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How to Overcome Your Fear of Death

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In the post, Are You Afraid of Getting Old?, I shared my thoughts on getting older and how to adjust to each new stage of the aging process. I talked about different ways we can overcome our fears of aging, and how to accept the journey, but I knew I had more to say on this topic because if we’re super honest with ourselves, it’s not the aging that scares us, its that aging reminds us of what’s waiting at the end of the road. 

With every new grey hair and with every new ache your body, we’re reminded of our inevitable death. 

And to be honest, I almost didn’t even record this episode on our fear of death. I came up against so much resistance trying to prepare for this and decided to ditch it, 

I was like, you know what, this obviously shouldn’t be what I talk about.  because I was filled with all those negative thoughts — they were rolling through my head so fast, I couldn’t even get any words on the page — “Charity! What is wrong with you? Death? Seriously? Why can’t you just be a little more pleasant and talk about happier things? Like kittens and cupcakes. Everyone wants to talk about cupcakes. No one wants to talk about dying.” I even told Matt that same night, I don’t know if I’m cut out to be a messenger of such deep topics. 

But I just can’t get away from these deeper conversations. It’s who I am, but it’s been hard for me to present myself in this way. 

Even a couple of months ago when I was preparing this podcast, and planning out topics and doing my research on what other successful podcasts talk about, I found myself attempting to keep things light and talk about things like organization and pursuing your dreams, and all these things are wonderful topics. And don’t get me wrong, they’re needed conversations that I plan on having on here, but I struggled to get it figured out because I knew if I only talked about these easy topics, I wasn’t talking about the root of life’s issues. I would only be talking about the symptoms. Anxiety is the symptom. Fear is the root. Kill the root, The symptoms go away. But I felt so much resistance within me about it, because I was convinced that people don’t want to talk about these things, they’d rather talk about organizing their pantries, not about their fear of death, but the entire time I could sense an elephant in the room with me. I could hear him breathing and stomping his feet behind me, begging me to talk about him — to talk about the deeper conversations that I’m so passionate about. 

I had to stop resisting and accept this passion that burns inside of me. So I brought my elephant into my arms and promised to talk about him on my podcast. 

But this week, I hit another wall of resistance with this conversation, but deep down I know this fear of death is keeping so many people locked in their own inner prison — so much so that they’re not living the life they were made to live, because they’re terrified of the day the shoe drops. 

I have several friends who won’t fly because they’re terrified of dying in a plane accident. 

People lie awake at night unable to sleep because they’re terrified they may die in the night. 

Mothers refuse to leave their children terrified that something may happen to them or her children when they’re apart. 

Our fear of death keeps us locked away. In hell.

Do you want to hear something crazy? This is exactly how the force of Love, of God, works. I had resolved to ditch this week’s episode for something easier and light-hearted, when the next day my client that I coach checked in with me. She was having a hard time knowing how to help her client. So, she’s a life coach, as well.  

Her client is having a hard time dealing with a friend who’s in her 50’s and in the last stages of cancer and only has a couple of days left. And this death is causing her faith in God to waver. My client literally said, “Gah! Death sucks.”

I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. What are the chances that death would the topic my client reach out about when its literally the topic I was avoiding to talk about on my podcast?” It was then and there. I couldn’t avoid the flashing neon sign in front of me.

So, once again I’m embracing my elephant and here we are talking about a big piece of life — death.

Are you ready? Don’t be afraid, my hope is by the end of our time today, you’ll have a fresh new look on death. My hope is that you’ll accept your own elephant standing in your room and you’ll see she’s not that scary after all. 

I don’t have to tell you death is going to happen. We all know that we have an expiration date. But we don’t like to think about it, and when we’re forced to, as long as it fits into our mold of when that should be, we can accept it. You know, as grandma ages, and her health deteriorates, we lovingly assist her to make her last few days more comfortable until one day she drifts off to the other side. 

