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Fear of Death- The Real Killer

Fear of Death!

When someone dies, his/her torment ceases to exist. An individual never gets to experience the loss of life after his/her death. Then why does death seems terrifying? One doesn't fear death. The fear is about the ‘pain’, physical and emotional, that one would have to endure during the last days before death. But, the fear of death is commonly reported. The vulnerable section of society would express it often, especially during times of calamity, such as the pandemic. Many would even succumb to this lingering feeling.

Fear of death can be experienced by a person of any age. It has nothing to do with the age factor.  People might experience some kind of discomfort, sadness, and anxiety when they think about their death or the death of their loved ones. Death is the reality and we all should accept this. We know fear is the human emotion but don’t let this fear disturbed your life.

Fear of death is called “Thanatophobia” The word “Thanatophobia” is comprises of two words. Thanatos means ‘Death’ in ancient Greece and “Phobia” means fear. For our better health, we should try to understand this thing that nothing is permanent so we should not overthink about death as this is the reality of life.

The recent death of a frontline worker, a doctor, in Kolkata has led to a similar feeling among his co-workers, giving rise to fear and doubt of whether to continue working amidst the life-threatening situation (Ghosh, 2020). A similar scenario has risen after the shocking demise of two veteran Bollywood actors, Irfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, consecutively.

The following are some signs and symptoms of “Thanatophobia”

1) Anxiety

2) Stress

3) Panic attacks

4) Constant worry

5) Dizziness

6) Sweating

7) Sadness

If the above symptoms lead to many days, then stress and worry converts to depression. So, we should stop overthinking and try to live a positive and happy life. The fear may be brimming in the heads and heart, or manifested in the words, of those people, common as well as public, who are suffering from either any chronic illness (such as, hypertension, diabetes), depression, life-limiting disease (such as, cancer, heart diseases), or other serious co-morbidities (such as, liver diseases), or are susceptible to life-threatening conditions due to being on the frontline. They might be excessively fearful, experience sleepless nights worrying about their health, overthink consistently, be pessimistic throughout the day, catastrophically assume the worst, and these though and emotions may consequently contribute to the process of their fears turning into reality.

The biological processes have a significant role to play in this emotional experience.  As soon as the stress builds up beyond threshold in life, it begins to reduce the effectiveness of lymphocytes, which are the warriors of the body residing in the immune system, to fight infections (such as viral, bacterial infections), making one even more susceptible to acquiring infections. As a result, one would fall ill more often when under stress which in turn confirms his/her initial fears. A vicious cycle, of fear of death eventuating, commences.

How to Overcome the Fear of Death!

This cycle can be successfully broken by building an understanding of how the fear operates at the cognitive level and then practicing techniques to convert it into a positive thought pattern.

1. Identify fear as the main culprit

Try to understand that the stress caused by fear is not just a one-time reaction, but weakens the immune system. So, an alarm reaction is a natural response but continuing to be afraid can realize our fears. Try not to suppress your feelings and realize your emotions.

2. Understand that negative thoughts are ‘fuel’ to fear

Negative thoughts are often reported to be arising 'continuously' and ‘out of one's control'. However, every time they rise, they empower your fear of death. Try to understand that you are the real master and possess control over your thoughts. You are not your thoughts.

3. Strike off the negative statements

Make a list of the negative thoughts that arise in the mind during a day. One often fears to share such thoughts with others. Writing them down will help encircle unreasonable or irrational thoughts. One may be exaggerating (or catastrophizing) his/her perception. Writing down on paper will help you understand your emotions.

4. Write and practice positive statements

Make a list of all the encouragements extended by family and friends. Write down all the positive thoughts that you can think of. Draw motivation from past successes, current recovery case examples, and strengthen your will power. Try to replace those negative emotions with positive ones.

5. Convert pessimism into optimism step by step

It is not easy to remain positive when the situation is demotivating. However, there is no charge for attempting to bring in a positive perspective. Just be mindful (or conscious) of your negative thoughts throughout the day. Be on guard for yourself. As soon as you point out the negatives within or around yourself, immediately change it into a simple positive statement – “I can if only I think I can!” Take charge of your life and you will start feeling positive.

The above strategies shows the treatment which is basically focused on –

1) Learning to focus the fears

2) Talk therapy

3) Relaxation therapy

4) Cognitive and behavioral approach

However, spiritual and emotional approaches could also be implemented.

Don’t ever think you have a mental problem if you are facing this kind of fear. This is treatable but only you can change your life. You should move the first step to move out of this situation.

If you think this negative emotion of fear of death is overpowering you and you are not able to live a normal life, then don’t be hesitate to reach any counselor as it will help you to lead a positive life.

If you are also facing such fears in your life, feel free to consult our therapist online just sitting in your comfort zone. Just log on to www.myfitbrain.in

 


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