The fear of death is the universal fear that occurs to every man. It exists from the very encounter with the concept of death in infancy through adolescence and persists in the adult age. What most frightens people about the phenomenon of dying and death is the imagination of how it will happen, whether he/she will go through a serious illness and have pain, whether he/she will be alone at that moment, whether he/she will be completely immobile, helpless, it is difficult for people to convey the loss of control by the fact that they will no longer think and feel, and some have frightening performances of physical decompensation or dealing with life after death. The fear of death or anxiety about death is a natural reaction of every person and it does not interfere with people’s daily functioning.
What will be the focus of this text is not the fear of death that exists in some degree at each of us, but an intense fear or anxiety about the death what is termed as thanatophobia. People who are persistently afraid of death develop a high intensity of anxiety and sometimes they reach the level of panic when they think of their own or another’s death. Anxiety accompanies them almost every day and hinders them in performing life activities. These people avoid funerals, visits to the cemetery, hospitals in order not to encourage their fears.
How to overcome thanatophobia?
This problem is treated like other anxiety disorders – through the psychotherapeutic process of people changing their dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors to diminish their own fears. It is necessary to find out what the person is most afraid of regarding the phenomenon of death and its perception of death, what is important is accepting death as an integral part of life, changing the view on this phenomenon and finding the meaning of its existence.
It is very important to reconstruct your own dysfunctional death philosophy, find a sensible explanation for this phenomenon. In addition to reconstructing thoughts, it is important not to run away from situations associated with death and dying, such as hospitals, burials, cemeteries. Like with any phobia, here it is important to face your fears.
Death is an extremely unknown state. In our nature, there is a need for understanding and giving meaning to the world around us, but no one can say that he/she fully understands what death is. Many fear that death will lead to the end of their existence. This fear is not only present in atheists and agnostics, but also among religious people. Still, many fear that their belief in the afterlife is not real.
Is it possible that the fear of death can be healthy? Very much. In many cases, this is what keeps us alive and prevents us from making wrong decisions or other risky situations. In addition, a healthy fear of death reminds us that we live relatively short and that we should live a meaningful life, surrounded by those we love and engaging in activities that really make us happy.