Society is a continuous cycle, our pavements peopled by all age groups. From babies to the elderly, we are all moving through that ever-changing kaleidoscope called life. But, as we grow older, our mindsets change. In youth we understand that people die, but that is something so far off in the future, we need not worry about it. As we climb the generational ladder, we are so busy chasing that elusive career goal, we have not the time nor desire to focus on what is looming ever closer: our own inevitable demise.

But look closely into the eyes of some who have successfully reached and overcome the biblical three score and ten and you see a certain fear and haunted look deep within the soul. Death is staring them in the face and they do not know how to deal with it.

The important thing is to unburden all those fears lurking deep within your brain. No-one needs to deal with these issues alone, and there are many ways to help. That is when the role of a therapist or guide is so desperately needed.

Some people, as they get older, turn for salvation to religion. Even those who in their youth scorned religion in a scientific pseudo-academic guise as not answering all the questions of life can change their minds. It is as if, nearing that golden portal, they suddenly prefer to build a kind of religious security blanket around them, just in case.

Some turn to reading various guides to the whole issue surrounding the fear of death. There are many who have written about the subject. One such is Joan Forman in her book ‘The Golden Shore’1. The book explores what happens when the body dies and whether its death is a finite, permanent event producing oblivion or merely the preliminary to another spiritual phase of living. Perhaps there is a constant thread of consciousness, interacting like a virus, carrying increasing knowledge from one stage to the next.

Another author writing about the subject is Irving Yalom. His book, ‘Staring at the Sun’2, was reviewed in Therapy Today in May 08. He writes that death anxiety is always with us. At the age of 75, and facing his own fear of death, he covers the anguish of leaving behind one’s family and the pain of having to face the world alone. For him, comfort lies in Epicurus’s argument that after death he will be in the state of non-being as before birth. Interestingly, the author finds comfort in ‘rippling’ his own feelings about death to others through his writing.

There is a very valid reason why man builds tombstones. It’s not only a transient marker that this person lived, achieved and is remembered for whom they were, but also that those surviving are an important part of a vast, never-ending cycle. In a very simple way, by walking through a cemetery and reading the inscriptions, it can give you a deep feeling of peace. It gives an answer to that age-old question of why we are here. By walking through the many centuries of tombstones, you finally understand where you are now, who came before and that others after you will glean something of your inner-essence. Finally, there is a purpose to your life. Grasp it with both hands.

So, as with all mental fears, there are many ways to overcome them. By all means use education as a part of helping yourself but if you feel that you would like to talk to someone, perhaps speaking to a therapist will be a good way forward? Therapist can help so much by encouraging you to talk, share and off-load how you feel. Perhaps then can you truly relax and enjoy your life?

1. Foreman, Joan. ‘The Golden Shore’. 1988. Published by Robert Hale, London.
2. Yalom, Irving. ‘Staring at the Sun’. 2008. Published by Jossey-Bass.

Author's Bio: 

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