Three Steps to Help You Overcome the Fear of Death
Are you afraid of death? To be honest, who isn’t scared of death at times?
The fact is that death is inevitable. We cannot escape from it. Almost everyone struggles with this reality of life, but not many people know how to effectively cope with the fact that we will all face death one day.
Let’s take a closer look at the fear of death in general. What is it that makes death so unnerving? What we really fear the most about death is extinction, the annihilation of our identity. As hard as we try, we cannot control when it occurs and thus, feel helpless. Death also triggers our fear of the unknown. What happens to us after death? Are the belief systems to which we cling wrong? Will it be painful? If all that we are ceases to exist, what really is the purpose of life after all? These large and looming questions can easily lead us down a path of anxiety and worry.
To cope, most of us live by ignoring or denying the reality of death. Our unconscious mind attempts to protects us from the terror of death, but there are moments of clarity—moments when the machinery fails and we must look at death in the eyes. These moments can occur after we lose a loved one, when faced with our own mortality, and sometimes without any precipitating event. But in these times, we can no longer deny death’s reality. The anxiety can be overwhelming if our only way of coping with death has been to deny and ignore it.
Now that we have defined it, we can focus on how to get over the fear of death. I believe that we can use this fear and anxiety to create meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life.
I propose the following to soften this dread and anxiety and create healthier ways to cope with this truth:
- Become friends with it: Again, death is an inevitable fact of life. What produces anxiety is that we don’t want to accept it. We avoid talking about it. We don’t acknowledge it. We are too afraid to dissect and analyze it, and as a result, we are unable to overcome this fear. I suggest you to keep a journal of your fears and include your fear of death. Take out time on regular basis to think about death and related fears. Explore your thoughts to the following questions: How would I live today if I knew I would die tomorrow? What would my life be like if I knew when I would die? Journaling and thinking about death will help you soften the fear of it.
- Find a silver lining: Death is not the enemy. It actually saves us. It is true that the physicality of death destroys our bodies; however, the idea of death and extinction teaches us to live more authentically and mindfully. It teaches us to live and cherish each moment and the time we have on this earth. It teaches us to live in the moment so we can experience fulfillment.
- Accept it: Denying death is going to engender more fear and dread, which will produce anxiety, which is an elevated level of fear. Fear is usually of some thing but anxiety is generalized fear, of no thing in particular. Denying the reality of something only causes that thing to grow in power over you. Avoid allowing your fear to develop into anxiety. Accept that death will happen. Face it. And then make it a part of living your life to the fullest.
Now, I totally understand that it can be scary to explore through your fears and thoughts about death alone. I provide complimentary strategy sessions on this topic. Feel free to contact me if you feel you are stuck or don’t know where to begin in tackling your fear. Don’t let it paralyze you or take over the fulfillment of life. Instead, use this truth of life drive you to a more meaningful and honest existence.