How to Live Fully When You’re Scared to Die

Death is scary because it’s unknown, dark, and sad. You are normal and healthy if you’re scared to die! But if you let your fear of dying ruin the gift of life, you’ve already started to die. In this article I share a few ideas on how to get over your fear of dying. I also describe why I accepted my death when I was only 27 years old.

I was scared of dying until I was diagnosed with a chronic disease (ulcerative colitis). It forced me to accept and make peace with my own death, which made my life more enjoyable, peaceful and valuable. I learned how to “rest in peace” even now, while I’m still alive.

In Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing, Anita Moorjani describes how Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, chemotherapy, and her near-death experience (NDE) changed her perspective of life, dying, and death. I shared some of her insights in my article below. When you’re scared to die, it can be helpful and comforting to learn more about what it feels like to actually face your own death. The more you learn the more comfortable you’ll be about accepting your death.

Below, I share Anita’s perspective on dying and how accepting your own death can make you a happier, healthier person.

accepting your death

“Even though I seemed to be fighting my disease, I believed that cancer was a death sentence,” writes Anita in Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing.

“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.” She thought she would die from cancer – and she was terrified at the thought! But then everything changed.

I’m 47 years old and I’m ready to die. I don’t WANT to die, but I’m comfortable with the idea of dying.  These reasons to accept your own death may reduce your fear of dying and increase your passion for life.

6 Ways to Deal With Your Fear of Dying

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. Realize that surrender to death brings peace and 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.”

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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 sweeter and more precious.

2. Learn 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.

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. Let go of the meaningless, soul-killing parts of life

scared to die fear of death

How to Overcome Your Fear of Dying

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?

Are you struggling to accept the death of a loved one? Read How to Recover From Loss and Survive Grief.

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. Learn what it feels like to be close to death

I found a fascinating new study on what it’s like to be close to dying. The researchers found good news! The actual emotional impact of dying is more positive and less negative than people expect. We think dying is all about pain and suffering, and we worry that we’ll face the end of our lives alone.

Are You Scared to Die? 6 Ways to Cope With Fear of Death

Be Still.

But the truth is that people who are close to death actually use more positive words (such as love, joy, happiness, and peace) than negative ones.

“When we imagine our emotions as we approach death, we think mostly of sadness and terror,” says psychological scientist Kurt Gray of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “But it turns out, dying is less sad and terrifying — and happier — than you think.”

Part of their study involved researching blog posts from individuals who were terminally ill, as well as inmates on death row. They used considerably more positive emotion words and fewer negative emotion words than did those written by participants who simply imagined they were dying. Studying the patients’ blog posts over time, the researchers also found that the dying person’s use of positive emotion words actually increased as they neared death, while their use of negative emotion words did not.

The research paper is called Emotions Expressed by the Dying are Unexpectedly Positive, published in Psychological Science.

6. 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!

If you’re scared of the feelings associated with death and grief, read What to Do When Grieving Feels Scary and Overwhelming.

Help Accepting Your Own 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. You feel lighter, more free, and happy if you share your story — and your fears of death.


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66 thoughts on “How to Live Fully When You’re Scared to Die

  • Joanna White

    I have an irrational fear of dying and it has consumed my life im scared to death all day everyday its hideous and I know no one can help me I cant help myself im so desperate and alone —-from morning until night I just go round and round in circles and I know im wasting my life but I cant help it ——-please help im desperate——– I don’t want to die im quite happy here on earth………. I know no one can help and im clutching at straws but im clutching away —–thankyou regards Joanna

    • diana

      Dear Sweet Joanna you must be so tired of this torment . Since you are clutching anyway , perhaps you would consider asking Jesus to come into your life and fill you with the holy spirit so you will not fear death but have amazing Joy !

