Thinking about death/dying?

  1. Roughly since the beginning of high school I've found myself thinking a lot about death, usually as I'm trying to fall asleep. I don't know why it comes to me just then; I guess because I'm not thinking about much and something about being in a dark bedroom with everyone else asleep turns my mind onto death.

    I don't think about killing myself--I've never once considered it, nor do I have any reason to. I'm happy with where I'm at in life and the goals I'm working towards and my people around me; in fact I'm happier in all these regards than I've ever been. So it's not a suicidal line of thinking.

    I just start thinking about... whether there really is an afterlife or not, or... I can't stop imagining what it would be like to die and just... stop existing. I'm imagining total black nothingness, and actually not really being aware of that nothingness, or of anything at all because I just don't exist. The thought of everything that I am or that I ever could be or whatever just going poof, as if I never existed at all. And it's not just a philosophical musing, it really scares me. I get a feeling of tightness in my chest and a feeling of being absolutely terrified that some day I won't be around to think or speak or feel.

    And it's not for a lack of religion or anything--I am religious and I believe in God and I think that there could be an afterlife. At the very least, I think there's not enough to prove to me that there isn't one. But I just wonder what if all the religions are wrong and there really is nothing and you just stop functioning one day, as dead and useless as a rock.

    It's kind of hard to explain, but it just scares the heck out of me and keeps me from sleeping for a while once my mind gets on it. That's why I'm up now--I couldn't stop thinking about death and dying until I got up and occupied my mind with something else.

    For example of how the thinking goes.. tonight I was thinking that in two years I'll be graduating nursing school. And then I thought about how fast the last year has gone and realized that two years isn't very long--and for that matter, 20, 30, or even 70 years isn't very long either. And I got to thinking how I'll only get to "go through" the holidays, birthdays, seasons, etc., maybe 70 more times, and how very short a time span that seems. And then I was thinking about not existing, again.

    I guess I'm posting here just to see if other people think this way, too, or if I ought to talk to a psychologist about it, or what. :\ Most of the people on here are older than me and presumably wiser than me, and I was kind of wondering if this might just be a phase or what.

    Thanks for listening.
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    About bewitched, ADN

    Joined: Jun '10; Posts: 151; Likes: 155


  3. by   JamieLeeRN
    Dear Miss Jamie,
    My name, as you can see, is also Jamie . I am 24, so a little bit older than you, and possibly wiser lol. I am sorry that you can't stop focussing on this while you are trying to sleep...However I can tell you, that I have always been a person that thought about death, and the aspects of no longer living; it is probably a lot of a why I enjoy being an Oncology nurse as much as I do. I noticed you said that you become afraid by your thoughts of death and dying...and I understand what you may find scary about it...a lot of people find the prospect of dying very frightening, even if they do believe in an afterlife...which from what you wrote it appears to me you do not.

    I have gotten past being afraid of dying...I think the only way I can look at it is, that if I am gone and still can be aware...then I will miss the people I love...but if there is no afterlife at wouldn't even know it was over...You should try to get past being afraid of dying...because there is no way of getting out of that one...I think the important thing you should try to do is to enjoy every day and every moment you have were already part of the unknown before you were born...and that isn't a scary it?? If you keep thinking like this, I would definitely consider talking with someone...or you are going to give yourself some very unnessecary stress...

    If you need to talk more, please feel free to send me an e-mail, or a message...I would be happy to talk with you.

    Hope all is well,
  4. by   oramar
    You realize of course that you are asking yourself age old questions. Age old questions and age old fears that have no single answer. One person's answers would not satisfy another person. The Beatles consulted a guru, that would not fly for me. It is OK to wonder about these things and fear these thing. Unless of course you feel you are reaching a point where the questions and fears affect your functioning day to day. Then it is time to talk to someone.
  5. by   GHGoonette
    The wee small hours of the night, when everyone else is asleep and you alone are awake is the time when you do some of your deepest thinking; that's pretty much a human thing and most of us do it. Maybe it's the darkness prompting you to dwell on your own mortality and to question whether there's anything beyond this life, but this kind of uncertainty grips most of us from time to time.

    I don't think you need a psychologist, unless these thoughts start intruding too much into your life and affect your functioning.

