Aa
MedHelp.org will cease operations on May 31, 2024. It has been our pleasure to join you on your health journey for the past 30 years. For more info, click here.
Aa
A
A
A
Close
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?  
120 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
Avatar universal
Wow, I'm so happy that I found this topic on this forum.
I'm literally crying.
I'm 26 years old now but I've feared from eternity ever since I was 8 and I understood the concept of dying and afterlife.
The whole thing terrified me. I use to have panic attacks where I was screaming and running towards the door, trying to run away from it but couldn't.
As the years went by, there were times when there weren't attacks at all, it was when my life were busy.
But in recent times, I started having those panic attacks again.
Small things can trigger it, if it's talking about aliens and the universe or talking about death and heaven.
Even hearing those words can make me panic and make my heart beat fast.
I'm very scared to tell about this to anyone because I don't want to freak out other people as well.
I'm keeping it to myself and this is the most terrifying part.
My boyfriend sometimes hug me and hold me and the feeling is going away, but I want it gone forever, I want to live life without thinking about the concept of death, eternity and the infinite universe.
Does anyone has a suggestion what should I do with it?
Helpful - 1
2 Comments
Talk to family get a support group around you. I've had these fears since I was about 12-13 years old and I was able to repress it but it finally came back worse than before and I knew it was the time to finally talk to my parents, girlfriend, and friends about how I was feeling. Although I cannot say I'm 100% it's easier now that it's out in the open. I can now work towards finding solutions such as on this message board, my church, and clinical professionals. The worst thing is to go through it alone. I wish you all the best, and if you ever need any support I'm always free to chat.
Hello are you free to talk about this subject anytime soon?
Avatar universal
Hey Lyn.  I think part of the reason that eternity becomes a target for fearful thinking is because we understand so little of it.  But that doesn't mean there is little to be understood of it.  In the beginning was God.  Filled with life, love, peace, joy, energy.  Before everything else was him, and He created everything in creation to produce for himself a bride, a companion, an intimate relationship.  The reason that our fears can never be realized in heaven is because the Lord is so much more real and alive and powerful and knowing, and so intently and consuming is his love for you that you could never possibly grow tired in his presence. He is life, and life is what we are searching for.  We search for it in our understanding of the physical world, but that is trying to satiate our need for life with knowledge.  We need streams of living water, not just human understanding.  These streams of living water flow from God, into you, and through you eternally and it is eternally satisfying because it is the thing you were designed for, designed to most enjoy.
Helpful - 1
Avatar universal
I tried to comment on this but my post was to long I put a link here
https://www.**********/r/depression_help/comments/qhv9in/help_for_fear_of_eternity/

also this is good supplemental reading to my link above
http://knowledgebase.ctmu.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Langan_CTMU_0929021-1.pdf
Helpful - 0
1 Comments
it astixed out the reddit part of the link but it is a reddit link
Avatar universal
This is a pretty old post, folks, but I always think throwing Jesus or any other religion at people on this forum is not a good idea.  People who suffer mental illness and were raised with the notion of a God or an afterlife (and don't let Buddhists fool you, they do believe in an afterlife -- samsara is something to overcome by becoming enlightened, in which case you end the endless cycle of rebirth and become an enlightened being.  Sounds a lot like heaven, does it not?  I like the Eastern religions because they have practical solutions for everyday life, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, etc.  Much more useful than the Abrahamic religions, which only offer peace if you do this or that and this or that is usually pretty ridiculous -- and I say that as someone who does follow an Abrahamic religion.) already are probably afraid they did something to offend God and that's why they're sick.  There is a lot of judgment in religions, a lot of right and wrong, and it's just better for those with mental illness to see it as an illness and deal with it that way than getting into such a judgmental way of looking at life.  If religion gives you peace, great; if it causes you to attack others and how they live, not so great; but with any illness, we need to look at it with objectivity so we can get better now and not in the afterlife.
Helpful - 0
1 Comments
And as for eternity, that's probably one of the reasons people invented religion.  We all think ours is the best and only true one, but there are a lot of people out there and a lot of people over the centuries and they all believe in many different religions and they're all just as intelligent as we are.  Sticking to our tribes can be a great salve, but we also have to think beyond our beliefs if we ever want to learn anything.  Thinking about eternity is scary, but if you don't have an anxiety problem, it's also the font of great philosophy and creativity.
20632981 tn?1503687567
I wasn't paying attention and thought this was a recent post. Well, I tried.
Helpful - 0
20632981 tn?1503687567
No, I don't share that fear, but I have other demons I'm battling, even with God life can be very sorrowful. It's much better with Him than without Him though.Yes, we are still aware whether in heaven or hell, but if you put your trust in Jesus, your fears will turn to hope. I don't know if you believe in God, that's your choice to believe or not, I hold no judgment in the matter. I just want to help the only way I know how. If you believe in Jesus and even if you don't, cry out to Him asking for the belief. Romans 5:1 Look this verse up if you have a bible. Your issue should be not with eternity but with peace in God. I hope this helps. God bless you.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I want to try to convince you that this fear is completely irrational, because it's literally not possible. Let's think about the most common ideas about what happens after death from the different philosophical paradigms:

