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How To Deal With Death Anxiety

Spiritual And Existential Aspects

Tips to Cope with Death Anxiety and Fear of Death

Religious and spiritual needs throughout the dying process will be highly individual, but even someone who has not engaged with religion or spirituality throughout their life may find themselves thinking about these concepts more deeply when they are confronted with death.

When we talk about thinking about life on a bigger level, it’s referred to as existential thinking or, sometimes, an existential crisis. Any major change or trauma, including serious illness or injury, death, and bereavement, can bring up these thoughts and feelings.

The spiritual and existential aspects of the dying and grieving process are natural, but they can also be intense, exhausting, and distressing. A person may feel a sense of desperation or as though time is running out as they race to take stock of their lives and make plans for their death.

They may reflect back on decisions they made in their lives, question their choices, and wrestle with guilt about things that they said or did. They may ask What if? and try to imagine how their life might have played out differently.

Depending on their spiritual and religious beliefs, a person may desire to feel closer to their higher power. They may want to attend religious services more often or have a spiritual leader visit them to provide guidance and comfort.

Just as a person who is dying might seek comfort from religious leaders or texts, those who are caring for them may benefit from reaching out to their spiritual or religious community.

Set A Worry Time Period

Okay, lets say you now meditate on death, live a healthy life, but still find yourself worrying about death. I havent talked much about death anxiety caused by fear of losing a loved one, so lets focus on it now.

Im going to be honest with you: I fear losing the people I love way more than I fear my own death. My personal belief is that death feels like nothing. Its the same thing that happened before you were born. True, utter nothing. Lack of consciousness, ego, self.

But losing someone you love is a whole different story: youre going to feel a lot of pain, youll constantly miss them, and they will probably leave a hole in your heart that nothing and no one will be able to fill.

So a worry time period is something that I highly recommend. I think I heard about this concept first from Dale Carnegie and his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. I highly recommend it:

A worry time period consists of 5 minutes that you dedicate to guilt-free worrying every single day. I recommend you do it approximately at the same time and I also advise you not to do it before bedtime as it can interfere with your sleep.

If you have thoughts about death in any part of your day, try to save them for that worry time and make a promise to yourself that you will dedicate time and space for them later.

What Is Complex Bereavement

All grief is complex, but upon losing someone, many people are able to slowly readjust to their daily routines . Mental health professionals may call it complicated or complex bereavement if it has been at least a year and your daily function is still significantly impacted.

Some of the signs of prolonged grief are the following symptoms still significantly impacting your daily functioning after 12 months:

In one study, 65% of participants with complicated grief had thought about wanting to die themselves after losing a loved one. So if you, or someone you know who is grieving, is having suicidal thoughts, know that you arent alone and this is not uncommon for what you are going through.

If you are having suicidal thoughts but feel you can keep yourself safe, you should talk to a mental health professional. If the thoughts become unbearable and you are in imminent danger of hurting yourself, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support from a counselor who is trained in this.

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Why Am I So Scared Of Death Lately

If we cant escape it, then we must find a way to accept it.

Death might be one of the few things we all have in common, and yet the irony is, our fears around it can end up making us feel terribly alone.

Here in the western world, death is still very much a taboo subject. Its something we just dont talk about. This means that when fears come up, we might feel reluctant to share them with the people around us.

Perhaps we dont want to come across as morbid or put a dampener on the mood, or maybe we feel so afraid just thinking about death that we do everything in our power to avoid the subject even coming into conversation.

At some point or other, all of us will be faced with fears about death. After all, what happens when the lights go out remains one of lifes biggest mysteries.

Not only is it normal to fear the unknown but in these current uncertain times, were probably going to find our thoughts turning to our own mortality even more.

And this isnt necessarily a bad thing. In fact, contemplating death can spur us on to make important changes in our lives. It can make us question whether were living a life thats based on our values the things that are important to us.

But and this is an important but whilst thinking about death is normal, worrying about it obsessively is not. If you find yourself stuck in a rut of worry and going to great lengths to avoid having to think or talk about death, then it might point to a deeper issue.

Can You Treat The Fear Of Death

Death Anxiety: 4 Ways To Cope With It

Treating the fear of death is a bit tricky, because it’s a fear that is generally healthy to have. You would never want your fear of death to go away completely. You simply want it to stop running your life.

You’ll first have to find out if the fear of death is a symptom or a cause. If it’s a phobia, you’ll need to address it like any other phobia – see how your fear of death affects you and try to utilize desensitization techniques so that the fear isn’t as powerful. A therapist will guide you through this process.

If it’s a symptom, then you don’t want to target the fear of death itself. Instead, you want to target the type of anxiety that is causing those death fears. Only then should you successfully be able to live a life where the fear of death has less of an impact.

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Simple Steps To Help You Cope With Anxiety

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Anxiety involves feelings of worry, fear, and apprehension. Anxiety is typically experienced on cognitive, emotional, and physical levels. For instance, when feeling anxious a person may have negative or disturbing thoughts.

On an emotional level, one may feel scared or out-of-control. It is also common to experience severe anxiety through somatic sensations, such as sweating, trembling, or shortness of breath.

These symptoms are common for people who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. People with panic disorder are typically familiar with the struggle of managing feelings of anxiety. It can feel as if the anxiety is taking over or completely out of ones control.

