Here's Why Facing Death Anxiety Can Create Calm In Your Life

Death anxiety is the fear we experience when contemplating or facing our own mortality. Like much of our anxiety, it is an anticipation of pain and loss, but this anxiety is different for one poignant reason. While many things we are anxious about will never happen, our passing from this world seems to be a sure thing.

Though not a pleasant concept to consider, death anxiety is the root of many emotional and psychological problems, possibly all of them. Mortality is an influential undercurrent in everyone's life whether ignored or faced.

Sometimes events force us to make eye contact with death. It could be a tragedy or a birthday. The subject surfaces at different times in our lives and runs deep at others.

Why Look At This Terrorising Topic

Research has shown that in East Asian cultures, life and death have the relationship of yin and yang, meaning they are inseparable. In consequence, a shocking event or contemplation of death influences Easterners to enjoy life to the fullest.

In the West, death is perceived as the loss of all we hold dear. What is precious we know will be taken away. This explains why Westerners, when faced with mortality, tend to become narrow-minded, nationalistic, and defensive.

While the Eastern perspective results in living with gusto, Western perception causes us to hunker down in mental and emotional bunkers. This is why talking about mortality, though uncomfortable for most of us, is important.

The psychiatrist Irvin Yalom said, "Though death cannot be avoided, confronting the fact that you will die has rewards, namely that people who can do it tend to become calmer, more centered and aware, and more able to ignore distractions and anxieties and focus on what is truly important (e.g., loving relationships)."

The Effects of Death-Defying Defensiveness

Think about what people do when they become narrow and defensive, they may:

  • Keep themselves from anxiety-stirring situations.
  • Become angry, go on the offensive, and lash out even when there is no present danger.
  • Realize they cannot remedy the situation so attempt to control almost everything else.
  • Realize there is nothing they can do and feel worthless or helpless.
  • Repress their emotions in an attempt to avoid pain and anxiety.
  • Consider anything or anyone different from themselves as being dangerous.
  • Hold on to others (with a death grip) to be safe.

It seems monumentally ironic that if any of our defenses become too uncomfortable or unbearable we may resort to the thing we fear most to end our pain. However, when life is that unbearable we may feel there is nothing to lose.

Anyone with symptoms of anxiety or depression will likely see themselves in the list of defenses. It is time to get a conversation going with our selves, family, friends, or a counselor, about our perception of mortality so we can better enjoy the life we have.

Source: Nuys, David Ph.D. 2008. An Interview with Irvin Yalom, Jacobs, Tom. 2012. Eastern Philosophy Eases Death Anxiety
Photo: Pixabay

Anxiety Support Groups

More Articles

Sometimes it seems that life would be easier without emotions. It’s true, we would not have to feel bad if they disappeared, but neither would we...

Elavil (known generically as amitriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant that was approved by the FDA back in 1961 for treatment of major...

If you're feeling overwhelmed by constant anxiety, or even just bothered by occasional bouts of stress, there are some lifestyle and health habits...

A report in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity concludes that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation and reduce anxiety. The study...

Postpartum depression and anxiety are real, debilitating disorders that affect some women after they give birth.

Brought on by hormone...

More Articles

Not all causes of anxiety require a therapist; if you suffer from anxiety there are ways to self-help. And acknowledging that you have an anxiety...

Everyone who has anxiety should have a few breathing techniques in their coping first aid kit.

The regular practice of controlled breathing...

For sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), prolonged exposure (PE) therapy is a proven, effective treatment. Sometimes referred to as...

Supervisors who demean, insult, or otherwise abuse their employees may simply not be getting enough exercise. A new study from Northern Illinois...

How much does the mental health of an expectant father influence the emotional and behavioral development of his unborn child? Norwegian...

Why is Celexa prescribed?

Celxa or Citalopram, is used to treat depression. Citalopram is in a class of antidepressants (mood elevators)...

Anxiety levels can be affected by a number of different physiological disorders, including the common sleep disorder known as sleep apnea....

Over the course of my 14 plus years of having an Anxiety disorder, I have read so much information and learned so many techniques for controlling...

The number one biggest fear of human beings is Glossophobia, also known as having a fear of public speaking. Some even fear public speaking more...

Anxiety control or fear of losing control may happen during a panic attack you might think you were having a heart attack or some other...

Self-help books for anxiety are very popular--so popular that the sheer number of books available can be overwhelming. All those choices mean that...

This is a topic I have wanted to touch on for a long time. There are so many people that deal with this fear on a day to day basis. Unable to...

Social Anxiety Disorder, sometimes called Social Phobia or SAD, involves anxiety and an overwhelming constant self-consciousness in everyday...

By quieting the mind, we can reduce those thoughts that cause agitation and self-doubt and distract us from the present moment.

A centuries...

Everyone has times when they're more anxious or depressed than usual, but psychologists have found that a person's "usual" level of anxiety or...