Living with thanatophobia

Monday, September 11, 2006 23:39 | Filed in Articles, Life, Oddities, Science, Thanatophobia, The Pickards

Okay, it’s time to come clean. I’m mentally ill. Well, I’m thanatophobic, anyway. I’ll let you make up your own mind as to how unhinged that actually is. So what is it, then?

A true medical diagnosis, this fear is characterized by an abnormal or irrational fear of death. This fear is often debilitating.Wikipedia

I’ll just point out the obvious — having a fear of death is not irrational: I think it’s a perfectly sound and logical thing to have a fear of. After all, it’s not something anyone tries to encourage, is it? Having said that, I think it’s fair to say that I do suffer from an abnormal fear of death, and while it’s not exactly debilitating, it can be pretty darn unpleasant at times. It probably does affect my quality of life to some extent, and therefore it’s fair to say that I’m thanatophobic.

Now most people are scared of death. It’s a bad thing. You tootle along, minding your own business, and then suddenly BANG! you’re not there any more. No you. I find this thought truly terrifying. Most people would probably nod their heads, agree and then promptly forget about it and just get on with life. Not me. Unfortunately my brain, being the awkward bastard that it is, seems to be hardwired to permanently return to the subject and at least every other night I spend some time lying in bed being frightened of not being alive.

It’s going to happen at some point. At some point in the future, I’ll be dead, and there’s pretty much nothing I can do about it. I could lose weight, drink less etc and possibly prolong that period of time, but I can’t extend it indefintely. At some point in time, I will die, and the thought of not being there to have thoughts any more absolutely terrifies me.

Thanatophobia on the Web

Fortunately, I found a website which claimed to be able to releive the symptoms of it. Unfortunately, it appeared to be complete hokum, telling me that:

Thanatophobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger

Little or no danger? So death isn’t serious, then? But then again, Red Dwarf already established this, didn’t they, in the episode Future Echoes when the hologram of the ship’s dead crew member Arnold Rimmer was talking to the only surviving crew member, David Lister.

They might be able to cure you. They’ve probably made great advances and that while we’ve been away.
Oh, yes, I expect they cured death the instant we left Earth. I expect doctors’ surgeries are packed with the dead. “Hello, Mrs Johnson, take one of these three times a day, you’ll soon be living again. Carol, next corpse please.”

Red Dwarf – Future Echoes

In fact, if you google thanatophobia, you’ll find a medical definition, a short, Wikipedian definition, a couple of phobia treatment centres and a few more assorted definitions. Maybe in a few weeks you’ll also find my site. It seems to me that it’s something that’s uncommon, or at least not particularly talked about. People who are scared of spiders, dogs, snakes, sure everyone’s heard of them. Good old sensible phobias. But being scared of death isn’t something anyone talks about. Is this because no-one else out there is at all scared of death, or because you’re able to not think about it? God, I wish I was.

Curing Thanatophobia

Of course, I’m presuming that I’m being perfectly rational in this morbid fear of death, which I’ve had for about five years or so (as an aside, this is when me and my wife got together. One way — and rather a nice one — of looking at it would be to suggest that she means so much to me that the idea I won’t always be able to talk to her is what sparked the whole thing off) . It surprises me that more people aren’t scared about death, to be honest. Not that there’s anything anyone can do, exactly. I mean, it may be that people aren’t normally scared because there’s some hormone or something which dampens down, or shuts off this fear in other people, and I may be missing it, or have it less or something. If so, it’s possible that I could be treated. But I don’t want to be treated in that way: that would just mask the problem.

I mean, really, when you get down to it, there’s three or four ways that you can get rid of thanataphobia. You could:

  1. Become convinced in an afterlife
  2. Somehow convince yourself to stop worrying about it
  3. Drug/Electroshock treatment if appropriate
  4. Die

Obviously for a thanatophobic — but at least a thanatophobic with a sense of humour — that last one isn’t really one of the options you’d want to consider. Personally I like the first option the best.

Religion and Thanatophobia

I suspect that may be part of the problem though: I’m a scientist, and a sceptic by nature. Equally I’ve always been fascinated by religion, spiritual things and what may be termed Forteana. I’d described myself as broadly Christian in outlook — which I’d take pretty much to mean be nice to people, try and help people and be forgiving; the “broadly” part comes in when you take into play the whole swathe of doubts which relate to the existence or otherwise of God, of an afterlife and so on.

Is there an afterlife, or is our existence utterly, utterly meaningless? No, bear with me for a moment and follow my argument. We’re assuming that there isn’t an afterlife: in which case we’re all going to die. All our children, and our children’s children will die. Any works we do — inventions, books, ways of thinking — will die mostly with us, or shortly after our lifespan, or within a few hundred years, or at least when the sun goes supernova and destroys the Earth. And if mankind has left the Earth by then, then by whenever entropy winds everything in the universe down to a halt and all the stars go out. And that’s looking on the bright side. On the negative side, all the environmental damage we’re doing to the planet will be irreversible and the Earth will become uninhabitable in our lifetime or in our children’s lifetimes.

No, I’m not a depressive, since you ask. I’m just giving you the one side of the argument: that in the grand scale of things, nothing you do matters. I’m interested in this sort of thing, and will no doubt watch The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive with Stephen Fry, Carrie Fisher etc, when it’s on soon. Not that I would describe myself as a depressive at all, although some people would possibly describe me as a manic. In answer to “what do you mean, you’re not depressive?” I’ll point out that it’s only my thanatophobia that bothers me. Other than that, I’m a happy chappie. Although interestingly one of the things Stephen Fry says about depression is that “you think about death all the time”. Does this mean I’m depressed without being aware of it? But it’s not that I think about it all the time — obviously more tonight ‘cos I’m writing about it, but you’ve probably got an average of no more than 40 minutes per day. The rest of the time, I’m fine. Unless my manic depression cycle is a daily one …

[Edit: Also just noticed that bloggers Molly and John have both recently posted about depression. Maybe there's something in the air tonight? As long as it's not Phil Collins…]

Although I’ll stick with the phobia, though, because I don’t tend to get depressed about other things: it’s so focussed on that one specific thing. In fact, I suspect that most people who know me — and know me extremely well, don’t realise I’m thanatophobic. Well, I mean, it doesn’t crop up in conversation, does it? Someone talks about spiders; someone else can say “I’m frightened of spiders”, but if the subject of death crops up and you say you don’t like the idea of it, you’re either stating the bleeding obvious or you’re being flippant.

So, anyway, that’s the “What’s the point?” argument neatly summarised. For obvious reasons then, I’d like to believe in an afterlife. However, because I know the big emotional stake I’ve got in it, I’m going to take a fair degree of convincing. I’m not someone who can believe just because Pascal’s Wager suggests I should — if believing was as simple a matter as wanting to, there wouldn’t be a problem. Besides which, if there is an omnipotent being, I can’t imagine that they’d be best impressed if you believed in them just because you thought it was in your own best interests.

To recap then: I’m a scientist by nature who is fascinated by forteana, and has an interest in religion and religious history (by which I mean how religions have grown, trying to understand the historical settings to religious events etc). I’d also like to believe in an afterlife, because I’m terrified of death, but because I know that there is a risk of deluding myself into believing, I’m probably even more sceptical than I normally would be.

The Odd Stuff

First of all, I’ll accept that anecdotes prove nothing, particularly because of the risk of self-delusion. However, I’m going to tell you my anecdotes which makes me think that there might be something beyond our understanding — although whether that means there’s an afterlife or not is a different matter. I’ll tell you about my dreams, thoughts and experiences and what they have meant to me. I appreciate that none of these things are evidence, but you also need to understand that I have not taken any of these things as evidence, either.

Firstly, a ghost story. I was working in a pub cellar (that specific pub cellar, and no, I’d not heard the stories at the time) when I saw a dark shape/shadow move out of the corner of my eye and felt it cross behind me and go up the stairs. When I turned (after finishing getting the ice), there was no-one there. So I went back up out of the cellar to be greeted by a surprised barman who could have sworn that just five seconds earlier, out of the corner of his eye, he’d seen me exit the cellar and go through to the kitchen. And yes we were the only two on that night. Note that the preceeding link leads to a site about Ghosts in Lancaster. I’m not saying the pub is haunted; I’m just saying that was quite a freaky experience, and the picture of the cellar they have is almost exactly as I remember it.

Secondly, an odd daytime experience. I was on honeymoon in Corfu, we were on a day-trip (I think off Corfu) and we were visiting various historical sites. We were standing at a site known as the Oracle of The Dead, and the guide was saying that this was where people would come to ask questions of the dead. I had idly wondered to myself where exactly they stood, had a feeling about it and said to my wife that I was sure he was wrong, it was underground and at 90 degrees to where he was suggesting. Two minutes later he took us round a corner that we couldn’t have seen round and led us down a flight of steps into the underground chamber where sure enough we were pointing in the direction I’d thought. Again, a bit freaky. Had the Dead answered my unspoken question? Or was it just coincidence?

Then, one time shortly after the honeymoon I was lying in bed trying to sleep and prayed to have my mind put at ease and stop morbidly thinking about death. That night I had a dream that I was back with my wife on honeymoon, and that the world was hovering on the edge of nuclear war. Then the buttons were pushed, the missiles started flying and we all knew we were going to die. At this point however, a vision of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child appeared in the air, which everyone saw and pretty much demonstrated the existence of God. However, I still got off the bus — by myself — and ran like buggery to try and get away from the missiles. I dived into a river as I saw one approaching — and then “awoke” in something like an airport lounge with various other people discussing what “missions” we’d have in our next lives. When I actually woke up, I was left with the knowledge that even if I knew there was an afterlife — as I did in the dream — I’d still be terrified of death, and so to some extent my prayer was answered — although not in the way I’d hoped.

Of course, we’re talking dreams, subconscious thoughts, and all that sort of thing to consider in each of these cases. That’s why they don’t demonstrate to me that there is something else. Although then that leaves me wondering regardless of what proof I was given, whether I would have rationalised it away within two years?

I certainly rationalise away odd events on a daily basis — doors opening by themselves; boots “jumping” down the stairs at a friend’s house; small objects disappearing and only reappearing when I ask seemingly empty rooms “can you put them back where I can find them?”. All entirely explainable. But then part of me wonders if I’m just wired in such a way that I’ll explain these things away.

What Next?

Where do we go from here? Well, firstly, remember, I’m not depressive and I’m not suicidal. So no great diatribes as to why I should look on the bright side please. I do, mostly. I guess I want to leave you with one thought, and two questions/invitations.

The thought was — I thought — a quote, but as I can’t locate it, I’ll have to leave it unattributed:

How do you want to be remembered?
I don’t. I want to still be here.

Next, the thanatophobic bit: am I the only thanatophobic who is prepared to talk about it? Does anyone else suffer from it? Does anyone else feel similarly at all? Is this article similar in any way to your experiences, or that of anyone you know? How does it make you feel?

Finally, the forteana/explaining stuff away bit. Have you ever had odd stuff happen to you that you can’t really explain but you’ve pretty much shrugged off thinking that their must have been a rational explanation, even if you can’t think of it? Do you ever find missing things reappear only when you ask for them back?

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602 Comments to Living with thanatophobia

  1. Molly E. Holzschlag says:

    September 12th, 2006 at 12:19 am

    What a post, wshew. I kept reading because I have two people in my family who absolutely have this syndrome without necessarily having depression. I never knew there was a specific name for it.

    My mother, and one of my brothers have this exactly. My mother’s case is severe and I suspect lifelong, but she is not depressive. One of my brothers suffers greatly from it too, and has suffered some mild but not major depression in his life. I had a very short bout of this when I went through puberty, lasting less than a year but I remember it was misery. I’ve never had it since.

    The “thinking about death” in depressive illness is different, I think. It’s more that the loss of joy in life makes it difficult to have any hope, which makes one feel like living is just not worth it. It’s not a constant rumination and concern and brain chatter about death and dying. I wonder if thanatophobia is a form of OCD?

  2. JackP says:

    September 12th, 2006 at 12:38 am

    @Molly: well, that’s reassuring. I don’t have to worry about being a depressive then, it’s just the death thing :-;

    Plus the fact that it’s not just me being a total nutjob is nice to know, too. It’s a good word for it, though, isn’t it? I’m guessing — well, I say it’s a guess but I’d be pretty darn surprised if it’s wrong — it’s from Thanatos, the Greek personification of death.

  3. Jamie says:

    September 18th, 2006 at 7:45 am

    Reading this felt like all my thoughts poured into one page. As far as I knew I thought I was the only person with this problem. And just like you, I am not someone I’d call depressed, quite the opposite…I’m always smiling and cheerful. I think maybe that is the problem too, I love the life too much, I can’t imagine not to have it.
    You mentioned these thoughts of death occur about 40 minutes a day for you. For me, maybe only 40 minutes a day I am not thinking about death. I feel really tired, I just want to live and not think about it. Also, when you mentioned ultimate termination of the universe, I feel like I wouldn’t want to be alive then. I don’t want to see the end of the world, but at the same time I would like to have my apperception, my ability to think — the most precious tool in the world. I used to even have panic attacks while going through this dreadful routine of thoughts, now I try to control it, but there sure is turmoil within me.
    Are there things that can stop this? If you have any suggestions please email me.

  4. Lynda Mangoro says:

    September 18th, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Well that was interesting reading! All the more inteesting because I think I could at one time be classed as suffering from this condition. Like you, it cam hand in hand with meeting my husband and became stronger with the borth of each of my children. i mean sheesh, the thought of leaving them behind, not being able to talk to them, or hug them….still makes me want to cry.

    However, I like to think of myself as recovering…mainly due to my active seeking of knowledge of the afterlife! It’s funny really, my husband is an unquestioning believer that this life is just a small part of something bigger and has never been scared of dying. I’m coming around to his way of thinking and I for one now belive our life doesn’t end when we leave this world…of course that has to be a personal belief.

    If you’re interested, the book that really got me following this path of belief was Robert Monroes book journeys out of the body in which he describes his experiences with the spirit world. However there are many books out there and you have o choose what you believe….

    Great article on ALA btw about Standartistas! (from one of the lesser variety!)

  5. Grant Broome says:

    September 29th, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    It’s weird but when I look up in the night sky and see the stars and think about the vastness of the universe and what I represent in it, I tend to lose my anxieties. It’s as if through that perspective I see my own enormous insignificance and that everything will continue regardless of me. It’s as if not being of any real importance brings some kind of kooky reassurance.

  6. bt says:

    October 8th, 2006 at 7:10 am

    wow, I could have written this myself (although probably not as eloquently)!

  7. Matthew Lee says:

    October 9th, 2006 at 7:20 am

    I have recently encountered this phobia. It is debilitating and obviously I’d kill to get a cure, except I don’t do killing. Sometimes I think that religions such as Christianity were created as a cure for what we call thanatophobia, at other times I think there is comfort to be gained so who cares how.

    Your argument makes sense to me where your bias towards religion makes you even more skeptical. I was brought up Christian but for some reason I stopped believing in the actual being “God” due to hypocrisy, diatribe and contradiction. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in something, however I am not sure what it is I believe.

    I want to live my life the way it was supposed to be lived. I am sure that we should treat others well. “Do unto others” is a very true religious wisdom. I am pretty sure we weren’t supposed to be moping about trying to come to terms with death.

    Sometimes I see death in the context of evolution: improvement by dying. This may imply that the human race is itself a sentient being comprised of all its parts. If that is not the reason, then the reason must be some sort of transcendence. Either way you look at it, we are here for a reason. As a part of the huge evolutionary our role is that of a workhorse. There is no glory, except to know that we’ve done our best job. As a part of a greater context, who knows, life may be a test or punishment for previous sins.