  • Julie B

    I think fairly often about dying. Not because I want to die but because I am so afraid of having no runway left to make something valuable of my life. A lot of this is tied to several deaths in my family recently, the loss of my job for the 2nd time in 3 years and moving from one city to the next. I’m in my mid-50s. Never married; no children. I often contemplate the meaning of life and how many years I’ve let pass through my fingers pursuing a career and work environments that have eaten me up inside and that have provided no real value to the world. I use to live as though I had infinite time – and without any real understanding of why I was pursuing what was in front of me. My intention now is to make peace with the fact that death is a natural part of life and that I will start accounting for each moment in a meaningful way. I carry sadness with me that I didn’t “wake up” sooner, but am working to embrace gratitude for still being alive and for the ability to make something of my life. The anxiety can be overwhelming and life-altering. So grateful for the internet; topics like these get to be aired and we all have an outlet to express ourselves. Thank you for this blog.

  • Savannah Sullivan

    I’m afraid to die, I feel like the older I get the less peace of mind that I have. It’s been preventing me from sleeping and I can’t turn my mind off from thinking about it all the time. Its made my anxiety worse and I don’t know what to do. I’m only 20 and I feel like I got these thoughts a little bit after my Aunt passed away.

  • Gina M Martin


  • Laurie Post author

    Thank you for being here. It’s good to hear from you, even though it’s about a difficult topic! It’s not easy to talk about feeling scared to die or accepting your death, but it’s one of the most important things to face in life.

    How do you face the fear of death? It depends on your personality, spiritual beliefs, and health. It depends on why you’re scared to die, and how you dealt with painful experiences in the past. It also depends on your heart, spirit, and soul.

    Do you find that your fear comes and goes? If it dissipates for awhile, what makes it go away? Knowing this can help you cope with anxiety and even accept your death.

    Talk to someone about your fear. Find someone you feel comfortable with, someone you trust and can confide in. That’s the best way to move forward, especially if you feel paralyzed by fear, stress, and worry. Feel free to share your thoughts here! Writing can bring clarity and help you untangle your thoughts and feelings.

    Take good care of yourself, for you are worth taking good care of. Especially when you feel scared, insecure, and anxious.


    • J Kieley

      Well, everything must come to an end . This thought doesn’t become so apparent until, when reaching an advanced age we come to the realization, that all of our efforts, time, money along with our acquaintances will become valueless! Meanwhile what happens when we slap
      or squash a mosquito? Moreover, what if the concept of Heaven and Hell exists? It would seem that most of us are headed for an eternal sentence of unending suffering!

  • Deb

    I have let the fear of death make me sick. I have suffered agoraphobia of over ten years. I have suffered so much loss over my life (I am 56). I have a daughter and granddaughter, as well as a few close friends and (a couple bothers and my parents are still alive as well) that will be devastated when I die. I have 60 chickens, 8 cats, 2 dogs and 3 rabbits that will also die when I do. I have had 2 close calls already, and once asked my therapist if I could have had a near death experience and not remembered it because up until these health issues…..fear of death was not even on the radar. All that said, I pretty much am in a place where I am afraid to live…and afraid (paralyzingly terrified) to die. The stress of it all has lead to illnesses that helps make life even more miserable. The panic attacks, chronic anxiety, aches, pains, false heart attacks, feeling of constant suffocation, headaches, sciatica, hypoglycemia, nausea, vomiting, incapacitating constant vertigo, respiratory infections, bronchitis, incurable sinus infections, abdominal pain, and on and on. I have read Anita’s books, several times. I often wonder if the near death experience is unique to each one of us, and ones experience may not reflect the experience of another. I guess there is really no way to know is there……

  • Ron

    I’m 67 years old. The years fly by with ever-increasing rapidity and the thought of my soon impending demise, rather than fills me with an urgency to live life to the fullest, renders me immobilized with depression. I’m convinced nobody knows what, if anything, awaits when we relinquish our existence.

  • Marianna


    Thanks for writing this.

    I think I fear death. I have inflammatory bowerl disease, fatigue and some thyroiditis. I know what its like to feel not as good as you used to feel.

    Thanks for the article. I like Anita Moorjani and her book. I also study NDE experiences and they are about crossing over, most sound amazing. Im not sure if I believe in God or that the other side will be wonderful for sure, but at least from what people who cross over say, its perfect and beautiful.

    I try to be happy too, and I would not work if I hated it. I once left a retail store because I hated it but mostly because I just felt fatigued and sick I think, not because I hated what I was doing, although it was pretty boring.