We’re sad when this happens, but you can accept this. This is how it’s supposed to happen. A long life lived. But when its a child, your young co-worker, or family member. Suddenly, this doesn’t align with how life works. We’re not supposed to die young. It’s the unexpected deaths that are too unknown for our minds to digest. This doesn’t make sense. Why would God allow this tragedy to happen? Because ultimately Death is too foreign for us, its too elusive, and it’s too dark on the other side to embrace someone’s arrival to its doorway. Especially when it seems like it’s before their time.

Then, you’re forced to face your own mortality and you’re like, “what if it happens to me?!” Fear grips your heart, because no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try to protect yourself and your children, you know the day of your death is out of your hands. It’s out of all our hands. 

To help us cope, we paint the picture of heaven, of the afterlife, to try and quiet the voice of Fear. We do our best to catch the vapor of heaven and believe in this better place that those we’ve lost have gone on to. And you hope that’s where you’ll go too, but even that’s still too foreign, it’s still too elusive and hard to wrap your mind around, so you still panic, because what if it’s not like we think on the other side? What if I’ve got it all wrong?

So, you wrap yourself into a cocoon — a cocoon of busyness, addiction, fear, depression, anxiety, and people-pleasing as a way avoid thinking about the grim ripper, but you still live secretly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because of this fear, you never open up and live with wild abandonment because it’s probably going to end in a disaster anyway.

What if you changed the way you look at death? What if you stopped looking at it as a terrible horrible thing, but instead as simply an extension of life. What if you accepted death, not at as an end, but as the beginning of the next phase of your journey? 

Let me explain my deductive reasoning on how I came to this conclusion.

When I was pregnant with one of my four children, I began to think of the process of birth and how it relates to death. Here’s this tiny fetus inside of its mother living a beautiful life, right? He has all of his needs met. He’s floating in a warm fluid that sustains his environment. He’s fed freely through his belly button, and the constant motion and muffled noises make him so happy and content. He’s living his best life.

Now, what if somehow we could get inside the mother’s womb, and what if somehow we could communicate on that tiny fetus’s level, and tell him,

“Just wait, little guy, you ain’t seen nothing yet. You’re about to birth and travel through a portal to a new land. This land is full of ice cream, swimming pools, cuddly puppies, and thrills beyond your wildest comprehension. You’ill love other people, sing with your voice and laugh until you cry. Little baby, you’re about to enter the earth, and your existence is about to get so much better.”

What could the baby possibly say? That baby has no frame of reference to understand the awesomeness that he’s about to enter into. He doesn’t understand blue skies and green grass. Hugs and kisses from mommy mean nothing to him. All he knows and understands is the beauty of the dark warmth he’s floating in. 

I’m sure if he could express how he feels about his inevitable birth, I guarantee you, he’d freak out with a, “Please God no! Please don’t let me birth! I just want to live!”

And you’re on the other side with warm blankets and milk, but to the tiny fetus, it’s all too foreign, it’s all too elusive, and it’s too dark on the other side to embrace birth.

But we’ve been on the other side. We’ve experienced life on earth firsthand. We know it’s beauty, thrill, and complexity. Sure, there’s darkness too, but we’re made to overcome and thrive in spite of the pain. We understand how exponentially better things are outside our mother’s womb. And I’d put money on it that you’ve never wished you were back. I mean, I could be wrong, but chances are, you’ll take living on earth over your mother’s womb.

With that thought, and using deductive reasoning, in this journey of life going from phase one (our mother’s womb) to phase two (here on earth), things got exponentially greater. So, with that. and trust in Love, or God that he has only good for us. Phase 3 is going to be even exponentially greater than here on earth. 

So, I’ve embraced this very thought. This is what I stand by, and it’s brought me so much peace. Now, I still don’t have a clue what it’s going to be like on the other side.

The death canal is probably going to be stressful, and you’ll probably come out on the other side screaming your head off, but there’ll be a group of people to welcome you, and gather around you to ‘ohhh’ and ‘ahhh’ and make sure you find a cozy place to adjust to your new leg of the journey. 

Beyond this, I spend zero brain energy trying to figure it out, but if I calculate the rate of improvement from the womb to earth, then death to the afterlife is going to blow my mind. I’m gonna leave it at that. That’s all I need to know. Knowing any more than that is above my pay grade.

