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Readers Respond: Confronting the Fear of Death

Responses: 183


Updated January 29, 2010

I've had this my entire life

I was rather young when I really considered the idea of me. When I realized that eventually my loved ones would leave me, I ran crying to my mom. Over the years it has lessened but lately it has spiked. I lie away every night in panic thinking about how I don't want to die and I want to keep my loved ones forever. I'm really going to try to keep my mom from smoking...IwantohaveheraslongasIcan... I'm constantly having dreams about dying and my loved ones dying... I think if I can make my life a little happier (alone at a college separate from my love and my friends but trying to fix this) I will be better off... Until then...man, I don't know... (sorry for the messy writing...I just wanted to write this...
—Guest Notethan

We need an outlet.

I have lived with this since i can remember. This cold dark dread. As i read these responses i learn there are others out there with the same thoughts and fears and although it doesnt give me solace it does show me i am not the only sane person on earth. I also read of people who are fearful they will through panic, bring about their own exit, for me this is not what this fear is about. My journey every day is of a man trying to float. Each day i fill my time with 'doing'. Each moment i spend thinking of something is a moment this dark cancer cannot attack itself. I can sometimes go days, even weeks without a bad attack but once it has reared its head it is hard to shake. We will die... this doesnt bother me. Everone will die... this doesnt bother me either. Cold as i am now to the existence of man i care only of my own. Can someone build a forum? somewhere we can talk? therapy is scary.. an outlet would be helpful
—Guest Tinyark


I was very surprised to learn that I am not the only one who has these feelings. I thought I was weird for thinking these thoughts and have kept them to myself for a few years now. I don't enjoy the thought that one day I will not have control over my body and that my body will cease to exist. I have been very religious throughout my life, but since I have attended college I have worked with cadavers for a semester. Since then, I cannot think of life the same way. I think of my friends and family and how they will one day not exist as well. I question if animals are like human death and I am scared to kill insects. I try not to think about the meat I eat and how it came from an animal. This may sound silly and strange, but it is one of the other things I think about. And I cried the entire time I read the other stories. I try to distract myself with other thoughts, like homework.
—Guest Guest surprised

It finally dawned on me.

I've been diagnosed moderately depressed with mild anxiety and some OCD tendencies. One of the big problems in my life has been that I'm scared of everything, so when I was reading a cognitive behavioral therapy book, it finally dawned on me that I'm scared of everything because I constantly think I'm going to die. I'm afraid of airplanes, roller coasters, driving too fast. I won't go on boats and I'm scared of the ocean and lakes because I think I might drown. When I'm going to bed, if I don't specifically remember if I've locked the doors, I get up to check them because I'm afraid someone will come in and kill me. I'm depressive but never been suicidal because of the fear. I'm only 28 but already having slight panic attacks about 30 because life has moved so fast that it will be no time before I die.... So I looked up fear of death and found this, and it upsets me even more that I'm reading a description of most of the things I feel. It's all really weird to read yourself on a page.
—Guest Jenna

Fear of Death/No Afterlife

I have been thinking about death just recently. I am at home alone, I'm 18 and I took a gap year, and will be attending college this year, already accepted (yay!!!) The thing is, I'm just the type of guy that questions all the religions and such (is there a god? does heaven/hell exist?) It always happens the worst at night. I start to have mini-panic attacks. My heart level gets elevated, I start to move, I start to cry mentally, its soo bad. All this time alone, my thoughts are my own mental enemy, one that I cannot defeat. One the topic of my death gets rolling, all the other thoughts just RUSH in, I can't control them. I fear that I will have no ability to talk, speak, act, BREATHE, to THINK. Loss of Consciousness is what I fear the most. Will I just "cease" to exist as a human being? I just wish that someone would help me. Its good to know that Im not the only one that has this very irrational fear.
—Guest Alexander Ponce

Is it really thanatophobia?

I have the same obsession with death as all the other responses I've read. I especially get scared at night while I'm lying in bed or in the car or a plane (I'm always afraid the car will veer off the road, or a semitruck will topple over, or a bridge will collapse, or a plane will crash) I'm afraid at night because this is the only time where I'm actually able to reflect on it and think of it; however, it's always lurking somewhere in the back of my mind, no matter how big the distraction.) the only thing I'm sceptical about is whether it's just a really big fear or an actual phobia. I've never experienced a panic attack or anything of the sort, but sometimes my heart beats fast or my breathing speeds up. I also find myself crying almost hysterically when I'm thinking about it by myself. I'm just not sure if this is actually thanatophobia or not.
—Guest blahhhh

No escape

I feel very trapped. I think a lot about what/who I am, and I usually come to the conclusion that I am a series of electrical signals in my brain. I'm distraught that I cannot replace the organic material of my body with metal, or discover the secret of the immortal jellyfish. I can't comprehend not existing because it is impossible to experience. I fear being alone, and I fear the ending of my life. I fear that I am not spending my extremely limited time wisely. I also fear the possibility of various "afterlives" even though I am an atheist. I fear that maybe after death I will be trapped in a perpetual regretful retrospection. I think a lot of my fears are based on loss of control. I hate that no matter how much effort one puts forth, or how good of a person you are there is no escape. The only thought that comforts me is that maybe since my time is limited, what I do with it means more than if I had forever to do whatever. So in the meantime I am going to rave my balls off. -blueboy
—Guest chicago blue


