How to Overcome the Fear of Death
The fear of death is our greatest fear. We deny it, we do not want to talk about it with anybody. Particularly in western culture we are not prepared to go consciously through this last stage of life. And the death is exactly the only certain thing in our life! Whether we want it or not it is inevitable. Is it possible to prepare for it and stop being afraid?
Fear: Where does it come from?
The fear of death comes from the culture we live in, the way we were brought up, our religion and life experience. If during the years we have been given we kept asking the questions: what is it that gives meaning to my life? What is its goal? Is my life happy?
Do I have control over my life or does my happiness depend on external factors? – then at the end of our life we stand a chance to recall all our memories of the past and accept our life decisions feeling free from the conviction that something could have or should have gone differently.
If our failures and misfortunes made us work and find ways to perfect ourselves, to live a more conscious and worthwhile life then at the end we will feel that everything that happened to us was full of sense and is perfect in its imperfection.
Through contemplation at the end of our life we start to realize that indeed we are responsible for what we create. That is why we have to learn how to act and think wisely, lovingly, so our life could become a service to other people and the whole creation. Our main task is to understand ourselves and become emotionally and spiritually mature, to live fully both for ourselves and for the people around us. I am absolutely convinced that with the power of spirit we can overcome each worry and each problem.
To most of us death seems terrifying. However, birth itself announces death in a sense, since the two are inseparable. Life is finite. The nature of the world is such that each birth, each life (which is the consequence of this birth) ends in death. So if we look at our finiteness from that perspective – as a strong and permanent law of nature – then we can see beauty in death…
To feel the beauty of death we must first fully accept it, open the door to it and welcome it in our heart with the thought: ”Because I was born, I will die, a day will come, the circle will close”. The Indian spiritual master Osho used to say these words about death: “I welcome death, I receive death as a guest, and then the way I see it changes immediately”.
We must learn how to let go the person who is dying. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book „The Wheel of Life” says that when we are attached too much to a dying person, we don’t want to let them go. As a result we cause much pain and make it impossible for our beloved person to die peacefully. A dying person needs from their relatives two things: permission to die and reassurance that they will cope, there’s no need to worry about them.
That’s why the atmosphere around the dying person is so important. Friends and relatives should do everything they can to inspire this person with positive emotions and sacred feelings of love, compassion and devotion. They should help to let go of longing and attachments. The atmosphere should be as quite as possible. Desperate friends and relatives should not be present at the bed of the dying person, as they might disturb the peace.
We often do not understand that and feel unloved. But our presence and our despair may awake the piercing feeling of attachment in the dying person. That would make the parting unbelievably difficult and painful. It is hard to not cry when our beloved one is dying. But it is better to deal with the pain and attachment before the death comes.
Sit with the dying person, cry together, talk about your love and say goodbye. But let the farewell be completed before the process of dying starts. Loving presence of a spiritual teacher or a wise friends, inspiration from the spirituals teachings and are in those last days as precious as air.
The best way to die is when one has given up everything – internally and externally. Then the longing and attachment that could possess our mind in that decisive moment are limited to minimum. Before we die we should try to find freedom from attachment to wealth, friends and our beloved ones.
We cannot take anything with us anyway; so it is best to give away whatever we have. At the time of death two things count: what we have done in life and the state of mind. Even if we have gathered a lot of negative karma a real change of heart at the time of death may be crucial to our future and transform that karma. Because death is a great chance for self-purification.