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AshLeigh's avatar

At what point did you realize you wouldn't live forever?

Asked by AshLeigh (14952 points ) January 23rd, 2013 from iPhone

A boy from my school died today. Several of my friends were in that car. My brother was his friend, he could’ve been in that car.
It hasn’t been long at all since Asher died. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve lost my sense of adolescent immortality.
I know it could just as easily be me.

When did you finally understand mortality?

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29 Answers

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I realized this when my husband passed away. He was the greatest and had a huge impact on my life and he also died young, and then my father who also had a huge impact in my life and died young, and my cousin as well.

Because of these tragedies happening so close and all way too young it has forever changed my views and now I am even afraid to get close to many people for fear of them dying and me losing them. So I prefer to live a lonely life now..it’s boring but less dramatic, I hate drama.

ucme's avatar

I was maybe 6/7 when I lay in bed thinking about being dead, like forever!
Can’t recall what brought it on, maybe a movie or something, but it fucking terrified me, for a brief while at least.
That’s tragic about your friends, I feel for you.

DigitalBlue's avatar

Not unlike you. My little sister passed when I was a freshman in high school. It really affected me very deeply, it was my first experience with death, and witnessing the unexpected death of a child cemented the permanence of it into my head.
Sorry for your loss, it’s always especially hard to accept the death of a young person. I think it’s particularly hard when it starts to feel like they come on one right after another, so, I hope you get a nice, long time to digest this without any other tragedy.

Shippy's avatar

When many close people died around me. Including now two ex’s. It is shocking to think that we can go at any time. We live life as though we have all the time in the world we don’t.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ve never lost that sense that I’m bulletproof. I know it isn’t true now, and the reason I’m more careful is for loved one’s and the time I get with them.

Pachy's avatar

I don’t recall the first time – that was years ago – but the older I get, the more often I’m reminded by little and big things. Big: watching my relatives grow old (not just older!) and pass away, losing my childhood friends, watching entire generations of actors and singers I grew up with disappear. Little things: refilling lifetime prescriptions every 90 days, not being able to do some of the physical activities that used to be so natural and easy.

CWOTUS's avatar

My plan is to live forever. So far, so good.

I’m sorry for your loss.

hearkat's avatar

@AshLeigh – I sorry to hear of your friend’s passing. I hope no one else was injured badly.

I don’t recall ever having that adolescent sense of immortality. I had older relatives die when I was a kid; and pets, too. A mother in our neighborhood – not much older than my parents – also died when we were pretty young.

The night before my 12th birthday, I prayed to the god I was raised to believe in to take me – I was miserable and didn’t want to live another day… when I woke up was when I lost my belief in a ‘merciful god’. I think the loss of belief in a deity and afterlife is when I started getting freaked out by the thought of ceasing to exist. It haunted my in my late teens and early twenties, when I would have difficulty going to sleep because of fear of the void. It still hits me once in a while.

In my mid-forties, I still don’t believe in a deity or afterlife, but I have a sense of something greater than us in the universe. I have overcome the demons of an abusive childhood and found happiness, and finally learned what it feels like to be loved unconditionally. So now I am a little more at ease that my future will be short, and that any day could be my last; yet I am hopeful to get a bit of time to enjoy life now that it is actually enjoyable, before the wear-and-tear of not having cared about myself for so long limits me.

rojo's avatar

I do not recall the exact moment but I do remember it had to do with actually listening to the lyrics of the Rush song “Dreamline” (Lyrics) which read, in part, ”....Learning that we’re only immortal for a limited time”.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Hmm When I was around 9 I realized the reality of death in it’s entirety… It frightened me greatly to the point of crying…it was a brief point then the fear subsided by me neglecting to acknowledge the mortality…

I was outraged by my mortality, by the instability of life, unpredictability of death and it’s permanence but I began to realize that the more I dwell on it, the less I enjoy the time I am alotted.
Death is inevitable, it’s uncertainty clear but there is no use on spending your time fixating instead of capitalizing upon it.