    I would be interested in any responses.

  8. K L says:

    October 11th, 2006 at 5:54 am

    I too have this fear and never even realised there was a name for it. In fact it never occurred to me that this fear of death was actually a phobia. I wish I could say it was comforting to read that I am not the only one to suffer from this, but this fear sometimes consumes me and I just dont think that I will ever overcome it.

    I am from the UK and moved to the US 5 years ago. I think i have always had the fear of death, even as a child but in the last, maybe 2 or 3 years it has just gotten worse. Somebody once said that its probably worse now because I am so far away from my family.(I have no relatives in US). And yes, this seems to be a reasonable assumption but I just wish the dreadful feelings would go away.

    When I try and explain to people what it is, they think that it is a fear of dying itself and the actual physical and possible painful event of dying. But for me it is more about the fear of not being here and ‘not wanting to leave’ and leaving my loved ones behind.

    I do think that faith is probably the best ‘cure’ for this but does anyone know of any other ways? I am not depressed, I just wish I could feel acceptance of the inevitable.

  9. Sanch says:

    October 23rd, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    Sums up the way I have been feeling for the past year. Everyday having these same thoughts. Last “attack” before this was 5 years ago. Can’t seem to shake off this one.. need to get distracted from it somehow.

  10. dion says:

    October 29th, 2006 at 9:16 am

    This is the fear that have encounted for the 2nd time. The first time (5 years ago) was so bad and debilitating that I was on medication for 5 months and required councelling.
    My second attack started last Thursday / Friday and I am in the middle of trying to sort it out. Weird things can set it off. Eg, drive past a funeral procession, no problem. Hold my 5 month old son and sometimes the feelings of death and being gone come up??? Worst early morning and night time.
    The fear is so bad if anyone out there has a known treatment option that works. Please let me know. Not one of those cover it up things where it will come back or some religious jargon. I’m looking for a change in mindset were death is accepted but not looked forward to. Niether my father (who cardiac arrested and revived) or my mother or wife share my fears. Very debilitating and lonely

  11. Anonymous says:

    October 31st, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    I am just about to begin my journey to try and come to terms with this nightmare scenario.

    Ever since my fathers first heart attack and my Gran died in the same week I have had occasional attacks of anxiety and panic.

    Since then I have also held my friends hand when she died and this seems to have had a lasting change on my own lifestyle.

    Everyday I live with the fear of not only myself “dying” or “not being Hear” but also of losing my close family and friends also. Just thinking about it brings on the sensations of anxiety.

    It annoys me how it just pops into your head and ruins your day!!!!!

    I still have an active social life but as far as pushing myself I just dont seem to be able to physically do it anymore, its as if I have lost my fitness overnight – I am a 33 year old ex soldier who has played sport and been fit all my life and enjoyed doing it!!!!

    I just wish I could turn off these feelings I know that it is an inevitable part of life but I don`t want it ruining what I have left by thinking about it all the time.

    Thanks for listening, Scott

  12. Heather says:

    November 8th, 2006 at 8:43 am

    This is intresting. Here I sit, just calming myself down from an anxiety attack from this very fear. I’ve been dealing with it for a few years now and it seems to come and go. For some reason it’s been terrible lately. I don’t know what makes it come and go but once it’s here it’s just awful. It’s almost 3am and I’m lying in bed thinking about it then I went into a panic attack. I normally work nights from 9pm to 5am and I thought I could catch up on some sleep since I was off tonight. I rarely get any sleep and it seems to be all I think about lately.
    I was just browsing the internet trying to see if others had the same problem. I didn’t even realize there was a name for it. I was telling my fiancee of five years about it and he just doesn’t seem to understand.
    Are there any books out there that could possibly shed some light on this whole situation?

  13. Heidi says:

    November 10th, 2006 at 1:25 am

    Its a funny thing when people look at u from the outside and think ohh what a beautiful and sweet 26 yrold girl in the prime of her life. Yet inside lurks dark ugly thoughts. Thoughts of death and sickness. I have become obsessed and id like to meet a man of any age like me, so that we can mutually understand eachother and live life till it all ends. E-mail me, we may click and then spiritually travel to heights above this thanatophobia and this world.
    [JackP: email address removed.]

    [JackP: I'm also not convinced that this post is genuine since the email address given doesn't match with the username provided, but the rest of the comment seems fairly safe so I'll leave it in. Sharron/Heidi, apologies if you are genuine, but I don't really want to be offering a dating service, for thanatophobics or anyone else!]

  14. dion says:

    November 10th, 2006 at 9:52 am

    Whilst this continues to get me down and I feel like shit when I think of the inevitability of dying, I would say to people out there with this fear/ phobia to seek treatment from your doctor or “shrink”. Whilst my fear is VERY real and remains I do feel a little better having sought help and treatment. Can help to calm the mind while you put things into perspective.

  15. scott says:

    November 10th, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    Since my post on 31st October have visited my local GP a couple of times.

    He has shown a great interest and we have been chatting and both decided not to go down the medicinal route but to try and explore “spirituality”. He is a Chinese man and we have discussed various faiths and also the inevitability of death, and, how these faiths deal with it e.g “life after death, Rebirth or reincarnation etc…” .Have always been a sceptic myself :)

    Although I know this isn`t going to disappear overnight, his genuine interest has already helped in some small way and I know if I dont get to grips with it it will just turn me into someone who is afraid to push himself in anyway and the quality of life I see most people enjoying will never be achievable, and lets face it thats all any of us want, to enjoy life and live it to the full!!!!!!

    One of the next steps we are going to try is maybe some form of charity or helping others in some way. I guess its about feeling good about yourself and grasping life with both hands.

    Good luck everyone!!!!


  16. Roxanne says:

    November 14th, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    I have been suffering from this phobia since I was young girl (now almost 27). It comes and goes throughout the years, but always comes back (almost like my brain has it’s spam blocker turned off).

    I’m convinced there is no cure. There is no cure because no one knows for sure (100%, concrete, hard scientific fact) what happens when you die. The only fact we have is that you physically cease to exist.

    Since I mainly get my attacks right before I go to bed I found the best way to avoid an attack is to fall asleep watching TV, or anything else that distracts my brain from thinking about it. Sure you wake up at 4am to turn the tv off, but you easily fall back asleep.

    Amazingly I’m not afraid of how I’m going to die, fire, cancer, drowning…sure it all sucks but it doesn’t bother me. Not existing bothers me. I love life too much not to be here…the ups and the downs.

    To re-iterate other poeple’s experiences, I am also not depressed. I am a VERY happy person. Meeting me you would never know that I suffer these aweful panic attacks.

  17. JackP says:

    November 14th, 2006 at 7:27 pm

    your thoughts seem to particularly resonate with my own – I’m not so bothered how, it’s the fact I’m going to die in the first place that I object to!

    Similarly, I can’t get to sleep without the TV, radio etc on (but mine has a sleep function so it turns itself off after 90 minutes).

    And I love the spam filter concept!

  18. anonymous says:

    November 18th, 2006 at 1:01 pm

    One of the things that has stuck in my mind when dealing with this is something that my father said to me a couple of weeks ago. It’s something that as he has got older, no longer scares him. I too am not scared of how it happens or even to a certain point when, it’s the fact of WHAT happens to my conciousness when I die. Do I know I’m dead? Is there an afterlife? Does human life have meaning? If there is no afterlife, does that mean that people like Hitler and Mother Theresa have the same outcome at death? Blah Blah etc etc. Questions no-one alive can 100% tell any of us.

  19. D says:

    November 25th, 2006 at 11:20 am

    I found this link while researching thanatophobia, coz I felt pretty much the same way… I linked to your blog in my post… coz I feel wot you’ve written is very well-articulated and is very similar to the way I think…

  20. D says:

    November 25th, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    Ummm, I don’t advertise this; well not on my blog anyway… I’m an agnostic… soooo yeah…
    Thanks for visiting!!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    December 2nd, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    I think the quote about being remembered for achieving immortality is Woody Allen by the way. Right – that’s the pedantry done with. For three years on and off I’ve been suffering anxiety attacks. It started when I was 47 and up until then I was, at least I think, pretty much OK, well balanced and happy. It took me a while to even realise that the anxiety was death related and to be honest, no one in the medical profession has offered me any useful help. The ludicrous paradox for me is that sometimes I’m so afraid of dying, and at other times that fear gets to be so much that feel I can’t bear carrying on like this. How daft is that?
    I don’t know if the following will help anyone, but one small practical tip I’ve found useful is that alcohol DEFINITELY makes the anxiety worse.

  22. Melissa says:

    December 5th, 2006 at 7:49 am

    I think I may be thanaphobic.

    I’ve just discovered this term online, which is probably dangerous. For the past 3 and a half months I have been to several doctors (and emergency wards) because of chest pains. I’ve seen a counsellor as well who says that they are panic attacks. Every time it happens I am convinced there is something wrong with my heart, and as I’m sure you can imagine, that is a terrifying feeling.

    I’ve since been able to convince myself that I’m not having a heart attack, but there has not been a single day for a long time during which I haven’t had to convince myself several times a day that I’m “OK.” I’m absolutely terrified of dying, especially anytime soon.

    The worst part of it is, as you’ve explained, that this IS NOT irrational. Dropping dead WOULD be the worst possible thing that could happen. What IS irrational, however, is wasting hours worrying about it when the chances of my dropping dead today are ridiculously slim. But, I can’t quite kick it and it’s ruining weeks of my life at a time.

    I’m not sure why I’m posting this. I was just happy to read this and to know where you are coming from. Thanks for sharing,


  23. Jesse says:

    December 5th, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    It is remarkable…

    Like many before me have said, I thought I was the only one who had this issue…

    I have been to about 6 or 7 therapists with this issue. None of them have ever given me a diagnosis.

    My wife thinks I am nuts… She is perfectly happy only having 60-80 years to exist.

    The idea of me not existing just makes me become dysfunctional. I don’t want to work, eat, sleep, do anything. And the funny thing is I don’t think it is “depression”. I don’t feel sad, or unhappy. I just feel pointless. That, in the end, it will not matter anyway.

    And like everyone above, the actual act of dying doesn’t scare me… The fact that I will no longer exist terrifies me.

  24. Ditto says:

    December 6th, 2006 at 7:39 pm

    I just happened upon this site by accident. I have spent months (almost 1 1/2 yrs) being unable to get rid of this same feeling. I have convinced myself that I will die of cancer and I can’t shake it. Again, it is not really the dying that scares me–althought it does a good job. It is the time between finding the lump or the doctor finding something in a routine exam and getting the diagnosis, and being told it is termina, and the last day. I say cancer, because it is a slow killer and a common one. I almost have less of a fear of being killed by a car accident or massive heart attack (something instantaneous) because I won’t know it is coming. I believe in God and Jesus. I also hope in an afterlife. But what is strange is that even though I have these deep beliefs, even if there is nothing, I don’t mind–I won’t know because I will be dead! The real fear is leaving my family–my husband, sisters, and parents and the pain that hearing I will die will cause them. The time between learning I will die and dying will be hell. Some people say they are using the time to focus on the positives and living life to the fullest. I am afraid that I would spend it freaking out and being depressed beyond belief. I couldn’t handle it. I also think about the pain I would cause my husband and the waste of what could have been a wonderful marriage. The guilt of this overwhelms me. Again, like almost everyone here, I am not depressed outwardly. I really have a good time when I am not focused on this–but more and more I think about it. When I have something else to preoccupy my mind I am fine. Any thoughts. I am so glad I found this site.

  25. Ditto says:

    December 6th, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    One other thing I forgot to include is that I am panicky about dying young. That is REALLY terrifying to me.

  26. Anonymous says:

    December 10th, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    A fear of death is totally irrational, you silly sod.

  27. JackP says:

    December 10th, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    A fear of death is totally irrational, you silly sod.

    Mind telling me why? It seems like a perfectly rational fear to me…

    …unless of course you can prove to me the existence of an afterlife. Anyone wanting to have a go at that (spiritualists, mediums, etc) is more than welcome.

    It’s only fair to warn you I’ll be skeptical though — not closed-minded, that’s a different thing — but skeptical.

  28. Daniela says:

    December 11th, 2006 at 5:06 pm

    I am so glad I foubd this site. I was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive thinking) and it has ruined my life. I am not the person who I used to be. The constant thought of death is torturing me. Anyone have any advice?

  29. Brien says:

    December 12th, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    well i am so confused by this unacceptable fear of death what is there to be afraid of. why in the world would you want to waste your time worring about an event that cannot stop or cannot be avoided. i am not hating on you for being afraid. you can be scared for a while and to an extent but to go as far as loosing sleep or putting this fear up as a wall to prevent growth is just wierd. again not calling you wierd i dont know what it is like or how it feels to be afraid of death. it cant hurt you. death is death. i am not a religion freak but i found that believing in a god or afterlife helps in taking your mind off death. even if there is no god at least you will be able to keep your mind off death.

  30. Joannah Griffith says:

    December 18th, 2006 at 1:57 am


    You managed to put all of my thoughts into words, wow! And made it very interesting to.

    I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and I am recovering from this.. I don’t understand how I was ever suicidal! I just don’t get it.

    I cry myself to sleep because I am absolutely terrified of dying. It is the worst fear ever. I hate it I hate it I hate it.
    It went away for a few years and now it’s back and I can’t get rid, it’s only been a few weeks since it’s got bad, but it’s REALLY bad.

    I don’t know what to do.

    I am obsessed. I go online & fill out “death clocks” and watch the seconds counting down & I am terrified. Truely.

    My neighbour who died, I saw her daily, my mums best friend, she said “I Don’t want to die, I don’t want to die” in hospital – over 80 years old, and she died the next week when I was away :( .. never got to say goodbye, it was so distressing, knowing she didn’t want to die.

    So so distressing :( . I hate it.

    I want to grab you & cuddle you. I really do. Is there any way I can be in contact with you?

  31. Tracey says:

    December 26th, 2006 at 9:01 am

    I can’t believe it. I just got out of bed because I was lying there for so long thinking about death. I figured I would finally see if there was any information that could help me online because it so it bloody debilitating.

    Yours is about the seventh or so site I’ve been too, and I laughed when I saw that quote up top “Thanatophobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger.”
    I thought the exact same thing. No danger huh? Wonder what world they’re living in? Oh yes, the how can we make money out of people’s misery-land, right.

    I found myself nodding along and agreeing with everything you’ve said, and all the other posters here as well.

    I think my true terror came after I had been mugged by a group of people. I realised that I had absolutely no control over the outcome and they could very well take my life in a second. Gets you to thinking about everything else about death that you can’t control, or even be aware of! I find thats the unfair part. I think I could probably cope with nearly anything if I knew what was going to happen.

    I find it interesting that so many of us have so many of the same symptoms and experiences though. Maybe there might be…some hope for a cure if its so streamlined, right?
    I’m going to bookmark this site anyway, I’m just thankful that I’m not alone and a freak, anymore, at least.

  32. Marica says:

    December 30th, 2006 at 11:28 am

    Thank god for your site! It would appear that my partner is suffering from Thanatophobia and I truly don’t know what to do. How severe is your case? He is waking up in the middle of the night screaming and running about screaming how he can no longer handle it. Unlike you, he has more of a tendency to looking at the glass half empty and I am very concerned about him. Not too sure about he best way to support him. My words do not sooth him, and my hugs seem to send him into more of a frenzy. Help!!?

