[Discussion] Death and Aging

This thread is about how to approach the end of our lives and the lives of others, whether that be decades in the future or sooner than we'd hope

Hey all, I'm in kind of a weird place lately. I lost my dog last year, which is usually a major tragedy disguised as a minor one, but even accepting that still felt disproportionately seismic. I'd had him since I was 26, and losing him felt like simultaneously losing a family member, a friend, a piece of my own mind, and my youth all at once. It was kind of earth-shattering, and I'm still not sure I'm fully recovered. I've been lucky enough that this is the feel loss I've experienced without the benefit of distance or a long period of debilitation. I've lost all of my grandparents and several friends, but it's all been at a fair remove. This feels different and it's triggered some previously untapped well of anxiety in me about death and aging, something that hasn't really troubled me previously.

I spent most of my twenties suffering from clinical depression, and I didn't really expect to get much beyond 30. Fortunately I was able to claw some of that back a bit and spent my thirties living a really good life and doing some of the things that my depression had kept me from doing as a twenty-something. For a while now, I haven't had to have a long term view of things. If you spend over a decade of your life teetering on the edge of suicidal impulses, every day you get back after that feels a bit like charging a credit card you inexplicably don't have to pay back. If I had suddenly died in my thirties, I would have been content. The small life that I'd carved out and lived between 28 or so and then would have been enough.

And now, I feel like I don't quite know how to age. Because I've never planned for it, and never really thought about it. I don't have great models for it. I'm an atheist and I don't have children, which seems to rule out something like 95% of peoples' purpose once they start getting a lot of grey hairs. And so I find myself having minor anxiety spirals about things that are likely thirty to forty years distant, basically several lifetimes for me.

The pandemic thing is probably not helping.

There's nothing particularly urgent going on for me here, I was just interested to see if anyone in the GWJ community had any kind of interesting perspectives on death and aging, particularly as our average age is approaching the point where we should all be thinking about planning LAN parties in the retirement home.

Things I've found reassuring in my little midnight spirals: one of the final scenes from The Good Place talking about the wave (being intentionally vague to prevent spoilers). I've also found Terry Pratchett's BBC series on his struggle with Alzheimer's to be comforting somehow.

I'd say you're likely perfectly on track for a midlife crisis and that's totally okay.

I lost a number of years in my 20s to anxiety and depression, so I feel ya, but most people spend their 20s doing wasteful sh*t, ours was merely ripped off a lot of beauty.

Anyway, there's a "normal" aging curve and I think you're doing it right. That anxiety is normal. Eventually you'll come to terms with it and towards the end you'll become more accepting of things and be able to look back fondly.

Of course that's the best case scenario and a bit rosey, but we do continue to develop as we age and acceptance is very much a part of that.

I am also an atheist and have tried to live my life according to two main goals. Don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to you, and try to leave the world a little better than when you found it.
Even something as simple as occassionally donating blood doesn't take a lot of time for you and could be life-saving to someone. You can start small when it comes to "what do I do now?" And maybe work up to more impactful work with your time.
The world is chaos, be kind to others. Help others be kind, too.

Yeah sounds like usual mid life thoughts, kids or not. Just turned 40 a couple months ago and some weird things start cropping up in your head.

Might I recommend foster care. There are kids that need love, and it sounds like you have some love to give.

garion333 wrote:

I'd say you're likely perfectly on track for a midlife crisis and that's totally okay.


Anyway, there's a "normal" aging curve and I think you're doing it right.

Ah, so that explains this mountain bike

Mountain {bike|hike|bride}. It can manifest in different ways.

I can understand the feeling. While not the same thing, due to different causes, I am in a similar place for different reasons. I want to preface what I’m about to say that I’m not trying to compete (edit wrong word, sorry) with our experiences, just that I also have a pretty depression/anxiety heavy background, spoiler’d for possible depression/anxiety triggers.


I lost a few family members and a couple teachers and tried to even act on those feelings of loss as an adolescent (early onset bipolar 1, mixed episodes, have had symptoms since I was an infant according to the parents). In addition to my other chronic health issues, we didn’t really think I’d live to graduate high school, let alone get to where I am now (mid 20s). I had chosen to live by the day, because I understood my conditions, mental and physical, but it did lead to several unhealthy behaviors which I am still trying to unlearn. Mainly the belief I wouldn’t live for my 18th birthday. I’d have made some different choices knowing what I know now. Now I’m in a place where I feel I’m behind my peers on everything in life, except health issues (hence the username). I understand somewhat the feeling of being lost. With Covid specifically, I acknowledge that if I get sick it will probably be very bad, and doctors may decide to treat others over me due to my pre-existing conditions (I have almost all of the major complicating factors that they warn you about). Before Covid, because of my illnesses I had to come to terms with death, and I did, but not completely it seems. Now with Covid I’m finding that my previous ideas that brought me comfort; being able to pass surrounded by family and friends would be unlikely and that scares me. I’m having nightmares and a sudden lack of energy and drive to do basic things, and this may be part of the usual mood swings I have this type of year, but I think I very much relate to what you’re saying. I wanted to let you know you’re not alone and for the current world situation, -and- your personal situation your feelings are perfectly understandable and reasonable. Take the days one at a time for as long as you need, if you worry too much about tomorrow you can’t focus on today. Hope this helps.

I'm turning 35 next month and seem to be having more and more dreams about aging and death. Just these stark realizations in my dreams all these years having come and gone. I don't look like I'm 35. Most people assume I'm 20. And I sure as sh*t don't feel 35. But my subconscious mind knows I am and seems to be getting hung up on it. There's a lingering sense of doom in the dreams and lots of regrets.

Hi Kazooka,

I think this pandemic is super tough whether you're living with someone or not. I'm surrounded by my immediate family and still have moments of despair and loneliness.

Secondly, I've read that the late 30s through your late 40s are the loneliest period in most people's lives. According to psychologists, your life satisfaction actually starts going up quite a bit after that. So there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Finally, I would recommend finding a therapist or if that's not possible try a telehealth app like Better Help. I spent much of my early 30s in a semi-suicidal funk until I was diagnosed with bipolar 2. Feel free to PM if you want.