Sunday, February 21, 2016

How Does The Baby Affect Death Anxiety?

Posted by theboat On February 21, 2016 8 comments

Does the baby have any effect on my fear of death (or thanatophobia if you want the cool word for it)?

So this one caught me off guard...


Throughout my life, I've periodically freaked out about my own mortality (as I assume everyone does given that things like religion exist). The first one I can remember was sometime right before I started kindergarten and they've happened steadily since then. Since college, none of the episodes have lasted more than a day or so, and generally go something like:
  • something reminds me that I will die and it is inevitable
  • I get extremely anxious
  • I realize that no one will remember me after a certain point (hopefully after I've died), everything is ultimately meaningless, and there's no value in freaking out about it as I have absolutely no control over it
  • I go back to enjoying life
Dealing with my wife's mortality is a bit harder as it will be very difficult if she dies before I do. Similarly, that is the effect of my own mortality I've struggled with the most since college (fear of abandoning my wife). Barring some freak situation where we die together though, it is inevitable that one of us die first, and we're old enough that, though it will be painful, the survivor can likely move on and enjoy life.

Thus...I thought I was fine dealing with these sorts of crises.

Enter the baby...

Since his birth, I've had recurring nightmares involving my wife and I dying and leaving him orphaned. He is so dependent on us that the 'everything is ultimately meaningless' step earlier in the post doesn't work. The parental instinct is too strong for me to view my raising of him as meaningless.

With my wife, should I die and abandon her, she is a mature adult so she can get through it. When my parents die, I will be sad, but again...I'm an adult and can deal with it.

With the baby...he is completely dependent on us in nearly every way. It would be devastating for his well-being if we were to die early in his life. We have enough money that he'd be ok (he wouldn't be Batman but wouldn't starve either), but that's little consolation.

I'm sure some happen that I don't remember, but from the ones I remember, these nightmares occur roughly twice a month...not frequent enough to be very worrisome, but frequent enough to be annoying. I'm hoping they fade with time.

Other Anxieties

Before deciding to conceive, I had other anxieties that still pop up from time to time. The one that happens most frequently is the guilt over bringing a child into a world that will likely do nothing to prevent the issues caused by global warming. It seems very likely that we'll have refugee crises, a huge hit to the economy, etc. from it in his lifetime, and they're things I knew would happen before deciding to have him. Thus, I feel some guilt about deciding to have him. I know everyone does this sort of thing (people conceived during every plague in history, WWII, etc.), but I didn't anticipate it being as stressful as it's turned out to be.

Sorry for having no data in this post...I'd meant to post this at some point in case anyone else experiences this and feels like it's abnormal, and this was a good time as the entire family is currently sick so I'm too lazy to do any work with data.

Note: I took the picture from this link -


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