How to Cope With the Fear of Death

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fear of dying

It is natural to fear what you don’t know. Therefore, the thought of death and not knowing what will happen to you after you die is a common source of stress and anxiety. Here are some coping mechanisms for dealing with this real and often paralyzing fear:

Acceptance. One way to cope is to take solace in the fact that death 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.

The afterlife. What happens after death? Many philosophers, cultures, and religious leaders have numerous writings and theories on the topic of death, what lies ahead, and how to prepare. A belief that life does not simply end upon death is a way of re-framing your thoughts; rather than death being an end, it 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. 

Your legacy. Philosophers and important leaders offer 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. If you are comfortable in how you lived out your days, along with the legacy you are leaving behind, death may be a less formidable prospect.

Prepare for your death. While you are not in control of when or how you will die – no one is – you can take measures to make sure your loved ones are taken care of after your passing.

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Focus on the present. Perhaps the most effective way to cope with a fear of dying is to not allow it to rule your life. Instead, focus your efforts on living, enjoying those around you, and engaging in worthwhile and meaningful activities. 

If you are unhappy or unsettled, make efforts to improve your life. The most important strategy 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 make the most of your life.

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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.
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