  33. JackP says:

    December 31st, 2006 at 3:56 am

    I don’t know to be honest. I know when I’m feeling particularly bad I like to just snuggle up beside my wife and that makes me feel a little better.

    Beyond that, I don’t really know. Being occupied with other thoughts and focussing on something else helps (but it can be difficult to remain focussed), but I’d guess convincing myself in an afterlife is probably the only permanent solution.

  34. Gon says:

    January 20th, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    This website has made me feel so good.
    I known i have thanatophobia since i was about 11 (so for six years), i tried to hide my panic attacks from my family, but then i had a very public panic attack about two years ago where i was absolutely taken over in anxiety about death. I just couldnt control my fear anymore.
    Since then, i try to supress my panic attacks when my mind wanders to death. I have them usually at night or in silently in crowded rooms.
    I would do anything not to be scared of death and i get so embrassed when i try to explain to my friends my fear. I believe in jesus and afterlife. But…this sounds stupid but… i just wish i knew for sure there was an afterlife. I guess im not as faithful as i’d like.

    i also think i suffer from hypnogognic paralysis, which i think is linked to my fear of death.
    After all, phobias are the result of the way the brain is wired. And i suppose the reason why i’m like this must be because i wired slightly differently from most people.

    Like most of the people with thanatophobia, i’m cheerful, and spend most of my time laughing but when everyone’s gone, i become my thanotophobic self.

    I’m so glad other people have this condition.

  35. CJ says:

    January 23rd, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Incredible stuff – I’m another one who’s going to say ‘you’ve taken the words out of my mouth’ :-)

    Quick summary: Only ever hits just before sleeping – need to have TV or radio on to actually get to sleep – only like this for the last year or so…. sound familiar?

    Seeing other folk have similar experiences actually makes me feel better about it all in a selfish kind of way though – so thanks for a great post! (that’s not schadenfreude surely though right? lol)

    Stay Happy! :-)

  36. Jennifer Ballenger says:

    January 30th, 2007 at 6:06 am

    It IS completely rational, in my thanatophobic opinion anyhow. I have just finished reading Tuesday’s with Morrie, which is an inspiring book for any average Jo, but I certainly would not recommend it to anyone suffering from thanatophobia! I’ve been wrestling with a debilitating fear of death and anxiety for about 10 years or so and the more I learn about Religion and belief, the more cynical and fearful I become. From these posts alone, I have learnt that there are several common features of this phobia – 1. A lack of faith in the afterlife (damn you, lucky believers!), 2. It is worse at night, 3. Panic attacks are common and likely, 4. Illness or death of others aggrevates the condition, 5. It is more common than any of us probably expected.
    Thanks for the post.

  37. Anonymous says:

    February 5th, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Thanks for the site JackP.

    My thoughts and fears are similar to your own, i.e. the fear of death of course, being a scientist and therefore somewhat of a skeptic, and most interestingly my fear becomes most pronounced when I am happiest in life. It is at these times when I feel that death is the one thing that can ruin. And since I would consider myself a happy person my fears of death seem to come often.

    Also interesting is the fact that I imagine if someone I was close to were to die before me I might feel better about death in general.

    One comfort to me is thinking about the history of mankind, i.e. how every human being before us had died. It’s the way it is. I don’t know why I find comfort in this. Perhaps it’s something to do with the paragraph above, like as long as others do it, it’ll be okay when I do it. Wierd.

    Sadly, even though billions of people have gone through death, no one has lived to tell about it!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  38. Katharine says:

    February 5th, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Thank goodness I’ve found this site. It’s 11.10pm and I’m have a “panic attack” thinking about the inevitable. Hot sweats, chest tightening, loss of mental control…well almost! Does anyone have any quick fixes for this that have worked? My main fear seems to be the overwhleming sense of not having control over when or how I die and the prospect of leaving 3 small children without a mother. As someone has previously mentioned, these feelings seem to manifest themselves just before bedtime, although I did have a “turn” on the tube the other day when stuck in a tunnel for ages. Any quick tips would be great as I want to go to bed and sleep. the kids will have me up at 6.00am!

  39. lu says:

    February 7th, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Hi, I’m Lu,I’m 29 and I’m italian (so,sorry if my English is not perfect)…Since last year,I’m so obsessed by fear of death, that I entered “Thanatophobia” in Google to find anything about it in any country…so I found this site…I’m glad to have found it,It makes me feel less lonely and desperate….I often think my life is getting over,and it causes me panic attacks and sadness…
    I hope we all can get out from this hard condition.

  40. Jen says:

    February 9th, 2007 at 8:10 am

    This site is great! I was very surprised that so many others suffer from this condition. I am having a hard time sleeping right now because my heart is pounding worrying about death. I am scared more about not being here and leaving my family behind than anything else. I have a feeling that becoming more involved in religion would be helpful, but I don’t want the fear of this fear to be the only reason for my doing so. This is so frustrating. I was just sitting here watching a TV show and the fear came on all of a sudden. I’ve been okay for a couple of weeks but it’s back now. I suppose I will take comfort in knowing that in the morning I will feel better.

  41. JackP says:

    February 9th, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    I think from reading the comments one of the things that has struck me is that how a lot of us find comfort in knowing we’re not alone in having these thoughts, which we probably don’t voice to others because we’re worried they’d sound pretty stupid…

    I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to comment too!

  42. Son says:

    February 13th, 2007 at 8:29 am

    I agree – these words could have been written by me!! But what about tips for healing? Living our lives in a state of fear is no fun so can we not find a method to control our thoughts? Any suggestions?

  43. Nina Jones says:

    February 14th, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    i’m so glad i am not alone. i have an obsessional fear of death which is ruining my life. like you my brain is always doing overtime i keep repeating in my mind over and over again… how can an afterlife be real if the world is made up for billions of organisms that we can’t even see, if we go to heaven where does everything else go?? how can afterlife exist??? and if there is one then what does eternity mean??? do we stay in heaven forever??? is there never an end. I suffer from extreme panic attacks because of it. I have spells where I don’t think about death for a week or so but some weeks it keeps me up all night. I’m only 19 and this condition which i can only brand OBSESSIONAL is taking over my life. I don’t know whether to see a gp or a therapist. i just think how can they help me if they don’t have the answers to all of my questions?? will my phobia ever be cured??? the thought of dying gives me the shakes and i hyperventilate sometimes whilst crying for hours!! glad i’m not alone, wish i could meet some of you all so we could share our thoughts. thanks for posting this jack it has been a great comfort for me to read… but my phobia will live on!

  44. Son says:

    February 15th, 2007 at 8:34 am

    I do think therapy will help all of us. It may cost alot but it is important and it helps to talk. I also think looking into some philosophies about afterlife and to try to control your thoughts to have faith. I know, incredibly difficult but we are all wrecking our lives by obsessing about something that is inevitable. I have severe panic attacks too, in fact, I think all of my anxiety has a root in the denial and fear of my own death. Now, to get a handle on it. I am going to try hypnotherapy and I also believe in making your life busy and full. I am not very skilled at it but positive thinking also helps and it may help to prepare for your death – talk about what you want done at your funeral, make a will, write a book etc. I wish I was Mexican and believed in the dead returning back for a visit one day a week (not that I think all Mexicans believe this) but it is nice to believe that death is not entirely permanent, in terms of your spirit. But we do live on beyond our physical body through our friends and family. Although I know that sucks because we want to live forever but this is biologically impossible. I don’t know if this is any help my ramblings. Maybe think about what your purpose is on Earth and that you are but one piece in the millions of pieces of matter.

  45. Daniela says:

    February 15th, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Reading this put my mind at ease (well, atleast a little bit). I have been suffering from this for about 6 months now, and it’s terrible. I was diagnosed with OCD but I still think it’s a phobia. The thought of death is on my mind 99.9% of the day. There isn’t a minute of the day that goes by that I don’t think of it. I remember when I used to be able to go to the cemetary and be just fine, and now the thought of the cemetary freaks me out. I am currently in therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and erp. I don’t find this to be working. I am being exposed to the fear but I don’t feel any different about it. I was on anti-anxiety meds, but I refuse to take them because I just become numb to the thought and once the medication wears off I feel anxious again. Does ANYONE have any advice? There has to be something that we can do. I understand that death is inevitable, but will there ever be a day that goes by where I don’t think about it? Can anyone relate?


  46. Kel says:

    February 20th, 2007 at 3:35 am

    As I sit here reading this alone in my dorm room, I can’t help but bawl my eyes out. When I was younger, around 11 and 12 years of age, I suddenly developed severe panic attacks where I was too scared to leave my house or hometown because I had the fear that someone in my family, or that I loved dearly, would die if I wasn’t around to help prevent it. My mom enrolled me in therapy and within 3 or 4 months the therapy treatment, along with self disipline, helped ease these attacks. Although I no longer suffered from severe panic attacks on a routine basis, the feelings of dizzyness, sweating palms, and delusions would come back when I had to to take part in things that scared me like flying in a plane, riding on an elevator, etc. Recently though I’ve begun to have panic attacks again, although the thoughts of others dying isn’t so much a concern as the fear I have of my own death and morality. I started recreationally smoking marijuana about 5 months ago, and during a recent high the panic attacks came on so intensly that I thought I needed to go to the Emergency Room. I’m so scared. I have a loving boyfriend and family ,and I’m hoping by talking to them about this and possibly getting therapy again I can start living my life the way I want to. I don’t really believe in God, but I want my life on Earth to have a purpose. I want to seem more special than a common ant that people would step on with little thought or regard. I just want to know everything is going to be OK. I hope I seek help soon enough before it’s too late. Knowing other people feel this way has been a huge comfort. Thank you for being so honest.

  47. Jennifer says:

    February 22nd, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I thought that it was just me having these worries. I’m too embarrassed to talk about it with my family, because they all seem to accept death very well, especially my brother. He does not fear death, and I envy him so much on that.

    I have had struggled with symptoms of OCD since I was 9 or 10. While I have been afraid of dying since around this point, it goes in stages. Lately it has worsened because of the death of one of my professors in December. I wasn’t even close to him, but I was really looking forward to taking another class with him. I saw him four days before he died in a plane crash. Just thinking of the last time we talked, how he offered pizza to me and was so nice, and then how he was dead four days later just was so hard to think of when I found out.

    I wish I could put my faith in an afterlife, but I can’t. I really hope that it is so, but my scientific thinking takes over my faith. I believe in God and I hope that he rewards us after he dies, but sometimes I can’t help thinking that maybe He won’t.

    Taking deep breathes and calling my family members to see how they are helps my anxiety. It also helps me to think that I am here on this Earth for a reason, and that I should work as hard as I can to enjoy my life before it passes. I think dying will be a lot easier if I have had a full life without any regrets.

    Thank you again for posting this. It helps so much to know that I’m not alone. I hope that everyone who has posted on here can overcome their fear, including me!

  48. Briana says:

    February 28th, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    I have never read an article where someone has summed up the way that i feel so well. Although I am only 17 years old I like in permanent fear of what will happen to our body and our “soul” after we die. I know I have had this all of my life because I can remember crying about eternity to my mom when I was younger. It wasn’t until recently that I started having panic attacks. I can’t sleep or have normal conversations because the topic is on my mind all day long.
    I have started looking more into my faith but I think that I am skeptical about it because I look at the death aspect so much. I don’t want to be like this my whole life and I would really love it if someone had any pointers to share. Thanks so much!

  49. Anonymous says:

    February 28th, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    I am also 17 years old and have been suffering with this since I first learned that people died. I was in pre-school and I was learning about the American presidents; I asked where George Washington was now, and the teacher said he was dead. Since that first day when I learned what death was, I have been completely terrified of it. I am an atheist and therefore cannot believe in the afterlife, but just like in this post, I passionately want to believe in such an idea- but my pride and personal integrity keeps me from doing so and believing in something that is not real. I just want to exist! Up until a few months ago, I could forget for weeks at a time that I eventually will have to die, but sometimes it would creep up on me and I would have massive panic attacks where I had to remind myself to breath and frantically searched for a way to take my mind off of my thoughts. Then a few months ago, I was sick with the flu for a week and has a series of these panic attacks within just a few days. Since then, I constantly think about death, at least once every two hours, but I can think of it without freaking out with a panic attack…instead I will try to read a comedic book or watch TV (but this is just temporary relief). I am still terrified of it, and just like in this post, don’t see why others are not. My personality is outgoing and cheerful, but I’m afraid to tell my parents about my fear- I do not want them to think that I am depressed and they cannot afford therapy. Yet, I need help. This thinking about death constantly every day is taking a toll on me; i feel stressed out. Advice anyone? Please.

  50. Cassie says:

    March 3rd, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    I’m shocked. I have had exactly this for a while now. I dunno when it came on as such. When I was younger my dad would talk to me about death a lot and I thought I understood and was fine about it and then suddenly, years later it started to scare me. I think it really started to come on when I met my partner. Before that I don’t remember ever giving it serious thought, all my attention was on love and finding someone special. And then we were at a cinema watching severance and this guy died and suddenly it hit me, when I die, thats it, final and I panicked right there and then and started crying. I told my partner and he doesn’t really understand but he tries. I cry about it all the time and it takes over my mind. At night in bed is the worst. I just don’t wanna die. I can’t imagine not being here. Not being able to talk, or think or see. What will happen to all my memories and thoughts? And I get scared of my partner dying too, cos I would miss him so much. I don’t understand why we are here and what life is for and I need to be sure that I am living it right. Bird flu is taking over my mind at the minute, I am so sure I am going to get it and its going to wipe us all out. I don’t know what to do!!

  51. Jeni says:

    March 14th, 2007 at 8:20 am

    i almost don’t want to post this comment because it is making my fear of death real… and death itself real, of course i know death is real, but it is something that i wish i could avoid. i have no idea how to help fix this, although it was quite a relief to see that many other people suffer this horrible phobia. well here it goes.. I am 20 and i have had this phobia since i can remember, although as the years go by it does intensify greatly.. this year has been awful. i had a baby 3 mo. ago.. so the post partum depression and this awful phobia makes it impossible to be sane. i am such a happy person and i find that the more happy i am the more i get depressed.. i wish i could just be happy, but everytime i am i think about the fact that any happy nad evey happy moment will eventually end with death.. and i feel like this is the only phobia that you can never really control.. because death is the only thing that you can’t avoid.. so nomatter how may drugs i may be on in the future, nothing will ever change the fact that we will all die and that the universe will be no more.. why does it matter if it is in seconds or centuries.. all time will come and go. don’t get me wrong, in no way am i suicidal, just scared. this is one of those nights… and i feel like the deeper i get in finding the truth the more scared i become, and the further away i get from some kind of answer. i want to have a happy moment with my husband and new baby that doesn’t end with the fear of never feeling a moment like that or any moment again…. and if there is an afterlife how long is forever really?? which brings me to my other fear… TIME.
    thank you

  52. Jo says:

    March 14th, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    I have read this article with interest and would reiterate comments that it is nice to know there are others who are the same. I started with anxiety about death and the finality of it when I was an adolescent.My problem is that it brings on a full blown panic attack and I hyperventilate, cry out, have palpitations and do the old fight and flight, I visualize myself as dead and it can be terrifying! Not being here, blackness, nothing and thats it! I usually get them at night and again for some reason the panic attacks have returned. Haven’t had one until last night for a year or two! Very bizarre and as someone who worked with life and death situations(Operating theatres/ resus room)on a daily basis up until 4 years ago it really frustrates me that I can’t just get out of this mind set! Any ideas for positive thinking would be greatly appreciated.