ATHEISM - Non-existence. This might be upsetting to some people for different reasons, but it's not an outcome in which you can suffer, because there is no 'you'. There will no longer be a consciousness where any upsetting thoughts can enter.

CHRISTIANITY (AND OTHER MONOTHEISTIC RELIGIONS) - I think the reason most of us developed this fear is because we tried to imagine ourselves in a heaven which was exactly the same as our current lives, but it's impossible for us to die. Time just goes on and on and on and on, ad infinitum.  Indeed, I think many Christians, Muslims and Jews still believe exactly this idea. The problem is, everyone else seems to see this as paradise, whereas we cannot see it as anything other than terrifying. No matter how beautiful the conditions, wouldn't we eventually grow tired of this eternal life, and go mad when we realise there is no escape?

Logically, this fear of ours cannot be 'heaven', simply because an omnipotent God would not create a 'heaven' where we could suffer. This suffering simply cannot exist in heaven, else it wouldn't be heaven. Does that mean all of a sudden I'm comfortable with the idea of eternal life? No, not really - it still terrifies me. But here's where faith in God is important. Understanding heaven is clearly beyond human comprehension. Christian theologians talk about heaven as a non-physical realm, outside the boundaries of time and space. Some refer to it as a state of mind, rather than a place. Can I comprehend a state of being in which time doesn't even exist? No, it's impossible. I just have to have faith that God would not allow me to suffer in heaven.

Sometimes that feels like a cop out, but I don't think it is. I try to think about the different levels of consciousness between an ant and a human. Can the ant even come close to comprehending the human level of consciousness? Of course not. When we are blessed with union with God, we similarly reach a much higher level of consciousness that is essentially unknowable to us now.

EASTERN RELIGIONS - In religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism, they have the concept of samsara, the birth-death cycle of reincarnation. When we die, the soul leaves one body and we are born again in a different body (human, animal, or even plant, depending on the religion). Where we end up depends on the quality of our actions in the previous life - karma.

I used to think this was completely crazy, but recently it's started to make a bit more sense to me. From pre-birth, our souls (or atman) found their way into our bodies, yet we have absolutely no conception of where they might have been before, or where they can go after. Who's to say I've not experienced thousands of different full lives before, and will experience thousands more after? Do I worry about all the lives I've had before, and start to get tired with life? No, because for 'me', my life started when I was born and it's impossible for me to understand myself before that. East-west philosopher Alan Watts gave some good lectures on this, if you're interested.

I'm a long way from being an expert on these religions, but if I'm not mistaken the 'ultimate' destiny of the soul differs between the different religions. In Buddhism it eventually reaches a state of perfect ego-less bliss and peace followed by final cessation (nirvana), and in Hinduism the atman just rejoins the ultimate higher consciousness, Brahman, and we experience a sense of complete and eternal oneness with all existence (moksha). Like with how I view the Christian conception of heaven, what this is actually like from a phenomenological perspective is literally impossible to comprehend. What's important is, once again, suffering is literally impossible in these states.

FINAL THOUGHTS - I don't want to change anyone's conceptions of religion if that's something that gives you comfort, what I wanted to drum home was that this thing that we fear more than anything else (an eternal existence that causes us eternal suffering, even in heaven) is impossible. In no religion or philosophy does it say that this is what will happen after you die. Yes, it's still terrifying to imagine it, but it will never happen to us.

To finish off, I like to think of the parable of the poisoned arrow from Buddhism. A monk is troubled by Buddha's refusal to answer any metaphysical questions (e.g. what happens after death, whether the universe is infinite). Buddha likens the situation to a man who has been shot in a sneak with a poisoned arrow, and demands to know everything about the nature of the attack - who it was who shot him, what town he came from, what the bow looked like, what the bowstring was made of, what the shaft of the bow was made of, where the feathers on the shaft came from, and so on. The man says "I won't have this poisoned arrow removed until I know all those details" - and so he dies with all of those things remaining unknown to him.

