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Trozeii's avatar

How can I get over my extreme fear of death?

Asked by Trozeii (55 points ) March 21st, 2011

I’m pretty young, only 14, but everyday the idea of death, and that unknown void crosses my mind everyday. I’m extremely scared of there being no state of existence and that you don’t think or breath, or even exist, for ever and ever and you don’t really do anything, and everything is black and doesn’t exist. I’m not religous whatsoever, so I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell. This problem has become serious, and it started roughly 2 months ago, and since then it’s all I ever think about. I get ferocious panic attacks every night, and I cry alot. I talk to my parents every night about it, and they try their hardest. Though it is obvious that they are beginning to become annoyed and frustrated with my constant anxiety attacks. They have tried to get me started in hobbies such as knitting and getting a job, but it still crosses my mind. They do not want me to see a doctor and they believe I can do this myself withouth taking medicine or taking therapy. It is very hard, and I don’t know if I can take this anymore. I have relationship problems with my father, and I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.

I want to get over this as soon as possible, and it is one of my gretets fears. It would help me alot if I could jump this hurdle.

Thank you so much!

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18 Answers

dxs's avatar

Hang out with friends; instead of knitting, do something outside or somewhere other than your lonely home. It always focuses your mind on something else and relieves depression. If you are so fearful of your faith, then why don’t you consider other ideas of afterlife. Just because you were brought up nonreligious does not mean that you can’t change.

WasCy's avatar

Until your question, I wasn’t that afraid of Death myself. Now, though…

Seriously, a “healthy respect” for death is one of the things that keeps us alive. But it shouldn’t be a paralyzing fear, or it defeats its own purpose, which is to enable us to live and adopt rules and practices that enhance our safety.

It’s sort of true here what FDR said during the Depression, though: “The only thing [you] have to fear is… fear itself.” And that seems to be where you are. Your “healthy respect” and “avoidance” of death (and presumably, “of things that could kill you”) has morphed into a paralytic avoidance of… “life”. That’s gotta suck.

So think this through a bit. If you’re right about dying being a great void, a total cessation of being, sensation, thought, the whole works, just a giant “Off” switch (and I think that you are), then that’s a thing to be “avoided” more than feared, isn’t it? After all, death is going to end everything for us – nothing will follow. And neither of us wants that, I agree. But why fear it? It’s not like it’ll be painful or “bad” in some way; it will be nothing at all.

I agree with you that I don’t want to go there, either. But let’s not be “afraid” of that.

Easy to say. What you need is a strategy to deal with the fear. So I would suggest that you make a list of the things in your life that you see as real honest to goodness threats to your life. (Stop at ten, even if you can rattle off five dozen in a minute.) And then make another list of real, actual things that you can do to avoid those threats.

You may have to do this list and re-list exercise several times in order to get bored with it. But that’s the aim. Once you get bored with the exercise, the idea should lose a lot of its power over you. Let us know how that goes, okay?

If I haven’t already welcomed you to Fluther, then welcome to Fluther. If I have, well… um… have a nice day. And be safe out there.

crisw's avatar

Are there counselors at your school that you can discuss this with?

Cruiser's avatar

Dieing is easy….living a good life is the hard part. Don’t over think things…just live the life you have as best you can. Say I love you to the ones you love and laugh a good laugh each day.

flutherother's avatar

Try to imagine before you were born. You came from a nothingness not unlike death and it wasn’t so bad. And remember, you have all the time in the world.

Kardamom's avatar

You should try to talk to a counselor at school or maybe to the parents of one of your close friends. It is not uncommon to think about or question death as you start to mature, but the fact that you are having anxiety attacks and already said that you have some issues with your dad makes me think that you may need a little bit of professional help. And yes, you may need to see a doctor and go on a temporary round of medication, but not necessarily.

The most important thing is that you talk to a trusted adult, that can actually get you some help for this very common situation. I’m not sure why your parents would be so adamantly against you seeing a doctor. Are they against doctors in general, or do you think that they are worried because a potential “psychiatric” problem would be an embarrassment for them? Whatever their reasons are, you still need to get some help. Please talk to your school counselor tomorrow.

