BY GILLIAN MULDER
TRIGGER WARNING: Please don’t read if you are easily susceptible to panic attacks. This article will bring up some heavy topics.
Have you ever laid down in bed, trying to fall asleep when the thought of death springs into your mind? Making you wonder what will happen, if there is an afterlife or if it’s just nothing? It fills your heart with panic, and in the end, you can’t fall asleep? That’s death anxiety, and it's perfectly normal.
Death is very scary. It's unknown to us, but it’s bound to happen. It’s one of the two certainties of life, the other being taxes, and while one can argue that the IRS is scarier than death, you can’t escape death.
During this pandemic, the fragility of human life has been made clear to us. If you get COVID-19, you could die even if you’re the epitome of human health. Death has become more prominent in our minds, and that can have negative effects on our mental health.
Death anxiety is the paralyzing terror produced by the awareness of one’s mortality. While we try to avoid thinking about it, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult when the death toll from COVID-19 has become a political topic in our upcoming election. I want to talk about how you can cope with it, in a healthy manner, without denial because denial doesn’t get us anywhere
Death anxiety affects our everyday life, and it’s mostly subconscious. When a negative event or reminder of death occurs, it can cause feelings of death anxiety to come into our minds, and this can lead to a multitude of specific individual defenses.
These acts of self-protection are:
The only way to truly cope with death anxiety is to freely talk it out with a friend or someone close. You can also address it in therapy sessions or in a philosophy class. What’s important is that you don’t put it off. Oftentimes, when people accept and become more aware of their own mortality and face their emotional anguish, they develop a deeper respect for other people’s feelings. When we challenge our defensive reactions to death anxiety, we are able to more openly embrace life.
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Firestone, Robert W. 18 May 2018,
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-human-experience/201805/death-anxiety. Accessed 17 October 2020.