Are You Scared to Die? 5 Tips for Accepting Your Death 33

Accepting your death will bring peace and comfort to your life. Here’s why I accepted my death when I was 27 years old, and how you can live more fully now. I was scared of dying until I was diagnosed with a chronic disease. It forced me to accept and make peace with my own death, which made life more precious.

accepting your deathIn Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing, Anita describes how Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, chemotherapy, and her near-death experience (NDE) changed her perspective of life, dying, and death. If you fear death, you should read her book – it’ll help you get more comfortable with accepting your death.

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Here’s what Anita says about facing her own demise: “Even though I seemed to be fighting my disease, I believed that cancer was a death sentence,” she writes in Dying to Be Me. “I went through the motions of doing everything I could, but in the back of my mind, I still believed that I wasn’t going to make it. And I was very, very scared of death.” Below, I share her perspective on dying and how accepting your death can make you a happier, healthier person.

I’m 46 years old and I’m ready to die. I don’t WANT to die and I don’t think we should take our own lives, but I’m fine with death. These reasons to accept your own death may reduce your fear of dying and increase your passion for life.

5 Tips for Accepting Your Death

I’m not saying you should end your life. On the contrary, I’m encouraging you to cherish life while accepting that death is a natural part of a full, healthy life! I think we’re scared to die because it’s such a mystery – it’s a land people travel to and never (or rarely) return from.

But what if death is better than life? What if the people who have passed are happier and more whole than they’ve ever been?

Our life here on earth isn’t all sunshine and roses. But maybe death is.

1. Know that surrender to death brings healing

“When I was in that state of clarity in the other realm [during her near-death experience], I instinctively understood that I was dying because of all my fears,” writes Anita in Dying to Be Me. “When I relinquished my hold on physical life, I didn’t feel I needed to do anything in particular to enter the other realm, such as pray, chant, use mantras, forgiveness, or any other technique. Moving on was closer to doing absolutely nothing. It seemed more like saying to no one in particular: ‘Okay, I have nothing more to give. I surrender. Take me. Do what you will with me. Have your way.”

I think this type of surrender is healthier than fighting death, disease, dread of the unknown. We who are sick need to learn how to live in harmony with disease, not fight it! This surrender brings healing, acceptance, and peace.

Accepting your death makes every day of life sweeter and more precious.

2. Consider why you’re scared of accepting your death

Fear of death is one of the most common fears we have. Most humans are scared to die (but animals aren’t, are they?). And yet, we don’t know what happens after death! How can we be afraid of something we know nothing about? That’s what I don’t understand.

Accepting Your Death

Accepting Your Death

And yet, it’s our very ignorance that keeps us afraid. We fear what we don’t know, and we know almost nothing about death.

What helped me accept my own death is realizing that life after death could be more amazing, liberating, peaceful, and joyful than life on earth! Our dead loved ones may be beckoning us, trying to tell us that death is amazing. Maybe life on earth is the dumps – even with its bits of glory and beauty. Maybe we’re happier, lighter, and bouncier after we die…and we don’t even know it, so we’re scared to die.

What holds you back from accepting your death?

3. Bliss out! Housework, stuff, and “shoulds” become less important

I’m more afraid of being sucked into the superficial, meaningless, trivial parts of life than I am of dying! I know someone who vacuums her house every day, and someone else who has to buy a new pair shoes every month. Since I accepted my own death, I stopped caring about the superficial, unimportant stuff that we tend to caught up in. I focus on staying happy, healthy, and in remission from ulcerative colitis.

Here’s what Anita says in Dying to Be Me: “I’ll never again take on a job I don’t enjoy just for the money. My criteria for work and for doing things in general are so different now. My life and my time here are much more valuable to me.” If that doesn’t help you with accepting your death, what will?

If you’re dealing with a child’s death, read The Grieving Process After the Death of a Child.

4. Study the research that shows death brings life to the fullest

“Death is a very powerful motivation,” says Laura E.R. Blackie, a Ph.D. student at the University of Essex. “People seem aware that their life is limited. That can be one of the best gifts that we have in life, motivating us to embrace life and embrace goals that are important to us.”

She researched how death affects how you act, and how accepting your death affects the quality of your life while you’re alive.

If you think about death abstractly, you’re more likely to fear it. But if you think about and accept your own death, you’re more likely to life your life more fully. Thinking about your mortality in a more personal and authentic manner may make you pursue what you really value in life.

5. Remember that accepting your death makes you strong, fearless, and courageous

When death holds no horror, there isn’t much else to be afraid of! You can take risks, be yourself, and do things you wouldn’t normally do. If you’re not scared to die, you’re also not scared to live.