    For fun I like learning about stuff that I’m interested in, like religion, NDE, plants and animals, medicine, colonialism, poverty, social issues. And I also like washing dishes, taking a walk, listening to smooth jazz, and pleasure is a bit too much for me right now. Like I enjoy a massage but it can be overstimulating. I need a lot of quiet time. I go to places that are quiet during the day like the Library. I sometimes observe people-how they help each other or don’t, their struggles, their kids. I just need breaks from thinking in general because I started having memory issues. So socializing is hard and unsatisfying bc i can’t communicate whats been bothering me or on my mind recently. But then again bc of poor memory what if nothing does? Can I say that? Or would that be untrue? I don’t know.

    Thanks again for writing this blog I can see you tried hard.

    <3 Marianna

  • Laurie Post author

    Thank you for being here, and sharing what it feels like to be scared to die. All we have is right now, this present moment. If we allow fears of death and dying creep in, then we lose the only thing we have: this very moment. Even if you have a terminal illness, even if you believe there is nothing but darkness after death, you will lose out on the treasure of today if you focus on fear of the future.

    How are you doing today? What are you thinking about, and how are you coping?

  • Hinata

    The reason i’m scared of death is because it’s nothing. Literally. You fall into a void of nothing. But you don’t realize it because you’re unconscious. But you don’t even realize THAT you’re unconscious because you don’t even exist anymore. It doesn’t feel like dreaming or any of that bull. You’re shut down.
    Imagine a timeline from your birth to death. First phase there’s nothing. You don’t even exist yet. Second phase you’re born, third you live a life, forth you get old and then fifth there’s nothing again (because you’re dead). That is why I fear death. Because I’ll have to go to, and stay at phase one. This is also why I don’t believe in god or afterlife, I used to but not anymore. All of this contemplation just makes god and religion seem like a fairy tale. No help or afterlife or big mighty man with a long white beard to save us. We’re all alone is this big universe. Nothing we do matters. We’re going into nothing and can’t do anything about it. That is so damn f**ked to think about. Unless there is reincarnation. If there is then we won’t remember our life before. But that won’t be as bad as falling into nothing.

    • Bryant

      I feel the exact same way. First you exist, and then you don’t. It’s an incredibly hard thing to grasp, because every time you open your eyes, you come back into the same world. There’s never a time that you just ‘stop existing’. But, I think one way to imagine it is this. Once you finally let go, of everything, all the worries, fears, anger, regret. At that moment, all you’ll remember are the good things that happened, and you’ll finally be truly happy.

      At least, that’s the way I take it as. It’s a lot better than falling into nothing.

    • N. Parker

      This is how i feel. Terrified of no longer being. No consciousness, just being gone. It makes me go into panic attacks sometimes. My heart is pounding out of my chest just writing this. Most times i am ok, but sometimes it hits me hard and i break down and freak out. I know we’re all have to go through it, but it doesn’t help the absolute terror that takes ahold of me. I don’t want to bring it up to my wife because she is scared too and i don’t wasnt us to feed off rabbits fear and just cascade into a mess of fear and terror. It makes me nauseous and i shake uncontrollably. I wish i could truly believe there was more after death.

  • michele

    I am recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. I am in my early 50’s . I have two grown kids and three grandkids. I just watched my dad die of the same illness I have. It was so terrible at the end. I want to accept my immortality but I haven’t even been able to accept my dad’s death even though he died months ago.
    I want to know what happens to us? I am afraid but I don’t want my kids or grandkids or my mom or boyfriend or friends to know of my fear. I fake that I am OK and accepting of what I have 2-7 years. But I have had this 3 years already. Please any comments from others who are terminally ill….how they are feeling…be it good or bad. Just need to share with others dealing with a terminal illness.

    • Bennidict

      Hi Michele. I am not really that someone who is terminally ill but I want you to know that I am praying for you. Remember that you are not alone in your battle. You will be fine and you’ll find the answers within yourself on how to become more accepting. Be kind to yourself.

