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The Fear of Death and Dying

“The more you live in the present moment, the more the fear of death disappears.” – Eckhart Tolle

As we go through life it is natural to begin worrying about our mortality

Those who say they are not afraid to die are either lying or they don’t fully understand the implications that death holds. We all have fears. Many of us have a fear of the unknown, pain and suffering.
Dying is associated with these fears and it is therefore important not to deny fear but to understand and manage it. It is a natural, powerful and primitive human emotion.

The key overcoming fear is acceptance, and then looking beyond it. People who say they do not fear death either do not understand it or are simply lying. Even from a Christian perspective, the Lord felt fear in the garden of Gethsemane. He had to work around it and keep what was important in perspective.

Fear and the fear of dying will test us to see what we are made of. YOU may be surprised to find out that fear can be overcome and that you have far more courage than you ever thought possible. It requires a different set of spectacles to see the bigger picture!

There are various aspects to the fear of death and dying that are worth discussing, however, these cannot be understood without a clear definition of fear.

What is Fear?

As a part of the human condition, fear can be defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.”

It is directed towards a threat- something that is real. Fear is a normal response to a threat. It is associated with our “flight and fright” response and puts us into action to get out of harm’s way. It is what keeps us alive.

Our imaginations can be powerful and unkind. Fear’s ugly cousin is anxiety and is a beast all its own. Anxiety and anxiety disorders know no bounds.

Unlike fear that is directed to a real threat, anxiety is much worse as it is related to an imagined threat. It lives in our imaginations and offers no benefits.

When we consider the fear of death and dying, we need to consider both rational fear and death anxiety.

Dying is easier if we have hope and courage. Here are some thoughts on managing the fear of death and dying.

fear of death and dying cliff jumping

Overcoming The Fear Of Death and Dying

Accepting Death

As with all of us, there is a day, where we will run out of time and our life will end. It is one of life’s certainties. Thoughts about death can be scary and can create a sense of powerlessness, meaninglessness and loneliness.

Accepting death helps us find life. Pretending it is not going to happen is not a healthy strategy.

To accept death we must believe that death is simply a natural part of life and something that is out of our control. Unhelpful beliefs about dying should to be addressed and challenged. Holding onto beliefs like this, will interfere with your experience of living.

A helpful task in accepting death is planning for it. From the medical, financial and legal aspects to writing your own eulogy or planning your own funeral. Doing so will help you reflect on the life you have lived and the life you have left to live.

Do Not Accept Responsibility For Dying

Death is inevitable. There is nothing we can do to prevent dying. Yes, we can reduce our risk of early death by various lifestyle changes such as not partaking in drunk driving, speeding or doing drugs use. However, for the most part, we cannot change our future destiny with death.

If we cannot do anything about it, it makes no sense to accept responsibility for it. Take this burden off your shoulder, so you may live the rest of your life to the fullest. We are all on the path towards the end of our life. Its going to happen and its not our fault.

Facing Death

The human mind is extremely complex and powerful. Anxiety is based on imagination and the more we let it grow, the more worse it will be. People who have intense fears such as arachnophobia, suffer fear from perceived danger rather than actual danger.

The same applies to death. Death is the permanent, irreversible end to all biological functions that sustain the physical body. For some, it happens instantly and for others, it happens gradually over a few days or weeks.

In the bigger scheme of things, no matter how long you have lived, the dying process will only occupy 0.01% of your time. Don’t let it the fear of death and dying bully you!

Being Courageous

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to perform in spite of it. Courage means being afraid and acting anyway. In short, the solution to overcoming the fear of death and dying is courage.

Summoning the courage to quell our fears and come to terms with our mortality may be one of the most challenging things we ever do. But by freeing up the space in our minds and hearts we replace this fear with newfound peace, courage and understanding.

There is the courage to face death, to accept it, and to acknowledge that your time has come. Stand your ground.

fear of death and dying mountain beach
fear of death and dying bike jumping

Being Prepared

If you knew there was a storm coming or some great disaster was unfolding, it is wise to be prepared. When we are told that there is an approaching hurricane, we begin boarding up our houses and prepare for the storm.

This is why performing for the storm of dying is important so that it won’t do so much damage when it strikes.

If we do not plan and prepare for our departure, we will be left with a mess of decisions that will be difficult to manage. Get in touch with a medical or palliative care team if possible. So they may help you with the heavy lifting.

Support groups and professional help has also proven to have tremendous benefits to negate the strong emotions brought by the time you have left and bring you together with those in similar situations.

In addition to medical and mental care, financial planning for your death is crucial. This creates peace of mind that your loved ones and family members are taken care of, once you have passed on.

Having Faith

With faith and religious beliefs, it is possible to consider death, not as the end of the road but a doorway to the next chapter of your life. All religions have the same message: our life does not end here. Death is not the end, but the beginning of something new.

However, the question remains, the beginning of what?

Faith provides hope of a homecoming after death, where we get to meet with God, receive forgiveness for our wrongs and are rewarded for a life well-lived. Faith provides peace and a safe haven at the time of death.

Getting Help

It’s natural for someone to worry about their own health as they age. It’s also common for someone to worry about their friends and family after they’re gone.

The fear of death often makes us miserable and lonely. Whether it is professional help, or merely talking to a close friend, there is no rule that says that you need to do it alone! Often our anxieties can get away from us and we need help. Speaking to a professional therapist can make a world of difference.

Read More Here

Surviving Death | Defining Death | The Dying Process | Palliative Care | Financial Planning

More Information and Resources

future change rain on leaf

Our Resources

Don’t let dying be a plane crash disaster. Talking about dying has never killed anyone! If you or someone you know has an incurable illness, it is recommended to have discussions about the fear of dying early.

Looking for more information on the fear of dying? Stickman is an everyday guy who is here to help confront the issues of death and dying.

Dying To Understand is a not-for-profit Charity. Click Below for our Green Page Directory for more Death and Dying Resources.

fear of dying apple


When it comes to dying, we can never be too prepared. Death has a way of being permanent and anything left undone remains undone. There is a lot to do, but don’t get overwhelmed. Make a list of things that need to be done or organised, and use our tool to help make sure you’ve got it all covered.

Finances of dying mountain climbing


When it comes to death and dying, expressing your views via legally supported documentation is essential. Usually, these legal documents take the form of testaments and wills, a power of attorney, estate planning and other matters your lawyer may consider. Whatever you do, try to avoid doing it yourself as it won’t survive if the vultures come, as they do, after death. Money spent on good legal documents and advice turns out to be cheap in comparison to drawn-out court cases when someone contests a will.

Financial planning for death hand of coins


Stay in control even when you are not. When your health is fading, and death is nearer, medical care will undoubtedly increase and your wishes associated with this care are important.

Important things to consider to support the dying process are advanced directives, resuscitation instructions and, most importantly, exploring the benefits of palliative care. It’s important, for living and for dying, to be informed.

how to cope with bereavement - wheelchair on pavement

Estate Planning & Financial Matters

Even though you cannot take it with you when you die, you do want to ensure that your assets are protected. Seeking financial advice about estate planning before dying is essential. Why pay unnecessary tax and fees if you can avoid it. Seeking professional help to ensure your estate and other assets are safe and directed where you want, is of utmost importance for both you and your family or friends.

surviving death feather

Funerals and Cremations

After death comes the funeral or the farewell. Most people think of funerals or cremations negatively. They are not bad, they are events that play an essential function in society and are an important part in the dying process in that they honour the life lived, deal with grief and, most importantly, dispose of the deceased body. 

Man giving a helping hand
Man giving a helping hand

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