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Why do people fear Death?


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#1 Sgt. Rho

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 21:25

This is something I've been asking myself forever really.
Why are people afraid of death, considering each and every one of us has spent the past 13.7 billion years dead? I hate to see people waste their lives with dreams of heaven and hell, or whatever concept of afterlife they may have, instead of living their lives to the fullest. I've seen this too many times in the only 19 years of my life. I've already accepted the fact that I will die within the next 100 years at most, so why does the vast majority of humankind have such a problem with it? Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to try and give those that come after us the best possible future, instead of trying to avoid the unavoidable?.

PS: This is Not intended as my usual "Religion is bad, mkay?" ranting.

Edited by Sgt. Rho, 10 January 2012 - 21:27.


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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:26

The time before wouldnt matter? We weren't conciously aware of it. I guess it could come down to not knowing what is next - que the many religions of the world putting forth thier answer(s). Cant prove most of them one way or another to be correct/incorrect as I'm pretty sure no-one has returned from what ever is next.

Edited by Encrypted, 11 January 2012 - 09:36.


#3 Libains

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:56

I don't think religion really has to factor much into it, at all. So religion talks of the places you may 'go' after you are dead, but I don't think that's of much consequence at all. Its more the death itself that motivates people to fear, to wonder, to imagine.

You make mention of the concept of us all having been dead for 14 billion years. That's not exactly accurate, as you must have lived to have died. What you are instead, I guess, trying to imply, is that we knew no consciousness before our births, and in your view, this is the same as what happens after death; the cessation of consciousness. I think the issue in that lies in that the first circumstance you have never experienced the consciousness. In the second circumstance, your consciousness has analysed everything, learned everything it can, and as such, is able to comprehend the possibility of ceasing to exist. That comprehension is the fear you speak of.

I will freely admit that I am afraid of the day that I die. Not because of where I may or may not go, but rather by the simple act of no longer existing. The concept, deep down, terrifies me. When I'm dead, I won't know or care about this fact. Rather, it is during the process of living that we 'understand' death. Some people are in a position where they are able to say "when I'm gone, I'm worm food, and that's it", whereas most people are in a position whereby they believe that death is not the end of their existence, at least in a mental capacity. For me, I do not know or care what there is or is not beyond the grave, rather I am just afraid of that being it. The end of what I am.

In essence, there are few people who are able to look upon their own mortality and be completely happy with what exists. I would suggest, however, that these people are in a vast minority. From their logical perspectives, it seems correct, and science would, I suggest, back them up. I agree with the science, but in my deepest moments I have a little faith that tells me it is cruel if there is no more. Thus why I am agnostic. I care not for religion, but I do believe that there should be more to existence than life itself. Others take a specific view of what is awaiting them, thus the mention of religions. The manner in which they portray where you may go or what you may see is simply theirs to call their own, not ours to judge - it is faith, and whilst you or anyone else can debate religion until the end of time, it has its place in society. It has its place in these moments of our lives as there is no other way to explain them.

Embracing mortality is one of the most fundamental concepts of being human. But there is a selection of means by which to do so, and to deem one correct and one incorrect would be, imho, foolish. We are all going to die, that is true, but the fear of dying, which every human faces, needs be suppressed, or confronted. The manner in which this happens is the free will of every human to choose. It is how we're able to view our mortality in the first place. Everyone embraces their death eventually, but it is not any one man's place to dictate how another should cope, be it through religion or through atheism or through anything in-between. If a religion helps a person cope with the fear of death, then so be it, and if it demands more, then it is that person's fundamental freedom to do as asked of them should they wish. People should not live their lives in fear, and it is not our place to judge what we may deem as a 'cost'.

I am aware of the fact that I will die, and probably, in far less than the (exceptionally) optimistic 100 years you make mention of. I have made peace with that fact, as it is what my life has bestowed upon me. It does not mean that I am afraid every day of my life. It does not mean that I am constantly in fear of dying. I would suggest that most people are not afraid, not unless you suggest the topic to them, as you have done here. We are all at peace with the fact that we are to die. As I made mention of, it is suppressed. It is confronted only in the deepest, darkest moments of a person's soul. Everyone lives for their own future, our mortality enforces that. To suggest that people live in fear and do not plan for the future, is simply wrong. We plan for the future because it prevents our mortality from arising in the present.