  53. jeni says:

    March 23rd, 2007 at 6:10 am

    i totally agree with jo… i am the same way… i cry and freak out sometimes i feel like i am going to die from the fear of death… heart attack or something.. lately i have been trying to distract myself, but nothing really works because this fear is so real.

  54. Mia says:

    March 23rd, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Just found your blog via a google search of thanatophobia – I’ve been really fearing death since I had my 3rd child and almost died from a ruptured appendix during the pregnancy. I don’t fear death for myself per se, I fear my children dying – for instance, if something is wrong with one of them, I’m instantly terrified they’re going to die; but also I fear that they may have to grow up without a mother if I kick.
    It does become an irrational fear, and it does become debilitating. I’m just not really sure what can be done about it.
    What’s really bringing it on now is the fact that I’m a nursing student – I am forced to confront death on a daily basis, whether from reading textbooks or working at clinicals.
    I am also an atheist, and have absolutely no hope for an afterlife.
    Just sucks to be human, I guess!

  55. judy says:

    March 26th, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    I also found your blog via a google search of thanatophobia. It all happened 8 years ago, I had a major panic attack when I accidentally thought about death. Since then I’ve been dealing with it on and off. Up till today I had a few good years in between but a year agothanatophobia kicked back big time.

    Now I’m seeing a therapist weekly (I was diagnosed Anxiety Disorder) but I can’t say it’s working for me. It’s painful that I often feel like I have 2 sets of mind, one set is trying hard to function normally around people, one set is for my own which is just obsessed with fear of death. Same as a lot people here, what terrifies me the most is thinking the world will go on and on and on but I’ll just not be in it.

    It got so mad, last June I was suicidal. And I was 4 month pregnant then. Anti-depressant was not the option. Now look back, I just carried on living with spending time with friends, confiding to my husband, seeing a therapist, etc…

    I must say what helped me the most in the past, and is still helping me today is my religious believes. After all what do we have when we are facing death? For me there is nothing but God.

    Mind is a tricky thing, since we do not seem to be able to control what we think, we just need to re-learn a lot of things. Hopefully next time the mind will function with newly learnt knowledge, fear-free knowledge.

    But so many people are living out there with no fear of death, at least not like me who is obsessed with fear of death, there must be something wrong with me and I’m determined to get myself fixed.

    Who knows, maybe I’m just saying it because I felt alright today. Tomorrow can be good can be bad. Somehow along the way, I stopped looking forward into the future.

  56. Dee says:

    March 29th, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Well I am so relieved I have found this page on the internet. I feel that I am not going mad anymore after reading so many people are sharing this phobia with me. It is nice to know that I am not alone and there are others out there feeling and doing the exact same thing as me. I dont feel so alone with this darkness anymore. Well done to JackP who has made me feel so much better by writing this page, thank you!!!
    Thanatophobia is a very strange phobia. I started with this fear when I opened up questions about life, what did it actually mean to me, how much time do I have left before I die, what happens after that last breath. These were questions I could not answer. As an artist, these questions about death got deeper and deeper. I went on a little journey with this fear. I started thinking about death, the idea of me not being here etc, who I would leave behind etc. All the things we have all done. It started as a small fear but grew into this horrible darkness in my mind which I could not escape. I had all the symptoms panic attacks, sweating etc every night. I ended up living 24 hrs with this fear, in a little bubble of darkness in my mind, living in my mind not in the real world and I could not escape it. I thought it would never go away. I needed medical help, which I accepted but it did just mask the problem, the phobia never went away.
    The only thing I can suggest is that hypnotherapy is a good solution. It doesnt make it go away, but I feel that I can handle life a little better now. Deep relaxation exercises are good as that eases the mind and gives the mind different sensations to work with. I find the brain is like a computer it is programmed to do what you tell it to do. The brain sometimes needs to be reset from negative thoughts and more positive thoughts need to be entered in there, instead of reissuing death thoughts over and over again. I just wanted to reassure people it gradually gets a little easier as you find yourself able to handle this phobia better than you did at the beginning, which is a positive thing!

    Although I would give anything not to have Thanatophobia, i have to admit that.

    I hope I have helped a couple of you as I know what you are all experiencing and it is really horrible but at least I hope now you all see a little glimmer of hope that it does get a little easier I am proof of that.

  57. Tracey says:

    April 11th, 2007 at 1:44 am

    Well, I am going through a better time at the moment. I don’t know if this will work in the long run, but I have been trying to meditate every night. Start as soon as I get into bed. I just think of an image and concentrate on it, or just concentrate on deep breathing until I fall asleep.
    It does seem to help, even if its just a distraction, I can actually focus more during the day instead of going into a downward death spiral. And I actually am not terrified of going to sleep anymore.
    Anyway…I hope maybe this might help someone else out there.
    Take care.

  58. Anonymous says:

    April 13th, 2007 at 1:47 am

    For me it’s not just the idea of death, but also of our complete lack of understanding of the universe. The drive to assign a meaning or purpose to everything we see around us is all-consuming, and the eventual realisation that there is no deeper meaning to anything and that trying to think about the nature or root of the universe is completely useless.

    Science, religion, philosophy are all man’s way of trying to deal with the senselessness of the universe around us, but if you strip it all away you’re only left with a nameless dread at the fact that the world doesn’t offer the one thing our minds seem to need most, meaning.

    The only thing which provides comfort for me is considering the alternatives. After all, existing forever would probably become tiresome. But I think I could probably hold out a few thousand years. And then maybe rest a few thousand more… who knows. Eternity is more or less impossible to conceptualize.

    People claim that the complexity of the brain has to be proof of intelligent design, but to me it just seems woefully inadequate. Why would any hyperintelligent being give us brains which would plague us with these thoughts, and brains that were incapable of thinking about concepts like infinity? It’s said that the human brain is the only one in the animal kingdom capable of planning ahead, of conceptualizing the future, and to me it often seems that there are probably a host of other things which hypothetical brains would be capable of that we can’t even imagine. Things which would make our understanding of the physical world, pathetic as it is, much more complete (though a complete understanding is likely impossible, if even applicable).

    So yeah, the idea of not existing frightens me. Sometimes I run the thought experience of thinking before I was born, but unfortunately the fact that my conciousness has slowly developed since then makes that rather difficult.

    There, that’s my 10-PM-tried-to-fall-asleep-but-couldn’t rant. Take from it what you will, none of my points are very well supported or anything but they’re more designed to appeal to anyone whose had similar thoughts. Good night.

  59. ThePickards » Blog Archive » Science Is A Method, Not A Position says:

    April 17th, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    [...] something that while I’d like to believe (the concept of survival after death), what with me being thanatophobic and all, but for the same reason it’s something I’d want significant evidence in first [...]

  60. Kelsey says:

    April 19th, 2007 at 2:49 am

    This is me exactly! And I couldn’t be happier that you’ve written it(despite the fact that yes, it terrified the hell out of me to read it and have to think about it). I’m 17, and have been like this since as long as I can remember, but only in the past year has it become a daily problem. Only now is it impossible to get through a day without feeling anxious over the fact that I’m going to die one day and I have no idea what exactly that means.
    I’ve been raised in the Catholic church and I’ve grown up believing in a heaven, but in the past year I just can’t be sure anymore.
    I am the exacty way as Jo, and when I was younger(used to get attacks as I was falling asleep), it was easier to make them go away by simply watching a little TV or reading a book, but that doesn’t work any more(and actually makes it worse sometimes). I would say, however, that I am depressed, and I think the anxiety has a big part of it. I’m just so afraid that I’ll never get over this fear, I feel like I’m missing out on life, and I guess that’s gotten me down.
    So there’s no cure then? Just faith? I think I’d be willing to do anything to get rid of this…does anyone know anything you can do?

  61. Linda R says:

    April 24th, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    What can I say? A simple ‘thank you’ for posting this blog just doesn’t come close to expressing how I feel. The things JackP and other people have mentioned could have come out of my own brain, they are so relevant. I have suffered with this fear of death since I was about six. I have just turned forty, and feel very anxious that I may be ‘half-way’ through my quota of life….there has been no point during my life when my thoughts have not regularly turned to the subject of my inevitable non-existence. I agree with previous comments that knowing I am not the only one with these awful feelings does help, but I experience a great sympathy to imagine there are people out there that get the same awful panicky feelings that I do – I wouldn’t wish this condition on anyone. I often look at people in the street and wonder why are they not all running around tearing at their hair and screaming ‘I don’t want to die!’, which I end up doing at my lowest points during the night attacks.

    Good luck to everyone of you who suffers with thanatophobia, and thanks again for sharing these very personal feelings with us all.

  62. sirkeled says:

    April 26th, 2007 at 1:30 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with JackP. What’s scaring me mostly is not actually death itself but the feeling right at the moment you’re already dying. I mean, I’m young now and the event has not yet even taken place but I’m already panicky. What more if it’s already the actual day of dying.

    The scariest part is the thought that “this thought” will bother me for the rest of my life. I am very unhappy right now because the things I used to enjoy somehow lost their beauty. Actually, beautiful things becomes the trigger for my anxiety of death. I mean, before, I would just condition my mind to a certain beautiful place and tell myself that, “Maybe if I’m in this place with this person, I won’t be afraid to die.” Then move on.

    But what happened was I tried thinking about it while I was at this nice place. I love that place because it was really beautiful and it gives off some kind of a dreamlike ambiance. But then, this thought that “imagine you’re dying now” popped on head and I was still scared. I now realized that no beautiful place or person or instance could pacify my fear.

    Before I used to enjoy the thought of clubbing, of meeting celebrities of going to Europe and all those beautiful things that I have enjoyed before. Now I cannot because “death” is written all over them. They suddenly became ugly because whenever I think about them, my fear of death is triggered.

    Most people aren’t scared because they just DON’T THINK about it hard. Now, not thinking about it sort of tells me that I’m just deluding myself so that I would be happy. This adds to the anxiety.

    I know that nothing could be done about this death thing but something could be done on how I think about it. WHAT should I think so that the death anxiety will stop? It seems as though no thing could ever override the thought.

    Please, tell me of a cure. It’s really annoying and it’s ruining my life.

  63. Jeff says:

    April 30th, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Have you tried different kinds of therapy I mean it is terrifying but its going to happen either way, death is a natural part of life. The sooner you can truly understand that the quicker you’ll be on the way to curing it.

  64. Anonymous says:

    May 2nd, 2007 at 3:26 am

    I am also affected with thanatophobia.

    I was brought up with keeping an open mind, but to question everything, which has made me an expert double guesser. I would like to consider myself spiritual, or at least spiritually interested, but this fear has always been there from my most faithful times when I was young and Catholic, to after my 29th birthday when I really started to question the deeper meanings. What if everything we believe was wrong, or worse what if the worst case scenerio is the right one?

    When I feel an attack coming on (also late at night) I try to reassure myself in the scientific concept that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but only transformed. I go back to this when in a need to convince/remind myself that something I am part of has always been there prior to coming together at birth and that same something will carry on long after I’ve dissapated.

    That concept, energy transforming, is grazing upon some forms of Buddhism perhaps. That there is energy going on in life, but we are only seeing from the limited husk of our brains and our lack of understanding infinate concepts with a human mind prevents us from understanding the specifics from there.

    Scientifically, it seems that *something* has to continue on, even if it we are but a drop of rain rejoining the ocean after we die, it, whatever you may call it, is still there somewhere.

    Not that this always helps me each time (like I said, I question everything), but I do try to calm myself from that point. Maybe this train of thought can help someone out there as well. I would like to think the afterlife has more to it than this, that thoughts and feelings carry over as well, and I will always be looking for this in answer, I think. Hoping to hear ghosts, to get a sign, see a miracle, something that I can say ‘no doubt about it, we go one, now I can sleep peacefully.”

  65. Rebecca McCurnin says:

    May 14th, 2007 at 2:32 am

    So, I’m pretty sure that I’m Thanatophobic. I’m 22 years old and I think about the possibility of dying, what happens after death (if anything…which is the scary part), what it feels like to die…all kinds of terribly brain rattling stuff…it keeps me awake for hours…And I cannot (AT ALL) figure out what to do to get rid of this. It’s not debilitating…yet…but I’m afraid that it will be once I hit 40 or so and my hormones go haywire…What can I do??

  66. Zeke Eide says:

    May 14th, 2007 at 7:41 am

    All I have to say is WOW, we are a screwed up bunch us thanatophobics! I have suffered from this particular phobia for about 10 years, and the intensity of my fear of death has steadily risen over time. I first experienced this fear when I was at college and it was triggered by a philosophy class titled ‘existentialism’. It was an insidious class, I mean really, being forced to read all those morbid French intellectuals??!! Reading existentialist literature is a great way to induce a life long fear of death!

    Btw, I’m a Christian and have been since I was 17 (I’m now 34). I find my faith challenged daily because of my fear of death. Seriously, I profess a faith that is predicated on the physical resurrection of a God man, yet I struggle to place my full hope in my eventual resurrection at the final judgment; it seems like it isn’t a true story (Jesus raising from the dead) sometimes, I feel this acutely when I’m experiencing a bad episode of death anxiety. But, I do believe that it is the remaining faith that I have that prevents me from going over the edge into total insanity as a result of my constant death anxiety.

    It seems that the unifying theme among us thanatophobes is the fear of NON-BEING or NOTHINGNESS, i.e., the TOTAL EXTINCTION OF THE SELF. That is what keeps me awake at night and brings on relentless waves of dread and panic!! I think I love life to much, and it is unfathomable that we must all eventually say goodbye to everything we hold dear. It causes me such intense angst sometimes that I marvel that I can go on living as well as I do. And unlike most of the previous remarks above, I suffer from moderate to severe depression stemming from my fear of dying. I am CONSTANTLY sorrowful, and I cry frequently when I reflect on my family members having to die one day. Death anxiety causes me to grieve for myself and all of humanity every single day. I also worry about the physical pain of dying. Will I suffer in physical agony before I die? That thought has kept me up many a night! I even fear going to bed and falling asleep, it seems to me like I’m rehearsing for my inevitable death and one thought haunts me “what if this is my last day of existence and I die in my sleep?”.

    Man, being a thanatophobe SUCKS! It completely drains my energy, and I don’t even want to date or anything because I’m to occupied with thoughts of my eventual death! Also, and sorry to appear gloomy, but I don’t believe there exists a cure for thanatophobics. For some reason we see reality for what it is. People that don’t have death anxiety are deluded and blind and living with a sense of false security. Overwhelming death anxiety is an appropriate reaction to the knowledge that we must one day die and pass out of human existence! It’s absurd! It’s utterly perplexing! All we want is to live forever with our loved ones, but that is the one wish that can never come true. It’s like a nightmare that you can’t wake up from because your already awake!

    Sigh, alright, sorry for going on and on, reading the blog entry and all the posts got my all fired up. Thanks for reading this everyone and I have only one suggestion – EXPLORE RELIGION (especially Christianity), I believe it is the only path to any lasting joy and peace in this all too brief life. Do not allow yourselves to be consumed with vain pursuits such as acquiring THINGS or drug abuse. These are miserable distractions and diversions, invest your time in worthwhile activities such as reading the scriptures, at least there is hope to be found there. Good luck everyone, and I truly hope we all find the peace we yearn for, and if not in this life, then pray God in another, better life to come.

  67. Zeke Eide says:

    May 14th, 2007 at 7:59 am

    I need to say one last thing that I meant to include in my previous post:

    does anyone out there fear the process of falling asleep like I do? If so, would you please describe what it’s like for you? Is your experience like my experience?