So, as much as you can, live life in the moment. Free yourself from the pointless suffering of worrying about something which is logically impossible. It won't be easy to re-train your mind, but I believe in you.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Like most of you here, I have suffered from this for pretty much all of my life and have never really talked about it to anyone.

I was raised Catholic (although I've never really had true faith, and consider myself agnostic) and the concept of eternity just absolutely terrified me. Every time I tried to contemplate it I would feel physically sick and paralysed. Then I'd try to stop thinking about it, but the Pandora's Box had been opened and the thoughts would return every time I was alone. I knew I could never talk to anyone about this - how could I inflict upon them the most terrifying set of thoughts that I could imagine? How wonderful it would be for me to go back to ignorance - I could never take that away from somebody else!

Throughout my teens I'd tire myself out before bedtime so I'd fall asleep as quickly as possible, or fall asleep with the radio on, because the thoughts were worst just before bed while my mind wanders. More recently I've completed a couple of degrees in Psychology to see if I could find any insight there (although I decided not to actually see a psychologist personally, again because I'm scared of 'infecting' someone else with this way of thinking) and found their approach lacking - CBT is all well and good for people who have unrealistic perceptions about the real world, but what we suffer with is something completely different. So I stayed in a fearful state, and it's had a real impact on my life, particularly when it comes to seeking close relationships (I avoid them as much as possible).

I'm 25 now, and up until recently I'd coped with this by just trying to keep myself so busy with other things that I don't think about it. As some of you will know, that can work quite well for a time - as long as you can avoid thinking about it, you'll be fine. However, it's not really a solution. I was triggered by something or other recently and had another similar panic attack, so this time I decided that I'd try to confront it head on. I'm not sure yet if that's the best approach, and I don't think I'm fully 'cured' by any stretch of the imagination. That said, I do feel much more comfortable about it now, and I can think about eternity without feeling terror - maybe it's my first step to a genuinely happy life.

In the next post I'll share the way of thinking that helped me to become less afraid - hopefully it'll work for some of you too.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
People fear Eternity, but we won't spend it alone. If you believe in a everlasting afterlife then remember your love ones will be there as well. Also remember humans live and die on a timeline created by man, the human brain can not actually conceive the idea of a timeline that never ends. Don't be obsessed with Time, because time doesn't actually exist.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
WOW.  I can not believe it!!! I am literally in shock.  I am not joking when I thought I was the only one who had a fear of eternity.  I decided to do a Google search and found out there is a term to describe this fear called Apeirophobia.  I read an article from The Atlantic called "Apeirophobia: The Fear of Eternity."  Historically I have been too scared to tell anyone about this fear.  I was too embarrassed and feared I would be mocked.  I did tell a friend once and he laughed and couldn't believe I was scared of such a wonderful concept.  I have OCD and it makes sense that this phobia would be related to my OCD.  The panic attacks when I think about eternity usually come when I am in bed about to fall asleep at night or when I suddenly wake up at night.  The idea really really freaks me out and males me nauseous.  I am definitely comforted to discover I am not the only one. I don't feel so weird and eccentric now. However I don't fear the infinity of space of the universe.  It actually continually fascinates me. It is an eternal afterlife that horrifies me.  What happens when we have learned everything there is to know?  Are we going to experience eternal boredom?  Maybe our mortal minds just can't grasp the concept of eternity and maybe we will be comforted when we leave this mortal life into another dimension and have a clear understanding.  Right now we are governed by time. But in the afterlife we may be omnipresent and thus past, present, and future will be at once.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
So nice to know I'm not the only one!  I only have these panic attacks since recently, I'm 37 years old and before this never frightened me.  In fact I was always fascinated about the universe and the afterlife and then suddenly this thought about eternity popped up in my mind and it really terrified me and now I'm caught in thought loops many times.    I know i should not think about it, but it just happens, especially when I read something scientific, or religious about eternity.  I sometimes feel my life is ruined and can't enjoyit anymore, my interests have gone.  Really awful and can't think of anything worse.   I know this too is just a thought and at times I can snap out of it and enjoy life again.  I know it's a condition and there must be a way out.  Walking in nature and physical exercise sometimes helps to get me out of the mind and be more in the body, in the now.  Sometimes I"m happy and wonder how I could ever had these panic attacks, they are just gone.  It could well be it has to do with self confidence and trust, as this was always an issue with me.  Maybe we must just accept we can't know everything and let go.  Embrace ourselves with love whenever this happens...  Thank you for these posts, it's comforting to know I'm not alone.
Helpful - 0
1 Comments
This honestly made me feel so much better knowing im not the only one im 16 and about a month ago i had my first anxiety attack and now i get these thoughts every so often about things that make my stomach hurt and make me feel crazy. I used to love nature and the universe and now when i think about it i get sick.. I wish it would go away and sometimes ill be fine and then boom it comes back. I wish it was all over honestly
Avatar universal
Very random question, but does anyone with this fear also spell the word "dilemna" <---- like that (with an "n")??
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I am very happy I'm not the only one with this fear. Finally brave enough to look it up, and I'm not alone.