  • Steve

    I’m not really sure why I always think about death. I have a physical every year almost to the date and everything checks out fine (although I’m sligjtly anemic). I know the Lord and still I find myself often angry and bitter. I have a wife and 3 boys who I wouldn’t change anything in the world for. I know I am a hypochondriac sometimes and I feel I’m ripping myself off from living life. I’m 54 years old and I was not good to my body for a stretch up intil my mid 40’s. I know my stupidity will shorten my life so why am I not enjoying life is beyond me. I know I want to be around long enough that my boys are on solid ground but I also know death is inevitable. Anyways, just trying to get this out to anyone who will listen. Thanks.

  • Nicole

    I think about death everyday. I am 33 with a 4 year old and 6 month old and am scared of leaving them behind. I feel that our minds and how we think are an essential part of our souls. Our thoughts help make us who we are. when we die, do we cease to exist? Do we still know who we are? And what about the actual dying process? Is it the most painful and frightening experience we’ll ever have? Do we fight it anxiously or are we peaceful when it envelopes us? I’m scared and wish there was a way of knowing without a doubt what happens.

    • Bennidict

      Hi Nicole. Life is full of questions. The more we tend to find the answers, the more we become weaker because the human mind can only find so much. Let the flow of time take its course and do not let yourself be overwhelmed with your fearful thoughts. You have to enjoy every second that you are here and do not let the future take its toll on you now. I am also scared of my own death and those of my family. But accepting the inevitable is the only key to overcome our anxiety. I am not fully well yet i must admit. But everyday I learn to become more accepting and don’t ask questions that I cannot find with the right answers.

  • Laurie Post author

    When those thoughts of death and fears of dying itself overwhelm you, try taking deep breaths. If you focus on the present – and if you’re actively involved in life, light, joy, and hope for today – then you won’t worry about the unknown future. Those thoughts and fears of being scared to die are holding you back from living fully today! Don’t let that darkness overcome the beauty of life today.

    Stay in touch, and we’ll Blossom together.

    If you haven’t signed up for my free weekly emails, do it now! You can always unsubscribe if you’re getting too much hope, encouragement, and inspiration to Blossom 🙂

    xo Laurie

  • Adrianna

    I am terrified of dying. I think about it and I get very nervous and I tend to wonder what’s going to happen next. Am I going to forget everyone ?Am i by myself? What’s heaven going to be like? I am also afraid of not breathing. Like it’s a terrifying thing and I am so scared. But then I start thinking everyone else does and it doesn’t seem that bad but There’s always that one thought that makes me scared .

  • Pema

    I am 16 and I am probably near my death. I have so many regrets, but I later realized that its worthless to spend what time you have left, on the past. To be excluded from your friends and your families is truly heart breaking. But hey, be it 16 or 80 it doesn’t really matter now does it?
    Cause in the end we all have to go. To the people who are near there departure, please keep this in mind, no one is immortal.
    We all have to go one day and when that day comes will you be ready?
    Will you be happy with what you have done? If not you should start changing.

  • Laurie Post author

    I think it’s normal to be scared to die, and to worry about hell and Heaven and an afterlife…and we’re built to avoid death and sickness, so that makes it even scarier to think about dying!

    It does help to accept that death will come…and it REALLY helps me to believe that life after death may be better in a million ways than my life on earth. I know fear of dying is normal and common, but I really do believe in a rich and rewarding life after death. I don’t know about Heaven, but I believe I’ll be united with God and living in peace after I die.

    I’ve always wanted to go to a Death Cafe meeting and talk about all this, but haven’t yet. Maybe one day — before I die! 🙂

  • Mia

    I’m not dying…well technically we all are. I’m 16 and occasionally I hit a wall when all I can think about is death. I’m afraid of death. Not because I think I’m going to die anytime soon, but because I know I’m going to die someday. The thought of building bonds and relationships and not remembering after I die. The thought of me… my mind… being lost in a vacuum. It’s 1:55am and I’m sitting in bed unable to think of anything else. I’m a Christian or rather struggling Christian. I believe there’s a God, I mean there has to be one right? What other explanation is there for us being here? I look at modern day religion and majority of them condemn people outside their religion to hell. What if I’ve been believing in the wrong religion? Does that mean I go to hell and suffer forever? It all doesn’t add up. I guess I’m just fishing, there are so many people in actual situations where death is staring them in the face and I’m here young and healthy complaining and fearing something that’s most likely years away. Still I just want to know how to accept it and move on… rather I NEED to know. I’m tired of sleepless nights. When I ask my mom she says she’s accepted death because she knows she and everything she has belongs to God. I’m sorry if this is a bother. I just need someone to hear, so I don’t feel like I’m drowning in myself.

