Lately I’ve had an overwhelming fear of death, and a fear that there isn’t really a life after death. I do believe in the Church, and I feel horrible about having these doubts, but I can’t stop worrying about it. I’m terrified of the idea of there being no God or no heaven. How do I stop having these doubts and fears? How do I strengthen my faith and testimony?
You are not alone. There are many things that humans from all walks of life have in common. Unfortunately, death is one of those things. Every person from the dawn of time to now has had to deal with their own death. Even our Savior, Jesus Christ has gone though that. He conquered death so that we could live eternally with Him. Every human who has lived has also died. I believe that all those people (billions of them) have struggled with what you are struggling with right now. Some of them used humor to deal with the inevitable. The writer William Saroyan said,
“Everybody has to die, but I always thought an exception would be made in my case!”
He was using humor of course, and yes, he passed away in 1981 of prostate cancer.
You said that you believe in the Church but you “feel horrible having these doubts”. Would you be surprised to know that an apostle of God also had these doubts? Hugh B. Brown served as an apostle, and he was also in the First Presidency. In a private letter on doubt recently released he said,
“Would you be surprised if I should tell you that, I, too, have periods of perplexity, uncertainty, and doubt? I too have known the darkness, the fogginess, and chill of the valley which lies between the illuminated peaks of faith and confidence.”
Those words are beautiful, and they also provide me with great comfort. After all, if an apostle of the Lord has struggled with doubt and disbelief, surely Heavenly Father is there while I struggle as well!
The best way to strengthen your faith, dearest Sage, is to do what our prophets recommend you to do. Read your scriptures. Pray daily. Study the words of the prophets and Book of Mormon. Avoid situations and media that damage your testimony. Go to church regularly and participate in activities. Listen to your local leadership. Obey them. They care about you and will do everything possible to help you on your faith journey.
Sage my friend, you are deeply loved by our Heavenly Father. He knows how hard faith is for some of us. He gave us the proper tools (those mentioned in the above paragraph) so that we could one day be closer to Him in all His glory. Faith is a journey for all of us, Sage, and I have yet to meet anyone who has not struggled with what you are going though right now.
You are in my prayers.