How to Deal with the Fear of Dying?

June 14, 2019
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One way to cope with the fear of death is to take solace and comfort in the fact that it is a natural part of life.  We are all born, live out our days on Earth, and eventually die when it is deemed our time.  It can be helpful to practice gratitude for living and be accepting of death when it ultimately arrives.

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Another valuable coping mechanism can be linked with thoughts about the afterlife.  What happens after death?  Many philosophers, cultures, and religious leaders have numerous writings and theories about the topic of death, what lies for us thereafter, and how to prepare.  A belief that life does not simply end upon death can assist one to feel like death is just a transitional phase into the next portion of life.  The thought that something exists after death can alleviate the fear of simply non-existing. 

A portion of the literature from philosophers and important leaders addresses reasons as to why one is placed on Earth and encourages consideration of the type of legacy that a person may want to leave behind.  To combat a fear of death might mean creating a meaning for living.  If a person is comfortable in how they lived out their days, along with the legacy that they are leaving behind, death may be a less formidable prospect.

Some people may choose to deal with a fear of dying by taking measures to prepare for it.  A fear that many have is what will happen to loved ones when we are gone.  Will they marry again?  Will they be happy?  Will they have enough money?  Will they dive head first into a deep depression?  Will they be burdened with our belongings or know where we should be laid to rest?  Despite the fact that none of us have control on our final exit from this world, we do have control over how we prepare for it and what we left behind.  Many people feel unburdened when they make preparations for the unexpected, should it happen.  Planning ahead and ensuring the well-being of loved ones may help one to cope and alleviate fears of dying. 

Perhaps the most effective way to cope with a fear of dying is to not allow it to rule your life.  Focus your efforts on living, enjoying those around you, and participating in something worthwhile.  If you are unhappy, make efforts to change it and if there is something unsettled in your life, work to settle it.  The most important thing to combat a fear of death is to live your life to the fullest without regret.  This way, when it is your time to go, you will feel grateful that you had the opportunity to live your life to the fullest.

Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy  facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.