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Avatar universal

fear of eternity

I am not sure where this idea came from, and why it consumes me so much and others fail to obsess over it like I do but I am terrified of eternity after death.  I am not afraid of dying, but of eternity afterwards.  Do we remain aware of things?  This notion, even the idea of being in a happy place like heaven forever, terrifies me.  Anything, no matter how good, that continues without end, is my worst fear, and thinking about it literally forms knots in my stomach and intense fear.  I know that the answer to this can not be proven, and most would find relief in the idea of eternity, but it is my worst fear.  Does anyone else share this fear?  What can I do?  
119 Responses
Avatar universal
I can totally understand what your saying. Before I had anxiety I never thought about these kinds of things.
Your not alone. A Lot of us have all kinds of different fears. Take care. Remar
Avatar universal
i do. i've thought about it many times.
Avatar universal
wow.. i am so happy i found this post. I've dealt with this obsession my entire life. i remember thinking about it when i was a kid and it would absolutely boggle my mind especially at night. since ive been in college, my obsessions and anxiety and depression in general have become exponentially worse. i searched in google "eternity anxiety" because i have been thinking about it so much lately that i needed to find help. this thought makes me feel so pointless and that life doesnt matter. not in a negative way but that we just exist and have no purpose. i was raised catholic however ive been questioning my beliefs lately and i know exactly what you mean when you say that heaven cant be good enough to satisfy my fear of eternity. the way i cope with it is thinking that i cant remember before my existence what i was like because i wasnt alive and conscious. also, if there is a God, he will take care of us. i dont know.. i hope this helps
1547031 tn?1296835036
I don't have that fear, but I do know fear.  I have a phobia of ... well I can't even type it!  It makes me too scared.  Fear is not a fun place to live.  Obsessive thoughts, which I also suffer from, are horrendous because you have no control over them.  It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have obsessive thoughts that you cannot control them.  You cannot stop them, but you sure can start em.  And how can you escape from your own thoughts?  If I figure that out I'll let you know!  Hang in there.  Video games or algebra are good distractions for me...  Maybe that could at least give you a respite.  Jen
Avatar universal
I have had this fear since I was a teen. I just turned 49 and the older I get the more I seem to think about it. The smallest things can trigger it and I can sometimes just brush it off but I have actually found myself screaming in my car and banging on the steering wheel. I know there is not anything I can do about the actual issue, but I wish I could find a healthy and constructive way to deal with it. I can't spend the rest of my life thinking about dying.

Jack LaLanne died today at 96. In an interview they showed on teleivision he siad he never thinks about dying, only living. I wish I could do this. Anyone have suggestions?
Avatar universal
I'm not sure how to navigate this forum.  I just sent a message to mpaul, thinking that it would be posted here, but I can't find it and I'm not sure it got sent.  Anyway, mpaul, this may be repetitive if you already got my message.   I also wanted the others in this forum to get this.   I've had this fear for years.  I'm 54 now.  First started when I was 16, on a car ride up to Vermont to go skiing.  Just looking out the window, and the fear hit me.  For the past nearly 40 years, the phobia, if that is what this is, has come and gone.  Sometimes years will go by and I'm okay.  Then it will hit, I'll be in the throes of it for a while, then it will fade into something more manageable..  It's not dying that produces the fear.  It's the fear of eternity, of endlessness.  Even as I type this, I feel my anxiety level rise.  

I've been on Lexapro since 2002.  (Actually first Celexa, then Lexapro.)  This has helped, but then my psychiatrist had me try Welbutrin, which I wanted to try to enhance my energy level (which she said could be a result).  I got through two days, then started having the phobia again.    Maybe when the Welbutrin is out of my system, the Lexapro will kick back in and I'll be okay.