Life is a temporary fix but who knows the possibilities, if any, in death?

bhec10's avatar

In a short period of 6 months I had 2 of my friends from high school die unexpectedly. One had a heart attack after a soccer match and the other was run over by a cab, in the middle of the night. A few weeks later a friend of my sister’s committed suicide with a handgun. These 3 deaths shocked me and made me think that everyone is always in danger of suddenly dying whether it is by being run over, or some unfortunate circumstance or whatever.

Makes me so sad to see these people go so soon. And definitely makes me think about enjoying life and not taking it too seriously!

HolographicUniverse's avatar

@hearkat
I think that’s common in atheism because without the concept of an afterlife, the only other alternative is that you die and nothing happens…. You cease to exist, never to live again, gone in a vast and ever expanding universe in which we are powerless and somewhat irrelevant :-) how’s that for a revelation?

burntbonez's avatar

Sometime in my teens. It was very disturbing. I wondered how I could ever come to accept death gracefully.

Eventually, I realized the ideas of an afterlife were very dysfunctional and hurtful. They didn’t make sense. The idea that at death, everything is over is very comforting. I won’t know I’m gone. Because the worst thing about death is regret about never being able to experience anything else. I’ll never have that regret.

I feel sorry for people who believe in an afterlife. Either they are so full of hubris they believe they will go to heaven (which itself sounds like hell to me), or they are in a constant state of uncertainty about whether death will bring never-ending pain, or psychic hell (which they call heaven). It’s very sad to believe in these things. Quite unhealthy, psychologically, I suspect. Fortunately, people seem to hold onto these ideas with such ferocity, that it’s like they don’t want to feel good. Not my job to try to persuade them otherwise.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

When I heard Freddy sing “Who wants to live forever”.

KNOWITALL's avatar

When my crazy friends and I pushed the limit of a vehicle a few too many times.

Pachy's avatar

Oh yeah—one more thing that never fails to remind me of my mortality… a trip to ER (and I don’t mean the TV show!).

bookish1's avatar

@AshLeigh, I am so sorry to hear about your friend.

My mom told me that when I was 4 or 5, I asked her, “Mommy, will I die?” I don’t remember that, though. But growing up with a chronic disease that affects my health in the short term and long term meant that I never had that sense of ‘adolescent immortality’ or foolhardiness that people talk about. Even at my most depressed and careless, I still had to take care of my blood sugar so that I could function in the short term and prevent/delay long term complications like blindness, kidney disease, etc. I’m not a morbid person, but I think about mortality and the impermanence of life often.

Staalesen's avatar

I cant rememember a time when I was not aware of it since I became a grown up. I have been in a line of work where I haveseen a lot of bad stuff, and been put in dangerous situations so oftenm that it became to hard to cling to the “I will live forever” mindset.
Personally I do feel that I have accepted the fact that at any time something could happen that can kill me. For me it is more important to focus on the life I live before that happens, and thus do things I find important, fun, interesting, etc..
I do not have a fear of dying, but rather an appetite for life, if you understand what I am trying to say :)

gasman's avatar

I was about 5 years old when it hit me, crying inconsolably at the realization that I must die some day. Finally my father calmed me down by assuring me that, while death is still inevitable, I would live to be 99 years old.

Dreading death (especially with no belief in an afterlife) is akin to a child’s protest at having to go to bed, instead of getting to stay awake with the grown-ups. I don’t want to miss out on the action.

AshLeigh's avatar

I am envious of those who can believe in God, souls, and such. I want to, but I don’t anymore.

zenvelo's avatar

@AshLeigh Sorry to hear of your greiving.

I had friends and acquaintances die at various times – a friend had cystic fibrosis and didn’t make it to high school, a boy in seventh grade. My senior class president died taking flying lessons four days before graduation. And a fraternity brother was killed when he lost control of his car on a dangerous curve.