What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? Where would you go if you knew you’d be safe? Who would you talk to if you weren’t afraid of the response?

I accepted my own death when I was in Israel. After I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I went to Jerusalem to meet my father for the first time. I spent many hours in a church in the Old City, praying and making peace with my life, disease, and death. I called my dad, which I was always scared to do. I met his family, and even traveled to Egypt by myself.

Death is no longer the worst thing that can happen to me. Getting to the end of my life and having regrets is.

Are you having trouble accepting your death?

accepting your deathRead Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Dr Eben Alexander. He’s a highly trained neurosurgeon who had a near-death experience after his brain was attacked by a rare illness.

The part of his brain that controls thought and emotion shut down completely. For seven days Dr Alexander lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, his eyes popped open. He had come back.

Dr Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself. Reading his story can help with accepting your death – or the death of someone who has already passed.

If you know someone who is dying, you might be interested in Thoughtful Gifts for Someone Who is Dying.

How do you feel about accepting your death? Are you scared to die? Share your thoughts below. Writing about how you feel can bring clarity, insight, and comfort. Many writers don’t know what they think – especially about significant topics such as accepting their own deaths – until they start writing.

If a friend or family member is mourning death, you may find 5 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend helpful.


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33 thoughts on “Are You Scared to Die? 5 Tips for Accepting Your Death

  • Aleisha

    I am afraid there is nothing after death, no afterlife, just nothingness therefore what does this all mean. Why do I think , why do any of us think, our lives are so valuable, so worth fighting for, what if we are all just tiny pepples who alone make such a little inconsequential ripple in lifes lake. I think I am more afraid of leaving my husband, even though he is so capable and strong, seeing widowers alone breaks my heart, its our jobs to take care if each other and I am not going to be able to fulfill that, it’s inevitably, not maybe, sometimes I don’t want to love him as much as I do or he me, because I think the loss will be easier for both of us.

  • Andrea

    I am afraid of not knowing. In my mind I dont remember before I was born this is what I think death is. I am afraid of forgetting everything and everyone. My life my thoughts my feelings shut off like a flick of light. I read all the near death experiences and think to myself…thats dying…thats your brain releasing chemicals and putting you in some euphoric state and all the images of God, heaven or angles are just images that have been programmed into you since you were a child. I am truly afraid and when I really sit and think about it I can not breathe….i will die I know that I just don’t want to forget I want a sign, a real sign something you can touch, hear, taste or smell.a sign that there is something, that my thoughts will go on and that I will not just be some blank hole where once someone lived.

    • Gordon

      I read your thougts and i have the same. I think about it everyday and i love life and everyone in my life and am afraid to die. You couldnt have explained it any better and i feel the exact same way for years

  • Marny CA

    My husband’s comments were “I look forward to all my new adventures and experiences.”

    Few people understood why he would say that – when he also said he didn’t want to leave me.

    I understood.

    Hopefully, I will be as able to be at peace.

  • Riana

    My grandpa died from COPD a few weeks ago, I have not slept more than 12 hours in two weeks. his last words were “i just want to be able to breathe.” I once had my throat swell up to the point i couldn’t breath and it was the scariest thing ever.. Id probably accept death more if i knew i wouldn’t be so anxious and suffer.. do we know we cant breath when our lungs give out.. or feel our hearts stop? I am mostly afraid of the pain of dying and not what comes after

  • Sue

    I am not afraid of dying more like I am afraid of leaving everyone behind. What will they do? I have recently been diagnosed with severe COPD. Now that in itself is stressful but I also have other chronic illness to deal with. I am angry, depressed and out of sorts. I cannot do what I could before I ended up in the hospital for 11 days on deaths door. I believe when I die I am going to heaven and therefore that is a good thing. Not all people feel that way though.

  • Delaina Morgan

    I’m almost 30. Almost 3 years ago my first born son was stillborn, I developed preeclampsia, it could have taken me out too. During those moments of being heavily drugged up due to pain and the loss of my son I remember feeling like I was in a dream I felt comfortable at that point that I could have died too and would be ok with that. I felt like I would go with my son. However, a couple of weeks ago a huge oak tree crashed down on our neighbor’s house across the street from us, killing his girlfriend. I had a complete meltdown. So as I’ve been trying to live since the loss of my son and was doing great for a while, that tree killing that woman set me back so many years of coping with death. Im now more terrified than I’ve ever been before (i had that fear a long time ago when I was a kid but got over it) so now I’m constantly taking my anxiety medication, I’ve doubled up on my insomnia meds all because my head is constantly racing, my heart is pounding heavily in my chest and I can’t control my breakdowns, I haven’t cried this much since the loss of my son 3 years ago. I now have a wonderful 1 year old boy I’ve been happily married to the man I’ve been with for over 11 years. I feel useless and guilty that I’ve been set so far back from my progress of better mental health that I just don’t know what to and I’ve been trying literally everything. I’m just absolutely horrified of dying. I’m desperate to find comfort again but been having no luck. I’m scared, horribly horribly scared. Everyone looks dead to me already even myself when I look in the mirror. I’m desperate!

