How did you come to terms with the idea of nothing happening after you die?
I still have issues with the fact that one day I'm just going to shut down like a PC and that's it. I'm not expecting an afterlife, heaven, hell and all that made-up bullshit, but I still can't fully accept it.
Some suggestions, own experiences would really be helpful.
My Dad died a year ago and he was an atheist. He died finally from Parkinson's when he chose to stop taking his medication and only have relief of pain. We had hospice at home and before he finally was unable to move or speak, we had a wonderful family gathering. He was unconscience a day later and 12 hours later he was gone. He taught me a lot about how to live and now how to die.
He lives still in the memories of all his family and friends; in all the funny stories we still gather and tell and I can see him in his great-grand children. That is his legacy and I only hope I can face death with Dad's dignity and peace and that there are plenty of funny stories to laugh about me when I go.
By the way, when I went into surgery in 2001 there was a possiblity that I would not wake up. As I went under I realized that the black was not scary and if I didn't come back I wouldn't know anything about it and I was much comforted by that. Weird but true. When I woke up I knew I was really an atheist.
There is a good article (among many, many others, I might add) about this very subject over at Greta Christina's Blog.
" But I recently saw some research that gives an answer to this question. There was a study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2009, showing that, among terminally ill cancer patients, those with strong religious beliefs who relied on their religion to cope with their illness were more likely to get aggressive medical care in the last week of their life.
In other words: People who are most strongly attached to a belief in an afterlife are more likely to try to delay death when it's clearly imminent.
That doesn't make any logical sense. If people believe in a blissful afterlife, then logically, you'd think they'd accept their death gracefully, and would even welcome it. But it makes perfect sense when you think of religion, not as a way of genuinely coping with the fear of death, but as a way of putting it on the back burner."
I never really believed that anything else would be the case. The whole heaven thing always bothered me more than than the idea of just ceasing to exist. The clincher for me was having my appendix taken out several years ago. I'm an extremely lucid sleeper, I always know when I am asleep/dreaming and I have a sense of time while I am sleeping. I've been known to frequently wake up just minutes before my alarm goes off. Going under for surgery was a new experience for me. I literally lost 4 hours of my life. I remember being put under and then suddenly I was awake again. I remember thinking after I woke up that if I had died (which of course for an appendectomy is highly unlikely) I would have never known I had died. I think that's what gives me some comfort surrounding death. The only fear I have surrounding death is how. That I will simply cease to exist one day ... well I won't be able to care after it happens so why worry about it before it happens.
I see death as a relief and life as a punishment (more or less). I also see 'embracing death' as a selfish act. When I think of death, I think of all the people that would still remain here. Probably it does not make much sense.
I am always thinking about other people's needs before I think of my own. I am the kind of guy that can not enjoy something if someone else is not enjoying it. I really can not be selfish even if I try. When I do something even close to being labeled as selfish I keep regreting it (and that feeling of regret does not stop). It is really starting to become very annoying because I do not know why I am like this (I do have some theories) and therefore I can not change.
So even when I know I'm finally going to 'rest in peace' I can not enjoy it until it finally happens and I will not be able to think about it anymore.
I never thought about immortality. But I wouldn't call it boredom. Let's say in a few hundred years people will finally get rid of religion. If I'm dead I would miss that special moment. If I'm immortal I would certainly experience something that has never been experienced before. If we finally are contacted or we contact another intelligent life form, being dead, I would miss that too. There are a lot of things that haven't been done yet. And immortality could really lead us as close as we can get to perfection.
EDIT: If we were immortal why would we still believe in a god? I just realized that. But there would still be new things to experience as an immortal.