The unknown shrouded by sheer obscurity “Death”, is deemed to be the ultimate truth and absolute reality. If there’s life, there is going to be death but this doesn’t mean that one should spend his entire life, anticipating and fearing the unknown.
The fear of death is something we all experience once in a blue moon. After hearing the news of the death of someone we’ve known for a while or after attending a funeral, we all tend to think about our ultimate destination. We waste hours living in the fear of something that can never be changed. We let our mind take charge and push ourselves into a deep limbo of negativity.
In medical terminology, this is known as Thanatophobia, also called as the fear of death. There is another phobia called Necrophobia but it is the “fear of the dead”. Thanatophobia is different from Necrophobia. It is also known as death anxiety, which is caused by
- Post-traumatic stress disorders or
- Panic attack, and so on.
Being scared of death occasionally is normal, but if the fear keeps taking over your thoughts over and over again, it can be serious.
Here’re 7 steps that consist of some activities you can start practising regularly to overcome this fear of death:
1. Face your fear
Instead of trying to bury the fear of death beneath infinite layers of unreal affirmations, face it. Acknowledge how you feel when the thought of death comes to your mind. Recognize the parts of this fear that you can control. Ask yourself these three questions.
- Why am I scared?
- What makes me feel this way?
- Can I control it?
If the answer to the third question is ‘yes’, ask yourself how?
There is no better panacea for fear than facing it. If you are unable to do it on your own, seek help from a specialist. In fact, many psychologists help you in facing your fears by exposing you to them. It is a completely safe method and is very effective in dealing with Thanatophobia.
2. Challenge the fear
Well, it isn’t. When you try thinking precisely about what makes you scared, Automatically the next step is to question as to why it makes you feel so.
Let’s say you’ve fear of flying. If every time you are board a plane, you start visualizing a crash. Ask yourself what is the probability of a crash? Look up the data on the internet, find some positivity. This positivity will help you challenge the negativity of your fear and you’ll feel secure.
3. Write down your fear
Words have the power of liberating you from the tight clutches of fear. If you’re able to address what makes you scared, write it down. Every time something negative crosses your mind, write it down.
You can also try making two separate columns one addressing what makes you scared and the second one mentioning how to face it.
Writing down past experiences both good and bad ones helps your mind in accepting them all as a part and parcel of life. Learn from all the bad experiences and be thankful for the good ones.
If at any given moment of extreme fear you feel incapable of writing anything, just rummage through whatever positive you have written. Read it loud, and read it over and over again. Words will give you strength to overcome your fear.
4. Devote some time to fears
If you feel that it might not be possible to stop worrying about the possibility of death then you should acknowledge the need to be scared. But, don’t let it take over all your thoughts and all of your day. Devote a specific time to your fears, sit down, and brood over the idea of dying for a few minutes every day.
Think about how scared it makes you feel. Consider if this fear is worth letting all the good things go?
Weigh the impacts of fear and positivity. Think about what is more important. Do this every day for a few minutes. If it helps, write everything down. This exercise is highly effective in addressing the fear of death and overcoming it slowly and gradually.
5. Develop a healthy lifestyle
“A healthy body is home to a healthy mind.”
Develop the habit of exercising every day. Try avoiding a lethargic schedule. Take part in daily chores that test your physical strength to stay active. Staying active not only helps your body to stay in great shape but also keeps your mind positive. If you don’t feel like doing that exhausting workout, go out for a walk. Feel the fresh air, listen to the chirping of birds and the sound of leaves fluttering with the wind. Nature has so much to offer, try maximizing on its gifts.
Develop the habit of eating healthy. Treat your body like a temple. Weigh all the health benefits of food that you consume. Don’t binge eat; don’t consume junk food. Add more green to your diet.
Food also plays a significant role in how you feel. There are a number of food items like eggs, chamomile, turmeric, dark chocolate and so on, which are known to reduce stress. Add these kinds of food items to your diet.
Having a healthy body is one less thing to worry about when your mind is continuously surrounded by the fear of death.
6. Take charge of your life
Venture into the realm of possibilities. Do things that you’ve never done before. Go for that solo trip or run carefree. Do everything that makes you feel like you are in charge of your life. If you hate your job, find something else that captivates you. If you like reading, find out time to do so. If there’s a writer inside you, start devoting time to hone your skills.
Instead of being sad about dying someday, be glad that you are alive every day. Make a bucket list and do everything that is in there.
Express your feelings not only to the people you love but also to the person you see in the mirror every day.
7. Accept death as a part of life
Just like life, death is natural. It is bound to happen someday. When you take your last few breaths, you will think about how you lived. You will be content because you lived your best.
You did everything that life gave you a chance to do. You made this world a better place not only for yourself but for someone else too.
If you spend all that time being scared of death, you won’t be happy on your deathbed either.
You’ll have nothing but regrets about the things you could’ve done.
So, while you have it, make the most out of it. Accept that there is an expiry date. Accept that it’ll take you to a realm of unknown. Accept that it is inevitable. But, most importantly accept that death is nothing but a part of being alive.
Read Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh. Check out its book review.