And like @flutherother said, nothing-ness is just that, nothing. It isn’t good or bad or anything. It’s just nothing. Just like before you or your parents or grandparents or great grandparents were even thought of or born. There’s a lot of us here on Fluther that don’t think that there’s anything after you die, and it’s perfectly fine. Feel free to have more discussions with us about it. Any time. : )

Mariah's avatar

I can understand why your parents might want you to try and get over this without medications (as they can have side effects, etc.) but there is no shame in talking to a counselor and I can’t understand why parents would discourage you from doing so if you felt it would help you.

You said it started two months ago – do you have any idea what spurred it on? Did you lose somebody? Go through a trauma?

That said, @flutherother touched on the point that I was going to make. When you imagine being dead, it seems that you imagine being aware of it… you said everything is “black.” But if you’re right that there’s no heaven or hell, that it’s just a void, you won’t know you’re dead. You won’t see anything, not even blackness. You won’t be able to feel anything at all towards it – how can that be scary? Maybe I’m just not understanding. But when you get scared, maybe you can just remind yourself that it won’t be scary to be dead because you won’t be aware of it. You were in the same state for billions of years before being born, and that wasn’t too scary, was it?

hobbitsubculture's avatar

When I was twenty, I had a similar experience. I realized that my consciousness would cease, that I will end someday, and that it’s not going to be like seeing blackness behind my eyes. There won’t be anything to perceive at all.

The idea of it terrified me. At any time something catastrophic could happen, and then I would be living my final moments before the nothingness hits. For a few weeks, I was obsessed with thinking of what those moments will be like. I would walk around at school thinking that everyone I passed, like them or not, was here with me at the same time, and we would all end. And I cried all the time.

I found my way out of that state by doing what people do every day, all through their lives: ignoring my own death. You might need some form of escapism at first. Find a series of books that you like, a computer game, or a TV show. If that helps distract you from your fear, you could move on to something that will occupy your mind, like puzzles, projects, or school work. Try to get outdoors too.

And remember, fear is the mind-killer.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Look at it this way. Some Physicist say all matter is energy that became so energetic it congealed in to matter. To me that says that when we reach the end of our life we go on. Recycled in to the universe. Maybe some are incorporated in to new sentient beings. Maybe some become part of stars. The thing is, death is not the end. It is another beginning. The start of the greatest adventure.
I am 43 years old. I don’t want to die, but I am not afraid of it. I find myself kind of curious about what is next.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Oh, Sweetie, I’m so sorry. I’ve been there. I would ask your parents if you can get some therapy, because if you’re having panic attacks, this thing is really getting in the way of you functioning and is becoming quite serious. You need a professional to dig into what’s going on; they can provide you with much more help than we can.

Hope you start feeling better soon.

wundayatta's avatar

I agree with everyone who suggests therapy, although I would go a step further. I’m worried about the anxiety and the panic attacks. I think you should see a psychiatrist. It may turn out that you need some medication that could clear up the anxiety. You may also be able to deal with it through therapy, but that can take a long time and a lot of work. The right medication could give you relief much more quickly.

listener's avatar

I suggest you read the bible and learn about our creator. Believe in life after life! Do not fear death because it is as beautiful as living.

WasCy's avatar

Hmmm… okay, you first, then, @listener.

everephebe's avatar

You are going to die. You are, everyone does. Make your peace with that, and you’ll be very well off. You don’t have to worry about death because it’s a guarantee, in a way that few things are. I’ve already mentioned this a few times on fluther, but I nearly died once, and it was a very peaceful even blissful experience. Enjoy your life, don’t concern yourself with it’s end. You’ll get there eventually, just take your time. If you can accept that you are going to die and there is nothing to can do to stop that, you will find peace. You have to give up.

I do recommend talking with a doctor about the anxiety though.

mowens's avatar

Death happens. Just like farts do. People don’t talk about it. They joke about both because we fear it. You have two choices like @everephebe said.

1. Have fun
2. Live in fear.

I choose living life because it just isn’t worth it.

janedelila's avatar

@Mariah I was just thinking the same, did you lose somebody? Two years ago my boyfriend died and everytime I get a pain in my left arm I think I’m gonna die. Everytime my head hurts, I think I’m gonna die. And so on. My doctor says it’s normal for me, but I should be focusing on other things by now. If not the trauma of a loss, then she really needs to talk to somebody about why she is focusing on this. It’s dangerous.

dxs's avatar

@mowens i lurved you giving you >6000 lurve. :)

mowens's avatar

@dxs Thanks. :)

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