A fear of dying

Don't let a fear of dying stop you from living

Learning how to live well, to serve others and to enjoy the present moment, can help to free us from a life of fear. By Lianna Champ

If your life was a car, you wouldn't let anyone else grab the steering wheel – but that is exactly what you are doing when you carry fear, whether it is a fear of dying, death, or of something else.

Fear stops us experiencing life in the present moment. And, when it's too late, more often than not we have the realisation of the time and opportunities wasted.

We live. We die. Fact. So, what is it that makes the thought of dying so terrifying and how can we use that fear as a springboard to finding more joy and purpose in life?

It is said that to die well you must live well. And that doesn’t mean that just by being good you will die pain-free; it means that when your ending comes, you are ready because you have lived your truth, loved wholeheartedly and have done a good day’s work.

How do we live well?

To live well, we need to create purpose in our lives. My mum always advised that each day we live we must serve our fellow man, whether by doing charity work or running a corporation. It gives us a sense of duty and usefulness and takes us out of ourselves because our consideration is for others.

This is how we start to live a good life — and it makes us feel better about ourselves. It creates a circle within us. The better we feel, the more we want to do for others and the more we do, the more we can.

Take a moment to think about the happiest people you know, and you will see that they have one thing in common — they are doing something they love with or for others.

In my work, I meet people from all walks of life. Some accept death without raising an eyebrow, others actively engage in healthy activities to postpone it for as long as they can. Some keep an eye on it, making promises to be better in the future. Some are terrified at the very thought of dying.

But is it the thought of dying or is it more about what is being left behind? If you were given a date for your death, there are things you know you need to do before that day arrived. It could be worrying about how your family will cope. If so, prepare them. Teach them practical skills. Teach them how to share their feelings with each other. Teach them the value of life. Teach them that it isn’t how long we live that’s important but what we do with the time we have. If you have committed a wrongdoing and still carry some residue, find a way so you can make your peace with it.

Removing the thorns

If you were to turn each of your fears of dying (and don’t kid yourself that it is just a fear of dying — it’s always a fear of something else) into thorns and stuck each one in the heel of your foot some of them would be more painful than others.

Start with the most painful one. Identify the fear and you will find the solution. It is always handy to write these down on paper and you may be shocked at what you uncover. Only by removing all the thorns will you start to remove your fear of dying and know the things you need to do to throw that duvet back and bring the day on.

As human beings we never stay in one state, and we constantly fluctuate. Holding onto the things and actions that make us feel good keeps us motivated to live well.

Most of us feel apprehensive when we think about dying, but it’s what we do whilst we are alive that brings peace at the end. If we can say on our death bed that we really lived, then we can die knowing that we are ready to hand over to those who follow.

By really grasping that both ageing and dying are an inescapable truth then we can really focus on what really matters — the people in our lives, fun, laughter and most importantly, living for the day.

Free From Fear

Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience as a grief and funeral care specialist and is the author of the practical guide, How to Grieve Like A Champ, out now.

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.