Fear of Death and Failure to Live
Why we need to conquer our fear of death
It’s dark, and the air is thin. The satin you are wearing feels soft and itchy at the same time. You can barely move in this tight box you are in. You hear a thud, something falls on top of the box. You hear another, then another, then you hear distant sobs, and then it was silent. You are six feet under, and this—this is the end. You are dead.
This imagery is crippling. Most of us are uncomfortable with the idea of death. Imagining ourselves in a coffin, being buried under the ground with our families watching, is paralyzing. There is a name for this, for the fear of death. It’s thanatophobia.
To fear our mortality is normal. Humans are wired to survive, which means none of us are naturally driven to end our lives. However, when the fear of dying takes control of us, when it halts our activities and hinders us from living, that’s when it becomes thanatophobia. The normalcy of the fear of death is one of the main reasons why thanatophobia, or death anxiety, is not recognized as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. It is, however, classified under general anxiety, a condition affecting a lot of people.
There are several factors that incline people to fear death, like the fear of old age and problematic health. Most people in their twenties and people with recurring or constant health problems develop death anxiety. While there are no tests to clinically diagnose thanathophobia, there are several symptoms that present themselves, especially when a person thinks of their death or that of their family. These symptoms include frequent panic attacks and increased anxiety, dizziness, sweating, palpitations, and nausea. In worse cases, people with thanatophobia also present emotional symptoms like anger, sadness, guilt, and worry. Thanatophobia should not be dismissed because, like general anxiety, it can get worse and trigger other psychological disorders.
There are several ways to deal with the fear of death. There are therapies, like talk therapy, wherein a person shares his or her feelings to a therapist in order to better cope with the phobia. There are also breathing and relaxation techniques that help control some of the physical symptoms. Changing a person’s mind-set and other behavioral change methods are also recommended as it helps in accepting that death is inevitable.
There is no certainty in life; and the fear of death comes to anyone, which is why, instead of worrying about dying, we should enjoy every moment and make sure we live to the fullest. When we let our fear take a hold of us, we are ceasing life. It is only when we conquer our fear of death that we begin to truly live.
Have you experienced the death of a loved one? Have you ever feared for your future? Share your stories in the comments section below. Also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads for more updates.
Holland, Kimberly. “Everything You Should Know About Thanatophobia.” Healthline. Accessed October 17, 2017. www.healthline.com/health/thanatophobia.
Calm Clinic. “Death Anxiety – Thanatophobia, and the Fear of Death.” Accessed October 17, 2017. www.calmclinic.com/phobias/thanatophobia.