    It is the LOSING OF CONSCIOUSNESS while drifting off to sleep that causes me paralyzing fear sometimes. It doesn’t happen every night (thank God!), but this fear of sleeping (being in an unconscious state) does torment me frequently. It seems to me like I die every night when going to sleep, only to be revived in the morning, and have to repeat the process again the following night!

    Anyways, thanks again for reading this, it has been very therapeutic and cathartic just expressing my thoughts and fears concerning death. Take care everyone. . . Zeke

  68. Anonymous says:

    May 20th, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    I have spent most of my life being very open-minded about religion/spirituality etc and searching for answers – including detailed research of the beliefs of various religions and the history of their development etc, as well as trying out such things as spiritualist practices etc to get some ” practical” proof and I feel that there really is very little proof of an afterlife and that the fact we’d like there to be one is not a good enough reason to assume there is. The Spiritualists, for one, have had 150 years or so to give us some proof and have come up with more or less nothing apart from meetings where some medium aks if “anyone can take a massage about an anniversary in June” or “I feel i have a man who had a bit of a problem with his chest” or “liked gardening” or something equally vague. What survives? No one has proved a soul exists, or where the “other side” might be located. – also there are so many theories about afterlifes, the only real thing in common being denying death as a finality: in Buddhism, for example (despite what people with a superficial knowledge of it think) there is no actual “soul” in the sense of a personality/consciousness that survives you, although in some vague way your death is meant to spark off another rebirth. Alternatively in early Christianity the major focus was on Jesus coming back to earth and literally resurrecting everyone in new, immortal, solid bodies, not a focus on ” going to Heaven”. In later Christianity the focus in more on Heaven (mainly because Jesus failed to come back, soon, as his followers expected) but equally, through most of history the churches taught Hell was a more likely destination (or at best, a few centuries or so in Purgatory – much the same but not eternal – still the case in Roman Catholicism). Do animals (bugs? amoebas?) have a soul? Why not? If we can have a great time in a spiritual body in a spiritual realm, why do we need such complicated , and imperfect, mechanisms to live lives here? and so on. once in a while someone gets excited about e.g. near death experiences, but then the excitement seems to die down when no hard and fast proof of the experience happening during brain death etc comes forth. Ditto with experiments to prove someone has floated out of their body in a literal way. It’s convenient to say ” well God wants us to have faith, so doesn;t let us have proof”, but i never got why blinf faith is such a wonderful virtue anyway. having reached a point of being pretty much atheist in my logical thoughts, even though emotionally I would like to believe in “something” … like so many others… I feel there is nothing more rational than fearing death and not existing anymore, my loved ones not existing anymore etc etc. I think it also partly depends how you feel about life – i’m not that satisfied with mine in many ways and it upsets me to think I probably won;t get another chance. I have also made some bad decisions by being too naively “spiritual” and trusting, instead of thinking of what I really want in life and pioritising fun and happiness in this only life I definitely know I’ll have. Though maybe if you love your life you feel just as bad about it having to come to and end.. dunno. Anyway being thanatophobic seems sensible enough to me, though maybe it’s not good if you think about it constantly. I guess most people just don;t like to think about it/admit it. I think it would be better if we were brought up agnostic/humanist and not told, eg when a loved relative dies “they are in Heaven” which no-one knows is true, so we live in a little fog of self-delusion until we start to read and questione etc. Also if we were told to make sure you follow what you really want in life because there’s no proof any higher power is looking after you, not to always listen to others, or be humble or self-effacing, or feel negative about things everyone wants (but relgions often tell you are bad) like money, love, sex, admiration etc, or trust in God to make everything be alright in the end as long as you’re nice etc.

  69. Anonymous says:

    May 20th, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    The bit about Spiritualism was meant to say “message”, not “massage”… though a massage would probably be more use. Even (very common) New Age-ey ideas about life are — I fear — mostly wishful thinking as much as trad the very widespread idea that all suffering is just to “teach us lessons” and make us “grow spiritually”. OK , you can learn sometimes learn something from suffering I suppose (about how the world works, or about what to avoid in future, what your strengths and weaknesses are, or perhaps – unless it just makes you bitter and angry and jealous – about being kinder and more aware of other’s sufferings) but does that mean it’s good to suffer? no way. Avoid it like the plague and try to have fun – “eat , drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”(Ecclesiastes)

  70. Anonymous says:

    May 20th, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    I don’t mean to sound like I’m just saying you should be selfish all the time and not care about others, either. You should be selfish AND care about others too. If this is the only life we have it’s all the more important to be kind, loving and forgiving so as not to spoil other people’s one life either. The same with all petty conventions or prejudices, or thoughtlessness that make some people’s lives more joyless than they should be. If you can’t rely on a higher power to make sure everything’s alright (or as good as it can be), either in this life or another one, it’s down to us.

  71. Anonymous says:

    May 20th, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    I think eventually we’ll learn how to stop ourselves dying, but it will be only for the billionaires at first. And then there’ll be the problem of overpopulation, or maybe you’ll have to choose between living for ever and having a child.. but even then you won’t be able to rule out eventually dying in some freak accident that completely mangles your body beyong repair – although maybe you’ll get a couple of thousand years first if you’re lucky..

  72. April says:

    May 22nd, 2007 at 4:27 am

    I am glad to hear that I am not the only one that suffers from this. I will probably have to take a xanax before I get through with this post, it doesn’t make my phobia any better but dulls my senses so that I can try not to focus on death. Like a lot of people said, mine seems to come on mostly at night and even more so when I am the only one awake. I will sit and think “someday I won’t be here anymore”
    Strange things like tv shows and such can trigger it. I was watching antique roadshow today and they were showing old jewelry and I thought about the person that had owned them being dead and gone, and got a little dizzy. It’s hard to talk to someone about it that doesn’t have the fear, because they just don’t get it and I envy them for that. I even think ok, I’m 30 so if I live to be 90 I’ve already lived a quarter of my life. Like most people think forward from when they are born, I think backward from when I am going to die. Hard to explain but it SUCKS! I haven’t tried a therapist because really, what can they do about it? Talking about it doesn’t really help it, even though I really wish it did.
    But feel safe in the knowledge that you are NOT alone.

  73. J says:

    May 22nd, 2007 at 4:52 am

    I thought about death a lot in my late teens, early 20′s. I would lie awake in bed at night and my heart would pound and my mind race as I tried to wrap my head around the fact that I was going to die. Every minute of every day I felt like I had 30 seconds to live. And suddenly, somewhere along the line, it went away. I’m in my mid-30s now, and a major concern of mine is not when I will die, but how. Drowning is one of the worst deaths I can imagine and I think about it a lot. Followed closely by burning, and being crushed. I only hope that when I die, it’s peacefully in my sleep. I can imagine that after I’m dead, I won’t care anymore, but the moment of death is what scares me the most now.

  74. Zeke Eide says:

    May 23rd, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Your thoughts really resonate with me April, maybe because we are the same age. Seemingly benign things can trigger a panic attack, e.g., seeing a dead fly on the window. Sigh! why does it gotta be as such! Also, like you April I’ve discovered that it is immensely difficult to speak to people who don’t suffer from an acute fear of their own death. I just stare at such people completely dumbfounded and in a state of utter disbelief. it makes me want to get away from them as quickly as humanly possible! I just cannot cope being around such people that exist in such blissful ignorance and unawareness, because I soon become overwhelmed with envy. I become obsessed with the thought “IF I COULD PLUG BACK INTO THE MATRIX” and go back to a time in my life when I wasn’t aware of my own eventual death. AAHHH, what sweet tranquility and serenity such times were comprised of! Think back to your childhood, nothing but never ending joy and wonder with every new experience. Almost makes me begin to cry just thinking about those forever gone times of innocence.

    Interestingly, I have some highly intelligent friends who don’t give even a passing consideration of their own eventual death. It is simply amazing and astonishing to behold. I suspect high intelligence is a NECESSARY CONDITION for a fear of death to eventually come about in an individual, but high intelligence does not seem to be a SUFFICIENT CONDITION to bring on a fear of death in someone (check out those philosophical terns in a philosophical dictionary!) Furthermore, therapists are totally useless, because they cannot provide an answer to what lies beyond the grave, nor can they impart eternal life, the 2 things we thanatophobes desire most throughout this fleeting life.

    J – I relate to your fear as well. I not only worry about not existing some day, but I worry incessantly about HOW my death will transpire. I hope I have a heads up of 2-3 years – that way I can reflect and read and pray with a concentration that is not attainable UNLESS your threatened by imminent death!

    Man, life can truly be like a nightmare from which you cannot awake because you are awake already! Ok, that’s enough morose reflections for one post – live life people, because you just might not live to see the following day . . .Zeke

  75. April says:

    May 23rd, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Oh Zeke, something you said made me think of another thing. People that commit suicide I cannot even comprehend!! I know it has to be their state of mind and they can’t change how they feel any more than we can change our phobia. But anyway when someone commits suicide I always wonder why??? when life is so seemingly short anyway!

  76. April says:

    May 24th, 2007 at 5:08 am

    Also, my 14 year old brother was killed in a car/bicycle accident in 2004 and my anxiety has gotten understandably worse. I think it just makes me think of my own mortality more, seeing that he is gone and is not coming back and he was so young.

  77. oliver says:

    May 25th, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Zeke – as I understand it, you mean all thanataphobes are intelligent, but not all intelligent people are thanatphobes?

    Sorry about your brother April, that is very sad. Now I am not at all sure there is an afterlife I feel much sadder hearing about such things than I did when I was almost sure there was. If you are convinced we are all immortal (and that there’s no eternal Hell, as I never thought there was), then death isn’t really such a big deal. . Perhaps if so many people were not religious , or at least did not claim an impossible certainty about the existance of God and Heaven etc (or reincarnation) then there would be fewer wars etc because leaders would realise the full responsibility of allowing young people to die. I am reminded of an alleged incident during the Middle Ages in France when a catholic soldier was leading an attack on heretics in one French town and he is supposed to have said “kill everyone, God will recognise his own”. Or, in a less extreme way, of the highly religious nature of most military commemorations, designed to make it all seem somehow OK. We can;t just say “it’s part of God’s plan” or “they are in Heaven” becasue we don;t know that to be true. It is just very sad when people, especially young ones, die.

    As for suicide, I am sure some deluded people think they might be going somewhere better – even if, e.g’. in Christainity, suicide is a very serious sin, and you might not have much nice to look forward to if you think about it logically. Often though, I guess they have just reached a point where their life seems so miserable they just want it to stop.It is sad our society is often not able to offer them enough love and support to get through that stage, especially that many people feel unable to share their sufferings and despair with other people and get a caring reponse. Again, it is especially sad that many young people take their own lives, often for reasons that were very important to them at the time but which might not have seemed as important in later life, in retrospect (the end of a relationship/ school bullying etc).

  78. Zeke says:

    May 28th, 2007 at 8:30 am

    I should start a web page for thanatophobes to vent their angst, I just might look into doing just that.

    Oliver – Your tracking with my thought exactly. Now, I could not prove that empirically (that all thanatophobes possess well above average intelligence), I’m only judging from my limited life experience and the extensive reading I’ve done through the years with respect to the subject of human mortality. The biographical works I’ve read that describe thanatophobes, seem to always portray individuals that were very gifted cerebrally (Freud being the worst thanatophobe BY FAR).

    April – so terribly tragic and I’m sorry to learn of your brother’s death. Many years ago I lost one of my closest childhood friends – I know realize that this event set the stage for my phobia, and also induced a constant anxiety that had never troubled me before. It wasn’t until several years later, after I began studying existential philosophy in college, that full blown thanatophobia emerged.

    If anybody is interested in a philosophical approach to our phobia problem, then I STRONGLY recommend a book titled: “Existentialism and the Philosophical Tradition”. This book changed my life! It is a summation of most of the great western thinkers on the “problem of death” and “is there such a thing as an OBJECTIVE PURPOSE and MEANING to life?” You MUST get this book if your at all inclined to philosophical reflection – it is very therapeutic to read these thinkers and there thoughts on the subject (i.e., death anxiety), they were MUCH smarter than we are and we would be wise to listen to them!

    Alright, I’m retiring for the evening, but if you all continue to post your thoughts and feelings concerning our shared “mental problem” ;) then I’ll be sure to keep checking back periodically and continue the dialogue with you “special” people, hopefully Jack won’t mind too much if we convert his blog into a cyberspace support group! lol

  79. Oliver says:

    May 28th, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Zeke

    I’m interested that studying Existentialists made your thanatophobia worse (even though you still recommend studying them!) – what is your take on them now? In a nutshell my understanding of Existentialism is that it says human life in general, and individual lives in particular, have no special predetermined meaning, but we are supposed to make strong choices and so give our own meanings to our lives and take responsibility for them. Is that a fair summary? And do you think that it helps to think that way? It seems a reasonably realistic approach to the problem, but , I guess, doesn’t really take away the crux of the problem – however you deal with the experience of being alive, it will end.. Perhaps it’s meant to help you live more bravely and with less self-delusion? I do think perhaps that if we were taught to think that way from childhood (instead of being told “comforting” stories) then life would be simpler and we’d have fewer psychological problems.

  80. Christy says:

    May 31st, 2007 at 4:52 am

    This post, and everyones comments on this page has really helped ease my thoughts on this.

    I’m very young. I’m 18 years old. I recently developed being afraid of death. But previous times of having the fear of death was when I was about 5 or 6 and It lasted about 5 months, and eventually i got over it.

    However, now i’m feeling the same way as i did when i was a child. A couple months ago, i started developing very weird symptoms, and ended up having to get an MRI for any possible brain disease, tumors.. etc. The whole process of seeing doctors, getting the MRI, and waiting for the results took about 2 weeks. And for that whole 2 weeks i was certain i was sick, and i was going to die. I fell into the worst depression of my life.

    I thought about not being here for my loved ones through their bad times, and the good times. I thought about how much i could miss out on life, having children, and a husband.. living my own life. I thought about what happens when we die.. if we are nothing, or if there is life after death. I thought if there is life after death, will i still remember the ones i loved in my life right now? I thought about if i die, will my loved ones think of me, and remember me? I got so wrapped up in these thoughts, i barely could eat, or i’d toss and turn at night thinking about it.

    Well, i has gotten the MRI results back, and I found out I just suffer from bad migrains, and that my brain is perfectly fine.. but these thoughts still have not left my mind.

    Death is always in the back of my mind. I think about it many, many times a day. And i spend atleast a half hour before i go to bed on the idea.

    I fear alot of things as well. Sometimes when I’m driving, i get a sudden scare of being hit by a car. Or any little headache or pain automatically makes me start thinking the worst..

    It fustrates me that I am going through this, and it is getting harder and harder for me to shake the thought away. I try and think back to when I had no worrys, and never really thought about it much.

    I really wish i could be a normal, young adult, and live my life without being afraid of when the time comes.

    I have not talked to this about my parents, because i get very choked up. But my mom knows i do worry alot, and has offered me to talk to a counselor about it all, but i dont really know how to tell her that i want help. Anybody who has gone to see help over being a Thanatophobia, do you feel it works at all?

  81. Oliver says:

    June 1st, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Sorry you’re having a bad time Christy. It seems to me that statistically there’s no reason these days for you to die especially young and not be able to have kids etc, and to consatntly fear that seems a shame. It’s the problem of having to die at all that is one there is no real solution for.. apart from to try not to worry about it and concentrate on other stuff I guess.

    I read or heard something a while ago, where someone said humans can’t look directly at the sun or at death – as far as I know though, some people DO stare at the sun, for whatever reason I’m not sure, and apparently manage not to get blinded etc. And I guess some people are made so they can look at death (but they don’t have to like what they see..)