I will end by quoting something Wizard once wrote:

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Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.


You love life in a manner in which only you can decree. People fear death because of the unknown. If they feel they can know death, they shall be not afraid.
For there can be no death without life.

#4 Sgt. Rho

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 08:32

I personally think that death is what makes life valuable. How could something eternal and indestructible possibly have any value at all?

#5 Chyros

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 12:58

I think all this is over-philosophising it tbh. Preservation of life is instinctual behaviour embedded by evolution.
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#6 Wizard

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 13:21

View PostChyros, on 11 January 2012 - 12:58, said:

Preservation of life is instinctual behaviour embedded by evolution.
Fight or flight is a very different response than lingering fear of death. We are not talking about worrying that you might die as a car spins out of control or you see a fight occurring in front of you. This is discussion about the mental/emotional state of fear [of death]. Personally, I consider the two to be very different and driven by very different factors.

#7 n5p29

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 16:32

we fear death because we don't know what comes after death.
as the famous quote says "knowledge overcomes fear", we fear something because we have lack of knowledge of the thing.
because we don't know what actually the death is, we are afraid of dying.

#8 SquigPie

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 09:19

View PostSgt. Rho, on 10 January 2012 - 21:25, said:

This is something I've been asking myself forever really.
Why are people afraid of death, considering each and every one of us has spent the past 13.7 billion years dead? I hate to see people waste their lives with dreams of heaven and hell, or whatever concept of afterlife they may have, instead of living their lives to the fullest. I've seen this too many times in the only 19 years of my life. I've already accepted the fact that I will die within the next 100 years at most, so why does the vast majority of humankind have such a problem with it? Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to try and give those that come after us the best possible future, instead of trying to avoid the unavoidable?.

PS: This is Not intended as my usual "Religion is bad, mkay?" ranting.


It's instinctual.

Remnaints of our past, so you might say.

Edited by SquigPie, 12 January 2012 - 09:26.

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Imagine a group of people who are all blind, deaf and slightly demented and suddenly someone in the crowd asks, "What are we to do?"... The only possible answer is, "Look for a cure". Until you are cured, there is nothing you can do.
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#9 Golan

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 12:58

IMO the OP is oversimplifying the issue. There are important differences in fearing and not accepting death (I know that I will die but don't exactly like the idea, similar to taxes), differences in the circumstances of death (die after a long and happy life or get crushed in a car accident two hours before marrying the love of your life), differences in the various concepts of death (unconscious void, heaven & hell, limbo), value of life compared to death (does life count into afterlife, are we already dead, should you care for those left behind, does God smite you mightily if you did X?) and lots of blabla that makes it a bit complicated to formulate a clear answer.

A very important factor about dying is loosing your life. The problem with this is that people are quite used to living, have plans and wishes and generally live their life on the assumption that they go on living. There are people in this world that I like, people that I care for, and I wouldn't want to imagine them having to go on without me - I'm afraid of abandoning them. There are plans I have in life, things I want to do and feel and experience - dying would deny me the chance to do this forever. There are hopes, wishes and ideals I have in life, like giving those that come after us the best possible future - many of these things might be worth dying for, but it's a lot more practical to work for them while you are alive. I (probably) won't mind dying when my life is over and death is a relief, but right here right now I don't want to die yet.
Really, last time I almost ended on a car's engine bonnet I became very much aware all the things in life and fucking scared of all that not being in death. For much longer than said bonnet was around.