    • Efren

      Hi Mia! I totally understand how you feel. I myself have many struggles with my faith. My mom says the same thing, she accepts her death and is not afraid of it anymore. She keeps telling me to pray and pray. I always say, “A faithless mind will wander into dark places”and here I am. This fear of death has triggered my 2nd depressive episode. I am not peace with my death yet, nor the death of my love ones.

      I am bitter because I finally felt happiness and content when I married the love of my life and with her, bore my first born son. I love them both, I really, really do. All I wanted is to be with them forever, but that’s not really an option for me or anyone in this world. I fear death mostly for my loved ones and not of mine.

      I may need to pray harder, and be at peace with myself, and with the things are.

  • Frank V.

    I’ve been sick so long, have very few decent days that I’m accepting of my death because I see only rest in it. I truly have no fear of dying but of living so long with my illnesses that I’ll be incapacitated and have to depend on others for my care. Ive had good and bad moments in my life, my kids are grown, my grandkids have good parents and my wife is financially ok so I’m ready and in fact looking forward to my rest. I deserve it and does everyone.

  • Melancholia

    I think I am afraid of dying because there’s so much I want to do and yet have not accomplished, but I know life is fleeting and precious. Young people die all the time for no reason, leaving behind grief and unfulfilled potential. The fear is almost paralyzing me from truly living. I think that it may be easier to live if I had terminal illness and I knew that my end was going to come soon anyway, so why not live to the fullest without regard for risk? How do you suggest I get over this irrational fear of death that is sucking joy from life?

    • Frank V.

      Death is part of life plus there is no alternative but to enjoy life now. Many of my family have died from my infant daughter, adult daughter and son, sister, two brothers, parents, 2 sister in law, mother inlaw. There’s nothing we can do about but enjoy life.

  • 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

    • Debbie

      Your words made me feel like I’m no so alone with my thoughts and feelings. I have felt this way for many many years as I have wanted to end my life but have been afraid of what’s next. I try to tell myself it doesn’t matter because some day I’ll die anyway but I’m terrified

  • 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.

    • SandyB

      Thank you for this article and so many comments I can relate to. It has reminded me I have much work to do on moving beyond my fear of death. I used to be so carefree, always seeking out adventure. Then at 31, I lost my mother to cancer, and it has truly rocked my world. She was the core of our family and without her we just seemed lost. She was 65 and had only been retired one year. I just didnt see it coming and afterwards kept thinking, but now there is so much life ahead to live without her. Then my dad died 4 years later. But he suffered for 11 years with illness, so it was much easier to let him go so he could be the free spirit he’s always been. Still, when I hear of people dying young or those random, freakish deaths, it terrifies me to think of me dying and leaving my two little children behind without a mother. I’m not so much afraid of what’s beyond, but I don’t want my family to ever feel the loneliness, grief and loss I feel at times. This has rendered me a scaredy cat, as now subconsciously living a boring, risk averse life reduces my odds for more tragedy. Funny thing is, I could still die a random death sitting at home! So I guess the only thing to do is to make sure they’ll be taken care of and get on with living. I am thankful for the perspective this loss has given me. I have always been sensitive, but I am far more compassionate and intentional about spending time with family now. I just need to shift that into living and enjoying my own life again.

  • 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?

    • Adrian

      Simone, what you’ve mentioned has been my experience Almost every night. Reading my bible helps some but for me the thoughts started as a kid. I remember crying to my dad that ” I don’t want to die” he would try to comfort me by saying “oh honey, you’re not going to die anytime soon”.. just a few months ago I watched my dad take his last breath and since then my stomach drops every time I think about death and it’s inevitability. I try to read my bible to comfort me but not KNOWING for sure that i go to heaven after death, makes my stomach drop and I panic. I just want peace and comfort. I am harborig guilt as well and just want to be free of guilt/ my past mistakes/ and move forward with faith and hope.

  • 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.