terrified of death - warning bit morbid!

(20 Posts)
picklemesideways Wed 19-Dec-12 13:24:21

when i was about 3 my sister told me that i would one day die (i had previously thought only old people did and didnt understand that one day i would be old too) . i can still remember the shock of finding this out and it completly terrified me. i got through childhood thinking that they would invent a pill to make u live forever so itd be ok. then when i was about 19 i had a nervous breakdown when all the thoughts of dying resurfaced. i couldnt see a point to life but would never consider suicide as the thought of being dead scares me so much. i am 24 now and it still troubles me. i often wake up in a cold sweat and heart racing trying to cling onto life and feeling like 'i just cant die!' . wht im scared of is the fore ver part. i could cope with ill die then come back but not forever. i cant talk to anyone because i sound bonkers but it troubles me every day. id like to believe in god and heaven but i dont think i do. does any one else feel the same or are you happy with death? how can i stop panicing?

IcanandIwill Wed 19-Dec-12 13:36:56

I may not be the best one to talk and should probably say I'd go talk to your GP and see if some sort of counselling will help.

I have to say I used to fear death. But having lost someone very, very close to me recently I no longer hold that fear. I want to live of course and will strive to live s fulfilled life but when my time comes I no longer hold that fear of forever. I suppose it's that having dealt with the aftermath of death, I don't fear the dying part.

firefly11 Wed 19-Dec-12 14:21:50

Do you think it might be anxiety? Fear of death is quite normal. I had it real bad few years ago and had major panic attack episodes because of it. I eventually had to confront that fear head on. I self helped a lot. Read as much as I could about dying and the process of dying. Even contemplated volunteering at my local hospice. Actually I still do but now am too busy with work and family. I don't have that immense fear of dying now. I was agnostic/atheist too when I went through that episode of panic attacks related to fear of death. I didn't need religion to help me get over it. Well if you're not believing in God or the afterlife, that wouldn't help you anyway. I tried antidepressants but they didn't do much for me so I stopped after a month.

I hope you find a way to deal with it.

picklemesideways Wed 19-Dec-12 20:45:01

thank you both for your replies. i think getting some counselling could maybe help. im having counselling at the moment for other reasons and have breifly touched upon this subject but it hasnt been brought up since.
ican - im sorry that you lost someone7 close to you. if you dont mind me asking, in what way did it confort u with your own fear of death?
firefly- i started to read dalai lamas advice on dying but was finding it a bit intense and couldnt understand all the Buddhist ideology. are there any books you could recommend ?

orangeandlemons Wed 19-Dec-12 20:51:03

I would second what previous poster said. When my mum died, my fear of death sort of faded. I was able to see it as just part of the circle of life in a way. People have to die to make way for all the little ones, otherwise we would be very overpopulated!

It seems to be to be a natural process and I find a lot of comfort in being in a graveyard. This kind of reduced my fear by looking at all the graves. It comes to everyone, but why should it be scary? I am however a lot older than you, and have to say I felt fairly similar to you at your age.

Hath

picklemesideways Wed 19-Dec-12 21:01:03

thanks orange, i understand what you.mean about it being natural but.i think i find it scary because i love life, i love family and friends etc and to never b able to feel again is just awful and seems so unfair. because at the moment im not.confident that theres an after life it just petrifies me, the eterrnal nothing ness . hope that makes sense a bit.

FromEsme Wed 19-Dec-12 21:06:04

I also used to be terrified of dying, but it is something that has lessened for me as I get older (I'm 29, so I'm not going to shuffle off any time soon I hope!) Obviously the older you get, the more people you know die...and somehow it becomes less scary.

I think talking this through in counselling is a great idea.

Incidentally, there are scientists who think that the key to eternal life may only be a couple of decades away. Crazy when you think about it.

orangeandlemons Wed 19-Dec-12 21:10:46

I think age has a lot to do with it. At 24 you still have loads of living and stuff to do. I am late 40's, and whilst don't want to pop my clogs quite yet, I have done all the stuff I wanted to do.

As for eternal life, I don't want to live for ever, life will just become too fast and hectic, I just want to go when my time arrives.

HTH again. I honestly can't think of anything worse than eternal life tbh. At 24 I would have loved the thought of it!

IcanandIwill Wed 19-Dec-12 21:45:32

It was my husband that died. He was my soulmate. I very much now feel one day we'll be together again. I don't think I mean in heaven but without getting too spiritual I do mean somewhere. To be honest without wanting to make your fear worse it's the aftermath that I now fear. The pain of losing someone so close is immense and that's what I now fear. Death itself is just part of life. I'll live my life to the full and want to see my children grow. But when it comes to my time to go, that's exactly it, just my time to go.

firefly11 Thu 20-Dec-12 01:10:40

OP, I agree that some Buddhist books are way too deep for the average layman.. especially the ones that focus a lot on nirvana, how to achieve that, etc. Like reading a university philosophy text sometimes. Not really the thing to read when you are feeling scared of dying.

I would recommend you read books about mindfulness and acceptance. Jon Kabat Zinn books, as well as Get Out Of Your Mind And Into Your Life by Stephen Hayes... all books which helped me conquer my anxiety and fear of death. I also found the site dying.about.com really helpful in helping me understand and come to terms with death. Like one of its pages here for instance dying.about.com/od/thedyingprocess/a/process.htm

I have seen a road casualty while on holiday with my family when I was 9. The motorcyclist lay on the road motionless just about 1 metre from the bus I was in and I was in the window seat. That image stuck for life, as you can imagine. I have not had the "luxury" of some of the posters here of witnessing a loved one die. Either way though, if you have a fear of death, it's worth trying to come to terms with it when you're ready. Or you can spend a lot of time trying to distract yourself from that thought but one day it's gonna come back and "haunt" you until it gets resolved. It's good you are seeing a counsellor about it. I hope you get a good counsellor - a good one is worth his/her weight in gold. Good luck smile

yulebrynner Thu 20-Dec-12 01:59:40

I find reading the accounts of near death experience very soothing. nderf.org has an ongoing survey collecting these accounts. There is a sort of youtube genre too.