For a more scientific person not believing in the afterlife, death probably means the cessation of consciousness. Of course this isn't much of a problem once you are dead, but this thread exists solely because people have the annoying habit of thinking about it before they die. Now, as said in the OP, we weren't conscious for several billion years so why bother about it now? Because before, there wasn't anything lost by this state of you being unconsciousness. Now, your consciousness has come to be, has evolved and is amongst the most powerful tools and interesting things in the universe. It is what defines you, what defines the world around you, the thing giving the universe order and meaning. Without consciousness, all of existence, all of life, everything humanity has done, everything you have done is utterly pointless. It doesn't matter if you were afraid of death, it doesn't matter if you cared for those that came after you, it doesn't matter that death gave your life value. And every time someone dies, when you die, no matter how many still remain, a bit of consciousness is lost forever and will never be replaced to bring back the meaning it gave to life, bit by bit until nothing is left; death will not just end you, it will undo everything you ever were, past and future, forever. You might not feel fear thinking about this, but I hope you have the heart to at least feel sorrow.
Heck, I'd terribly fear for my small yellow rubberduck "companion" if he died. Yet even he knows he doesn't even technically live but is just a projection point for a bored part of my consciousness. Consciousness is a bitch if you have even a tiny bit of imagination to spare. It's what makes life worth living in the first place.

While being a very scientific person 9 out of 10 times, I also acknowledge that there might be things we don't know, don't fully understand or things that even transcend our scientific nature. I think that death means the cessation of consciousness, I hope that there will be some kind of afterlive/Nirwana to give it all some meaning, but deep down I have to admit that I don't know. That perhaps god was fooling around and Christianity was right and I'll go to hell or get a ticket to heaven, that I'll be reincarnated forever in the same way or that consciousness is just naturally disembodied and will go on forever.
Why am I personally afraid of Death? Simple, because I'm not entirely sure if things will actually end. Close your eyes, cover your ears and imagine this:
I have no mouth, but I must scream.

Edited by Golan, 12 January 2012 - 16:53.

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#10 GuardianTempest

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 06:40

My Opinion:

As Golan said, the reason why we(I) fear death is that, we're 'not yet ready'. Look at me, I'm cowardly enough to look forward to synthetic bodies to escape death for the sole reason of my ambitions. I have a life, an internet life and plans, wouldn't it suck to suddenly 'be on an eternal vacation', knowing your friends are left hanging.

"What happened to him? Hey where is he? The thread is getting cold, if only..."

Now, wouldn't it suck to be freshly new in an MMO only to die within 10 mins of your first arrival, knowing you were looking forward to be some level 200 ____? It's like that, we're not ready for it since we have our goals, goals that must be accomplished and when you're finally done, after all these years, only THEN you can let your grip go, knowing you've made an impact and your friends can leave you be. Sure you can brave your bitter fate, but knowing that you will leave something hanging, a desire unfullfilled, and a troll not fed, you're going to have second thoughts.



TL;DR - I don't wanna die disconnect yet, I have yet to see my ONLY successful forum game end in a spectacular finale. Along with all the other plans on my head. Can't you let me finish?
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#11 Dr. Strangelove

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 08:22

How do you even know death exists?
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#12 Sgt. Rho

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 12:27

Death is defined as the moment where a living being ceases to function. When your heart stops beating, your neurons stop firing, yout metabolism halts, and you start to decompose, well, then you are quite definitely dead.

#13 Dr. Strangelove

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 22:21

Sure, but that doesn't mean your consciousness stops.
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#14 Golan

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 08:37

View PostDr. Strangelove, on 19 January 2012 - 22:21, said:

Sure, but that doesn't mean your consciousness stops.
It doesn't have to. Death is the cessation of (biological) life, not necessarily the cessation of consciousness.
Now go out and procreate. IN THE NAME OF DOOM!

#15 General

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 09:26

There is actually no other than three reason for that :

1.) They won't believe afterlife but love living too much, it is depressing to even thinking about not existing anymore.

2.) They won't believe afterlife but have suspicion about what if one of these religions were right all along and they will suffer forever and ever.

3.) They believe in afterlife and also believe their sins will make them end up in hell.