    • Maureen

      Many years ago my husband was dying from a inoperable brain tumor. At one point he lapsed into a coma for several days and then woke up and told us he was no longer afraid , while he was in the coma he said he saw a beautiful bright warm light and he was longing to go towards the light but he said I needed to come back and say goodbye toyou and the kids. I remember him telling me it was all he could do to keep from going, he said he never felt anything so comforting but he needed to say goodbye. He passed a few weeks later and all the fear was gone.

  • Laurie Post author

    I don’t know why you’re feeling anxious and scared to die, but I do have some questions for you! I encourage you to write your answers in a private journal – there is something healing and good about writing with a pen, on paper. But, I also welcome your responses here 🙂

    When did you first start feeling so afraid of your own death? Was there something that triggered your sleepless nights? Take time to think about this, don’t just answer “no” or “yes.” Write down your thoughts, explore your feelings.

    Have you experienced the death of someone you love?

    What are your beliefs about death? God? Life after death?

    I also encourage you to read books about coping with the fear of death. It’s really helpful to get information and insight about why you feel the way you do! The more you understand your own self, the more power you have.


  • Erica

    I try to sleep at night and cannot due to the fact I get in a panicky state about me dieing never being in earth again not seeing my child or husband,its been like this for a few months now I am just 21 how do I deal with anxiety of death? Should I be terrified to die?

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Simone,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about being scared to die. I wonder what triggered these obsessive thoughts about death? Maybe something happened, such as a near car accident or a movie you saw that made you start thinking about death more often.

    One of my favorite thoughts about death is that because nobody knows what happens… It could be the best thing ever! Life after death might be more wonderful and exciting than you could ever imagine. We really have no idea, and that makes me curious but not scared.

    Have you heard about the groups called Death Café? Here’s what one of their websites say: At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.

    What you think about joining one of these groups and talking about your fear of death and their fascination with death?

    I haven’t been to one of these meetings, I’ve often thought that I’d like to go. If you do go and talk about being scared to die with the Death Café group, please come back here and let us know how it went. I’d love to hear more about that group.

    If that doesn’t appeal to you or if it’s not possible to attend a Death Café meeting, have you talked to a friend or family member about your fear of death? Sometimes just talking it through can be extremely reassuring.

    For me, writing is even better. I find that once I get all my thoughts and feelings out on paper they become less scary and anxiety provoking.

    I hope these ideas help a little. What do you think about these ideas for coping with your ongoing thoughts of being scared to die? Is there anything you might try?

  • Simone

    Hello, lately death is all I seem to think about- my own death in particular. For the past several months I have tried to come to terms that one day I’ll no longer be here. The thought that I’ll cease to exist haunts me every night. I think I am also afraid of the unknown. No one can say what it is like after death & that terrifies me. It takes a lot of reading my bible to get me out of these anxiety attacks that the thought of death brings upon me. Does anyone have suggestions on who I can talk to about these ongoing thoughts?

  • Laurie Post author

    It sounds like you’re dealing with extreme fear and anxiety, and I’m sorry you feel that way! Those feelings are scary because they seem uncontrollable and unmanageable. They feel so big and overwhelming, it seems impossible to get past them.

    You may find this article helpful – it offers 4 options for people who feel trapped and helpless:
    How to Get Out of the Rut You’re Stuck In

    When your fears and anxieties are overwhelming you – when you can’t function properly in life because you’re so scared of dying or suffering a catastrophe – then you need to get professional help. I encourage you to call a counselor or distress line, and talk to someone in person about your fears.

    There are no quick tips or easy answers when you’re coping with serious fears and anxieties. You need to take time to get proper help, to discover why you’re scared and what treatments would work best for you. For some, it’s medications or “talk therapy.” Others just need to read up on death or how to cope when they’re scared to die.

