Does Death Scare You?

Because death anxiety sometimes gets the better of me

Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

We all know it’s going to happen to us one day, so why are we worried about death? It’s important to deal with those anxieties when they begin to invade your daily life.

I’ve had a fear of death since I was twelve years old. The exact moment I realised that one day I’d die and never take another breath on this planet is etched in my mind.

My grandfather had recently been diagnosed with oral cancer. Perhaps all those hand-rolled cigarettes had taken their toll.

But all I pictured was my pappa — my Finnish grandfather — with a tube sticking out of his throat, looking skinnier and sadder than I’d ever seen him.

A terrible thought hit me: My pappa was going to die and I’d never see him again.

And then a worse thought crept into my mind: Death would come for me, too. I became terrified I would die now rather than later.

Death anxiety

The fear of death, also known as thanatophobia, can make you feel completely alone, which is odd because everyone dies.

But anxiety of any kind isn’t always rational. In fact, most of the time it’s my anxiety that produces dreadful thoughts about dying.

I lay awake at 3am thinking about my insignificance because in the end I will die and will any of this really matter?

Coping with death and dying

Accepting death as an inevitable part of the life process can make you feel part of something bigger than you are.

While you may not align with a specific religion, there’s a spiritual connection that exists between humans by understanding that everyone dies.

Dying is a natural process and if we can control our mindset to be comfortable talking about it, then it can become easier to accept, especially during those solitary moments at 3am when you can’t sleep and death is on your mind.

In an interview, author Kelvin Chin explains there’s no point worrying about death because life is more important:

Let’s not worry about [death]. Let’s live in the present now. Apply oneself and live now. Live life to it’s fullest. Don’t worry about [death].

The one core message that shines through is to remain positive.

Being positive helps people cope with their fears.

Also, communication is key. It’s important to talk about your fears in order to understand where they come from and to help figure out how you can overcome them. Denial might stop those thoughts momentarily, but it won’t help in the long run.

You must face your fears.

Be grateful for the little things

We should be grateful for having the chance to be part of this miraculous thing called life.

Focus on your children’s laughter. Thank a friend’s generosity. Enjoy silence. Embrace the chaos of noise. Listen to nature. Be in awe of technology. Make a list of the many things to be grateful for in your life.

It’s okay to think about death

Accepting death is a lifelong process. It’s okay to have worried thoughts about death. But if they consume you and prevent you from living, then it’s important to seek help such as professional advice.

I still have thoughts about death, but my mind is more accepting of it.

Educating myself about death, communicating with others who feel the same way, and trying to remain positive about life has given me the tools to overcome my debilitating fear of death.

I may not be ‘cured,’ but I’m going to live my life with purpose. To be grateful for each day, because it might just be my last.

And ultimately, there’s nothing anyone can do about that.

If you enjoyed reading this article, join my mailing list to read more.

Lana Graham is Editor of Mama Write. She writes about parenting and psychology and lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner (her rock) and their three amazing sons.

Aussie mama of 3 sons. Lover of tea. Planner geek with a cereal obsession. Say G’day: lana@lanagraham.com.au

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store