Oh and by the way, ALL fears related to death. If you fear height, that means you fear dying if you fell. If you fear a certain animal such as spider, you instiinctively think it may poison you and eventually kill you. If you are in some kind of trouble; you feel fear because you think this will eventually kill you.

If there is no such a thing like hell, then death is the only thing left to fear.
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#16 SquigPie

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 10:57

View PostGeneral, on 20 January 2012 - 09:26, said:

There is actually no other than three reason for that :

1.) They won't believe afterlife but love living too much, it is depressing to even thinking about not existing anymore.

2.) They won't believe afterlife but have suspicion about what if one of these religions were right all along and they will suffer forever and ever.

3.) They believe in afterlife and also believe their sins will make them end up in hell.


Oh and by the way, ALL fears related to death. If you fear height, that means you fear dying if you fell. If you fear a certain animal such as spider, you instiinctively think it may poison you and eventually kill you. If you are in some kind of trouble; you feel fear because you think this will eventually kill you.

If there is no such a thing like hell, then death is the only thing left to fear.


Well, as a christian, I don't think I'll go to hell, nor do I believe hell is a permanent punishment. Nor am I even sure if I believe that hell exists.
But still I have a fear of death, if I where to look at it practically, I'd say it's something hard-coded into us, an instinct from when we where still mere beasts. If I where to look at it theologically, I'd say it ties in with our original sin. When Adam and Eve where cast out of the Garden of Eden. They where made mortal, and with that mortality, they where made fearfull of death.

Also, I disagree that all fears tie in with death, All fears tie in with the fear of the unknown, think Lovecraft said that. When you are afraid of darkness, it's because you fear what it hides. When we fear death, it's because we have no fucking clue what will happen afterwards. There is no such thing as a person who "knows" that. Only what we believe will happen.

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As long as the dark foundation of our nature, grim in its all-encompassing egoism, mad in its drive to make that egoism into reality, to devour everything and to define everything by itself, as long as that foundation is visible, as long as this truly original sin exists within us, we have no business here and there is no logical answer to our existence.
Imagine a group of people who are all blind, deaf and slightly demented and suddenly someone in the crowd asks, "What are we to do?"... The only possible answer is, "Look for a cure". Until you are cured, there is nothing you can do.
And since you don't believe you are sick, there can be no cure.
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#17 n5p29

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 16:02



#18 Generalcamo

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:04

This is a little late. But I have something to say.

Recently, I had a perplexual dream. Almost a nightmare.

I dreamed I was in some stocks. For what reason, I don't know. Then, I realized that these weren't stocks, it was a Guillotine. The blade came down, I felt a sharp pain, saw the ground getting closer; then, nothing. Nothing at all.

I was in perpetual darkness. I couldn't do anything. I could think, I could imagine, I could solve. But, I couldn't breath, I couldn't see anyone else. I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't do anything. I then woke up, with my body instantly getting up. It was probably one of the worst nightmares to have ever come to me. After that, according to my friends' accounts, I became almost insane for a while.

If death is anything like this, then I would fear it. Maybe when I am older, when I feel my life is complete. But I am only 14 years old.
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#19 General

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 05:46

View PostGeneralcamo, on 13 June 2012 - 03:04, said:

This is a little late. But I have something to say.

Recently, I had a perplexual dream. Almost a nightmare.

I dreamed I was in some stocks. For what reason, I don't know. Then, I realized that these weren't stocks, it was a Guillotine. The blade came down, I felt a sharp pain, saw the ground getting closer; then, nothing. Nothing at all.

I was in perpetual darkness. I couldn't do anything. I could think, I could imagine, I could solve. But, I couldn't breath, I couldn't see anyone else. I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't do anything. I then woke up, with my body instantly getting up. It was probably one of the worst nightmares to have ever come to me. After that, according to my friends' accounts, I became almost insane for a while.

If death is anything like this, then I would fear it. Maybe when I am older, when I feel my life is complete. But I am only 14 years old.


Indeed, if consciousness survives and keeps going on an eternal nothingness, where nothing is possible, then thats the defination of the torture... real hell..
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