How to cope with your worries about dying…
It’s not uncommon to be afraid of death. In fact, it’s a completely normal worry for many people which has been heightened by the current pandemic. If you’re finding yourself worrying about dying, please know that you’re not alone and there are steps you can take to alleviate your anxiety.
Talk It Over
It’s perfectly normal to be worried about dying and what happens when we’re gone. It can really help to talk over your worries with a family member or friend. It’s also normal to have lots of questions about death. While no-one has all the answers, it can help to ease your mind by talking about the various issues surrounding death.
Scared Of Suffering
Many people fear suffering or being in pain before dying. This fear can be especially strong if you know someone who is dying or has a terminal illness. If you’re worried about a loved one’s suffering, talk it over with someone you trust. It can help to learn more about the kind of medical care and pain relief your loved one will receive – it can be a big relief to know that the nurses and doctors will do everything they can to make them comfortable and pain-free.
A common fear is that of the unknown – what happens when we die? Where do we go? If you have a religion or certain beliefs, you might find comfort in the thought of heaven, an afterlife or reincarnation. Whatever your beliefs, it can be a great comfort to talk about your thoughts with a sympathetic friend or family member. It can also help to learn more about other people’s beliefs because it might give you a different perspective or a comforting view you hadn’t thought of before.
Talking over your worries, thoughts and views about death can be helpful. It’s important to keep the conversation open and honest, and to ask those burning questions you might have niggling at the back of your mind. If you’re worried about upsetting someone by asking questions, you can try to be mindful of the language you use or decide to talk to someone else instead. It’s a very sensitive subject and some people don’t feel completely comfortable talking about it, whereas others find it comforting and helpful to discuss death and what comes next.
Some people find it helpful to learn more about death and things like palliative care. Others find it helps to express their emotions by writing down their thoughts or drawing. Everyone is different.
When It Becomes Unhealthy
A healthy fear of death is actually important. If you think about it, we need a fear of death to keep us safe and cautious as we go through life. We click on our seatbelts, step carefully near the edge of a cliff, and look both ways when we cross a road.
It can also help us to appreciate the good things in life. However, if you’re finding yourself feeling incredibly anxious or your fear of death is really affecting your day-to-day life, you may have developed a phobia, known as thanatophobia.
Thanatophobia is an anxiety disorder and sufferers may experience:
- Panic attacks
- Palpitations or racing heart
Talk to your GP if your anxious thoughts about death are affecting your mental or physical health, or you find yourself relentlessly worrying about death. A therapist will be able to help you to refocus your thoughts and fears using talking therapy.
For peer support or to talk to a counsellor anonymously, go to Childline.