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A personal narrative about fear as a source of stress

We try to avoid thinking about it. But in doing so, we actually affect our mental and physical health negatively more than we know. This phrase defines the apprehension people experience when they become aware of death.

The fear of the unknown and what happens afterward is a legitimate concern. But when it starts interfering with how you live your life, it becomes problematic. Iverach lays out a few scenarios in which the fear of death adversely impacts healthy living.

You may recognize some: Separation anxiety disorder in children often involves excessive fear of losing people important to them, such as their parents, through accidents or death.

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Compulsive checkers repeatedly check power switches, stoves, and locks in an attempt to prevent harm or death.

Compulsive hand washers often fear contracting chronic and life-threatening diseases.

  1. This phrase defines the apprehension people experience when they become aware of death.
  2. On the other end of the spectrum, a writer might devote too much time to worrying about how to make your paper perfect.
  3. How to Write an Outline. You can find her on Twitter at StephS910.
  4. Here are some typical results of writing anxiety.
  5. But when it starts interfering with how you live your life, it becomes problematic.

Fear of dying from a heart attack is often the cause of frequent doctor visits for those with panic disorder. Individuals with somatic symptom disorders engage in frequent requests for medical tests and body scanning in order to identify serious or terminal illness. Specific phobias involve excessive fear of heights, spiders, snakes, and blood, all of which are associated with death. Perhaps we all need to become more comfortable discussing this almost taboo topic.

Why We Need to Talk About Our Fear of Death

Death Cafes serve as friendly, welcoming, and comfortable surroundings for those who want to talk openly about death. Many are in actual cafes or restaurants where people eat and drink together. Watching television, drinking alcohol, smoking, and shopping … what if these were just distractions and habits we engage in to avoid thinking about death? His research suggests that the fear of death can set off reactions, habits, and behaviors that seem normal. To counter these behaviors, having a healthy approach and perspective of death could be a start.

Death Cafes have sprung up all over the world. Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid founded Death Cafes in London in 2011 with the goal of making discussions about death less daunting by presenting them in socially friendly environments.

  • Breaks and small rewards buying a soda, calling a friend, watching a favorite television program, etc;
  • What are my expectations for myself?

What they also need is a safe and inviting space, which Death Cafes provide. A notion some Catholics also believed in was that knowing names of demons was a way of taking away their power. In America, we visit graves. People want to speak openly — about their fear of a personal narrative about fear as a source of stress, their experiences of being terminally ill, witnessing the death of a loved one, and other topics. The Death Cafe in Dublin is held in a pub, Irish style, but no one gets drunk when these sobering conversations take place.

Sure, they might have a pint or even tea, but the folks in the pub — young and old, women and men, rural and urban — are serious when it comes to addressing death. How to bring the conversation of death home While Death Cafes are still relatively new in the U. Daniel is experienced in using shamanic rituals of indigenous cultures to help heal people by moving the energy of trauma and loss out of the physical body. In China, family members assemble altars to recently deceased relatives.

These might contain flowers, photos, candles, and even food. They leave these altars up for at least a year, sometimes forever, so the souls of those who have departed are with them every day. Daniel cites an Islamic ritual as another example: If a person sees a funeral procession, they must follow it for 40 steps to stop and recognize the importance of death.

She also mentions how Hinduism and Buddhism as religions and attending cultures teach and understand the importance of death and preparation for death as a path to enlightenment, instead of regarding death with fear and anxiety.

Changing attitudes about death is definitely in order. If living our lives in fear of death adversely affects our health, then we need to make an effort to embrace positive, healthy thinking and behavior around the topic. Transforming the narrative about death from anxiety to acceptance, whether through Death Cafes or other rituals, is certainly a good first step in opening up the conversation.

Perhaps after that, we can openly embrace and celebrate death as a part of our human life cycle. Stephanie Schroeder is a New York City—based freelance writer and author. You can find her on Twitter at StephS910. Medically reviewed by Timothy J.