Fear of Death: The Thoughts That Keep Me Up At Night

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This one might get a little weird and metaphysical/philosophical/whatever.  Not sure what to call it or if my explanation will do it justice.  Pretty sure the comments are going to be fairly interesting on this one and next week’s similar subject.

Basically, one of the things that happens when my anxiety hits at night is that my mind locks on the concept of death.  I can’t pull it away and I think part of it stems from when I thought it was me having a heart problem instead of it being mental.  In fact, one of the ways I figured out that it was anxiety was because of this fear.  A friend pointed out that it was strange my mind went to this instead of trying to get help or considering that it was a heart attack.  I became locked in my own thoughts of death.  So, when I went looking for panic/anxiety attack information, I purposely checked to see if this kind of mindset is common.  It was and that helped me handle the thoughts a little better.

Truthfully, to say I was afraid of death isn’t exactly true.  It was more that I began thinking about what happens afterwards and my mind went wild with a series of ideas:

  1. The idea that I would die and the rest of the world go on freaked me out.  It made me consider that I wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of things.  Also, that I would truly exist for as long as people remembered me.  This led to the fear that I would be forgotten and then I wondered how many people have existed, but have been erased due to having no remaining sign that they were ever here.
  2. The idea that I might simply ‘turn off’ instead of having any consciousness continuing on in some form.  Similar to the first one, this is centered more on my inner self than my place in the world.  Again, I would freak out because I imagined that everything in my head that never got out would be lost forever.  Every character and story that I failed to complete would be erased, which made me feel like I’d wasted so many years of my life.  Anger would come about in this one because I’d hate the way the world works in that most of humanity can’t go for their dreams.  All we can do is survive and gather as many years as we can before we die.  If one believes that God has a plan for everyone then it means most of us would be cattle under this concept, which didn’t sit well with me.  I’d usually pass out here hoping that I got to have a few words with my maker.
  3. Perhaps the strangest one is also the longest running.  It led to the more complicated ‘turn off’ in that I ceased to exist.  It was more a focus on the concept of no longer existing and trying to imagine what it would feel like.  This has to be impossible because one wouldn’t feel or think anything.  There’s nothing left to hold either of those concepts.  You’re gone.  Now, the strangest part is that I would become afraid that thinking about it too long could make it happen.  This would make me panic even more and I would be terrified that I’ve already gone too far, which meant I was about to blink out of life and wouldn’t even be aware of it.

There were some smaller death scenarios that would turn up, but those were the big three that still make me twitchy.  Even writing about it makes me uncomfortable.  Honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever tried to explain it too.  I know most people will bring in religion and their thoughts on the afterlife here.  Yet, that really isn’t part of the scenario because it’s not entirely logical.  If we die and end up either in another dimension or getting reincarnated then great.  No way to tell though, which means any of my scenarios could be equally valid.

I did try to use this for my upcoming release and see if I could get my train of thought sorted out through a depressed character.  Pretty sure it didn’t work because she proved to be stronger and more stubborn than me.  Might have made me feel a little worse too because it meant there was a piece of me willing to fight to live.  The only that has managed to help is recognizing that the ideas are coming and cut them off quickly.  It’s a 50/50 thing.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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37 Responses to Fear of Death: The Thoughts That Keep Me Up At Night

  1. tidalscribe says:

    Seems natural to me to think those things because they are questions that can’t be answered for sure. Thinking about them in broad daylight or discussing with others is less likely to produce anxiety than in the dark watches of the night.

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  2. L. Marie says:

    It sounds like you’re wrestling with so many things. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I really hope and pray these tormenting thoughts will cease and that you will have some peace.

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  3. I’ve said very little, because these feel like thoughts you need to release. You have some foundation ideas for some fabulous stories that are more paranormal than you usually go. I’ve dabbled in this area and the stories were popular. I’m afraid authoring these stories might trigger you again.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. alburke47 says:

    I have struggled with existential crises too. I remember when I was younger, in my 20s, not being able to sleep some nights because of the fear of not waking up. Call it the the burden of atheism/agnosticism. Now that I’m older, I’ve come to terms with it. It doesn’t matter whether I wink out of existence, join the cosmos or burn in hell, it is what it is. I still have the odd moment of fear in the wee hours, but I’ve pretty much put it to bed. Is it age? Is it experience? Have I mastered my fear? That I have no answer for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve had that fear for the last 3 years. Definitely came along with the lower level of anxiety because I never considered I wouldn’t wake up before that. I’m not sure if I’ll ever put this one to bed until the moment before it happens. I’ve always been interested in destiny and the idea that every living thing has a special purpose. This feeds the fear because the idea that I’ll go without accomplishing whatever I’m supposed to do doesn’t sit well with me.

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  5. I think a large part of finding peace with dying is based on faith. For myself, I know members of my family are waiting for me to join them and that helps.
    It’s not death that bothers me, it’s how I die! I’m a baby, I hope it’s like my dad and I just go to sleep and never wake up- a kind death.

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    • I guess I’m the opposite. The method of death ends up leading to the same result, which I doubt I have any control over. With faith, I’m Jewish, so there’s no real focus on the afterlife. From what I can gather, we die, get shown our life to judge our actions, and then move on. We really pay more attention to the present.

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  6. C.E.Robinson says:

    Charles, I read this over twice to get the basic concept. The practicality of death and the end, whenever it happens, is out of our hands. Unless there is a medical diagnosis linked to days, months or years. I go with the aging process, depending on faster or slower. My question (at age 79) is what to do while waiting for death? Think of the left brain practical end of it. What’s done and what’s left to do. Think like a writer and be the main character of your story! Balanced thinking might get you further away from anxious thoughts. Not that they’ll magically disappear, however you’ll look at them with an evil eye. Charles, your mind works like a true writer! Happy Thursday! 📚 Christine

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  7. I long ago took a, whatever happens, happens approach. I think maintaining my schedule of writing helps with this outlook. Also, I don’t think my life will leave a mark. That is why I try to enjoy the here and now.

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  8. I honestly think that everyone has thoughts like those now and then. I know I have a few times, luckily I’ve managed to ignore them and focus on happier thoughts when I feel them edging closer to conscious thought as of late.
    I hope things get better for you, just remember that there are people here who know you. You’ll never vanish as long as at least some of your stories remain, I don’t know if that helps you, but I hope it does.

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  9. I’m sorry for your troubles, Charles. At the same time, I applaud your openness and frankness in discussing them. As for your underlying question, a strong religious belief certainly helps in this area. Indeed, some anthropologists argue that all religions stem from the need to deal with this very fundamental fear.

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  10. I have that issue quite often too. My main death related worries are:

    *Will anyone care that I’m gone? Will they be sad? Or will they be glad?
    *What’s going to happen to those I leave behind? Hubby and the furries, I mean.
    *What if I’m in the middle of a project and I die? Will someone finish it for me, or will those who were waiting for me to finish it get let down because I wasn’t there to do it? Will anyone even tell them that I’m gone? Or will they be left thinking I just disappeared and couldn’t be bothered?

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