Thanatophobia (the fear of death)
Firstly and foremost, I have an anxiety disorder. This disorder has been a prominent part of my life for at least four years (although I was only officially diagnosed with it last year). This disorder harbors majorly around my inexplicable fear of death.
Now, you may be thinking: dear Sarah, everyone’s scared of death. That’s a normal thing!
But alas, it’s not a normal thing when you’re literally having panic attacks on public transport because for some reason the chemicals in your fight or flight response has tricked you into thinking that you’re about to die.
It wasn’t until I found the #deathpositive movement that real change started to happen. Therapy was good for understanding the science behind a panic attack and being able to see the patterns forming in order to work at preventing them early. But the death positive movement or mindset helped me manage my unresolved feelings about death.
The death positive movement as the Order of the Good Death’s Death Positive pledge insists is all about facing death by examining out cultural death practice along-side historical death practices. It insists that by bringing death to the forefront of our culture we’ll develop an acceptance of death that we don’t currently have due to the way we socially hide death behind closed doors and underground.
How Can I be #deathpositive?
Start appreciating more horror movies! Some may call it desensitising but I call it appreciation of the representation of death as an art form.
Speaking of art and history, lots of early art and literature has a lot of talk about death and life in it! While I can’t suggest any artists, I would suggest Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles or if you’re not into longer fiction Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories are a great option. Gothic fiction was a genre obsessed with death.
As mentioned earlier in this post, speak to your local Goths and the darkly inclined. This past semester my friends, Suze, Caitie and I, decided to do a project – a discussion panel – entirely on the topic of death in literature and it was great! It was a great way to speak to like minded people who also want to address their feelings, and the presentation was a great way to spread the word that death is an important topic to be addressed (okay, we don’t need to tell a room full of writers that).
So, the only logically action to take now is to ask you your opinion. Have you addressed your impending doom feelings about death? Sometimes people tell me that they are entirely comfortable with the idea that they will one day expire, and to those people I say, what is your secret?