    I believe the ability to worry about whether I havea soul, and whether there is an afterlife, is pretty good proof that my soul is alive and well, and consequently will continue to survive quite nicely without my body, thank you very much!
  6. by   AloeBlox
    thanks for the this thread.... i went through the same thing last night.....i think the biggest fear it is death and loosing the ones you love slowly as well....
  7. by   Davey Do

    I think of something Woody Allen said, and I'm probably paraphrasing here- "I'm not afraid of dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens."

    As oramar stated, this is an age old consideration. Everbody I've ever talked with on the subject has considerd their own mortality. The unknown is a scary thing. Those who say they have Faith believe they know The Outcome. That's fine, if it gives one Peace. I believe Peace is what you're looking for, missjamie. All we can really do is share our beliefs and perspectives with you. In that sharing process, perhaps you can or will identify and get more okay with where you're at.

    First, let's look at the time in which you consider your own mortality: At night, alone with your thoughts. We often allow our thoughts to go where they may, and you allow yours to focus on Death. Any concern we might have is thought about over and over again- rumination, if you will. It's a cycle which we can break only with a conscious effort.

    There are a couple of different methods of breaking that cycle. For example, one can consciously think of something else, or put our thoughts down on paper in words or symbols.

    Making one's thoughts into something tangible is sort of a cathartic process. Merely performing that process decreases anxiety by allowing our brains to convert the intangible into the tangible. The tangible is more easily considered from different perspectives, at different times. And, it keeps a record of our processes and possible progress to Peace.

    Next, let's look at the brain's Circadian Cycle. Seritonin levels are lowest around our sleep cycle. That's often a reason why an event of concern which didn't bother us during the day gets in our craw if we recall it upon awakening at night. And, if we focus on it, ruminate, then our adrenals secrete their excitation hormone and we have difficulty falling back to sleep.

    Making sense of something, understanding why we do what we do, often allows us to accept a situation and better deal with it. I hope that works for you.

    Then, as coriaa1 thanked you for this thread, I do the same. Reading your post allowed me to hearken back to my High School obsession with Death. It was at that time I lost several friends. When I was 19 years old, I experienced an NDE (Near Death Experience). My NDE motivated me into reading several books on the suject. Two in particular come to mind: Life After Life by Raymond Moody and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Later, as a Nurse, I read Sherwin Nuland's How We Die. There are lots of others. You just might find one that hits home with you.

    I wish you Peace in your journey, missjamie. The best to you.

  8. by   LPNweezy
    i always thought it is so weird that i will 100%, guaranteed, die one day. i usually wonder when and how it will happen. but mostly i don't care because it happens to everyone. i just don't wanna die any time soon, i have stuff to do!!!
  9. by   FutureCRNA2014
    That was me during my transition to college. My parents didn't make it easy for me
  10. by   KarmaWiseRaven
    Miss Jamie,

    It's normal to think of death. When i was growing up i thought about it Like what come's next after this realm. How will i feel dead? But don't get caught up in it because you will be missing life and you wont take chances because of fear. I once had a moment of weakness i was 13 and i tried to commit suicide. I stood on a train track and the train was coming but at that time and at that moment i didn't think i had much to live for and if it wouldn't of been for a friend i would not be here. I still to this day think of that day and i question would i be better off dead or alive.

    I still think of death to this day and at night when i wasn't working nights i would wake up scared like i don't want to die Or i died and jumped back in to my body when i woke up. I know it's coming i don't know how quick. See I'm suffering from a disease and it will take my life. All i can do is live in this moment and make sure all my base's are covered and things are ready.

    Funny as a child growing up how i did we were taught to except death. We even got to plan our own death. It seemed death has always been by me in the things i have done through out my life. From catching dangerous animals as a kid and my dad had to have a heart to heart with me because my mom and dad both showed concern for my well being. They never understood why i stood so close to death. And now that I'm older and i might not get to see 50 I know it's coming i don't want it to. But for you i have to tell you Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying you can't have both.

    And how you feel is hard to explain. I know this feeling all to well. I was always told growing up i have one foot in reality and one foot in the spirit world. But let me ask you... Do you ever feel you don't belong here? That's not strange question if you are like most of us who do have what you are describing do indeed feel like that. And it's funny people would ask me where do you believe you belong and i couldn't answer them i just always felt not on this earth.

