • #15
BoulderHead
Originally posted by plum
…How do you cope with the prospect of absolute non-being…
If you believe this is what comes after your life ends then it is easy to believe this is what came before it began. Why is it that we do not, as a rule, find ourselves troubled much while thinking about what came before?
I can recall having no objections before, and so it is that I doubt there should be any objections after. I believe it is our own sense of self-worth (conceit) which is responsible for causing our objections during this life. Due to the great spans of time involved I'd have to say that what came before, and what comes after, is the most natural condition I can possibly imagine in this universe and not, therefore, a thing to be feared even in the slightest way. This does not mean that you cannot be saddened by the death of a love one, however (but that is another story).
In my personal view, it is a mark of the truly rebellious to insist that this unnatural condition of conscious existence is in reality the natural condition. Many people believe that this existence is analogous to a cake, and then, deciding their cake needs some icing, insist that this icing must exist (you just have to die in order to get it). As a general rule I think they have it backwards; this existence is the icing, and it has been spread upon the universal cake.
In conclusion, we are actually fortunate in that none of us has to spend an eternity to discover the answer. :smile: After all, what would truly be the worse fate to suffer for those who ponder these questions; Eternal speculation, uncertainty, and ignorance, or actually having the opportunity to find out the answer?

Be a real adventurer, damnit !
 
  • #16
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I believe that it's been identified that specific anatomical differences in the hominid brain accommodate our ability to acknowledge our own mortality. Specifically, the temporal lobe has been responsible for lucid fantasy; that our own mortality is simply a prelude to things greater. Whether you believe in life post-death is a non-issue, really. People need a spiritual and social purpose that transcends mortality in order to maintain an emotional equilibrium, and the temporal lobe facilitates this. Consider those who have seizures of the temporal lobe feeling not only closer to God, but at times they feel they are God.

That being said, I don't really cope with it at all.
 
  • #17
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You are what you eat and will still be what you ate after you have died.
 
  • #18
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Originally posted by THANOS
You are what you eat and will still be what you ate after you have died.
Until you become that which something else eats.
 
  • #19
Another God
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Originally posted by Descartes
Until you become that which something else eats.
At which time it will become you, and you will be revived!!!
 
  • #20
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Originally posted by russ_watters
Being 28, I still have yet to see any clear evidence that I am mortal. Sorry, I don't think this thread applies to me.
Ahhh.. get married.. then you'll wish for death. Not only that, but it will seem like you're living forever
 
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  • #21
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If we are unable to speak of existence except through consciousness, then perhaps consciousness is analogous with existence -- which, is ongoing ... and perhaps we'll never die?
 
  • #22
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Originally posted by plum
How do you deal with the realization that after your death, you will be absolutely nothing for billions-trillions of years until the end of time? How do you cope with the prospect of absolute non-being, such that the entire universe itself may as well become non-existent at the moment you die? Death is analogous to the region outside our Milky Way/corner of the universe of which our species may be eternally unaware-it entails the profundity of an existence so much greater than oneself and the paltriness of one's human life. Myself, I find it rather difficult to cope with this thought. I'd rather religious people not reply here; I am an atheist and so would prefer to hear from other atheists.

If we are brought back to life by some higher power then a trillion years won't even be noticed. Even in a very deep sleep, you awake feeling like you've only been asleep for a minute. So from a personal point of view, it won't be so bad. But if you ignore all speculations about what is going on in the universe; my view is that I cope because I don't have any choice. If you work yourself into a "state" over it then you have some kind of problem with your brain chemistry or something like this (you'd be worked up for some other reason if not this one). Also, the notion of being "nothing" for the rest of eternity is also just speculation. No one really knows what's going to happen, right.

Sometimes (all the time, some argue) fear is caused by self consciousness; the ego thinking of itself. Make something outside of yourself more important. When I die I'll be too busy thinking about how I can continue to right some wrong with my last breath to worry about that fact that it's my last breath. We live in a society, an era, where ppl. learn to take things personally (it's something we learn in school, primarily). So death isn't something that happens; it's something that happens to MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! When the WTC buildings were demolished my very first impulse was to call up the President and say, "where do you want me to stand? (and I've never been prone to national feeling!)" But then I started looking around and noticed that Americans weren't angry because it happened; they were angry because it happened to *them*. My sympathy evaporated like morning fog. I wanted to say to all parties; like an exasperated parent, "I don't want to hear who started it; everyone go to your rooms and don't come out 'til you can play nice"
 
  • #23
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It seems like noone has touched on the fact that what we do in our lives directly affects what other people do in their lives and so on and so forth. In making decisions we effect hundreds and maybe thousands of people that have no meaningful relation to us. It is possible to that instead of living our lives we are in fact being humans and carrying on our race. That would infer that during your life to took part in a giant chain reaction that might never end. In your death, your actions can still be found in millions of places on that giant chain reaction. Or...




You all seem intelligent enough to know that we only live once. Why waste this ireversible time thinking about something that is a fact. There are no exceptions. Just participate in life and be happy. That will qualify your death.
 
  • #24
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Originally posted by plum
however I find it hard to ignore the dark spectre altogether, as far away as it seems now.
Then don't.
I don't fear death, but not because I ignore it.
There is a part of me that actually looks forward to it (admittedly, that part sometimes borders on being a little too big to handle).
As it has been said, there is nothing you can do about it, but that is only half the story.
Question WHY you would want to do anything about it.
Originally posted by plum
Yes, the quality not the quantity of life is what's important, but a greater quantity would complement the quality. No matter how you like at it, death comes far too early to anyone who truly values and enjoys life...
...and would afford me the opportunity to achieve some significant things. With the time I or anyone else has there's really not a whole lot we can do before we have to leave.
What is the purpose of achieving significant things?
So you can leave a legacy?
So you can have a "part" of you living forever?
Think about this...
You are dreading death because it has the potential of taking away your ability to leave an immortal part of yourself behind?
Kind of an endless self fulfilling cycle, no?
Not a whole lot different than being afraid because you are afraid of being afraid.

Originally posted by Mumeishi
I think we have misconceptions about death and nonexistence. I will never 'be absolutely nothing' for millions of years because there will be no 'I' to 'be nothing'. Nothing is not a state just as nobody is not a person. This 'nothingness' does not exist. There will never be a time for me when the end of me is in my past.
This is an important point that I think most people either never think of or their egos (meant in a Freudian way, no insult) simply can't comprehend.
If there is no "next" you won't be lying in a box doing nothing for an eternity.
There will simply be no you anymore.

Originally posted by BoulderHead
fate to suffer for those who ponder these questions; Eternal speculation, uncertainty, and ignorance
I have always thought that immortality would be great (not to defeat death, but to witness all the changes that take place over millenia first hand) but that thought just sent a chill down my spine.

That part of me that looks forward to death has been there since I was a child and stems from the fact that it would be the ultimate learning experience.
The one and only opportunity to actaully find out the answers to all the unanswerable quaetions.
And if not, I won't know it anyway since I will no longer exist.
 
  • #25
Blissfulpain
oh my... i just lost a 6001 charater reply... it said i had logged out.... i'm gonna go and cry now... then i'll decide if i'm gonna attepmt to write it again
 

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