Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How do you cope with your mortality?

  1. Nov 22, 2003 #1
    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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 22, 2003 #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.
  4. Nov 22, 2003 #3


    User Avatar

    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.
  5. Nov 22, 2003 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    live every day as best as i can...
  6. Nov 22, 2003 #5
    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?
  7. Nov 23, 2003 #6
    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?
  8. Nov 23, 2003 #7
    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.
  9. Nov 23, 2003 #8
    I cope by looking not at the ending point that I will never no but at whats going on now, that I know
  10. Nov 23, 2003 #9
    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.
  11. Nov 24, 2003 #10

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    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.
  12. Nov 24, 2003 #11
    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.
  13. Nov 24, 2003 #12


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    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.
  14. Nov 25, 2003 #13
    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.
  15. Nov 25, 2003 #14
    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.

  16. Nov 25, 2003 #15
    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 !
  17. Nov 25, 2003 #16
    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.
  18. Nov 25, 2003 #17
    You are what you eat and will still be what you ate after you have died.
  19. Nov 25, 2003 #18
    Until you become that which something else eats.
  20. Nov 26, 2003 #19

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    At which time it will become you, and you will be revived!!!
  21. Nov 26, 2003 #20
    Re: Re: How do you cope with your mortality?

    Ahhh.. get married.. then you'll wish for death. Not only that, but it will seem like you're living forever
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2003
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook