Thanatophobia is an irrational, exaggerated fear of death, not to be confused with the healthy biological imperative that compels most people, most of the time, to avoid dying if they can. I had thanatophobia for as long as I can remember, up until two years ago, when it started to fade from existence.
Not coincidentally, this is also the period when I put aside those “What if I’m wrong about religion?” questions, stopped calling myself, primarily, an agnostic, and, as an atheist, just stopped worrying about post-death judgment.
We get judged by people enough while we’re alive. Adding eternity to that, on the basis on dubious or nonexistent evidence, is unhealthy.
I also must consider this: the inevitability of my own death means there is some point in the future beyond which I will never experience panic, rage, pain, or hatred. Beyond that point, there are no responsibilities.
I just blew off an entire weekend. I was exhausted, simply needed to do as little as possible (or I was going to end up in worse shape), and proceeded to sleep for 40 of the next 48 hours. I have a lot of things to do, but I did take the weekend off. I don’t remember much about it because I was sleeping most of that time, but it wasn’t unpleasant. The only unpleasant thing about it was having to re-activate myself for the workweek, and the resumption of responsibility that comes with it.
What happens after we die?
I don’t really know, but I have no evidence that it’s anything like Heaven and Hell as depicted in the Bible, Dante’s Inferno, Robert Heinlein’s Job, and numerous other works.
I once heard James Randi give an excellent answer, in the form of a question: “What happens to a computer when you turn off the power?”
I now have an answer of my own. The workweek ends. Troubles end. Everything that annoys me, won’t anymore. I’m certainly in no hurry to stop existing, but whether I see a triple-digit age, don’t make it to my next birthday, or somewhere in-between (the most likely of the three), death just isn’t terrifying any more. That should make the process of living the rest of my life more pleasant than if I resumed worrying about what happens to me after that life is over.