Death is a natural part of life, and people deal with it every single day. In some cases, a person is blessed enough to live a long life full of love and success. Other cases can be a little more tragic. Either way, every life is valuable, and death is terrifying either way. When you encounter death in some way or suffer from anxiety, you may develop a legitimate fear of death. Being afraid of death can debilitate you and prevent you from enjoying life. Also, that added stress isn’t good for your health. That doesn’t mean that dealing with this death fear is easy. Here are 5 strategies to help you with your fear of death, or thanatophobia.
1. Take Control of Your Health
There are certain things you can’t control in life. However, there are a number of things that you can control. Start by taking ownership of your physical and mental health. If you live a healthy lifestyle, you increase your chances of putting off death for as long as possible. Sure, an accident could happen, but at least you’re giving yourself a decent shot. You should eat healthy and exercise regularly. You should also only drink in moderation and not smoke.
Part of taking ownership of your health means not putting yourself in unnecessarily risking situations. You don’t want to put yourself behind the wheel of a car if you’ve been drinking or go skydiving on your own without proper training.
2. Live While You Can
The fact of the matter is that we don’t know what day may be our last. You want to be cautious, but you don’t want to be overly cautious so that you don’t enjoy everything the world has to offer. While you are still here on earth, you should do the things you want to do and not let death anxiety prevent you from having fun. Go travel, try new things, and enjoy life for as long as you are able to.
You should also make a point to develop strong relationships with the people in your life. You don’t want to wake up one day and discover a loved one is gone before you could spend time with them. Call and spend time with friends and family. You will be happy you have your memories when they pass. You may also develop relationships that will come in handy toward the end of your life. Instead of focusing on death so much, you should focus on living.
3. Develop a New Perspective on Death
People with thanatophobia have a very negative view of death. It is scary and probably painful for them. If you suffer from this fear, it’s time to change your philosophy on death. Instead of seeing death as the end of something, you should see it as part of a cycle of life. One way to help do this is for people to read different books and poetry about death with a positive mindset. You may also see death as a way for someone to be free of the pains and stress of this earthly plane.
In many cases, religion can help with these types of questions. There is a certain comfort when you realize that there is something larger out there that determines what happens to us when we die. Instead of questioning the universe or your religion, look for comfort in it. Whether you believe in God, in heaven, eternal life, or reincarnation, you can rest assured that when you die, you are only at the beginning of the real journey.
4. Understand Your Phobia
Anxiety comes from within. That means that your fears are unique. The anxiety may have developed as the result of personal experiences, anxiety disorder, or a combination of the two. You should learn about your condition by reading up on the topic and even paying attention to your own behavior. Are there certain things that trigger you, such as going to a nursing home or hospital? You likely won’t be able to avoid these places forever, but you can definitely prepare yourself in advance. There are a number of different tools to help you relax when you are about to have a panic attack or start feeling anxious. Read literature on breathing exercises and positive affirmations. You can use these things to help you relax and face your death fear.
To really learn more about your condition, it could be helpful to go to a therapist who specializes in death anxiety. A therapist has the training to get you through your anxiety or phobia. They may also be able to prescribe medication if they think that it would be beneficial.
5. Have a Plan in Place
Give yourself peace of mind by establishing a plan for yourself when it comes to your own death. Even if you are young, you should draw up a will that describes your wishes when it comes to the end of your life. This may require you to think of questions you never consider before such as:
-what are your wishes if put on life support?
-do you want to be buried or cremated?
-are you an organ donor?
Once you have your wishes in place, you should figure out how you would pay for your end of life expenses. Many people will get life insurance so they won’t have to pay out of pocket or leave the financial burden on friends and family members. Finally, you need to decide what you want to do with your money and property. Clearly state who you want to get what when you pass. Be sure to update the will occasionally as your circumstances change. Get a lawyer to help you write it up.
Death is scary for everybody, but, for people with thanatophobia, the idea is enough to invoke panic attacks or prevent you from seeing the people you love. You may even avoid doing anything fun for fear of dying. Don’t let your excessive fear rule your life. There are things you can do to make yourself feel better. Start by changing your perspective on death by reading literature on the topic or finding comfort in religion. You should also emphasize a healthy lifestyle to help your body stay around for as long as possible. Finally, prepare yourself for the time when it inevitably comes. This will give you the peace of mind to go out and live your life as long as you are here, and hopefully give a better chance of later on having a good death, free from guilt or remorse.
What is Mortality Salience?
Mortality salience is the self-awareness in which someone is constantly thinking about its own death.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a specialized medical care that improves the quality of life of people who suffers from a serious illness.
What is Terror Management Theory?
Terror management theory studies how the fear of dying affects people in the way they behave and think.
Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy a good treatment for death anxiety?
Yes, cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be helpful for people with and anxiety disorder, including people with a panic disorder.