Overcoming the Fear of Death

A healthy fear of death can help us make responsible and safe choices. But for some, the fear of death is all consuming. Read on to learn more about thanatophobia and necrophobia.

Ariella Birnbaum Ariella Birnbaum
ARTICLE3 MIN READ
Overcoming the Fear of Death

The truth is we all have to die. It’s how we live that counts. Hopefully, we will live long enough to enjoy Mother Earth without the fear of death overwhelming us so much that we can’t embrace life.

How old were you when you found out about death? Were you old enough to grasp the real meaning of death, or did your parents soften the blows and say that person was sleeping? Were you then led to believe that death was for old people and that you as a youngster didn’t have to worry about ‘sleeping’ for many years to come? Still, the fear of death came upon you, and you began to wonder what happens when people die.

Well, those answers likely came later in life, so in the meantime, we shouldn’t just live, but really try to live our best lives here on earth.

Considering your death and wondering what happens when you die is not unusual. Death and dying are hyper-sensitive subjects and are not easily digestible for a lot of people. However, if death is repeatedly on your mind and death anxiety is interfering with your daily life, this might be an indication that you need to seek help.

Is it Normal to be Afraid of Death?

Fear of death is normal, but the degree of fear has to have its limitations. How we feel about death is often related to our religious beliefs. Many religions associate life after death with punishment for our sins and this is why so many people fear the consequences of breaking religious rules.

To some extent, a normal fear of death can be beneficial. It makes us think twice about our actions while allowing us to hold dear the little things in life. These experiences help us to evaluate the values that guide us.

What Is the Fear of Death Called?

Many people are afraid to die. One study suggests that 20% of people are either scared or very frightened of dying, making thanatophobia one of the most common phobias.

Thanatophobia is a strong aversion to death or dying. It is a complex phobia. Some people fear going through the process of dying, while others fear being dead.

Sometimes the anxiety is so intense that it may interfere with daily life. If this is your case, you may have thanatophobia, but what if it’s not? It could be something else. Seeking out professional support is the best way to determine your symptoms.

Death Anxiety Symptoms

It is important to realise that the fear of death is not the same as necrophobia, the fear of things associated with death. The fear of death or death anxiety can tie to mental disorders such as panic attacks, anxiety, and depressive disorders. You may have death anxiety if you are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • If excessively worrying about death goes on for more than six months
  • If you think about death every day
  • When someone mentions death or you see a movie scene about death, you get a rush of anxiety
  • Avoid situations in which you may have to discuss death and dying
  • When you think about death, you get sick
  • You have panic attacks

Coping with Death Anxiety

The decision to get help for any phobia or mental health concern is personal. Coping with the fear of death can be a constant struggle and tough to deal with on your own. 

You may want to discuss this phobia with people who understand your fear. Here are some tips for coping with anxiety about death, other than deep breathing and meditation. If you find yourself experiencing death anxiety, they may give you some relief momentarily.

Developing Healthy Habits

Use the reality of death as inspiration to practice healthy habits that will help you live a longer, happier life. Water is the key to life so drink it. Not only that, but medical experts preach exercise and eating right. To protect your mental health, avoid toxic people and situations. Take mini-vacations - even if all you can do is turn your phone off for a day and take a siesta. Put on your floppy hat, slap on some sunscreen and sip on a fruity umbrella drink by the pool or in your backyard to refresh and renew your thinking.

Create a legacy

Make a legal Will and prepare other relevant documents while alive and of sound mind. Help avoid family feuds that leave long-lasting resentment by specifying who gets what now.

Be grateful

Keeping your attention on the good things happening and people in your life can help replace fear with gratitude. Gratitude is linked to well-being, a sense of purpose, and improved mood.

What is your purpose?

The best way to deal with the fear of death is to live with a sense of purpose! Realise that there is something bigger than yourself in life. The ideas and values you pass on to future generations could change the world.

Wrap Up

Acceptance is the key to overcoming the fear of dying; however, acceptance does not imply liking or ignoring the idea of death. It entails accepting the concept of mortality while not allowing it to control your life.

Having a legal Will in place is a wonderful way to ensure your legacy lives on for generations to come. It will also help to avoid any family disputes when the time comes as your wishes will be clearly known. Write your Will today at willed.com.au.

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