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In my opinion, the only reason that people fear death is the religious hellfire and damnation myth. Religious people are afraid that they might not have been good enough to make it to heaven. Agnostics are afraid that might be wrong. Agree?

wordywalt 8 Mar 16

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People fear death because they fear dissolution / annihilation. One way to attempt to quell that understandable yet needless fear is to pretend you live beyond death. In my view, this is like a lot of things that are blamed on religion -- it is not that religion invented the fear of death; it is that they took advantage of it, amplified it, and then offered a faux remedy.

In other words the fundamental source of dreading one's mortality is a uniquely human problem: we are more self-aware than most of us can really handle. Uniquely in the animal world, we can understand where the story arc of our life is heading: death.

Personally I've found the best way to deal with this is to acknowledge the reality of my mortality, understand that what lies beyond the grave is to be no more feared than what lies before your birth -- it is just non-being. Stressing out about that only makes it worse, stealing the enjoyment of your life. Also ... there is a lot more peace and stability in accepting your true scope as an ordinary mortal being than in buying into the nonsense that you are being cheated out of something that was never yours to begin with.

I deal with the fear of death pretty much the same way: death is no more to be feared than the time before you were born. Religion and the myth of an afterlife is the way a lot of people deal with it, and I think the fear of death is what keeps religion going despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that life after death exists. BTW, my ex-husband is an atheist and he is the person I know that most fears death. So it's not true that the fear of death is essentially a fear of not making it to heaven---my ex doesn't believe in heaven, yet he fears death more than most people I know.

@Amy0825 Yes the fear of death for some, is really the fear of dissolution / annihilation. The idea of ceasing to exist is what bothers them. It triggers them because it is, in a sense, the ultimate existential threat.

To me, it's a feature, not a bug. I enjoy life, to a point, but it's absurd and unsatisfactory enough that having an endpoint is what makes it tolerable.

That's not to say that I am eager for the clearing at the end of the path, I just find the existence of a clear endpoint to be a comfort. It's also not to say I wouldn't accept a magic pill in the unlikely event it is offered, that would provide biological immortality (something perhaps our grandchildren or great grandchildren might be able to consider in some form). It's nice to have options, especially if you're a curious person and have the flexibility to have particular kinds of experiences. I might for example try life as a colonist on Mars or some other uniquely different situation. I can always opt out if I grow weary of it.

Also of course I respect, and to some extent fear, the process of dying. I am of an age where aches and pains and malfunctions are beginning to multiply. It's not too bad, but could become bad at some point, but that's a separate issue from death itself.


no, the only thing I fear re death is for those who may still need me when I am gone, and that I will no longer be with them. Of course being dead I will not be aware of any of this, while I am still alive it is a concern.


I think fearing death is an evolutionary trait that protects the species. Religion was invented to put the sentient mind at ease with the fact that everyone eventually dies.


I think non religious people could fear death as much as those afraid of hellfire. Non- existance may not be something to look forward to.

Why should one fear non-existence?


I don't agree with this completely, though I imagine it plays a role. I think the main issue is no longer being -- not existing. It is a tough concept for anyone, including myself, to accept the idea of just ending -- of no longer being. When one finally comes to grips with the notion that they were dead for all the billions of years the Universe was forming until the time they were born, then it doesn't seem to be such a big deal. Still an issue, but somehow the edge is taken off.

I agree with this also but mostly in regards to none believers. It is impossible to imagine oneself as not existing and as you say a "tough concept".


No, I believe that some people also fear non-existence and the end of awareness. People may also fear being forgotten or not finishing something meaningful to them.

Humans have always feared the unknown.

JimG Level 8 Mar 16, 2018

Why would one fear non-existence and the end of awareness. That to me would be a state of peaceful oblivion.

@wordywalt It's not something I fear, but something I've heard expressed. I feel the was you do about it; so I can't provide any insight on why. :/

@wordywalt It's the thought while still existing. The human mind has a hard time wrapping itself around oblivion. The ancient Egyptians feared oblivion more than anything.


I disagree.

I fear dying too early. I have too much to do and not enough time to do it.

I know that when I die it's over and I'm not ready for that yet. My current form of life knows nothing from before it took its current form and will know nothing of what happens next. It won't hurt and life will go on here. Just because I uinderstand that doesn't mean I'm happy with it.

When we were young none of us wanted our lives to be cut short -- we all had so much to do. But, that, to me, is different from a fundamental fear of death.


Well, they believe in a vindictive extortionist with anger issues.
Death is nothing to be feared. No point in fearing the inevitable.


Yes I do agree about the religious. If they really believe that upon dying they are transported to some blissful heaven to spend eternity alongside their Jesus in perfect love, they would want that more than anything life could give them so why would anyone who believes that fear death and that happening to them.


I'm not sure that's the ONLY reason people fear death, but it is certainly in the top 5 for most people. I think more realistic fears stem from not being around for loved ones and feeling as though you didn't get to do or see some things on your bucket list.


I did drop the fear of dying when I stopped believing. I do love life and don’t wanna get to the inevitable end. The whole hellfire was a burden on me for a long time. And it’s the reason why I’m empathetic with most believers.


I think it's a subconscious thing. Every culture has created a religion. Even cultures who were cut off from any contact with others. I believe all religions began as a search for a way out of death.


