How to Overcome the Fear of Death




Millions of people worldwide suffer from 'thanatophobia' or fear of death. For some people, it produces a feeling of anxiety or obsessional thoughts. Necrophobia, on the other hand, is a fear of dead people or dead things. Both can be related to a fear of the unknown aspects related to death, known as 'xenophobia.' Uncertainties around death can multiply as the reality of death becomes more imminent. In order to become more comfortable with the unknown end of life, a great place to start is to understand your phobia and work to overcome its hold on you.



Understanding Your Phobia




1. Write down the times when you think about death: The first thing to determine is how, and how much, your fear affects your life. We are not often immediately aware of the environmental triggers or causes of our fears and anxiety. Writing about the situations in which they arise can be a helpful tool for working through these issues. You can start by asking yourself: 'what was going on around me when I started feeling afraid or anxious at that moment?' This is not an easy question to answer, so start with the basics. Thinking back over the last few days and writing down as many details as you can remember about the times you thought about death. Be sure to write exactly what you were doing when the thoughts arose.
While the fear of death is very common, throughout human history people have been preoccupied with the idea of death and dying. This can happen for several reasons. It includes your age, religion, level of anxiety, the experience of loss and so on. During a certain transitional phase in your life, you may be more prone to having a fear of death. People may have a deeper preoccupation with death in the ages 4-6, 10-12, 17-24 and 35-55. But why are some people so afraid of death? According to the philosopher Jean-Paul Satre, death can be a source of fear for people precisely because it is that which 'comes to us from the outside and transforms us into the outside'. Death represents the most unknown dimension imaginable. Death has the potential to transform our living bodies back into the non-human realm from which they initially emerged.








2. Make note of when you feel anxious or afraid: Another great coping mechanism for dealing with thanatophobia is to write down the times you can remember deciding not to do something because you were afraid or anxious. Write down any times even if you aren't sure about whether or not the emotions were necessarily related in any way to death or dying.

3. Be honest with yourself: Be completely honest and fully face the fact of your own mortality. It will continue to eat away at you until you do. Life becomes more valuable when its temporarily is realized. While you know that you will face death sometime, you don't have to live life in fear. The moment you become honest with yourself and face your fear head-on you will be able to start deconstructing this phobia.



Letting Go of What You Can’t Control




1. Focus on what you can control: Death can be frightening to think about because it exposes the limits of life and what we are able to conceive. Focus, instead, on what you can actually control, while still engaging with what you cannot. For instance, you may be worried about dying from a heart attack. While there are certain factors you can't control about heart disease, such as family history, race and ethnicity, and age. You will make yourself more anxious by focusing on these things. Rather, it is a lot healthier to focus on things you can control, like quitting smoking, exercising regularly and eating well. You'll be at a higher risk for heart disease when you have an unhealthy lifestyle than just by the uncontrollable factors alone.


2. Have a worry time period: Give yourself five minutes during the day when you allow yourself to worry about something and do this at the same time every day. Best not schedule this worry period for bedtime, because you don't want to lay in bed fretting over things. If you have a worrying thought at another time during the day, save it for your worry time period.


3. Challenge your anxious thoughts: Struck with anxieties about death? Ask yourself about the chances of dying in certain scenarios, such as making yourself aware of the statistics about dying in a plane crash, for example. You will likely find that your worries are more often than not, inflated beyond the reality of what could possibly happen.



 



Reflecting On Life



1. Consider how life and death are part of the same cycle: Recognize that your own life and death are all parts of the same cycle or life-process. Rather than viewing life and death as two completely different events, view them as two instances that are actually always occurring at the same time. Take the cells in our bodies - they are continuously dying and regenerating in different ways throughout an individual's lifetime. This enables our bodies to adapt and grow within the world around us.


2. Think about how your body is part of a complex ecosystem: Our bodies serve as fertile ecosystems for countless different life forms, especially after our own lives come to an end. While we are alive, our gastrointestinal system is home to millions of micro-organisms. These help our bodies stay healthy enough to support proper immune functioning, and in some ways, complex cognitive processing.


3. Spend time in nature: Go on meditative walks in nature or you can spend more time outside, around many different life forms. These activities can give you the understanding you need to be comfortable with the realization that you're part of a larger world.




Living Life




1. Spend time with your loved ones: Surround yourself with people who make you happy and vice-versa. This will ensure that your time will be well spent and well-remembered when you share yourself with others. For instance, you can be sure of the fact that your memory will live on after you die if you help your grandchildren develop happy memories of you.


2. Keep a gratitude journal: A great way to deal with a fear of dying is to write down and acknowledge the things you're thankful for. This will help keep your focus on the good things about your life and cherish them. Take some time every few days to write down a moment or thing you were grateful for. Write in-depth, savoring the moment and appreciating the joy you've received from it.


3. Take care of yourself: Avoid getting involved in a bad situation or doing things that can raise your chances of dying. For instance, try to avoid unhealthy activities like smoking, drug or alcohol abuse and texting while driving. Staying healthy removes some of the risk factors that can lead to death.