  82. ThePickards » Blog Archive » 33: A Meme says:

    June 2nd, 2007 at 12:37 am

    [...] Living With Thanatophobia [...]

  83. Sadie says:

    June 2nd, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Reading this post just makes me cry in sadness and comfort that i am not the only one. i am so so so scared to die. i know that everyone is, but its ruling my life. and i can’t tell anyone i know. They will just think im crazy. i think i am a lot of the time. i dont want anyone else to know it though. i dont want them to worry about me. i can’t stop thinking about dieing. i have had this fear for as long as i can remember but i would only have the episodes every once in a while, when i was younger like maybe not even once a year sometimes. but over the past few years its got worse, and really very bad in the past year. and even more worse in the past week. this week its all i have been thinking about. i cant sleep in my bed because im afraid that i will think about dieing, even though i still think about it when i sleep on the couch, but i guess i feel better a little because i have the tv in here. and i keep it on. Though now i have to have the volume down low enough that i can hear it, but not too low. But not too loud that i can not hear anything else. If its not right i have to keep getting up to change the volume. Until its right. Then all day at work i have been thinking about dieing. i thought like two days i would have to act like i was sick and leave because i was panicing and i couldnt think. When i think about it at first i just get scared, then its like, i just keep thinking and it goes deeper like, i cant explain the thoughts but its as if this wave of realization comes over me and i truly understand that i am going to die and there is nothing that will help that. my heart beats so so so fast and my hands start shaking and i cry most times and i just keep saying “stop thinking about it, stop thinking about it” over and over until im ok again. until the panic stops. im never ok. It normally only lasts a few seconds to a min…2 at the most, (the panic, the thoughts last all day) but where as it use to only happen once a year or once every few months or once a month, or a week, now its happening many times a day. Then tonight i went to see my sister and her new baby and i didnt want to leave i already started panicing like 30 mins b4 i left because i knew when i got alone in my car i would think about it. i didnt want to go home tonight. i find myself driving and wasting gas because i dont want to go home. i live alone. My boyfriend is at college. When he comes here some weekends, i feel a little better and i dont have the episodes as much, but now for some reason i feel like i have to go to sleep while he is still awake or i will panic about death. So i keep asking him if he is tired over and over incase he is that i can hurry and go to sleep first. I think he thinks im crazy. i can’t tell him anyways because everytime i do he just does not understand, he says there is nothing i can do about it so why worry. but i cant help it, i dont want to die. i dont want to live forever either. i dont know if i believe in god, most times i dont, but then other times i think there is no way there is not something. But i dont want to go to heaven or anywhere else forever and ever and ever and there is never ever an end. that scares the crap out of me so bad. but i dont want there to be an end either. then i think, how can there be an end? WHats after the end? Somethign has to be after the end, there is always a beginning to something else after an end to another. THere cant just be an end it does not make sense. But how can anything go on forever and ever and ever. how can time never ever end? Does that make sense??? no! to go on and on and on adn on? What in the world?? im going crazy. i mean really. i would honestly drive myself to the hospital and have myself commited if i didnt have a job and bills i have to pay. i dont know what to do. i want this to stop. its like i dont want to not care that im going to die because ill just let my life pass by and die and not even appriciate it. How can i just do things to keep busy and not think about it, before i know it i will wake up and be 60 and wonder where my life went. How can i let all the time fly by doing something in my life when im just going to die and be gone and it wont matter because i dont exist anymore??? but then when the episodes happen, i just think i dont care, id rather be ignorant to this. Its no way to live. im so scared all the time. and not of something happening, its just of death in general. im scared to grow old and know i will die any day now, but im scared to die young and be gone. There is nothing i can think of that eases my mind.

  84. April says:

    June 3rd, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Sadie, I totally understand where you are coming from. It sucks to have to live life like this. Do you currently take any sort of medication? I know it isn’t always the answer to everything but I have found zoloft and a small dose of xanax when I start to panic do help me some. It kind of dulls my senses and helps me to relax. I usually take one every night around bedtime when the thoughts start creeping in.

  85. oliver says:

    June 3rd, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Having to die is not a nice thought, but I think it’s more healthy to try to focus on the here and now, and try to enjoy what we have in life, and be kind to others too – the way life looks depends a lot on your state of mind, so if you dwell on the dark side of things you get more depressed and worried. We can’t change the fact everyone dies, but we can do little things to make the life we do have nicer and less sad. I thought I’d offer this link I found today, which has made me feel a bit more peaceful and happy right now. Click on the images for different things – I’ve just looked at the billboards (look for the “back story” too) and TV ads. Hope it gives someone else here a smile as well.

  86. Sadie says:

    June 4th, 2007 at 1:09 am

    i dont take anything…i dont have insurance or much money, so i cant afford to see someone. i wish i could. i tried going to an income based counsling center once. It took me over a month to get in, and at that time i was going through this really bad, and i counted that days and hours until i was to go. i mean i thought i would go there and have someone to talk to and to make me feel better and help me…like a friend i guess, but when i went there, he was like “we dont have much time for one on one counsling, but i can put you on some medication, and next time if i remember ill bring you some things to read about panic attacks”….i was like are you kidding me?!? IF you remember?? You are suppost to be helping me!! i never went back. i wanted to get to the root of the problem, not cover it up with meds. i would try to take them but i also need to work the problem out too. It was terrible, i cried for like an hour in my car before i left because i really thought i was alone and no one could help me. Thats when i figured that this is my life u know. But thats why just the other day i started looking things up on the internet myself because i was hoping that i could find something about this and someone else that felt like this. i am not glad by any means that there is anyone else who has to live like this, i really wish nothing like this on my worse enemy, but it makes me feel less insane that other people feel this way.

  87. Sadie says:

    June 4th, 2007 at 1:14 am

    April, also i was reading your old post and what you were saying about things in shows trigger the thoughts OMG that happens to me so bad!! Or movies about someones whole lifetime….wow its amazing how two people who have never met can feel the same way.

  88. Sadie says:

    June 4th, 2007 at 1:39 am

    April, i was reading an old post of yours and where u said about watching shows and stuff like that will trigger it…OMG the same exact thing happens to me. ESP. if im watching an old show or something…or a movie about a persons whole lifetime. Im just so so scared. Sometimes i wish i could just be like everyone else and not think about it. But then, i just feel like my life would be over and i dunno….i can’t explain it. i mean, i just think about how fast 22 years of my life has already gone by, and how fast i will be older…its like im already dead sometimes because before i know it i will be. its like i feel i dont have much time left just because of how fast time flys. im telling my aunt im like i need to go to school, i dont have much time before im going to be 30 and thats when i want to have a kid. and shes like “you have your whole life ahead of you! What are you talking about you dont have much time?” and im just like “i dont know”…but i do. because i dont have much time, it feels like yesterday i was 10 daydreaming about when i would be older, and now here i am…22 years old in the blink of an eye. and im just like in another blink i will be 30 or 40 or 50. i just can’t take it!!! i dont want this to be happening. i just really wish i were never born, cause i dont want to die, but if i were not born i wouldnt be going through this, i would not exist and i would not care. i just cant fathom that day happening, i dont want it to. Why is this happening to me?? Why can’t i just be normal???? i am just so afraid. so so afraid. i feel crazy.

  89. Krystle says:

    June 4th, 2007 at 3:23 am

    Oh My Gosh, you guys, me too. I often wonder the same thing: how can everyone just walk around and act as if they don’t realize they will die one day? I also often obsess about what my cause of death will be (please no cancer, please no cancer), and if I will at least make it until my daughter is 18 years old (um, she’s two). I know I have panic disorder and some definite hypochondria. Just wondering, does anyone else thing hypochondriasis might be a big factor here? As in, paying too much attention to bodily symptoms? I think that’s a big part of it for me.
    All I know is that I’ve been like this since I was 19, and have spent the last seven years worrying about death instead of living. :( I fight it every day. You should, too.

  90. James says:

    June 4th, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    I recently began reading up about this when I stumbled on this ongoing account of people much like myself.

    My first attack occurred when I was 14. I remember it vividly. I was so horrified by the realization of my own mortality that I was shaking violently. I tried to talk to my mother about it but there was very little in the way of comfort that she could offer though, to her credit, she tried.

    I’m 24 now. For ten years I have been struggling with this debilitating condition. Sometimes I gained the upper hand, but more often than not I found myself subject to almost nightly panic attacks. I remember one time when I was 20 I was ready for sleep and went into my bedroom, shut the door, sat down, and waited. After a minute or two I became aware that I was tired, on my bed, and ready for sleep, but there was some activity that I had yet to complete. I then realized that I was waiting to have my nightly panic attack, it had become so automatic.

    The way I was able to escape when I did was to “wrap” my mind in layers of thought. I simply distracted myself with trivial matters and calming thoughts until it was so busy that it didn’t have time to deal with my fear. Obviously, this was only a temporary fix.

    At the height of my compulsive fits I became so physically violent in my response that I found myself unconsciously clawing into my skin, leaving trails of scars that are visible on my chest even to this day. My wife, who I was dating at the time, begged me to seek help. But, being the stubborn male figure that I am, I ignored the symptoms and carried on with my life as best I could.

    And then one day I bought a book on impulse that changed everything. The title of the book is unimportant to be quite frank, and the author is someone who I’m sure you’re all at least mildly familiar with: The Bhudda.

    It would seem that some 2500 years ago in India, the son of a wealthy merchant came to the exact same realization that we all did. He saw impermanence, suffering, and death all around him, and he was shocked. Fleeing a life of luxury, he went on a quest to seek the one thing that was “deathless”.

    In his desperation to find the answer, he became a rigid ascetic, forsaking all worldly possessions, even food. It was this extreme path that almost lead to his death, were it not for the aid of a kind girl, who fed him a bowl of rice and milk, saving him from utter starvation. Upon his recovery, he saw how foolish it was to pursue anything to such an extreme, and sat in meditation, vowing not to arise until he had an answer. Finally, after six days of continual concentration, he had his answer. He had become Bhudda.

    He saw things as they were for the first time. He saw the nature and origin of suffering and fear, as well as the way to be released from such things. He laid these observations out as the four noble truths. For decades after his awakening the Bhudda taught any who would listen, and with the help of his monks, founded the fifth largest religion practiced in the world today.

    To be specific, one of the most basic tenets of Bhuddist teachings is agitation through clinging. The only way suffering, fear, or anger can arise is if we cling to something, to deny the constant state of flux that is existence. When we do this, our minds become agitated because what it perceives is skewed and distorted by our own desires. If you have a $50 bill in your hand and suddenly it disappears, it isn’t until you wish you had it back that you begin to feel bad.

    You can see how this applies to everything in our lives, and even to ourselves as well. Not only do we experience suffering by clinging to our existence, we suffer doubly for clinging to the idea that we shouldn’t be afraid in the first place. When you ball all the things up that don’t meet your expectations, that don’t seem right, that you wish you could change, is it any wonder that we can’t make it a single night in peace?

    As the author of the original post noted, as well as others, religion seems to be a protection from fear, but it is too often held down by skepticism and corruption. The wonderful thing about Bhuddism is that it really has nothing to hide. Skeptics are welcome and encouraged. Bhuddism is about asking the big questions and finding the answers for yourself. It isn’t about hiding or protecting from fear, its about liberation from fear.

    I have been studying Bhuddism and practicing meditation for almost six months now and I have noticed a significant improvement in my condition. I would recommend this to everyone who can relate, and it sounds like there are a lot of us out there. Please read and learn, but not too much. Bhuddism is about direct experience, and there’s nothing you can read that can replace that.

    A story once said that Bhudda was walking with one of his monks in the autumn forest, after all the leaves had fallen. The monk asked how he was progressing on his way to enlightenment, and how much more the Bhudda could teach him. The Bhudda knelt down and gathered up a handful of leaves.

    “This” he said “is how much I can teach you.”

    Dropping the leaves to the ground, he pointed to the rest of the forest.
    “That is how much can not be described in words, that you must see for yourself.”

    I feel for all of you. As someone who has carried the weight this far, I cannot begin to describe the feeling of release. I hope this continues to the point where the fear leaves me altogether, and something tells me it will. I encourage you all to continue your own personal journey toward an end to your fear, whether that leads you down the noble eightfold path or not. Remember, to fear death is to fear the inevitability of change. But if all things change and all things leave, then so too must your fear.

  91. Sadie says:

    June 4th, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Krystal, i think that the hypochondria is a big part of the painc disorder. i too suffer from panic disorder. i even stopped drinking caffine for a while because the change in my heartrate would cause me to have a panic attack because i thought i was becoming allergic to caffine and i would die. but i think that because of the panic disorder, i have become hyperaware of my body esp. my heartrate, so when it changes i can sometimes freak out. the thing i read online is that the reason u panic during a panic attack most times is the mistaken fear that you are in danger. i can drink small ammounts of caffine now, just because i know that its a natural change due to caffine, tho i do not drink much just because i know if it gets too bad i will have a panic attack, no matter what i know deep down. I guess that sometimes when u have panic disorder the hypochondria can go along with it just because u become aware of your body and any changes in it like suddenly getting dizzy, or heartrate changing, or any other weird sensation. Its awful and im sorry u suffer from it too.

  92. April says:

    June 5th, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    I also suffer from hypochondria. My heart skips a beat and I feel it and slightly panic. I have pain in my lower back, got to be kidney cancer. Feel pain in my neck and throat, some kind of throat cancer. You see how this goes…..

    Oh and any kind of diagnosis where I would know I was going to die is just so unimaginably scary to me.

  93. Sadie says:

    June 5th, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    yeah the two combined are terrible. i am really the same way about it, if i get pain in my throat, oh maybe its throat cancer, or a pain in my chest, oh what if im having a heart attack. but i guess i can control the thoughts more now than before. yes, i really dont think i want to know if im going to die…i mean i know im going to but..i dont know…ugh, i dont even want to go there… i know where u are coming from so so much.

  94. oliver says:

    June 6th, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    james, I agree that Buddhism (the ‘h’ is not after the ‘b’ by the way) might help a bit, especially in terms of “living in the moment” and appreciating the here-and-now etc, but I don’t know to what extent. It makes thanatophobia seem more normal in that it points out that fear about impermanence/age and death etc are very common, but as to how practical it’s answers are I guess you’d have to ask someone who’s sincerely practised it for a long time. Personally, just trying not to “cling” to anything (in other words to “detach” from things) – including my life and individuality – doesn’t seem so appealing (although I like the compassion bit). I guess it’s losing our individual consciousness by dying that bothers people here and Buddhism doesn’t offer any real promises to help that, other than that you can supposedly have a sense of bliss if you just let go of it. It also (in its purest, least folkloristic form) offers no very clear promises about what might be after death, but at least in that, and in the teachings about trying out and testing the practices for yourself and not having blind faith, it seems to me more honest than dogmatic religions which claim to have easy answers to everything. It also focusses on working on your actions in the world and your state of mind, in order to try to be a better and happier person, which seem good goals, although perhaps, taken very literally, the detaching bit could lead you to taking no interest in life and missing out on enjoying what we’ve got. Among other things about this religion/philosophy, I am also skeptical about how no one ever seems to have achieved the goal they go on about – being “enlightened”. I have even read the Dalai Lama – who I admire – saying he regrets his busy life does not leave enough time for working on making spiritual progress through meditating etc – well, excuse me, but if a supposed living Buddha hasn’t got it yet, then what hope is there for anyone else!

