EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 24, 2012

What should I do about my fear of death?

Family Matters
Dr. Larry Larsen

---- — I am middle aged. But I am terrified of death. It bothers me so much that I think I am abnormal. Most people my age don’t even give dying too much thought.

I wonder if a medication would help me.

Oh yes. There is a pill and a diagnosis for everything.

If we shop around in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, we can find something called “obsessive” disorder. Naturally there is a pill for it. The pill works sometimes.

How about a journey toward a more accepting and healthy way of looking at death? By the way, don’t get me wrong. I am not especially looking froward to dying, but my reasons are a bit different than yours.

There is too much joy in the process of living. I suspect your preoccupation with finality, what you ultimately cannot control, has been with you for most of your life.

Death’s terror and fear are within that need to control. Acceptance of death takes away its sting, and one then has no further need to worry about it.

Children become aware of death well before they are in grade school. They deal with it with the natural strategies of repression and denial.

These may be uncomfortable words for some, but, to me, they speak of inattention and being otherwise preoccupied.

So, why not begin the practice of living in the now, the moment at hand. There are enormous quantities of literature in contemporary psychology having to do with “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is more an Eastern concept. We in the West tend to think only of the future, what comes tomorrow and the day after.

Practicing a mindful, here-and-now life enriches the moment and, ironically, actually gives the gift of control. We have what we have, and we are all a part of the immensity we call the Universe.

Read, think, train and look for inspiration where you can find it. Become your own life coach. If you find this too difficult, look for someone who can help you.