But my mortality never really hit home until I was older. A friend who was always in great shape, ate well, took care of himself, and whose life was going well: two year old son and beautiful wife of four years, dropped dead on a day trip on Catalina Island. Unpredictable, no warning signs, no recklessness. Just gone. Losing Scott was a tough one and different.

Mariah's avatar

I’ve always been academically aware that I would die someday, but for a long time I took for granted that it would be when I’m old. A near death experience at 17 put that feeling to rest real fast.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t remember when I first started thinking about death. Maybe elementary school. Maybe Junior High. Certainly by High School. It wasn’t because of anyone close to me dying, although my grandfather died when I was 13. It was more philosophical, I think. Although I suppose it could have been because of my grandfather. One is not necessarily aware of all one’s motivations at that age.

deni's avatar

I used to cry when I was little about my parents eventually dying. They probably thought I was morbid. I thought the sun was going to eat the earth or burn out and leave us in the dark, or an asteroid would hit us. Either way I’ve always known people die and I would too someday.

But, more of what you’re saying, kinda goes for me too….In my high school, I think a combination of idiots drunk driving and also the surplus of windy, dangerous backroads in the area I grew up led to a ridiculous number of car crashes and deaths. My brothers best friend died in a crash when they were in high school and I was about 10…so since then. I saw how it affected him. I think he was depressed for a little while. They had been best friends since they were little. Ever since then I don’t fuck around with driving too fast or dangerously and if I’m in the car with you you aren’t gonna get away with it either. I know how quickly and easily you can go from totally fine to being in a ditch with your brain out the window and your life over. That shit is not anything to mess with and I really have a problem with people who think it is.

majorrich's avatar

August 1991 when I filled my first pre-deployment last will and testament.

Yeahright's avatar

I don’t remember ever thinking that life was forever. It certainly wasn’t anything I worried about when I was a child; however I remember thinking about the grief that one must feel when a loved one died because I had never experienced that and I saw how sad people at school were when people close to them died. When I was 13 a guy I knew from my neighborhood died in a motorcycle accident. Other kids from our neighborhood also died in car accidents and so my parents always took the opportunity to remind us kids of the dangers of reckless driving. My grandfather died just before my HS graduation, he had been ill and my mother took it well because no one wanted to see him in pain. My boyfriend from HS died in a motorcycle accident. One of my closest friends and her brother died in a car accident a couple of months after she had gotten married. But none of these deaths made me aware of my mortality because I was aware of it ever since. It has never been an issue for me at all. I’ve always known it is part of the cycle of life and I’m fine with it.
These days I’m still not afraid of dying at all. Who wants to live forever anyway? I’ve said this before: I don’t think life is that great. So, why cling to it? What really terrifies me though is the thought of HOW I am going to die. Will I suffer? Will it be painful? Will it be a quick death or a slow one? Will I get really ill? Will I be killed? Stabbed? Shot? Grrrrr…That scares the hell out of me.
As for the after-life, I was raised catholic and was taught to believe that there is heaven. I am not a believer anymore, but still have the peace of mind that believing that the after-life will be better than this brings just because I was raised to believe so.

SuperMouse's avatar

When my mother died – I was 12.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I realized it when a lot of the guys I went to high school with, began to die in Viet Nam (and it does not appear that the military powers-that-be have learned anything since that point in time).

28lorelei's avatar

I had known this since early on in childhood- my grandfather passed away when I was quite young (around 2). I didn’t necessarily want to be immortal though- my father read me D’aulaires’ book of Greek myths as a child and there was a particular myth that dealt with a man withering into an immortal grasshopper. One of the minor gods asked to grant this man immortality, but not eternal youth. I must say that I did have an existential crisis when I was in middle school- I questioned the existence of everything, including myself (luckily I came across Descartes and Plato, and was thus able to acknowledge the existence of at least some things). My classmates must have thought I was rather odd, I’m sure.

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