”Like the child being born, we have no choice but to yield ourselves to the unknown. You can choose to view your body and your contribution to this world as an honor. We have had the privilege of living; so, let’s be grateful and accept death when it eventually comes”
This quote is from a huffington post titled 6 positive ways to overcome your fear of death by Margaret Manning. Margaret speaks to and asks for tips and advise from people over fifty who have conquered the fear of dying.
When I thought about writing this post, my first reaction was, what a morbid topic to talk about. It is, but for the last couple of years I have been obsessing about death. I needed to find out exactly what happened in the past and present that had triggered my fear of dying.
Losing a loved one at an early age
When I was 10 – 12 years old my sister’s and I moved into our mother’s house. My younger sister and I had lived with our father from a very young age. Our parents had agreed that they would not move us from the only home we knew until our mother was stable enough to look after us. When she finally bought her home, she wanted to have her children living under her roof.
In my early teen years our mother began to get sick. I didn’t know what the disease was called at the time but I learned later that she had died of breast cancer. It was scary to go through those moments with her. It was scary to see her in so much pain. It was sad to know that we couldn’t do anything to take the pain away or to comfort her.
We lost our mother after our sister’s 12th birthday party. I have to admit when I found out about my mother’s death I had a sense of relief because she was not in pain anymore. I loved my mother so much but I knew we had lost her a long time ago. She was not the same person that she was when she got sick.
We witnessed death at an early age. We did not know or understand the meaning of death at the time and as I grew older I began to be afraid of my own mortality.
Last year was the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death. It was also a year of a new beginning because I had finally found a way to make peace with her passing. I found a way to accept what had happened and allowed myself to move on with my life.
The second incident that I could think of that triggered my fear of dying was the accident my older sister had a few months after we buried our mother.
In a way she had not dealt with the passing of our mother or the responsibility she was forced into of taking care of us. She was 21 years old when our mother passed. The only thing she could do to numb the pain was to socialize with her friends. The morning of the accident we heard a knock on the door and thought it was her coming home from the fun time she had the night before. People came into the house to get us dressed and take us to the hospital. We did not know how bad it was until we saw her on the hospital bed. You could smell the alcohol from her mouth when she tried to speak.
She apologised to the person who was to look after us until our father came to pick us up and take us home.
We thought we were going to lose her as well but she recovered and came home a few weeks later.
Being mugged on the street
Before I had a car I used public transport to get to my destinations. One evening as I walked from the bus stop to the house I saw a man with a coat. There was a woman walking in front of me who shouted something to me. I heard her say ‘do not give him anything.’ I did not understand what she meant and walked passed the man and greeted him. He stopped me and demanded that I give him my bag. He had a hand in his pocket pointing in my direction. I was not sure what was in his pocket, I began to be afraid and handed him the bag. He took it and ran away. I was close to the house but I did not want to get into the gate as I was not sure if he was watching me. The house keys were in the bag.
The next day I saw the bag lying on the ground with everything in it. I checked my wallet and noticed the money I had was gone. I was grateful to have found it and that I had the common sense not to fight with him because I realised that everything I had in it was replaceable.
The second time I got mugged was in town. Everyone was rushing to get home after a hard day’s work when I bumped into a gentleman who was walking in front of me. I apologised to him and tried to move back when I stepped on someone who was behind me. The two gentleman cornered me and asked me for my phone. I was struggling to get it out of my bag when one of them swore at me for taking long to get the phone. As he touched me to distract passersby I stopped what I was doing and asked him not to touch me as I was trying to get what he wanted from me. I finally got the phone out of the bag and gave it to them. As soon as I saw a gap I ran in the direction of the crowd to a safe place.
Getting into an accident with my sister’s car
After I got my driver’s license my sister offered to lend me her car so that I could familiarize myself with driving. I was reckless and had an accident while I was running errands. After the accident I was in a state and afraid to get behind the wheel.
The incidents I went through over the years have made me afraid and I realised how short life is. I never thought I needed help to deal with or confront the feelings I had for what I went through. I carried on with my life as if nothing had happened.
The anxiety I felt woke me up to the reality that I could not handle this on my own. I knew I needed help. For the last 2 years I have been seeing someone who has helped me to talk about what I had experienced and through the process, she has given me tools to help me move on from the fear I have which has resulted in me learning how to live my best life.
I am not sure how to end this but the only thing I can do is take a few words which brought me comfort from reading Margaret’s blog
” At the end of the day the advice from other people over 50 who have conquered their fear of death is simple : focus on living authentically, passionately and well. A fear of death cannot take root in the heart of a person who is truly satisfied with their life.”
I want to learn to do that and my wish for you is to find the passion and happiness that life has to offer.
Until next time.