    I don’t know what would work best for you…but I encourage you to work with a counselor and find out! Don’t allow your fears to overcome you, don’t let your anxieties rule your life. Instead, take the first step towards dealing with those fears and reach out for help in person.

    And here’s a question for you:

    What would make your fear of dying painful enough for you to actually call a doctor or counselor and get help? What’s holding you back from talking about your fears with people in your life?

  • Joanna White

    Hi My Name is Joanna and i have been consumed by the fear of death now since June it has taken over my life and all i think about is dying every minute of everyday…. im so scared all the time and can not see a way out…. I didnt want to waste my life worrying about the end of it all the time…… any advice would be gratefully received…… Desperate xxx thank-you

  • Jean

    My dad died in front of me and l was o ly 13 which did make me thanophonic but while I was teaching and being a headteacher l put anylon thoughts about dying young like him on the back burner of my induction and was careful to gosport to the do tor with any problems so what really stunned me was with such a good track record of doing the fight thing and such high expectations from the advisers and having ten years of using my interigiity and professional judgements well l made the most stupid mistake a head with my experience could have made which l would t bore you with but the result was a deputy head I didn’t really want and when I felt faint a few times she told me that she had been in a first aid course and I should walk in the fresh air which l did each time and felt better so l didn’t follow my golden rule of always going to the doctor.
    I am coping with dying but earlier than l would ever have expected and if l had done my job properly would have been okay l don’t k ow how to cope with dying g except l have re written my will to include my grandchildren l just can’t cope that it is my own fault and keep beating myself up, I am petrified abd can’t sleep at all except for a couple of hours during the day. I am the only one in this me which comes under the umbrella of comfort care mental homes who is dying soon and won’t believe it even though my brother came with me to the surgery to hear it too less the doctors will put it in writing which they won’t. I don’t know how you can help me but l feel so desperate

  • Laurie Post author

    Brad, I’m sorry that you’re struggling with severe depression. It must feel heavy and black, to feel like you’re not even scared to die. You’ve not only accepted your death…you’re welcoming it.

    I can’t give you the help you need, but I recently wrote an article to help people let go of that feeling of nothingness inside…

    4 Ways to Come Alive When You Feel Dead Inside

    Your life has value, even if you don’t feel like it does. You are deeply loved – and you were created for a purpose – even if you don’t feel like you are loved or have a meaningful life.

    But of course, words like this are meaningless. You can’t be convinced to call for help or talk to your doctor…you have to find hope and faith somewhere deep inside you, that your life is worth living.

    May you reach out for help, and may your depression lift so you can enjoy your life again.


  • Brad

    If you suffer from severe depression over a long period of time like I do there is nothing that you look forward to more than your death. I pray for it every night before I go to sleep that I won’t wake up, and I pray for the courage to be able to follow through with my suicide someday.

    • Don

      My sister felt the same way and tried to commit suicide twice. She survived. She continued to live the same depressed life.. and then developed Breast cancer. She thought she wanted to die all along but the cancer changed her mine. She had the lump removed and went back and seemed to change for the better for a while but slowly slipped back into the same depressed existence. The rest of the family felt bad for her but realized we could do nothing to help her. It became a bit of a burden to us. She didn’t drive had no money so she often asked for rides and if we would pick things up for her etc. I would usually oblige her but felt resentment and contempt for her. I did not want to be around her. I felt like she was healthy now and had all of her basic needs met be the government.. so had no excuse not to change her life. Fast forward 5 years and the cancer spread and she was giving 4-6 months to live.
      So after two suicide attempts and a life of depression where most her time was spent in a dark room in bed or laying on the coach with TV AND radio blasting all day AND night, Now she wants to live..

  • Alex

    Everything is so bizarre, out of the realm of our imagination. The only reason why death is a gift, is that it releases us from this false personification of reality. Of course that also implies, that we will never get the chance to see, what this really is…

    • Don

      What makes you think death is the end of a false reality? Maybe death is part of the false reality? What happens if upon death you have a choice? A choice to go into the light which will wipe your memory and send your soul into another body to come back to earth, or you can go your merry way and do something else? Why do you assume choice ends at death? Maybe when you die you find that you still have the same thoughts and memories and the ability to direct your life.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Stan,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Dying really is more complicated when we have children, isn’t it? Especially children who need a bit more support and encouragement.

    Trust that your girlfriend – and other people in your son’s life – will rally around him. He WILL get the support he needs. I bet he’ll even get more support and encouragement than you could give him! People will have sympathy for him, and will do everything they can to help him.