  95. Anonymousyeah says:

    June 8th, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    I started fearing death just less than 2 weeks ago now. Before then it had crossed my mind before but not really bothered me. I used to be like ‘everyone else’ and just let the thought go and accepted it.

    Not any more. Untill 2 weeks ago when it ‘hit me’. Just like you and others I have read about, it hit me from out of nowhere and since I have been unable to shake the thought of dying from my mind. Its been there nearly every day and i think about it at night before I go to sleep. Ive told myself that after a good nights sleep Ill feel better in the morning, but instead – the first thought in my mind when I wake up has been the fear of death.

    When I think about it, I feel empty inside. I feel helpless and scared. I get short of breath and panic, similar to other people.

    I dont want it to get any worse. Ive been looking at some of the other comments on here with people who’ve had it for years, and I dont want it to get that bad.

    Im still young (only 17) and im told that this thought is common in young people, maybe thats why Ive been getting these thoughts.

    Also its greatly ironic that anyone should be so scared of death in their life. Surely if we are that scared we should want to make the most of our lives

    ——— thats enough of that depressing stuff :) ———-

    I saw this page before when my fear first kicked in and I have just found a simple treatment that worked and I wanted to share it with you;
    Right now I just had a buzz (dont worry I hadnt taken anything) where I felt really good about myself and nothing mattered again. I was just listening to some music and thinking about being with my friends. So that helped me. I felt good.

    So my opinion/something to think about for everyone who has commented and the owner of this blog is this; try and enjoy yourself by whatever means you like. You will feel better.

    Also I feel that typing my thoughts up on here has helped me a bit too. Its just a release of the thoughts in my mind. Anyway try and make yourselves feel good by your favorite method and you’ll get over it Easy

    I want all of you to get over your fears and whatever method you use I hope you all feel better and have a good time. Good luck :)

    If someone could comment me back Id appreciate it thanks.

  96. Sadie says:

    June 9th, 2007 at 12:26 am

    “Anonymousyeah”. i think, atleast i hope, that everyone here trys to do that. Everyone wants releif. But sometimes when i try to do something to make me feel better, its like empty or something..i still think about it, it does not really help, a lot of times it makes me worse cause i think “one day i will never do this again”. i think in my case, there is no help of it. i truly can not control the thoughts. Its like being sick…i dont know. It is really really good that u can control it like that. i was talking to my grandma lastnight, and she said she use to be the same exact way as everyone here, but she said now that she is older, she has accepted it and she is ok with it. She does not have a religion, shes pretty much agnostic, but she said she really feels that she will be going somewhere better. So i guess thats her relief. i, on the other hand, can not convince myself of an afterlife totally. i can not speak for u entirly, but i think that u will probably be like my grandma, ending up being ok with it. SHe told me that its something that happens when u are young. In my case, its always been there. Its good that it has not been there long. if those things work for u, just keep doing that. It is really good that u have something that will work for u like that. In my opinion, it does not sound crazy severe. But nip it in the bud, Find acceptance before you get like me lol. i would also say that if it does not stop then you should see a counsiler, very soon beacause they can help you stop it before it gets way too bad. Thats just my opinion. GOod luck, im sorry u are suffering from this. i truly am.

  97. JackP says:

    June 9th, 2007 at 8:57 am

    just checking in again!

    I find that when I’m focussed on a particular task or goal, I tend not to think about it. It’s when a task or goal is complete, or I start feeling a bit aimless (as I have been doing over the past few weeks) that it gets worse.

    Although I have been contemplating trying to write a book on it … although I don’t really know how you’d manage to get a book out of it because once you’ve got the basic concepts across (I dunno, maybe three pages?) you’re going to be repeating yourself somewhat…

  98. Anonymous says:

    June 13th, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve been reading this blog for the last three months. My moment of realisation was three months ago when I became 30. It had crossed my mind before, but never thought about it seriously. Three months ago I realised that I won’t be young again (I’m sure you’ll say now that 30 is not that old), instead I’ll be getting older and older, and so will the people around me. I guess when you are young you think that you will be young forever. The exact moment of realisation was when I asked my partner: “Do you think that there is life after death? What is out there after we we cease to exist?”. His reply shocked me and made me think: “What was before you were born?”. Only one thing came to my mind…darkness, complete darkness, nothing!
    Anyway, after feeling quite low for a few weeks, I feel much better now. I try to stay focused on what I’m doing and set long-term and short-term goals. But I’ve also realised that there is one thing for which we are here. One thing that we can give and take and make our lives better: LOVE!!!

  99. brasslady says:

    June 13th, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve been reading this blog for the last three months. My moment of realisation was three months ago when I became 30. It had crossed my mind before, but never thought about it seriously. Three months ago I realised that I won’t be young again (I’m sure you’ll say now that 30 is not that old), instead I’ll be getting older and older, and so will the people around me. I guess when you are young you think that you will be young forever. The exact moment of realisation was when I asked my partner: “Do you think that there is life after death? What is out there after we we cease to exist?”. His reply shocked me and made me think: “What was before you were born?”. Only one thing came to my mind…darkness, complete darkness, nothing!
    Anyway, after feeling quite low for a few weeks, I feel much better now. I try to stay focused on what I’m doing and set long-term and short-term goals. But I’ve also realised that there is one thing for which we are here. One thing that we can give and take and make our lives better: LOVE!!!

  100. Kelsey says:

    June 14th, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Gahhh I wish I could concentrate on other things. I mean, I can, but then when I’m least expecting it BAM! It hits me.
    I’ve been away from home for the past year…and it’s flooown by. And I think that really has something to do with my fear now….the fact that one year has gone by so fast…how fast is the rest of my life going to go by?
    In January I was in a car accident as well. Thankfully everyone involved was okay, but afterwards everyone just kept talking about it…how if we hadn’t hit the sign we did, but the building behind it, we would have been killed. In fact, if one little thing had been changed, we all could have been killed….and when I realized how delicate life really is….ugh, my anxiety only got worse.
    Night time is the WORST time for me. I used to stay up all hours of the night, refusing to go to bed, just because I knew that the next day I would have one less day to live. Yeah…stupid, I know, but my fear was so bad, I just couldn’t bear the thought.
    The thought of getting old terrifies me….the fact that you can’t stop it…that time just…goes, and then before you know it, you’re gone. and I don’t know what that means.
    It just sucks because I’m only 17 and dreading the future….it’s hard to think about graduating and college and a career because my mind immediately jumps to death. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have my good days, but since September-ish(when I had my first anxiety attack in years), life’s just been horribly hard. I’m in no way suicidal, it’s death I’m afraid of….but sometimes it seems better, even if just to get my brain to shut up.
    As I said in an earlier post, I’ve been raised in the Catholic Church…but as my fear gets even worse, I’ve started losing all the faith I have. I’m desperate for anything right now….I would everything I have to make these thoughts go away. My parents have made an appointment for me to talk with someone in July-ish…..but will this even help? Is there ANYTHING that can be done for this? I can’t imagine living my entire life like this….
    …sorry for the rant…

  101. maria says:

    June 14th, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    This is all relitavely new to me. I suppose i’ve always considered myself to be a ‘deep thinker’ and have often entered into conversations with people that have scared me about life after death etc. It has always beens something i have been able to push to the back of my mind until recently. For the past few months i have been really battering my head by the idea that one day i’m not going to be here. The thought of having no conciousness absoloutely petrifies me and no matter how i look at it or how long i’ve got left it is a certainty that i cannot change, unless of course there is some kind of afterlife which i am really trying hard to convince myself of. it seems my only hope. I am only 22. I seem to be thinking about this all day every day, it is the first thing on my mind when i wake up and the last thing i think of before i go to sleep. I compare everbodys ages. Even if i live to a ripe old age then i’m still 1/4 a way through my life. It chills me to the bone and makes me feel so alone. No matter how many loved ones can comfort me, it does not change a thing. Will i ever se them again? or will it even matter? I Know i never existed 23 years ago for all of eternity, but the thought of facing that eternity again, not exisiting is my fear. I need to get over this. I was not scared to be born, and i dont want to be afraid to die. Please proove to me there is something.

  102. oliver says:

    June 15th, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    I’m not sure this is the place to come for proof of life after death. If there was proof we all lived for ever there’d be no thanataphobes. I spent years searching for proof but didn’t find any. I had a few slightly odd experiences (through trying to contact dead people) and heard some moderately interesting second-hand stories, but nothing that has left me with proof, nothing that can’t be given a psychological explanation. I think the best thing to do is just to try to live every day as you want to and try not to have too many regrets or think about the future too much. But that’s easier said than done. Or you can try to convince yourself of the reality of one of the various religious points of view, but just don’t question it too much. If you join a religion and go to church/mosque/temple etc regularly you usually won’t find much encouragement to doubt/question and you might make friends.

  103. oliver says:

    June 16th, 2007 at 10:50 pm


    I think you are right – if you feel absorbed and fulfilled in your day to day life, then maybe you don;t stop to worry about these things. Maybe it’s because I have other worries/frustrations/regrets and things that I am unsatisfied about that I think about this too.

    Good luck with the book – but I can see what you mean, that the concept is quickly explained – and the answers few, so… but lack of much to say doesn’t stop other books getting written I suppose…

  104. anonymousyeah says:

    June 18th, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    hey guys. im back. I dont think im improving any since my last post. Even after using my ‘listening to music’ idea, it still comes back. Today has been really bad, I just cant shake it from my mind. Even when I was doing work at college I wasn’t really focused on it.

    I want to know if any of you have tried councelling and if its helped you or not, because I am seriously thinking about it and I want to know if it works.

  105. Jean Hancock says:

    June 19th, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    I have at last been able to put a name to something that has controlled my life for 50 years. When my mum was pregnant she had to deal with three deaths during her 9 months. When I come along I start at a very young age of having screaming night panic attacks, just as I was dropping off to sleep this awful sense of hoplessness would overtake me and I would end up screaming the place down, my parents would put on lights and talk to me. I got married and my husband has had to deal with it, it works out the happier I am the worse I get, it used to be just in the dark at night, but now it is during the day. I end up shaking, feeling sick. And nothing I mean nothing helps. I am thinking of hypnosis, has anyone else tried it. I do not want drugs. My mum died three weeks ago and my daughter got married two days before she died. I am at the point that I am doing a countdown to when I die, if I live to my mums age then I have 30 years left and counting. Because it is enevitable that we will all die, I am getting worse and it affects everthing, can anyone help

  106. Laura McGeough says:

    June 22nd, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    This is something I have always suffered with-as long as I can remember. I used to run into my parents room at night and announce ‘I am going to die one day and I don’t like it!’. I used to just suffer at night, but since giving birth to my son, these thoughts have crept into my days and are now really affecting me. I am just fed up with getting into bed every night and having this feeling of dread wash over me. It is so overwhelming. Then I start counting up how many years I have left and what I was doing that many years ago. I actually dread getting in bed. Even though my husband is beside me, I feel so alone. This relentless counting. I sometimes think it is because I love my family too much-if thats possible. The thought of the possibility of never seeing any of them again really distresses me. Then I start questioning life itself and why we are here. Then I question if there is an afterlife why is it there and is there one after that. I sometimes feel I am going crazy. Being a scientist doesn’t help because that is one thing I know Science can never answer. This phobia is consuming my life-this dread is so immense. I really feel it must be the only phobia that cannot be cured (sorry to be so negative). But how can it be? No-one knows what happens after death. What if its really bad? What if I never see my loved ones again?

    Then I think would I want to live forever. I think the answer is no-how weird is that! Also there is nothing I can do about death so go with it. I only have these thoughts on a very good day!

    My only comfort is that I sense a guardian angel watching over me-I think it is my nan on my mothers side which is spooky as she was not religious at all and did not beleive in all that ‘silly spiritual stuff’. Don’t ask me how but I sense her sometimes. Thats what keeps me going-because she died and went through my ultimate fear.

    Does anyone else go through this constant countdown? Any ideas on how to stop it?

  107. sadie says:

    June 22nd, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Jean…your situation scares the crap out of me…i’ve been able to keep sane thus far by hoping by the time im your age i will be able to accept death. i have also thought about hypnosis. when i ever get the money i am going to try it, and hope it helps. im sorry.

  108. Zeke says:

    June 23rd, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Hello everyone, its been a while since I’ve read this blog, but sure enough, when my thanatophobia begins to paralyze my emotions and volition, it is then that I seek comfort in other peoples similar experiences. I have been withdrawing from my friends recently because I’ve been having a short fuse with them. This irritable attitude arises from my impatience with their inanity, because if someone tells me “it’s stupid to worry about dying, it’s so far in the future”, it is at that point I lose my grip! I’m sure each of you can relate! Anyways, I will not continue to bore you with my personal woes, I’ll get over it, I always do eventually. I intended to type much more and throw out some ideas, but it’s getting to late (early morning) and I’m to exhausted to wax philosophical right now – I’ll check back soon with some pithy and terse observations about reality as we know it ;) Zeke

  109. Heather W. says:

    June 26th, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Hello, all.

    As the others have said I don’t know how many times, you share with me the same feelings and the same thoughts, and it is quite astounding to realize that I am not alone in my fears. I’m a little sad for you that I’ve discovered this because I’d rather that you not be afraid. I suppose I am going to become a bit philosophical in this post, but I wonder if my thoughts on the subject will help anyone to find some peace.

    Well, you went on about the fear of not existing at all. It is absolutely, completely rational. If there is anything in the world at all you love, you don’t want it to be taken away from you. I suppose that thanatophobics like us just love life and all it has to offer so much that it really is the most frightening thing in the world to lose it all (and everyone it it) because we care so much. Not to say that those obsessed with death are automatically better than other people. I suppose we are just more aware that we may lose everything, and that is a frightening concept.

    Then, we might not just lose things.

    We might lose ourselves.

    I think that is the most horrifying concept of all. Suddenly “poof!”, NO HEATHER!!! Then, I would not be. Considering the whole turning to nothingness aspect of the fear, then.

    As you mentioned earlier, what is the point, then? If someone were truly, whole-heartedly to believe that they had no purpose in life, then why go on living?

    It has something to do with the fact that those who fear to lose all they have, love what they fear to lose. Since they love something so deeply that they worry about constantly losing it, they obviously have a reason to live, even if their actions might be null and void. They make it matter to themselves. Perhaps there is a cure right there. Don’t care about anything, be a robot. Add that to the list of cures.

    1) Believe in an afterlife
    2) Convince yourself to not worry about it (probably not an option)
    3) Electroshock Therapy
    4) Die
    5) Become a Robot.

    Then, here’s another take. What if, instead of being nothing, you are in eternal pain? Or what if you are alone forever with no outlet by which to grow or speak to others, alone forever.

    Then, what if there is an afterlife. Can you be happy forever? Or sad? Or maybe we’ll just run out of stuff to do. Then, what is the point of that. And if life goes on forever, what does it matter if or when we reach our goals, because we can always do it later.

    What if maybe becoming nothing, vanishing forever, is really the only true peace that any of us will ever find. What if it is really the best thing to happen?

    Me, personally, I have to love God – the embodiment of all that is good and pure. How could you not love someone who embodies everything that is wonderful? My only problem is that I am so caught up in doubts and my thanatophobia that I just can’t put my whole faith in Him and let Him take care of me. I can’t stop worrying because I care so much. I wonder how anyone who cares so much about the world could stop worrying. It really bothers me that I’m supposed to believe with all my soul, and that I feel it would be wrong to. I guess I’m just a little confused.

