I was scared of dying until I was diagnosed with a chronic disease when I was 27 years old. It forced me to accept and make peace with my own death, which made life more precious.
In Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing, Anita describes how Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, chemotherapy, and her near-death experience (NDE) changed her perspective of life, dying, and death. If you fear death, you should read her book – it’ll help you be okay with the fact that you will die.
Here’s what she says about facing her death: “Even though I seemed to be fighting my disease, I believed that cancer was a death sentence,” writes Moorjani in Dying to Be Me. “I went through the motions of doing everything I could, but in the back of my mind, I still believed that I wasn’t going to make it. And I was very, very scared of death.”
I’m ready to die. I don’t WANT to die and I don’t think we should take our own lives, but I’m fine with death. These reasons to accept your own death may reduce your fear of dying and increase your passion for life.
Are You Scared to Die? How to Accept Your Death
I’m not saying you should end your life. On the contrary, I’m encouraging you to cherish life while accepting that death is a natural part of a full, healthy life. I think we’re scared to die because it’s such a mystery – it’s a land people travel to and never return (or rarely return from!).
But what if death is better than life? What if the people who have passed are happier and more whole than they’ve ever been?
Surrender to death brings healing
“When I was in that state of clarity in the other realm [during her near-death experience], I instinctively understood that I was dying because of all my fears,” writes Anita in Dying to Be Me. “When I relinquished my hold on physical life, I didn’t feel I needed to do anything in particular to enter the other realm, such as pray, chant, use mantras, forgiveness, or any other technique. Moving on was closer to doing absolutely nothing. It seemed more like saying to no one in particular: ‘Okay, I have nothing more to give. I surrender. Take me. Do what you will with me. Have your way.”
I think this type of surrender is healthier than fighting death, disease, dread of the unknown. We who are sick need to learn how to live in harmony with disease, not fight it! This surrender brings healing, acceptance, and peace.
What exactly are you scared of? You don’t know why you’re scared to die
Fear of death is one of the most common fears. Most humans are scared to die (but animals aren’t, are they?). And yet, we don’t know what happens after death! How can we be afraid of something we know nothing about? That’s what I don’t get.
And yet, it’s our very ignorance that keeps us afraid. We fear what we don’t know, and we know almost nothing about death.
What helped me accept my own death is realizing that life after death could be more amazing, liberating, peaceful, and joyful than life on earth! Our dead loved ones may be beckoning us, trying to tell us that death is amazing. Maybe life on earth is the dumps – even with its bits of glory and beauty. Maybe we’re happier, lighter, and bouncier after we die…and we don’t even know it, so we’re scared to die.
Housework, possessions, work, and “shoulds” become less important
I’m not scared to die – I’m scared of being swallowed by the trivial bits of life! I know someone who vacuums her house every day, and someone else who has to buy new shoes every month. Since I accepted my own death, I stopped caring about the superficial, unimportant crap that we get caught up in. I focus on staying happy, healthy, and in remission from ulcerative colitis.
Here’s what Anita says in Dying to Be Me: “I’ll never again take on a job I don’t enjoy just for the money. My criteria for work and for doing things in general are so different now. My life and my time here are much more valuable to me.”
If you’re dealing with a child’s death, read The Grieving Process After the Death of a Child.
Research shows death can be a gift
“Death is a very powerful motivation,” says Laura E.R. Blackie, a Ph.D. student at the University of Essex. “People seem aware that their life is limited. That can be one of the best gifts that we have in life, motivating us to embrace life and embrace goals that are important to us.” She researched how death affects how you act.
If you think about death abstractly, you’re more likely to fear it. But if you think about and accept your own death, you’re more likely to life your life more fully. Thinking about your mortality in a more personal and authentic manner may make you pursue what you really value in life.
Accepting death makes you strong, fearless, and courageous
When death holds no horror, there isn’t much else to be afraid of! You can take risks, be yourself, and do things you wouldn’t normally do. If you’re not scared to die, you’re also not scared to live.
What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? Where would you go if you knew you’d be safe? Who would you talk to if you weren’t afraid of the response?
I accepted my own death when I was in Israel. After I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I went to Jerusalem to meet my father for the first time. I spent many hours in a church in the Old City, praying and making peace with my life, disease, and death. I called my dad, which I was always scared to do. I met his family, and even traveled to Egypt by myself.
Death is no longer the worst thing that can happen to me…getting to the end of my life and having regrets is.
Are you scared to die? What do you think would help you accept your own death? I welcome your thoughts below, but I can’t offer advice or counseling.
If a friend or family member is mourning death, you may find 5 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend helpful.