I'm a 16 year old guy in my Junior year of high school. I have the same fear. In fact, I've had it almost my entire life up until now.
I remember being a kid, crying on the floor because I was afraid of it. I was told by my mom that He has a plan, and that everything will be okay.
Time has passed, and its a rare occurrence, but some of the scariest. I will cry myself to sleep some nights. I'll writhe around, because its a physical pain. It makes me sick to my stomach. (In the restroom typing this in fact, just in case. Pity on me.)
I've always thought this was terrible of me. Especially since I've only one fear worse than eternal life.
And that is an official end to life.
Both scare me to death. I get sick. I get lost.
I have a girlfriend now who helps tremendously. I know I'm only almost 17, but just thinking of her is very calming. Only thing is, every time she mentions something about later in life, such as possible marriage or kids, I get scared again. I've been very Christian, don't want a divorce, and I get into his whole process of thinking I'm going to be with her forever, and then the thought comes back in.
I don't know. I just don't know.
This whole thing scares me. Life scares me. Time scares me.
I know there's no definite answer, but I don't know where to turn. Is there anything to calm this fear? Anything to stop me from worrying?
Probably not. OCD, anxiety, depression. I've already gone through it all. I just want some answer.
Thank you for reading. I just need to get my thoughts out.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I find myself in the same situation. I've been having these thoughts as a kid but now it's become worse. I find myself crying and screaming in the shower wondering why me, why was I chosen to go through this thing we call life. The fear of living eternity after death is what gives me anxiety. It feels good to know you're not going through this alone. When i find myself having these thoughts i like to Google fear of eternity and see how many other people are going through the same thing as me.
Helpful - 0
1 Comments
I'm 15 years old and I've been having these thoughts for several years and there are times wher I just can't sleep because the thought of eternity terrifies me but it is helpful to know that I'm  not the only one who's going through this
Avatar universal
Hi, I am 27.

I have the same symptom as you.

And I will screaming in bed four month once.

But I screaming with my whole power. So it's a little embarrassed I need to tell my roommates, I have this condition. And I was blamed for I screamed in the mid-night.

I found this only happened after 30 mins I felt asleep.

If I was lucky, my girl-friend will huge me when I scream, let me not feel along, and the fear will be less.

I found that will happened when the life won't go well or I drink coffee or something.

And now, I cannot focus on work or something, I guess it's my conscious want to let me not fall into the feeling again.

It's also the sad thing is, even psychologist cannot help me about this.

I see the best( famous ) doctor in my country, and he even didn't want me to discuss about this.

Anyway, I only can let my life better.
Helpful - 0
1 Comments
Hi there, how are you now? I have been going through the same situation for quite long. I am 35 and would like to know how to over come this feeling when I am asleep.
Avatar universal
Hi, I am 27.

I have the same symptom as you.

And I will screaming in bed four month once.

But I screaming with my whole power. So it's a little embarrassed I need to tell my roommates, I have this condition. And I was blamed for I screamed in the mid-night.

I found this only happened after 30 mins I felt asleep.

If I was lucky, my girl-friend will huge me when I scream, let me not feel along, and the fear will be less.

I found that will happened when the life won't go well or I drink coffee or something.

And now, I cannot focus on work or something, I guess it's my conscious want to let me not fall into the feeling again.

It's also the sad thing is, even psychologist cannot help me about this.

I see the best( famous ) doctor in my country, and he even didn't want me to discuss about this.

Anyway, I only can let my life better.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I am 31, I have had this all of my life,

Tried all the help pills and potions illicit and mainstream to no avail

You can't fix reality.

It is what it is.

I haven't slept properly in years this happens to me a lot and majority of the time I wake up screaming in bed.
They had me on a high dose of seriquil which dumbed it down, but everything else as well!
going to try get some help out of the public system
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
The concept of nothing really bothers me. Why am I here and living this life. My consciousness hasn't been here for billions? or years and it won't be until the universe folds back up and re-creates itself?

If nothing were a thing -- isn't it then something? What does something is created for the first time where does it come from? If nothing becomes something then that something had to form in nothing or that nothing was never nothing.