Disagree. I never feared death because of hellfire but because the thought of not existing terrified me. Logically, I knew that I would not be aware of not existing, but it was not enough to assuage my fears.


If you believe in the multi-verse theory then we, here, are just one of the many facets of the same person spread across billions and trillions of universes. All that ever could be, is. So in a distant universe, far, far away, I am going to live forever.

Or what ever floats your boat.


Nahhhhhh. Think of a teenaged boy, all hopped up on testosterone and still building synapses. Given that young males have a much higher rate of accidents than the rest of the population, they have limited fear of death because they lack experience and the testosterone and deficiencies of synapses. But fear of death is what keeps most of us from doing crazy things like experimenting to see how high we can go on a rickey ladder or other dumb stuff. If I didn't have a healthy fear of pain and disfugurement I'd drive a hell of a lot faster than I do now. Well, tickets, but I haven't had one in a few years. (note to self, slow down in West Point, NE, The cop in that town doesn't have enough to do.) I'm not afraid of death, I do fear pain and suffering so I try to maintain homeostasis. The other fear people have is unfinished business. Becauase I learned early that life is fragile (mom died at age 45) I try not to have unfinished business. I tell my kids frequently that I love them and how happy they make me. I have forgiven who I need to forgive and if I shuffle off this mortal coil tonight I'm OK with that. And if I'm not online tomorrow by noon someone call my kids that the cats might need to be fed.


I have spoken to so many of them who are truly terrified. Usually I ask them "Remember how bored you were before you were born?" and then I see if they catch on.


I'm fairly certain fear of death is a naturally occuring instinct which only acts as a way of trying to keep the species alive long enough to procreate.

What you say is also true however at the end of the day we all have to accept death. The only difference is some people can and others can't.


I disagree. I (and probably others) fear death simply because it means I will cease to exist. I suspect that's also partly why religions invented afterlives.

The thing people quote about not caring about non-existence before they were born and thus not caring after they die is all well and good but I do care about it now, and now is when it matters. So what if I won't fear death when I'm dead. I will for as long as I'm alive. And that's the bit that matters. I think fear of death is normal and is part of the human condition. Each to various degrees, but I doubt anyone is comfortable with it.

The other thing to clarify is that I wouldn't necessarily want to love forever. But I would definitely like to live a lot longer than we do.


Pretty Much Agree though I don't think they're true for everyone. The religious in my extended family seem to be the biggest worriers over people death...seems counter intuitive, but maybe they're convictions aren't as strong as they let on.


The unknown part is part of it. Part of it is the idea of dying without fulfillment (without experiencing love or success or what have you), or fear of what you would miss when you're gone. As silly as it is, part of me is like "if I died I'd never get to see the last avengers movie!"

Although I'm not convinced I'd say it's fear of the unknown for me as much of the impossibility of imagining a non-thinking state. It's a headache


People fear death because it's unknown. Even the most religious people in the world who claim to be absolutely sure of what will happen after they die have a tiny seed of doubt in them, and that's why they fear death. Death is the final frontier, so to speak. What happens when we close our eyes for the last time? Do we get reborn? Do we go to some cosmic cloud city in the sky? Maybe the Wiccans are right and we go to the Summerlands.

Who can say. And because of that unknown, people are afraid.

If one accepts the certainty of death and the fact that death means that we simply cease to exist as any kind of an entry, all of those other questions go away.

It's true that death is certain. Two certainties in life. Death and taxes. But that doesn't mean that what happens after death is certain. For example, I'm an Atheist, but I also consider myself an Old Soul.

So does that mean that I reincarnated, or perhaps that I'm just world-weary for my age?


It sure don't help but things like pain, violence, loss of senses, memory loss and everything a person has built and
even what loved ones will do or feel when you no longer exist.


If you die and hypothetically go to Heaven or Hell you will still be conscious. But IMO people fear being unconscious and never waking up again.....being in a state of non-existence.


I think that could play a factor, but I think it's more of a fear of the unknown. People are unsure how and when they will die. Will they die peacefully or painfully?


no, we fear the unknown and death is the final unknown. I would bet you fear it too, unless you have emotional's one of the factors of being human...aware of our mortality but unable to imagine ourselves not existing. I often posit that Atheism is just another way of saying what happens after death, a way of controlling that fear. To me, death is a doorway....have no idea what is gonna happen afterwards...none. So that is kinda exciting. But let's hope it isn't the hellfire and damnation, cuz that would suck...haha

No, at age 81,I do not fear death at all -- and I do not have emotional issues. I have lived a full life. Death is not a doorway, but an end to existence as an entity. What happens afterward? simply that I no longer exist as an entity -- nothing more.

@wordywalt I didn't know you had been there....haha....tell me where you went to catch that peek...sometimes we forget our beliefs are just comments on people who claim to not be afraid of death come off as harsh, so I will let those go...but I akin it to the kid standing up to the bully with his lip out saying, I'm not afraid of you, while he is quaking in his boots...but we also confuse acceptance for being unafraid. When I am in a fight, I accept that I am gonna get hit in the face, it is gonna suck, but if I am not afraid of it, I won't do the proper things to avoid it with the proper amount of haste.

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