Death is not the end(at least every religion says that and there are some very good scientific proofs) so you don't have to be so scared. I recommend you to read "The Tibetan book of living and dying" by Sogial Rinpoche - it can really help. Don't be so narrow-minded.
—Guest someone

Constant Fear

I had a young relative pass away a little over a year ago due to a car crash. He was in his early 20's. Every since then I've had bad anxiety and panic attacks. Not only of the fear of myself dying, but others that I'm close with as well. Whenever my phone rings, my heart starts pounding with fear that something happened to one of my loved ones. At night, my mind is constantly filled with worry and the fear of dying. I have turned into a complete worry wart. Calling and texting family while they are away or out to make sure they are ok and nothing happened to them. It's been extremely hard to deal with and not sure what to do next.
—Guest Lee

I Understand

Ive struggled with this constantly since I was 13 - it first popped into my head in the middle of a family dinner at a pub (perfect timing!) It's become part of my life and I know I will always have to deal with it. To Help : NOthing here is long term and it won't stop the thoughts but it will help you relax. 1) Take deep Breaths 2) Think of it as a natural cycle 3) Every single living thing on this planet will experience it one day (people, animals, plants,etc) 4) Remember LIfe is for the Living so enjoy it 5) Think of it as winning the lottery. Everyone will eventually get their chance. I know its easy to say and hard to actually do, but try your hardest. I also find going outside calms me down aswell. Im Terrified, and I just hope that when it happens, it will be so quick I won't realise whats happening. I really hope all those NDE's are true and I hope I will see my family immediately. Good LUck everyone!
—Guest Keira

Stories are so familiar

I'd like to thank everyone who posted on this board. I can relate to so many of these stories. My fear of death also started as a child and it comes and goes. I've found it's worse if I am overtired. I try not to stay up too late until the point were I pass sleepy and am too tired to control my thoughts. If I get to that point, I usually try to distract myself from thoughts of not existing by watching a movie I've seem many times or reading a book. This doesn't always work, but it does sometimes, so is worth a try. I also use deep breathing to control panic. I try to remind myself of the line from the song "The Rose" It's the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live, and try to think of things I want to do now, while I can. I also have developed a physical movement-- when I think of dying, my head turns quickly to the left as a way of "shaking it off." I fear this will become a tic.
—Guest Jen

cant grasp

im 19 and had a very great life i had the best firend in the world sorry to say she passed away novemver 2009 standing there at her casket relizing omg shes only 17 i started to panic thats when these thoughts have entered my mind i can t grasp that we live and that death is so sudden and then ur gone no more anything it terrifies me even though i am young i still know that we can dsie any minute to the point where i lay and cry at night somtimes i dont sleep i confront my husband alot he always tells me baby we all die someday just dont think of it and hugs me the bad thing is i dont think of it all the time like the other night watching family guy quagmire faked death that triggerd me thinking oh god i wont be able to move imadha and very closterohobic so the thought of lying in a casket for all eternity disturbs me and the loss of control and what terrifies me the most the same man i have been with since the age of fourteen never being able to see touch kiss hold him agian
—Guest scaredycat

Finally...A Name...

I have been dealing with this since I was around 13. I'm 25 now, I work as a registered nurse, and my fear/phobia has grown astronomically in the past couple of years. Like I read in the other posts, I used to fly everywhere! Now a days, I cannot get on a plane without calling everyone close to me and once I get on the plane, I sweat and shake. I have been blessed with the most amazing family. That is where my fear starts to develop. I have panic attacks at night thinking of the non-existence part of death. It will most often manifest in me as "chest-pains" and severe anxiety. I too am afraid of how my family would handle my death. My mom and I are very close and it creates anxiety for me when I think about not seeing or talking to her again. Tips for coping: Distraction (sounds hard, but REALLY try) Focus on something you enjoy and play out a scenario in your head. If you have an animal, pet them. Get up and walk around. Fold laundry or put clothes away. Hope this can help
—Guest Allison

fear of not being

ive been struggling with this 4 years now. im even on 40mg of prozac which does help/distract me. any suggestions OR emails greatly appreciated. i do think there is a god/creator but i wish my resolve & faith was stronger. ugh i hate this :(
—Guest Albee

Not alone ~.O

Thanks everyone for your stories! Like several of you have mentioned, ' you're ' not the only one who has this fear. Something that soothes me is the idea that I have no memory of what was 100 years ago, but it doesn't bother me. Also, in my mind, it's only fair that we give back to the cycle of life. It's a wonderful feeling to know that you have, and got the chance to be a part of something so amazing! Everyday something ceases to exist in its current form so that we may eat, and exist. Deep down in my heart I know that we CAN'T be the smartest enhabitants all around. We all just gotta do the best we can, and have faith that there HAS to be something after. [Much Love]
—Guest Aaron

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