TheJoyfulChristmasJumper Thu 20-Dec-12 02:23:09

I agree with Ican, I have no fear of dying but it's the aftermath that terrifies me. My fiancé died very suddenly when I was 19 and it nearly killed me. The thought of losing DH, or a child, or my parents or sister, just panics me. I'm not strong enough to go through that again.

But the idea of dying myself holds no fear. I imagine it's like that moment when you're on the edge of sleep - you're aware that you're not awake but you're calm and warm and relaxed and then there's just nothing. I actually find that really comforting.

headinhands Thu 20-Dec-12 19:05:21

The way I think of it is that I don't hold any particular feelings of sadness about the time before I was born and very little of my first 5 years in fact. Everything we know strongly suggests that the time after we die will be the same oblivious oblivion so why feel strongly about something we won't be capable of having any feelings about when we get there grin

MichaelaS Fri 21-Dec-12 09:47:33

I'm sorry to hear you are caught up in fear about death, and that some here have lot close ones recently.

I am a Christian and one of the lovely things about having that faith is the teaching about eternal life, that earth is not our real home and that's why it isn't wholly satisfying. I'm really looking forward to being dead, but I won't get to come back here again so I'm making the most of ths bit now, knowing I still get forever with Jesus in the new earth (aka heaven or whatever you call it).

I recently read a book called "life after death", it is by a Christian doctor and it looks at near death experiences and the startling amount of similarity between people's experience of death. It isn't about Christianity or heaven but more like what actually happens as you die. Of course all the people interviewed were resuscitated but some were "dead" for quite a while. The author looks at what various religious texts say about dying too, and my next read is going to be the Tibetan book of the dead, because what he found from the interviews lines up a lot with what is in that text. (The bible is fairly quiet about the process of death, with a lot more to say about the afterlife).

The stories were so positive, and the author so measured and scientific in his approach, that I found it incredibly reassuring to read. It's only a little thing and well worth a read I'd say.

MichaelaS Fri 21-Dec-12 09:51:30

Correction, after a quick search the book is actually called life after life and its by Raymond A Moody.

stickygingerbread Sat 22-Dec-12 08:23:05

i recently read a vivid and extremely positive account by anita moorjani. its called 'dying to be me.' it was an ebook version enhanced with author interviews and she is positively effervescent with joy in recalling her death experience. really interesting.

IndigoBarbie Mon 24-Dec-12 22:03:14

Hey pickle, I hope you are doing ok. I just wanted to say I think I have been through what you have in some ways, thinking that death is forever etc. However, I did shift my focus away from fear of death by putting my emphasis on 'doing as much as I can' that makes me happy, and others too. That way - if I do die before I expect to, then at least I've made the most of my time here, when I had it. Regardless of what actually happens when we die - that's then and not 'npw', we have to truly live while we are here smile
When our fears are our focus, it can leave us wide open to losing perspective on what is important. Lots of love to you xxx

Hi Pickle, I could have written this post myself. I too suffered a nervous breakdown (this summer, I'm 28) following the death of both my grandparents. I'd always harboured a fear of death from an early age, much like yourself, but I suppose the many distractions of childhood put it to the back of my mind.

I went to my GP for advice as I'd really hit rock bottom, he put me on Sertraline which really helped with the anxiety and referred me for some counselling. Although I must say the greatest comfort I have found is through the various research I've conducted myself.

I don't know what I 'believe' at the end of the day....I'm not religious but I don't believe that once we die, that's it. I've read so many accounts of childrens' past lives (do a search on here!) as well as near-death experiences, even more recently two quantum physicists theorising that a near-death experience is when the soul leaves the body and enters the universe. I'll find you the link if you're interested.

I don't know if any of this is true, but it gives me comfort. And even if it isn't true, even if there's 'nothingness' I seek comfort in the fact that we're all in this together, no one is immortal.

I hope you find the peace of mind you need to get you through, and I'm here anytime you want to talk about it.

picklemesideways Tue 01-Jan-13 21:22:52

Hi every one. Sorry i havent posted in ages. Beencaught up with xmas and lo not been sleeping. Want to say thank you so much for your replies, they are comforting. Im on my phone but Will reply properly tomorrow if i get chance. Just didnt want u to think.i.had disappeared. Xx

IndigoBarbie Wed 02-Jan-13 20:28:59

Pickle, I've just had the chance to re-read my post and I wish to reiterate some parts, as I feel like I come off as condescending/flippant or something that I do not wish to convey.

The general gist of what I was trying to say was that we have little enough time here as it is - given that days and weeks and months fly by. I am making a conscious (sometimes!!) effort to make my life as fulfilling as I can. Despite any seeming limitations.....also, when you do focus on death, it can be so very very consuming - to the level of deepest sadness. I do think you will come out of this and be feeling 'better' about it - but it can take time.

I hold my own set of beliefs given my own life experiences, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we do not die after our bodies do. I'm sorry if this upsets anyone - but no illusions here - it still doesn't make dealing with dying any easier. Perhaps a little comforting - but still, it's the total end of someone physical and that in itself is completely utterly shit. I do not say any of this to convince anyone - only that I feel like we have to stop thinking about dying and get on with living the best life we can, with what we have, make it the best life yet smile All those trite photos which say things like 'dance like no-one's watching' etc, are all a bit cheesey but their message rings true.
Sending love xx

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