    The only thing you can control is your present moment. Make each moment count. Be here fully, not in the future or in the past. You may be dying – and you may be scared of the things you can’t control – but you can control who you are right now.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers – and your son and girlfriend, too.

    Trust. Believe that love will conquer all.


  • stan

    I was shocked when I heard my prognosis, but sort of accepted death as part of life,. however, when my wife passed over 10 years ago, leaving a 16 year old son for me to teach and raise, it was the most gratifying thing in my life… , now that he’s 25 almost 26, I am worried about him because he is ADHD and needs someone to keep him on the straight and narrow… I feel I am not ready to go because of him… but in my retirement?, life is not what what they say its suppose to be… and I don’t want to end up in a nursing home with dementia and wheel chair…. I have mixed feelings at at 65.. I cry for my son as he is so worried but have a life insurance policy to make things easier if he does not blow it… an my girlfriend will set out the funding to make it work… but feel bad for my girlfriend, although its only a relations of trust and honour, and not so much love and hugs… so with that in mind… I don’t think my life is really worth it anymore

    • Carol

      Dear Stan,
      You are so right- Life is not what they say it is supposed to be. I am 68 and just retired in May and found out that I will not live to enjoy it. I feel that it is a bad dream and I just want to wake up. My children are grown and I have grandchildren. It is hard to think about them growing up without me. I understand how you feel about your son. The hardest thing for me is to wake up and enjoy the day without thinking of my health. I like Laurie’s post where she says that all you can control is your present moment and make it count. I have been reading about Near Death Experiences and After Life books. It seems that all indicate that you will be with your loved ones after death- your wife- and the ones that you leave here will join you when it is their time. I think the life after death is really the good life. You and I need to put our trust in God. He will take care of your son also.

  • Laurie Post author

    Thanks for your thoughts on accepting death, Rene. I see enlightenment as having a relationship with God. Part of the reason I’m not scared of dying or accepting my own death is because of my faith and trust in my Creator. He is stronger than ego, this world, and all my fears.

  • Rene

    You are asking “What do you think would help you accept your own death?” There is only one way to accept death as part of the cycle, and this is enlightenment. Human ego can never accept it’s own death, nor the death of loved ones, and it can only be afraid of it. When our own death is unavoidable and once we’ve had time to grief enough and get past the wants and needs of our ego’s and ago is no longer telling us what to do, once it knows it’s “beat”, acceptance is replacing it and we find peace in the inevitable. Therefore, meditate and silence the mind. Give up on every thought, for there is not one thought that ego can produce that will be helpful, not ever! Only the emptying and clearing of our minds will help us find peace. And accept death as the ultimate liberation.

  • Laurie Post author

    No, that’s not crazy! My best friend felt the exact same way when she was diagnosed with breast cancer: she wasn’t scared to die, but she was really worried about her children and husband. She fought the cancer with chemotherapy treatments and prayer, and she’s alive and strong today.

    I’m curious, though…what makes you wonder if it’s crazy to be scared that your kids might have to grow up without their mother? Do you think it’s an irrational thought or fear?

  • Hillary

    I am not as scared to die as I am scared to no longer be with my husband and children. I want nothing more than to live long enough to see my children grow into adulthood. I am terrified that this might not happen and that my children might have grow up without their mother. Is this crazy?

    • celene

      well ive been married for 40 years to an amazing husband have 4 grown successful children and 8 grandkids. I take care of my other who is 95 and my brother with down syndrome. my fear is of dying young. if I look back on my family tree all of my mothers siblings lived to be in their 90’s so I’m hoping to do that too, then I can leave. I guess my fear is dying young and right now I’m too young

  • Evan Paluch

    To me I am afraid of the way I will go out more than death itself. Will it be tragic, accidental or natural? Will I live a productive life or a depressing life? Will I die before my time? Will it be painful? I am currently a father to a 9 month year old child and I couldn’t be more down in the dumps about life. Dying before my time and leaving my daughter susceptible to the harsh realities of the world is something I fear tremendously and it makes me sad. Lastly I suffer from depression and I have for a very long time. Will I waste my only gift of life being depressed and will I ever find true happiness. Along with depression I have came in and out of addiction as well as social anxiety which helps prevent me from keeping part time/full time employment. I just don’t want to die in a broken and defeated place however if I do I just hope it brings me peace because my soul has never truly known it in this life…

  • nelson

    I was going to say something like – it seems so trivial and insensitive to be equating accepting death with not having to buy shoes but I was just angrily reacting to my own problems in trying to accept my wife’s current battle with leukemia. So I just want to conclude by saying – I think you’re a very good writer.