Does anxiety have an overwhelming pull in your life? Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to manage your anxiety. Listed below are 4 tips to help you cope with your feelings of anxiety.

Try Some Existential Therapy

While several forms of talk therapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy have been shown to be quite helpful for exploring and working through fear of death, theres a specific approach called existential psychotherapy that is often especially helpful.

Existential therapy focuses on issues of death, meaning, and responsibility that are often key factors in a persons fears of death. By working with a therapist who specializes in these types of issues, its often easier to get to core causes of death anxiety that are more philosophical or existential in nature.

For example, if you think your fear of death is connected to a struggle to find meaning and purpose in your life, an existential therapist might be able to help you uncover what a meaningful life really looks like for you and what the obstacles to pursuing that are.

Plus, if youre someone who naturally has a more philosophical bent then existential therapy can also be quite enjoyable since it can be hard to find other people in life to relate to on this level.

If youre curious about existential therapy and whether it might be a good fit for you, this book is a very good introduction: The Wiley Handbook of Existential Therapy

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Scenario : Worrying About Someones Death When Theyre Unlikely To Die

Have you ever worried about someones death so intensely that by the time they walked in the door and explained they were late due to traffic you’d worked yourself up into a panic? Ive done this myself many times. And the worry took a particular uptick in frequency in the first few months after having a baby. I worried that my husband would die in a car crash during his five-minute drive to the grocery store. Every time he went.

Its not ‘crazy’ to be worried about your perfectly healthy partner or loved one.

Its not crazy to be worried about your perfectly healthy partner or loved one. We may be more prone to this type of worry if we’ve experienced an unexpected loss in the past or we’re feeling particularly stressed or vulnerable. In my case, I was experiencing common postpartum anxiety fueled by major changes in my life, both hormonal and otherwise.

Another common reason for preoccupation with a loved ones unlikely death is generalized anxiety disorder . People with this anxiety disorder spend a lot of time worrying about bad things happening to the point where it interferes with their functioning, prevents them from enjoying life, and causes physical symptoms.

No matter the source of your worry, there are ways to reduce the hold it has on your life.

Coming To Terms With Death Anxiety

My Phobia of Death – Facing My Own Mortality

One of the challenges that all of us face as we age is coming to terms with the reality of death. Escaping the question of death seems to work for most people most of the time. Avoidance is the most popular coping strategy.

However, sometimes the usual ways of coping create existential anxiety and steal from our quality of life. To maintain psychological equanimity, it is necessary to have an anxiety buffer system to keep death anxiety at bay .

1. Creating meaning. According to Terror Management Theory , possessing the sense that ones life has meaning, or that life, in general, is meaningful, allows individuals to live with their awareness of death without constantly fearing it. When people are doing something significant and fulfilling, they will have no time to worry about death.

So, it is important to clarify ones deepest values and to live in the service of those values. Research studies suggest that any enduring source of meaning in life should involve devotion to something larger, such as work, relationships, science, and religion.

2. A shift in priorities. Death can inspire us to be creative. When youre on the clock, you accomplish more. Scarcity contributes to an interesting and meaningful life. Scarcity prioritizes our choices and it can make us more effective. If we were immortal, we could justifiably postpone every action forever. It would not matter whether or not we did a thing now or tomorrow.

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Talk To A Professional

Therapy can be helpful after a major loss like this. While most therapists will have worked with grief, as it’s one of the most universal life experiences, there are also therapists who specialize in working with clients with grief. To find one, search for grief therapist or grief counselor in your area.

Death Education: Necessary For Emotional Work

Reviewed studies advanced the idea that nurses should receive death and dying education based on evidence that younger nurses reported higher levels of anxiety about death and held more negative attitudes towards caring for the dying . Three studies explored such teaching programs regarding death education .

In Turkey, Inci conducted repeated surveys prior to and after 90-minute teaching sessions for nurses over 7 weeks for staff of an oncology and childrens hospital. At the end of the education, death anxiety and death depression decreased significantly according to DAS. However, it should be noted there was no impact of nurses age, years working or how they reported being affected.

In Japan, Matsui and Braun applied multiple regression analysis to demonstrate that more positive attitudes of 190 RNs and 177 care workers in aged care homes were positively associated with seminar attendance on end of life care and negatively associated with fear of death. Similarly, renal nurses in Greece who had specific education on palliative care had less difficulty talking about death and dying and did not have a fear of death .

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Understand The Grief Process

The fear that comes with the unknown can sometimes be easily corrected by getting some facts and information.

Learn as much as you can about how the grieving process works and why youre experiencing certain uncomfortable or painful feelings and emotions. Several books on grief are available that specifically address managing your anxiety after suffering a significant loss in your life.

Fear Of Death From Anxiety Attacks

How To Deal With Death Anxiety?

Your heart races. You feel sharp pains in your chest. The room appears to be spinning out of control. You don’t know what’s going on, but you know that something bad is happening. It feels like it may be a heart attack and you feel a sense of doom, as though the world is about to end.

You feel like you’re about to die. But you experience all of this without dying and after some time, the fear starts to fade away , and you’re left wondering whether something is wrong with your health.

What you may have had was a panic attack, and the fear of death is a symptom of the attack. Here the fear of death is caused by several factors:

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