I’ve also begun to view life through a different lens, as well. 

Our life isn’t measured by the number of years we live, it’s measured by the quality of years we live. So whether your gift of life is 10 years, 25, 50, or 105, its irrelevant. How we spent those years is what matters. 

We all know people who live 80 years and are miserable and merely existing, and we also have seen people who have lived a fuller life their first 20 years than most people live in a lifetime. 

I just heard a story of a little boy who passed away at 10 from a terminal illness. Hearing his mother share how he demonstrated peace and love during his lifetime and especially his last few weeks. He would talk to another dimension and had zero fear of his approaching death. A few days before passing he prayed a prayer, and in that prayer, he prayed for his family, his friends, and for all the people of the world. His little prayer rang pure of selfless love and peace for others. It’s almost like he knew something that no one else knew. In his final days he was a light, teaching everyone around him what it means to live without fear, but instead to live in Love.

He lived his 10 years well. 

We’ve all been given this gift called life, but we need to remember, it’s just that, a gift. I don’t know why one man will only live until he’s 41 or his daughter at 13 and the next person lives to 82. We don’t get to decide how many days or years we get to live it here on earth. We only get to decide HOW we’re going to live the days we’re given. And It’s important we don’t waste this gift worried about when it will end. Because ultimately death isn’t the end.

Now, this doesn’t mean we need to be reckless walking into traffic, but instead, we must live in this present moment, loving and honoring our bodies and our minds to make the most of our time spent here.

And when someone we love moves on to the next phase of their journey and we’re left here with a gap in our heart, it’s going to be painful as we grieve and heal into a new normal routine without them, but instead of asking God why he took them from you, celebrate the time you had with them and honor them by continuing to make the most of your own gift of life. 

The greater mind of the universe created this natural law – This law that there is a time for everything. A time to be born and a time to die. Surrender to this journey. You must trust this greater force of Love and his ultimate good for humanity. Release your grip on the need to know — none of us know and that’s ok. Release your grip on needing to control the outcome of when you and those you love will pass on to the next phase of life — none of us have control and that’s ok. 

Trust Love with your life.

Trust Love with your death.

No matter how many days you’re here or how many days you’re over there. You’re safe. We’re all safe. Surrender to life and death.

Here’s my challenge to you: The next time you’re faced with death and you feel fear closing in, First, take a deep breath and whisper a prayer of surrender to Love. “I surrender myself to life and death. I trust you with the journey.” Then, in your mind’s eye watch your hands open up and release their grip trying to control what you can’t control. Second, focus on this present moment. Celebrate the life you’ve been given and the life those you love have been given. 

Here’s the recap: Aging often reminds us of our inevitable end — death. Fear of death is keeping so many people locked in their own inner prison — so much so that they’re not living the life they were meant to live because they’re terrified of the day the shoe drops. What if you changed the way you look at death? What if you stopped looking at it as a terrible horrible thing, but instead as simply an extension of life? I came to this conclusion that death is simply passing on to another phase of life when I thought about the journey from a human life first starting off in its mother’s womb, then passing through to earth. If you tried to explain to the fetus that she was about to go through a portal to another world, she’d probably beg not to go, because it sounded too scary and too foreign for her to comprehend. With that thought, and using deductive reasoning, in this journey of life going from phase one (our mother’s womb) to phase two (here on earth), things got exponentially greater. So, with that. and trust in God that he has only good for us. Phase 3 is going to be even exponentially greater than here on earth. Our life here on earth is a gift. There’s nothing that guarantees that we’ll have this gift for a long time. Our life isn’t measured by the number of years we live, it’s measured by the quality of years we live. So whether your gift of life is 10 years, 25, 50, or 105, its irrelevant. How we spent those years is what matters. The greater mind of the universe created this natural law – This law that there is a time for everything. A time to be born and a time to die. Surrender to this journey.

You are the light of the world. Your life is a gift that is meant to shine bright with wild abandonment. Plan on being here until you’re 100, but live and love like today is your last day on Earth. You have nothing to fear on this journey. Surrender yourself to Love. Trust him with your life and with your death.

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