I'm not even sure what this is.  Phobia?  Obsessional thinking?  Anxiety?    I wonder if there is a better medication out there.    Anyway, nice to know this forum is here.  
Avatar universal
I feel exactly the same as most people on here. My biggest problem is that I do not believe that anything could solve this question as I do not feel that there can be an answer. This leaves me with a constant feeling of dread. It petrifies me so much I could never tell my loved one's what is wrong with me as I would never want them to start thinking about it. Obviously this causes problems in itself as they can't understand what is wrong with me and will start taking things personally. I have also manipulated thoughts in to visualizations in my head which enables me to feel like I am stuck in a loop of one big panic attack. I wish I could be hypnotized to believe in infinity but I am too frickin cynical that I wont let it work! sheesh.... What to do?
Avatar universal
I am glad i found this forum, for me the worst part of it is that i feel ashame to take abt  it especially with family members, i have severe headeach,and nightmare just the word eternity makes me sick, at the same time i do not wana be withdrawn from existance it will then be eternal, so there is no choice and that is what scares me the most. i hate that i can not stop thinking, it is a viscious circle, there is nothing that could make me feel better , i am lost........
Avatar universal
i can relate to the screamin- panic attack!
my fear is based more on a celestial approach- what will happen to everthing?! cant even start dweling on it...
Avatar universal
My fear of eternity and infinity began when I was 12. By the time I was 16 my anxiety attacks had become so frequent that I was sure I would be in a psychiatric center by the time I graduated high school. I went to pretty much every psychologist/psychiatrist in my area and in turn lost a lot of respect for those professions. That was when I discovered yoga therapy and it definitely improved my life drastically. I think yoga therapy helped because it taught me that people have been troubled by these thoughts since humans started recording their history. One thought that came to me during one of the therapy sessions that particularly helped put a damper on my anxiety, was thinking about eternity in the reverse. I thought "well, since I have already 'survived' eternity from the past, maybe there is something that I am missing about eternity into the future." I don't know if that will make sense to all of you who have commented here but for some reason it helped me. I am by no means 'over' my obsession with these thoughts, but I have learned to keep them at bay and not just by mere distraction. Meditation has really helped me to take the reins of my mind so to speak. In eastern philosophy they have a term called 'sunyata' which is roughly translated as 'emptiness'. In my limited understanding of eastern philosophy I have learned that this 'emptiness' is the essence of all material existence and I have come to believe that people like you and I are getting a glimpse of this truth of existence when we focus so deeply on such concepts as eternity and infinity. However it is a truth that is so vast that our minds/egos don't know where to place it so we simply freak out.

If anyone else who has commented here is interested in starting an official "crazy about eternity" forum I would be very interested in participating. I am curious to know what if any similarities people with this fear share. May you all experience an anxiety free day. love and light ad infinitum (pun intended)
1 Comments
I made a med help account just to comment. I am up at 1 in the morning freaking out about eternity and then I read your comment and it actually just helped me so much. I was so upset and crying and now I feel so much better. eternity in reverse.. I get it. It helps me make sense of eternity in forward somehow and how our earthly brains can't grasp it. This whole thread is helping a lot. I thought I was the only one who had these crazy thoughts.
2019697 tn?1334153847
My fear of eternity comes in the form of the cosmos. I don't obsess on it as much as I use to but I would think of the vasness of our galaxy. The thought of all this existance being inside of one of trillions of galaxys in the universe made me feel lost and meaningless.

The never ending, eternal universe. These thoughts would crush me with panic and anxiety. Over the years I have come to terms with these thoughts and they don't bother me as much as they use to.

Another crushing thought of eternal existance is the big bang, big crunch theory. In this theroy, this existance of ours may have happened countless times every trillion years or so. The universe explodes, we exist then everything comes back together in the big crunch only to start back over again. This can be disturbing to obsess over too.

God? I was raised a Catholic and believed in God like I was taught. But as I grew older, I questioned his existance. This only created more intense anxiety. My faith now varies eventhough I have seen miricles in my life. Actually, life itself is a miricle. We are only finite creatures living on this planet for miliseconds in the time of the universe. How can we understand or comprehend eternity? Here is a question for all, What was here before the universe? Answer = NOTHING! Wow my anxiety is acting up.
2019697 tn?1334153847
Mix all of these thoughts in with our own reality. That is what makes it tuff. Will we see our parents again? Our other loved ones? That is the disturbing part of these thoughts of eternity and the unknown.

Two distinct realities that mess together and become distorted, at least in an anxious state. I almost think I see things the way they really are when in derealization state. Keenly aware of the way things really are. I read that anxiety sufferers are in a way "too sane".

Geez, I am scaring myself thinking about all this stuff. I remember once being in a friend's house watching TV. Someone came on and was talking about our galaxy, something that I was always facinated with. As the conversation continued about our solar system and the distance between our closest neighbor, I began to feel far away. My arms and legs became numb, I was in a full panic attack. No one in the room had any idea that I was going through this.

The next day I woke up and I was living in a different world. Totally unreality. The anxiety levels were through the roof. I felt trapped inside this galaxy with no way out. A month later, I made an appointment to see a therapist.

The first two sessions with her were interesting for her I would think. The only thing I spoke about was the cosmos and our galaxy and how overwhelmed I was by the thought of it. During the third session, I began to talk about the cosmos again and she stopped me. she asked me a simple question, what is going on in your life? Well I obviously had alot of stress in my life at the time that caused me to obsess over nature and cause anxiety levels to increase.

