A frequent question atheists are asked is something to the effect of, "what do you think happens to you when you die?" My answer? Nothing as important as while you're alive. As human beings, fearing death is common. Religion provides people with answers that, although not verifiable, give them comfort and something to look forward to (or dread).
I'm no less scared scared of death than anyone else. I can't stand looking at anything dead, whether it's roadkill or a person. It bothers me to see to see a tiny bird meet its end at the claws of a hungry cat, but I recognize that we all have to face death eventually (although hopefully not as gruesomely as a predator's prey). I fear death because I feel it's too early for me to go, yet I accept it as a part of my future.
Whatever it is that makes me Christi will be gone once I die, except for in the minds of living people who knew me. This is why I want to live my only life to the fullest. I will enjoy the company of people I love and forget the people who give me problems. Life's much too short to worry about the things I can't change. I have to remind myself of this frequently because my anxiety disorder sometimes distracts me from what's important. My ultimate goal is making as many positive differences in the world as I can, no matter how small...this includes after I die.
For this reason, I'm seriously considering donating my body to medical research after I die. As an advocate of science education, I can't think of a better way to use my body post-mortem. It sure sounds more exciting to me than rotting in the ground or being burned to ashes. It makes me uncomfortable to think about me as a cadaver, cringing at the thought of being cut open. Then again, will I feel anything when the time comes? Of course not. I won't be using that body to live in anymore. It's the same reason I feel silly for imagining how gross it is to decompose in a grave or be melted down into dust.
I'm not ready to go yet. I'm a young woman with what I hope is a full life ahead of me. I take the time to appreciate the little things while I can, such as reveling over a colorful sunset at the end of the day, the joy I receive from embracing a loved one, or the warmth in my heart I experience when a cat sits on my lap. I might not be here tomorrow and that's enough incentive for me to do all I can to make the world a better place today. What happens to me after I die is of no concern (other than where I want my body to go), only what happens during my life.