How to Cope with Anxiety About Death
Do you find death to be scary? While it can be, especially if we’ve grown up in a culture where the topic isn’t often discussed, for some of us, death is more than that. Do you find the idea of death genuinely distressing? Does it make you incredibly anxious? Do you go out of your way to avoid any mention of it? If you don’t, do you find yourself stuck in an anxiety spiral that is hard to get out of?
Anxiety about death, like all existential fears, is difficult to cope with, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. We can learn how to handle it, the way we can learn how to cope with other types of anxiety. All it takes is a little work.
Acknowledge the Anxiety
We might be tempted to ignore it, to pretend it doesn’t exist, but that only harms us more in the long run. It’s important to acknowledge our anxiety about death, to recognise we feel it strongly, and be aware of how it impacts our daily life. More importantly, it’s important for us to accept our anxiety about death without any judgment. We cannot work to get a handle on it if we can’t even acknowledge its existence. And if we don’t accept it, we won’t be able to learn the coping skills that will actually make us feel better in the long run.
This is the hardest part, of course. It’s not easy for us to do this, and it won’t be a one-time thing. Instead, it will be a few things, little ways for us to carve a place in our lives for death. And we’ll do it every day until one day, we’ll realize that we’re much more at peace with the idea of death. But how do we get there? How do we go from getting anxious at the mention of death itself to accepting its place in our lives?
It’s not easy, but we do it in little ways. We don’t hide from the topic if it comes up in conversation. Maybe, we’ll stick around for death scenes during movies, if we avoided them before. We can even find ourselves a death-accepting affirmation or two to tell ourselves every day. It’ll be hard at first, but the more we do it, the easier it will be in the future.
A common coping strategy for anxiety is leaning into mindfulness, the ability to ground yourself in the present moment. This is usually accomplished through a lot of breathing exercises. Meditation is the most popular form of mindfulness, but it doesn’t have to start or end there. You can practice mindfulness by simply taking a moment during your day to stop everything you’re doing and take three deep breaths.
Mindfulness is about realizing we don’t have to rush into anything. We can take our time as we go about our lives, because there’s nothing too bad to be fixed. The more we practice mindfulness, the easier it will be for us to turn to it when anxiety threatens to drown us in worrying thoughts.
Get Professional Help
It might seem a little hard to believe, particularly if no one around you has expressed the same concerns before, but you’re not the only person who feels like this. Death anxiety is more common than you might think, and there is support out there for you to reach toward. There’s nothing quite as reassuring as being understood by another person.
If you believe that you need additional help to cope with your anxiety about death, then schedule an appointment with us. Counseling will help you develop coping mechanisms for your anxiety, while also addressing your death anxiety in particular. As distressing as this is, remember you don’t have to do this alone. We’re here to help you. Reach out to us today to set up a consultation for anxiety therapy.