It was all new to me so I didn't know how to handle or deal with it. What I am trying to say here is that there is a basis and cause for our fears and anxieties. we just attach these fears to concrete things around us to explain how we feel or what we are afraid of.

Sorry for being long winded but I think explaining how we feel helps everyone sort out issues.
2017105 tn?1333658765
I thought i was the only one. Wow im not along. This has been i dont know  if it is a fear or a concern. Which is kinda like one in the same atleast i think so. Well this is hard because i didnt think it had anything to do with anxiety because it has been happining to me for so long. The thoughts of what is it like and how will i be and if you really live up there. Thanks for posting this..
Avatar universal
I can relate to everyone who has posted a reply.  It is a terrible, dreadful, THOUGHT to think of Eternity, and the unknown, panic, etc.  However I do think we have a way out of this mess we all seen to be STUCK in.  I will begin by noticing that the fear is only a THOUGHT, a perception of reality that is 100% just a perception of reality, and that is all, just a perception.  It can only be terrifying  when we think about it, it cannot be terrifying when not  thinking about it.  Now I know that is easier said than done, because the obsession is what drives this intense fear, panic, etc.  The solution to the problem is to notice these fears as something the MIND has created to distract all of us from something that is painful in our life.  It is a THOUGHT or scenario we have created to take us away from LIFE, because LIFE can be very scary, and LIFE is what we all truly want to be a part of.  

The true solution is to BELIEVE and KNOW that our Spirit is a much higher form of energy, and that the mind, and THINKING is a slower form, and not useful as we evolve as a higher being.  

I know some of you may THINK this al BS, but try seeing this problem of yours, as something your mind has created to cover up deep rooted issues in your life like abandonment, a form of dissacociating from abandonment, terror from early trauma in our life that is unresolved.  This problem will not last, and cannot last, and I believe will not even be a conscious THOUGHT, as our Spirit keeps evolving.

The solution is KNOWING we are SPIRITUAL beings having a HUMAN experience, and being HUMAN sometimes really *****.  It will pass, and we all will be so amazed when feel the true essence of our BEING.

The solution is a SPIRITUAL one, that is just my belief.
2019697 tn?1334153847
I like your post. Makes sense to me. My comment about putting our anxieties onto something concrete in the world goes in line with unresolved fears etc.

But you are correct. These perceptions are just thoughts that bring on physical symptoms along with the mental anguish. Thanks for posting
Avatar universal
Awesome, let's learn to accept these fears, see what they are, and notice them as what they are, just fears.  

I am starting to feel better about it, my deep deep self believes in something AWESOME, and that is peaceful, it is just scary to NOT KNOW.

Thanks for replying.
Avatar universal
I've been having this trouble since I was 8 or 9. I'm now 40.  

I can't even see the word without getting wobbly, so I only skimmed most of the comments here ... nevertheless, I'm happily surprised to find I'm not completely alone in feeling this way.

I completely identify with the screaming and banging of the head.  Within the last couple of years, I've even been waking up from deep sleep doing that.  So it's going on in my subconscious mind too, I would guess. Thanks for posting everyone.
Avatar universal
I am discovering some interesting things about fear of eternity and past childhood trauma such as neglect, abandonment, emotional/physical abuse, separation anxiety, attachment disorders, etc.  

The fact that when we were traumatized as children or even adults we felt like we were frozen in time, the fear felt like eternity, and we had no way to express that or integrate those fears for our growth.  subconsciously we are still afraid of that feeling, and are now trying to reenact the earlier trauma so that we can now express it, face it, and resolve it.  basically every time we get terrified of eternity, it is a subconscious flashback of the past.

we need to Deconstruct eternity thinking: in childhood, fear and abandonment felt endless - a safer future was unimaginable. Remember the flashback will pass as it has many times before.

this has helped me tremendously, and been able to see a way to ease the fear or even get rid of it.  i am now on a mission to resolve, express, integrate those early terrified feelings of eternal fear, and being frozen in time.

i hope this helps for everyone

remember our only true fears coming into this world were "fear of falling when we began to walk" and "fear of not having safe attachments and food to keep us alive"  everything else was learned, and can be unlearned
Avatar universal
Thank you for this post. I am the mother of an 8 year old boy who has recently started having these 'fear of eternity' panic attacks. Instantly when he brought it to my attention I remembered having this same fear as a child. I would lie in bed at night trying to distract myself with other thoughts just so I could get some sleep. I never told anyone about this fear and eventually I learned to just live with it. It is a thought that still occasionally haunts me but it has never driven me to panic attacks. At some point after years of dance, yoga, and TONS of outdoor activities, I became content with 'not knowing'. I found peace in knowing that I couldn't ever truly 'know' anything at all, I appreciate life's mysteries. This, however, is not something I can just teach my 8 year old to feel. He could only potentially learn to view things this way through life experience and over time. In the meantime, this whole thing is breaking my heart. :(

He says, "If we're all wrong and there is no such thing as heaven, we'll just die and go no where- that's scary. But if we're right then we'll be in heaven forever. What am I going to do FOREVER??!! Both things make me so sad and scared.".

