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JackAdams's avatar

What's the best way, to face (and deal with) my irrational fear?

Asked by JackAdams (6536points) August 31st, 2008

I suffer from thanatophobia, and several of my friends and colleagues have suggested that I face my fear and “attack it, head-on,” by working as a volunteer (or as a part-time paid employee) at either a masoleum, creamatorium, or funeral home. They have said that they can arrange that, and that by being around cadavers all day, I will lose my irrational fear.

What do you think of this idea? If you don’t believe that it’s a good one, then do you have a better idea to suggest?

No, I don’t mind smart-aleck (whimsical) comments, because the use of humor has been suggested, also.

Thanks for your thoughts on this, whatever form they make take.

August 31, 2008, 5:36 PM EDT

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

20 Answers

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

I see this is a good idea. If you see other people who have passed on, your phobia may pass on. However, this isn’t guaranteed. It might do absolutely nothing.

JackAdams's avatar

Thank you!

That’s one vote in the “Yes” column.

August 31, 2008, 5:54 PM EDT

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

I have an irrational fear of falling. I’m a clutz, and I fall all the time. Unfortunately, falling has done nothing to rid me of my phobia. I hope that this method helps you more than it did me!

Especially since falling is, sadly, unavoidable, as is death.

wildflower's avatar

Hang out with your buddy Necroking??

But seriously, I’m not sure I get why you would need to go that far… there a need for you to be comfortable around death? I don’t have a phobia about death, but I certainly wouldn’t enjoy being around cadavers all day!

You could do something like walk through a cemetery (maybe walking along outside to begin with) and gradually extend your comfort zone to be able to be there for longer and longer periods of time.

JackAdams's avatar

@flyawayxxballoon: Thanks for sharing that bit of information about yourself. On the phobias list, they show two that mention falling:

Basophobia or Basiphobia- Inability to stand. Fear of walking or falling.
Climacophobia- Fear of stairs, climbing, or of falling downstairs.

August 31, 2008, 6:06 PM EDT

JackAdams's avatar

@wildflower: I don’t have any fears of cemeteries, or of being around dead people.

I have this irrational fear of ending up IN a cemetery, or BEING a dead person.

The problem with my particular fear, is that it isn’t like a fear of elevators, where someone says, “You have a very low risk of dying in an elevator crash.”

Because everyone is going to die, eventually, it’s not as if I can “convince” myself that I will live forever.

August 31, 2008, 6:10 PM EDT

SuperMouse's avatar

I have irrational fear of death myself. You can take the girl out of the church, but you can’t take the church out of the girl I suppose. Those Sunday school lessons describing the eternal fires of hell really made an impression.

Anyway, I cannot think of how hanging around with corpses would do anything whatsoever to help me with that fear. I’m afraid the only thing it would do for me is to put death right in front of me and make it impossible for me to avoid thinking about it – which is pretty much how I deal with my irrational fear at this point. So I vote no on your friend’s idea. If you do come up with a way to face this fear and conquer it, aside from hanging out with dead bodies, please let me know.

wildflower's avatar

In that case I really don’t think spending time around death or cadavers will do you much good. Maybe a better idea would be to visit a hospice and talk to someone who is dying, read eulogies – basically give yourself a chance to discover reasons not to fear it.

JackAdams's avatar

The idea of hanging around dying folks (nursing homes, hospices) is not something I have recently considered, and it’s an excellent suggestion, Wildflower.

You know, when I was a teenager, I used to do volunteer work at a nursing homes, and mostly it was reading to the elderly, because usually, their eyes were no longer able to focus properly, so they couldn’t read all that well, when they got into their 80s and 90s.

I made friends with a lot of the folks there, and the reason I stopped visiting those places, was because I was losing one elderly friend a week, it seemed, to “The Grim Reaper.”

You expect that some of your friends will die eventually, of course, but you just don’t expect to be attending funerals and purchasing flowers, so often.

One elderly lady (“Grace”) at a nursing home I frequented, was kind of a “surrogate Grandma” to me, and I made sure I visited her, 3 or 4 times per week.

I’d sit in a chair next to her bed and hold her hand, while telling her about all of my dreams and plans for my future (I was 15 or 16, then). I’d also read the newspaper to her, and her personal mail.

One day, I came to visit her and she wasn’t her normal, smiling self. She was as friendly to me as always, but I had these feelings that she was worried about something, so I asked her if everything was OK. She gave me a weak smile, squeezed my hand very tight and said, “I’m so glad you came to see me, today.”

She then closed her eyes and went to sleep, forever, still clutching my hand.

I cried continuously, for the next week. It was shortly after that, that I lost all interest in visiting such places.

Still, you have given me an excellent idea to consider, and I am indeed very grateful.

Thank you.

August 31, 2008, 6:51 PM EDT

wildflower's avatar

That’s a very touching story. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if that experience is in some way linked to your fear.
If I’ve been able to help in any way, I’m glad and you’re most welcome!

JackAdams's avatar

I’ll let you know what happens.

It’s a continuing story…

August 31, 2008, 7:07 PM EDT

stratman37's avatar

JA, are you afraid of what happens AFTER death? Life after death? Eternal existence?

JackAdams's avatar

Stratman, I think, more than anything else, I fear the following:

1. The actual dying process, and,
2. “The Unknown.”

I sometimes find myself hoping for an NDE, just so the mystery will be over, and I will know what is awaiting me.

If I find out it is horrible, then of course, I won’t go.

August 31, 2008, 9:27 PM EDT

stratman37's avatar

Yeah, I see what you mean. Have you ever given a serious thought about Christianity?

JackAdams's avatar

Nope. Sorry.

Not interested in that, respectfully.

But, I do have the utmost respect for those who embrace it.

There are just certain ascpects of it, that don’t “agree” with me.

You DO realize that your avatar is of a non-Christian, right?

August 31, 2008, 9:35 PM EDT

stratman37's avatar

Yeah, Groucho is just a comedic hero of mine (that woman talks so much, she must’ve been vaccinated with a PHONOGRAPH needle!). But I’d love to hear your reservations about the aspects of Christianity that “don’t agree with” you.

stratman37's avatar

BTW, will someone give me some lurve so I can get off the mark of the beast!?

SuperMouse's avatar

@Strat, glad to oblige.

Knotmyday's avatar

…Peter was alone on the lagoon.

The rock was very small now, soon it would be submerged. Pale rays of light tiptoed across the waters; and by and by there was to be heard a sound at once the most musical and the most melancholy in the world: the mermaids calling to the moon.

Peter was not quite like other boys, but he was afraid at last. A tremor ran through him, like a shudder passing over the sea; but on the sea one shudder follows another until there are hundreds of them, and Peter felt just the one. The next moment he was standing erect on the rock again, with that smile on his face and a drum beating within him. It was saying “to die will be an awfully big adventure.”

J.M. Barrie, “Peter Pan”

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