Near all emotions and actions for that matter, can be traced back to fear. And, nearly all fears can be traced back to the one age old fear of death. It is the one inevitability, and yet our greatest unknown. People simply manifest the fear into different avenues of expression. It is, however, a mask, a complex and diverse simplification of the true underlying emotion of the individual. Therefore if we are aware of these subconscious fears, we may seemingly overcome the fear of death.
Those who fear death in fact fear life itself. They are essentially the same; for living is what delivers us to death, the mysterious end. The conundrum arrives: is it life or death that is the original fear? Which is the mirror and which is merely the reflection?
The most important step in overcoming a fear of death is to keep a daily emotion record. Have a log book ready to record each strong emotion. Different emotions hide within the pretences of others. For example, "Jodie told me I had to re-write my Anthropology article, that it wasn't up to standard" received an "ANGER", rated 100 x a billion. Weeks later the subconscious might re-assess this initial emotional naming, and decide you in fact felt fear; a doubt in your own writing abilities.
Now consider the following realities about the supposed "fear of death":
- Death emotes sorrow and pain. Children fear death because their first thoughts turn to losing their parents, their safety net. We grown older and watch our friends and family pass. The trauma leaves an unpleasant residue of heartache and we come to despise the entire cycle of life: including not only death, but life it's self. When we lose someone "before their time" it seems incredibly unjust and we become afraid of living because we are angry at life. Are you afraid of human pain and trauma?
- Death is the ultimate unknown. To fear it is as natural as our apprehension before getting an exam back, or something of the like. It is important to acknowledge the REAL fear here: the unknown, a state in which you have absolutely no control.
- Death is symbolic. People who have experienced traumas (which everyone has in varying degrees), particularly those who have experienced loss or rejection, fear death the most as the psyche sees it as the ultimate loss. The world has released you into the unknown.
- Death is lonely. I'd have to argue that loneliness is the second largest, most universal emotion and fear. The thought of leaving everyone and everything you know and love is frightening. It resurrects memories of insecurity and times of extreme fear. Do you then perhaps fear being alone, and death is merely an embodiment of this fear?
- Suddenly our sense of power is diminished when thinking of death. We realise how small we truly are. Thoughts turn to insignificance and we ponder life's purpose. A life lived in vain is scary as hell. Ask yourself, do I feel purpose and presence in my life? Am I an accomplished person?
- We spend our whole existence fighting to gain control over anything we can. We start determined to lead our own path, free of all social expectation; all the while ignoring the knowledge that it all means nothing in the end. We must inevitably succumb to the will of the world and relinquish what ever "possessions" we thought we "owned."
- Death is clothed in many layers of mystery. Religions have all had their go at supposing the event. But in the end, this is just something we all must experience first hand. Choosing to believe in something, (it may be that there is no afterlife, or you suppose your own) one may, nevertheless, ease their anxieties around the event.
The well known saying "there is nothing to fear but fear itself" is inarguably true. For, fear is a poorly labeled term. It encompasses a lifetime of inevitabilities and hard learned truths. If we merely acknowledge the multitude of trauma, emotions and experiences that construct this "fear of death," we might see it as our greatest unity; the one indisputable commonality that connects all living beings on this earth. We may then be thankful for our life, for gratitude is the sole elusion of fear.