Along with his fear of eternity he has a deep fear of losing me. I figure it is totally normal for any young child to fear losing their mother at some point in their childhood, but it is driving him to panic attacks as well.

About two years ago, he was in the middle of an awful custody battle and I'm sure he lost faith in many of the things/people he thought he could count on. I wondered if there was some connection between the fear of eternity and this traumatic experience. I want to do whatever I can to help him through this WITHOUT any form of medication, as I am completely against the stuff. Where are you making these discoveries and is there any literature on methods for curing or learning to combat these fears?

This post helps tremendously. Thanks again..
2085202 tn?1373203340
Hello there, you are not alone. I can relate drastically. Although I'm very scared of dying I to am afraid of eternity. Have you ever tried to "reprogram" yourself mentally and spiritually? I'm no dr. or professional but I honestly was doing WAY better before I re-accepted religion into my life as before I was an atheist and found more peace in believing that there was nothing after death just like there was nothing before I was born. I have to admit I still find it tempting to hold onto that belief as I tend to think heaven might end up being nerdy with nothing cool and not having the things that make me happy here on earth which WOULD make me more depressed and to think about hell just scares me beyond explanation...but  If you do believe as I do have doubts to that there might actually be a heaven and hell; i'd rather be in heaven then suffer from repetitive death and even more anxiety and terror in hell..then maybe say what you have to say to be saved which is Jesus is Lord to get into heaven but maybe hold onto the belief and realize that reincarnation and rebirth back onto earth is also possible. I dunno just trying to help. I have to say believe what makes you feel most at peace and i'm not trying to condone being an atheist as I don't want you to be damned to even worse torment if it is all real but maybe just rethinking things and accepting that if god is real that it has been said by multiple people that he asks people who have made it to heaven if they want to come back and try it again. :):) :)Hope I helped.
Avatar universal
I used to feel real scared of eternity. Then I asked God to help me and he did. Now I believe that God loves me and the fear is much less. Some things only come from experience and no manner of words can convey them. Sometimes the only way to understand something is to recieve it from on high - even if this is contrary to what we might expect. Hope this helps.
Avatar universal
I completely relate with you! Ever since I was a little girl and heard that Heaven is for eternity, my heart sinks everytime i think of it.  I want to know that there is an end at some point.  It almost sickens me from the panic that i have in my heart about this.  I've decided to talk to God and ask for him to hold my heart and make me feel differently about it.  I have never talked to anyone about this fear until today with co-workers.  I feel like the only way to delete this feeling from my brain and heart is to ask Him to heal me and get rid of the spirit holding this over my head.  SOOO glad to hear I'm not the only one who feels this way!!
Avatar universal
This is exactly how i feel. Knowing that there are people out there that feel the same is relieving. I have no one to talk to about this problem and i wish i did. I am the kind of person who is very attacthed to loved ones, friends, pets, even possessions. I think this plays a big part in why I have this fear. Knowing that I will eventually lose everything and everyone in this life, brings me to a point of depression. It surprises me how few people have this fear. I feel like everyone who doesn't have this fear, is not thinking deeply enough. How can you live day by day knowing that your consioucness is temporary? At the same time, how can you live with the belief that life will never end? The beauty of life is that it has to be cherished because it's temporary, yet eternity contradicts that. At the same time, why live if it's all going to end? I feel like I'm trapped. It wasn't my choice to live and it isn't my choice to die. If you remind yourself everyday that everything in this stage of existence is temporary, maybe it will help.
Avatar universal
i googled fear of eternity to see if there was a phobia for it.  no but they can prescribe medicine for it.  a psychiatrist ruined 2 years of my life because i was this or that.  its life deal with it.  but i have been dealing with this fear since a very young age since i was raised babtist.  it will make it hard to breathe and a feeling that you cant eacape. im 37 now and the fear still grips me as bad as when i was six. can there really be something so good you NEVER want it to end..i hope so
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