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


If you’re scared to die, you can’t live fully. Here’s how to get over your fear of dying, and why I accepted my death when I was 27 years old. 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 my life more enjoyable, peaceful and valuable. I learned how to “rest in peace” even now, while I’m still alive.

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’re scared to die, 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.

Here’s what Anita says about facing her own death: “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.” She thought she would die from cancer – and she was terrified at the thought! But then everything changed. In this article, I share not only her perspective on dying, but how accepting your death can make you a happier, healthier person.





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.

scared to die fear of death

How to Overcome Your Fear of Dying

“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 sweeter and more precious.



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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. Enjoy the fact that housework, possessions 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?

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.

xo







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55 thoughts on “Are You Scared to Die? 6 Ways to Cope With Fear of Death

  • Marianna

    HI,

    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.

  • 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 will.be. 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 🙂
    http://eepurl.com/ca2mJr

    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.