    I wish you all the luck and i hope you find the answer's your looking for. Just start living life the best you can Do take chances. And if you need to speak to someone do seek counseling.. Anthony KarmaWiseRaven
    Last edit by KarmaWiseRaven on Apr 24, '11
  11. by   leslie :-D
    Quote from KarmaWiseRaven
    And it's funny people would ask me where do you believe you belong and i couldn't answer them i just always felt not on this earth.
    my gosh...a kindred spirit.
    i have always thought that i didn't belong here on earth...that i was an outsider looking in.
    i don't mean that in a depressed, gloomy way...
    rather, a chronic wanderer who can't find a place to settle.

    to date, i do not fear death.
    in my heart and mind, i totally believe that life continues eternally.
    its basis is in energetic form, and how that recycles itself.
    and i definitely believe in a supreme being, aka, God, the light, the source, truth, creator...

    anyways, just had to chime in when you wrote that, anthony.
    and that it deeply saddened me about your health.

  12. by   Hatoun_alth

    I know it's been 8 years since you made this post. While reading it, it is as if it was written by me..I have the same exact experience and I don't know how to get over it...every night I lay in bed and thoughts of death rush through my head and it freaks me out. Do you have any updates on this? Did you find ways to cope? Can you talk about your experience now and if any changes have occurred?
  13. by   Davey Do
    Quote from Hatoun_alth
    I know it's been 8 years since you made this post.
    And I'm glad you brought this old thread back to life, so to speak, Hatoun_alth!
    Quote from Hatoun_alth
    I have the same exact experience and I don't know how to get over it...every night I lay in bed and thoughts of death rush through my head and it freaks me out.
    As I said in my old post, low serotonin levels coupled with a stimulating subject can be a cause for rumination and insomnia.

    How do we get out of that cycle?

    We are free to choose the thoughts on which we dwell. I equate thoughts like books on a shelf- I'm free to choose what book I wish to read.

    But if we are focused on a thought, anything that breaks the cycle of rumination will do the trick- From praying, meditation, or just thinking happy thoughts about pleasant experiences.

    Here's a technique which works unfailingly for me:

    First, I close my eyes and focus on my breathing, inhaling to a count of a count of 8 to 12 and exhaling to the same. Once the rhythm of my breathing is established, I focus on the flashes of light I see when I close my eyes. Those flashes of light are called phosphenes caused by random firings of the optic nerve. Like seeing animals in cloud shapes, I attempt to "see" things in the phosphenes.

    Phosphenes are so cool- they're like a moving swirling picture collage. If I focus on my breathing and phosphenes, I invariably fall to sleep.

    However, thinking about death doesn't freak me out. What freaks me out is the dread of the pain of living!

    The best to you, Hatoun_alth!
  14. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    Davey, I'm like that, the dread, fear, and pain in living are what gets to me. Like death would be a welcome release from all that. But I am not actively seeking my death, nor wondering when, where, and how. I believe birth, life and death are part of a continuum.

    Two magnets on my fridge: (not sure to whom I should attribute them, but I think one of 'em is from Winston Churchill)

    "The only way out is through."


    "Everything will be fine in the end. If it's not fine, it's not the end."

    also, Mother Jones said, "Pray for the dead, fight like hell for the living."

    Sometimes when my pre-sleep thoughts lean to the morbid, I say in my head, "DEVIL, GET THEE BEHIND ME!"

    I can't say I am sanguine about death, or detached from the fear of it, but it seems I am a lot of times. The people whom I have loved deeply and have died, I carry them inside me, in my heart and brain. I would be sorry to leave those currently in my life, but I think sorrow must disappear from the dead, or death would be hell, having to eternally carry that around.

    I am willing to wait and see. Not living in a state of suspension, but being open to possibilities. Artists and writers are familiar with this, not knowing how something they started is actually going to turn out. You might be disappointed, or you might be surprised and/or delighted with your work. You have to learn to be accepting of change and the idea of not really knowing something. All of life is that way to an extent.

    Who among us have the life we thought, pictured, or dreamed we would have? Not me! So it may be after death. Death may be another form of birth. (Now, THAT'S scary!!!)

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