Why do so many Americans fear death? After doing a bit of research on the subject I found that there are different types of fear of death.
1) Fear of pain and suffering to be experienced when one dies in a horrible accident or as a result of a fatal illness such as cancer.
2) Fear of non-existence not believing in the afterlife.
3) Fear of the unknown since nobody really knows what happens after one dies.
4) Fear of eternal punishment for what one has done while here on earth for both the religious and the non-religious alike.
5) Fear of loss of control since we are not in control of our deaths either in how we die or when we will die.
6) Fear of what will become of our loved one’s in our absence.
If you are so fearful of death that it has taken over your life you are suffering from what is known as thanatophobia. This is something that needs to be addressed professionally to regain control of your life.
Having a healthy fear of death can be useful for it means you are going to take precautions like: wearing your seatbelt while in a car, wearing bike helmets and making sure your stove is off before you leave your home.
There are certain conditions to having fears according to Yale Professor Shelly Kagan:
1) To make sense of having a fear of any sort, it has to be bad.
2) There has to be a real possibility for the event that one is fearful will happen.
3) There has to be a significant amount of uncertainty for the fear to be appropriate.
4) We need to know how bad the issue is for the fear to be appropriate.
Even when fear makes sense we have to keep the amount of fear felt to the size of the negative event.
Some people saying they are afraid of death are really suggesting a fear of death itself – of being dead. The relevant conditions Professor Kagan lists above are not present since it is a guarantee that a person will die at some time. There is nothing unknown about death occurring. When there is not any notion of how you are going to die, there is no reason to fear it because there is no experience at all once in the ground, according to Professor Kagan.
Here are some new ways of thinking about the life’s process which includes death:
1) Life is a cycle. When a person dies, another is born.
2) You will be remembered by others for the things that you shared together.
3) There is no need to worry about dying till there is some true situation in your life that allows for the conditions above to be relevant.
4) Know that death does not equate with pain.
Here are two simple ways to help yourself let go of the anxious feelings that the fear of death may bring:
1) It is impossible to be anxious and relaxed at the same time so doing meditation, yoga or self-hypnosis will also be very helpful to letting go of the anxiety.
2) Live your life every day to the fullest. Do things that you find fulfilling and fun, life is to be enjoyed. You will find that your fear will lesson.
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