For many, there’s nothing comfortable about death and dying. Instead, it induces a lot of fear. A 2017 survey by Chapman University revealed that at least 20% of Americans are very afraid or afraid of dying.
A 2019 result from Statista also shared similar findings. When Americans were asked if they were afraid of death, at least 10% said they were terrified of it. Over 30% claimed they were somewhat scared.
While fear is normal, it can also be gripping. People can eventually develop deep anxiety called thanatophobia. It can rob a person of joy and quality of life as they try to limit their activities to reduce the risk of death.
They may also develop other conditions like hypochondria. It can lead to excessive and unnecessary healthcare spending.
Unless the world miraculously develops an immortality pill, people will eventually die. There’s no other way to deal with it than to face it. But these tips may make the process more comfortable and insightful:
1. Identify Where the Fear Is Coming From
Every fear has a cause, and sometimes it is seated in the subconscious the person doesn’t realize it. It may help to sit down and reflect on the reason for your anxiety about death:
- Did you have a traumatic experience that may have placed your life in danger?
- Do you have a lingering illness?
- Have you lost loved ones?
- Are you confused at how science and religion seem to disagree about death and dying?
- Do you feel you haven’t lived your purpose yet?
Knowing the reason helps you acknowledge that you have a problem. Then, you can be more open to the solutions—and there are many.
2. Know That Dying People Can Have Quality of Life
For many, death is often linked to pain and significant loss of quality of life. While a terminal or a life-threatening illness may not spare you from physical and emotional pain, services like palliative and hospice care can provide comfort for both the patient and their families.
In a 2016 research by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the team learned that the service helped improve the quality of life of the patients and lessened the symptoms. Their satisfaction with their healthcare also went up even when they’re at the most difficult time of their lives.
Both palliative and hospice care, which kicks in when the patient stops all treatments and is terminal, provide all parties involved, including caregivers, support in advanced care planning.
These options also promote lower healthcare utilization. They spare the patients and their families from spending money on treatments that don’t provide any benefit. Instead, they subject the ill to more pain that decreases their quality of life.
3. Find Your Spirituality—or Not
In one of the interesting studies about the fear of death, the University of Oxford discovered that two groups of people deal with it better: the religious and the atheists.
The role of religion in healthcare has been one of the long-standing subjects in research. In 2007 study in JAMA revealed that over 50% of physicians believed that spirituality and religion could influence the patient’s health and the kind of care they are willing to receive.
Further, at least 75% said that spirituality could help patients cope, while 74% shared that this helps provide the patient with a positive mindset. Fewer than 10% claimed that religion leads to negative emotions such as anxiety and guilt.
Meanwhile, people who practice atheism think that their non-belief offers them a sense of peace and comfort about death.
Other philosophies can also help someone understand and deal with the idea of dying or death-like stoicism. This is a Hellenistic philosophy that promotes endurance of pain and suffering without complaint or emotions.
One of its enduring principles is memento mori, which translates to “remember you will die.” It suggests that a person should live like they are dying every day.
While that sounds morbid, Stoics believe that it helps them stay in the present and make the most of every moment. It frees them from negative emotions like worry because all will pass. Instead, they find a way to surrender to life and flow with it.
The bottom line is it may be beneficial to you to find the principle, religion, or spirituality that resonates with you. It is most likely the one that will give you plenty of comforts when struggling with the concept of death.
Death is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be the formidable foe. The sooner a person deals with it, the faster they can conquer the fear and learn to live life to the fullest.