Even if the Universe has been expanding and collapsing "forever" doesn't it have to have a beginning -- or is time something only creatures like us create because we exist in three dimensions and live in four.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

It makes me just want to scream. The infinite thought loop that always gets stuck on a question that cannot be answered bothers me so much. It is a very unique feeling that is indescribable.
Helpful - 0
2 Comments
Sometimes I get these bad thoughts and feelings and the neighborhood dogs start barking. That scares the hell out of me. Classic music helps to calm me down.
I relate so much to what you said. Especially about the idea of where our consciousness has been all these billion of years and then I go further and start to think of how everything was created and what's the point of life?!

"It makes me just want to scream. The infinite thought loop that always gets stuck on a question that cannot be answered bothers me so much. It is a very unique feeling that is indescribable."

This you said exactly to how I feel. It truly is the worst feeling in the world! And I know every time I think about it that I'll never have an answer but I can't stop. It's like my mind is trying to comprehend eternity and can't see it. It takes my breath away, makes me start to scream and even bang my hand on my head. I just want it to stop!! It truly is the most incredible feeling I've ever had.
Avatar universal
Everyone this has bothered me through out my life I am now close to 50.  I am not as bad about it.  I was told to remember we live in a world where time was given to us.  In heaven there is no time so we will not be aware of how long we are existing in heaven therefore it will not bother us.  God promises us a place of no pain, no bad things, a place we will be joyful and praising God.  If there is no time in heaven then eternity cannot bother us.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Objectively? We actually are meaningful objectively. Think about all the special things about us and life that nothing else has. We're special lol. I don't need to explain; you just need to think :)
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
It's nice to know that I'm not the only one...as many people have stated as well.  I too have had the fear since I was young, and now I'm 30 and over the last few days it's the worst it's ever been.  It's like my brain can "understand the capacity of eternity" for a second and then I have a full blown panic attack.  

I have been on Wellbutrin for 4 months or so and my anxiety about eternity was so much better until recently.  Coincidentally I don't feel the Wellbutrin has been as effective recently.  I am on a pretty high dose, so I'm not sure if anyone can recommend something that worked better for them? Maybe an anxiety med in combination w/  the Wellbutrin?

-Megan
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I have this problem bro.
I wake up at night and feel like nobody can save me.
The thought is horrible. I've had it forever. I have dreams of falling in a hole for eternity. I'm only 14 and this eternity thing *****.

I'm a christian.
Not Catholic. If you think God isn't real it might be Catholalasism.
The Catholic church revolves around works like you haft to do something to work your way to heaven.

This is not right. God loves you no matter what.
In the bible it says your sins will be washed away (In Heaven).
This means the scary thought of eternity will be gone.

I hope God is your savior. He it mine. -Peace
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I have this problem bro.
I wake up at night and feel like nobody can save me.
The thought is horrible. I've had it forever. I have dreams of falling in a hole for eternity. I'm only 14 and this eternity thing *****.

I'm a christian.
I know I'm going to heaven. There is proof that God exists nick.
Who made this universe? We didn't come from apes.

I believe that when I go to heaven this fear will be gone. The fear of eternity is just from Satan. Satan wants you to dwell in fear. God loves us.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Hi everyone, I'm 31 and have had this same fear since I was 8 endless panic attacks and eventually it lead to depression. After a really bad bout of depression I decided I could never go to that place again. My mother died last month and I feel the thoughts flooding back in! But I am determined to stay strong as my fear started due to be selected from her, now see is actually gone. Anyways let me give you some things that have helped and still do. This will be for people who do not have fauth

1.time stops for u when u die, time is relative to u as an individual and just a perception of our minds so technically there is no "enternity" once you die.

2. If we think about "nothing" we shouldn't be scared as nothing is not a type of something it's nothing, hard one for our minds to comprehend.

3. These intrusive thought s are completely irrational but our egos treat them as fact. It's usually tied to something else, separation anxiety, loss etc etc so try tour understand that your mind has probably disassociated this thought of death/eternity with something a lot more complex as a small child and now it's your go to framework when you feel down etc.

Finally, understanding do that these attacks, thought processes become habitual over the years , what I find very helpful is when ever u have the intrusive thought break the pattern, jump up, walk around , start a conversation what ever it takes,  I think u find that in time u will do this automatically and will help massively and u won't peak and freak out!

I sincerely hope this helps some of you as it has me! I could rant on forever, excuse the irony but, good luck everyone
Helpful - 0

You are reading content posted in the Anxiety Community

Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
370181 tn?1716862802
Arlington, WA
Learn About Top Answerers
Popular Resources
Find out what can trigger a panic attack – and what to do if you have one.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Take control of tension today.
These simple pick-me-ups squash stress.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?