    To note, I’m seventeen. I’ve been horrified of being dead ever since I was 5 years old when I realized, as I lay in my bed one night, that maybe, just maybe, one day, I would not be here anymore and I would lose everything and everyone I had every worked for and loved.

    I hope I helped. Maybe I made it worse. Hope not. Good luck to all of you, I hope you find peace better than I have.

  110. Heather W. says:

    June 26th, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    To Jean,

    You sound like a wonderful person, and I just hope I can draw your attention to the one conclusion I have made in hope that it might help you.

    I believe that thanatophobia stems from the fact that you and I and many others love many people and many creatures and experiences so dearly, that we are terribly worried about losing them. Death could take everything away, and that is why it is so ominous and occupies so many of our thoughts.

    We care because we love people. The reason that your fears and attacks get worse as your life gets better is probably because you have more to worry about losing.

    Thanatophobia comes about most often from a wake up call.

    That call says “Ring Ring Ring. Hi, I’m death! You don’t know what happens when you encounter me. Maybe I’ll just take everything you ever had, even your consciousness! Muahahaha.”

    That’s what I hear, anyway.

    The fact that you worry so much is simply an indication that you are a beautiful, caring person. I think the best thing to do, if you really wish to try and get over your thanatophobia is to do whatever you can to ignore it. You will care about what you love and fear for it. It is is simply who you are. When that fear turns into a panic attack, the best thing you can do to stop it is to distract yourself.

    How to distract yourself:

    1) Concentrate on saying a word or phrase over and over again in your head. (Ex: Broccoli, broccoli, broccoli) And, if it helps, envision whatever it is in your head. If horrible things happen to it, then recreate the broccoli or whatever other image it is until you can maintain it.

    2) Put a tv in your bedroom. When you feel that you are starting to edge on thinking about death-related thoughts, turn on the television to a favorite, funny show and watch. Concentrate only on the actors and actresses. Give them your full attention. This helps night attacks. I know, I’ve avoided quite a few this way.

    3) When you are afraid, imagine the most beautiful place you can think of and imagine someone giving you a big hug. Think of all the wonderful things you know, and focus only on them instead of the fear that you’ll lose them.

    I wish I could think of some more tips to help you, but that’s all I’ve got for now. And, if anyone else will, please add to my list of helpful devices.

    Goodbye, Jean. I wish you the best of luck.

  111. Suzy says:

    June 30th, 2007 at 3:31 am

    I have more-or-less come to terms with the prospect of my own death and don’t particularly fear it – though the thought of loved ones dying does upset me. For me, death will be a relief, to get away from my own sometimes-tormenting thoughts (though the thought of death is still unreal – it’s something that happens to other people). I have been mildly depressed for years and life is grey and rather meaningless (but I am too apathetic/cowardly to try to take my own life, so I guess I will wait around until I die :) ). We did not exist before we were conceived, and death is merely a return to that non-existence. That’s as much as I can figure out – everything else is speculation. (I am not religious.)

  112. Anonymous says:

    June 30th, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    u know i think i have come to a conclusion….well or something to get me by for the moment, i just dont know whats going to happen, im so scared to die and u know, i guess im just going to have to live with that. i feel bad for everyone here that lives with this because its like we are cursed or something i mean not that i believe in curses but u know what i mean, i guess that i have decided to make the most of life, even though it seems pointless to me, the thing is that when im with my family and im having fun im happy and i am just going to try hard to do that as much as possible, i have also made a long list of things i want to do in my life and i will start checking them off one by one…things even as small as learning how to play chess or something….or like i want to make a quilt…i mean it just things like that that when i do die, if i know i can look back and say yes i lived my life to the fullest, even though it might not matter and all that b/c i dont really truly know if it will or not. i dont know if there is a “god” or what is going to happen, all i can do is try to be good in my life because for whatever reason i feel like that is what i should do and i guess i should follow that feeling, even if it is something i have picked up on b/c of the way i was raised, there is nothing else to go on u know. i really hope that everyone here, including myself can find some comfort somehow. i know that i have many nights of fear ahead of me in my life, but i guess i’d rather be here, alive and miserable than anywhere else and no matter how bad things get for me, because of this fear i guess i am lucky enough that i can still be grateful that i am alive. thats the only reason why i am kinda glad i realize what i do, because while ppl my age sit here and speed in their cars, and do drugs and all that, i have respect for my life and i know how fragile it is. i dont know, i was just thinking about all this and i knew i could come here and talk to ppl that understand. talk to u later

  113. sadie says:

    June 30th, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    ooops that was me i forgot to put in my info lol

  114. Mary says:

    July 3rd, 2007 at 12:11 am

    I only made it about half-way through the comments (possibly less) so I may have missed someone already say this but I think the root of this fear (the name of which I only discovered today), is that we feel that somehow our fear will protect us. That if we are afraid we will be vigilant, and if we are vigilant maybe we will prevent something from happening (or, I guess the proper term is “delay”).

  115. Amanda J says:

    July 3rd, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    I write this with tears in my eyes because i no longer feel alone! Everything in this web site is what i have been suffering since i was 6 yrs old, since the day the school bully threatened to kill me with a pair of scissors! My parents were always ashamed of it and when i would crawl around the floor screaming and pulling at my hair they would smack me and make me apologise to any guests that were in the house at the time. i was and still am at 31 yrs old terrified of dying! It might help the younger people to know that as i got older it got better, as a child i couldn’t even drive past a grave yard without screaming and crying, even at school in the middle of a lesson i would have a panic attack. My twin sister was my saviour, we slept in bunk beds and she would hold my hand until i fell asleep or let me sleep in her bed with her, even now i wake up screaming her name! It happens every day but only really at night now when the house is dark and quiet, i find myself thinking about it and then go into complete panic about one day not being here anymore, excuse the pun but it scares me to death! I was hypnotised once and it did work for a while but gradually the fear came creeping back. I think the worst thing about this fear is that its not just a fear like snakes, spiders or flying because those fears can be avoided or you can run away but this is the one sure thing that will happen to us and i think that knowing that is what scares me the most the fact that it WILL happen one day! i have a daughter now and i worry so much that she will have this phobia too one day!

  116. Ruta M says:

    July 6th, 2007 at 1:07 am

    Well, to see most of your comments and read this page has calmed me down immensely. I am now 13 years old, and have lived with this phobia for as long as I can remember. I used to live in Lithuania (now in America, but whatever), and there I sometimes could not fall asleep at night and wake up my sister with my panic attacks since we shared a room. She would go get my mom, and my mom would get up, then come sit down and tell me that everything would be okay. She’d sit there until I fell asleep, and the next day everything would be fine. One time I remember having another panic attack was on New Years, when my blind grandpa took me outside to see the fireworks. By the time we were walking up the stairs to our condo, I was crying thinking about how horrible it would be if HE died, and that’s when I started thinking about others’ death. It terrified me even more and my mind haunted me making me think of losing everybody and being lonely, not being able to live with myself. When I turned 9, a couple months later I moved here, to America. I can’t remember having any thoughts on this subject until January 5th, when my dog got hit by a car and died. Since I couldn’t get over him and still think about him every day, even with my new dog, I cry almost every night and think about what if I would fall asleep and not wake up the next morning. I still cry myself to sleep, sometimes putting my MP3 player to sleep mode and the songs calming me down a little. It feels great pouring all of this down, but reading the article actually freaked me and I just finished having another panic attack. I am pretty sure I will have this phobia for the rest of my life, and I can’t convince myself at all that there is an after life, or that it won’t hurt. I question the way of death, and wonder what really happens. Now, though, as of today, I will know that I am not alone anymore and have a better understanding of this situation.

  117. Brenda says:

    July 10th, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    Oh, it’s SO GOOD to read this. It doesn’t make me feel better about actually dying, no, not ONE BIT, but it’s good to hear so many people echo my frustration with it. I desperately don’t want to die; I’m deeply phobic, but also indignant – I want to know what happens next! I want to be here! I cannot stand the thought of not existing, of being snuffed out.

    The most ridiculous thing in the world for me is to be told by people, “you won’t be here anyway, once you die there’s nothing, so what is there to worry about?” This is the worst, because it articulates exactly the thing I cannot stand the thought of – not existing. As with others, I don’t really care how I go, it is the going itself I cannot bear to consider, because it sends me reeling into a panic.

    And yeah, I’m a scientist, too. I sincerely wish I had the capacity to believe in god and heaven, because it would really help. But I can’t, I just don’t buy it, so I guess I’m stuck.

    Also, I agree – fear of death is about the only truly RATIONAL fear out there.

    Thanks for posting this. It feels good to know I’m not alone in my feelings.

  118. Elizabeth says:

    July 11th, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Hi all,
    I came upon this site whilst looking for imformation that may help my husband.
    He has been suffering with what may well be Thanatophobia since the age of 7 – 8 yrs. He is now 45 yrs of age and is a completely broken man.
    He drinks heavily, rarely sleeps, and suffers severe panic attacks on a daily / nightly basis. He is nothing more than an emotional wreck. We have been married 24 years and in this time the condition has become extremely unbearable for him. He will not seek help in any form as he is too embarrassed about discussing his fear, and imagine’s he is the only one that has this problem. I try to offer unlimited support but this falls on deaf ears. I am at my wits end !
    I have tried to discuss the view of life after death in which i am a firm believer but he won’t enter into any discussion.
    This site has helped me understand more fully the condition he may well suffer from and the condition is more common that he would realise.
    Thankyou !

  119. Melanie says:

    July 13th, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Can’t believe I found this site and the information, makes me want to cry, I felt so alone and such a weirdo all the time, I mean my god, who thinks about dying and the various ways it could possibly happen in just a 15 minute car journey to work everyday.

    I ask myself questions all the time, why do I think like this? how can I make it go away? has anybody found the answer yet?

    I am only 35, I love my husband desperately and I have an 18 month old boy and they are my whole world….I don’t want to ever, ever, ever be without them.

    But then it starts in another way, what would they do without me, my child would grow up motherless, my husband would be a young widower…I hate it so much it hurts!!

    Can anyone at all help me with this, I desperately need advice on how to either get rid of it, understand it, or at least cope with it.

    Thanks in advance

  120. Chris says:

    July 16th, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    With me, I fear the emotional impact it would have on loved ones. I’ve lived through that and my family lived through that and it is complete hell. I don’t fear dying myself because I do believe in something after this life.

    I just fear for the loved ones I’d leave behind and their suffering, which in my opinion, is worse than death. That is what I fear. When I accidentally come across a story about sudden cardiac death, I think of someone I love having to find me in bed, dead. That shock they’d go through. That trauma. That hell.

    It’s all so irrational, I know. But it can be crippling sometimes. I almost want to write a note in case it ever does happen, to explain that I’m in a better place, and to not worry about me anymore. But that’s just like, asking for it, you know??

  121. Josh says:

    July 19th, 2007 at 12:29 am

    This entry and all of these comments eased my thanatophobia far more than any therapy or clinical treatment ever could. Hell, just knowing I’m not alone (especially in how specific and similar the thoughts and ideals of thanatophobes are) really helped.

  122. ashley says:

    August 5th, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    Your the only person I’ve ever found to understand the way I think, I cried reading your blog because your wrote my exact thoughts everyday…I’d like to talk w/ you, it might help

  123. ThePickards » Blog Archive » Life, Death, Thanatophobia and/or Free Will says:

    August 6th, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    [...] ties in to some extent with my previous thoughts on my thanatophobia, or at least it does in my mind [...]

  124. Anonymous says:

    August 8th, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    everything you have written about your self is me exactly I have an extreme fear of dying which I think is due to losing a very close person to me back in January she was due to get married in May and she was only 4 years older than me and it scares me every day that it could have been me or anybody around me. I almost feel like I’m playing a waiting game where all in a Q an we don’t know what order were in but eventually it will be our turn an if its not our turn we have to watch others we know an love take there own turn. I can pin point the exact moment I started having this fear I was sat in my home my partner had jus got home from work and I looked at him and then my 2 lovely dogs and I jus thought I could leave all this behind at any moment an not have a clue I didn’t sleep the whole night as I feared that I’d stop breathing, I’ve never been as bad as that again and I realised I got this way partly by over analysing too much and also because of the trauma of losing my dear friend. up until that moment I believed that everybody I loved an lost was waiting for me in a place where nobody could hurt them anymore I’ve no idea why I began to feel differently because I was always so positive that this is how it was and I would see my loved ones again some day because if we didn’t have somewhere to go afterwards then what was the point. reading your page has made me realise that even though people don’t really have a cure for my phobia I’m not alone and it is just a phobia.
    I do wonder why people can jus shut off an be happy whilst all the time knowing one day they will die not knowing what will happen to them but then I guess that’s living for the moment.
    I really wish I could do that

  125. ThePickards » Blog Archive » Christopher Brookmyre’s Book Signing says:

    August 9th, 2007 at 1:36 am

    [...] the thanatophobia, and the fact that I’ve had over 100 comments on my original post about living with thanatophobia, and suggested that if a thanatophobic did believe in a God or an afterlife, then so long as they [...]

  126. Richard Hawkins says:

    August 12th, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    I wrote up my beliefs and fears and what I think to those of other beliefs. >

    I have been through what I still conceder to be my worst in life so far, the alcohol, the break down, the self harm, all the 11 deaths, the big family issues, the being homeless, the mental health parts, the break up with my X after falling in love with him, my real best friend, who i really lost from it all, and coming to terms with my sexuality alone, and even the slight bullying in school, and severe panic attacks daily, also, murder, and loneliness, and much more things which there has been so much bad things happen, leaving the place I grew up, leaving my friends and family, never going back to the perfect job, leaving my whole life behind me alone, to start a new one alone, also the pressure of dealing with the job demands at a time of uncertainty, living in the hostel. so on, now this my friend died like he did, the major thanatophobia, my depression, my dads drinking, Iv come through most of that list and I’m going to carry on coming through it. Even if it is a bumpy ride all the way. It hurts it kills, but we keep on going.

    Have a read, and tell me what you think please.

    Thanatophobia – Fear of Dying.

    It’s defined as a fear of one’s own death and is apparently very common. Very common for many people, of which I believe most these people have a sense of this fear, but are then capable of forgetting about it and carrying on living happily for long periods of time, naturally there mind leaves the fear and they don’t like to think about it, so I guess they happily don’t think about it, were as others who are maybe in the same situation as everyone else, just can not get it out their mind, and spend countless hours a day panicking worrying fearing and being absolutely scared on the spot, about their untimely demise, maybe certain people are triggered to suffer more from this due to past experiences, maybe looking deep into this is just a way to solve unknown issues from your past.

    Why is it interesting? Because there are so many layers to it.

    Firstly, thanatophobia is a form of anxiety. It’s a phobia, which is classed as anxiety. It comes with physical anxiety symptoms such as shortness of breath, increased heart rate, muscle tension, nausea, dizziness etc etc. It can be associated with panic attacks. It’s a fear of something which is at once inevitable but also quite unlikely at any given moment in time. The person is afraid of something which they know is definitely going to happen, but they have no way of knowing when. And they have no way of knowing what.

    Thanatophobia also has an existential, even theological component. If someone is afraid of death, what do they fear? The actual fear must relate to the person’s beliefs about death. What do they think is going to happen to them when they die and why is it so frightening.

    Here’s a range of possible beliefs about death:

    · – nothing happens, you cease to exist (materialist view) Well this is mainly my belief, its not what I wonder in fact its what I believe about 90% sure, see I’m the kind of person were in life I have to have answers, I have to figure things out, and I have to know what’s happening, and the only natural way to see this is that when your gone you cease to exist, I think I already know what’s its like to be dead, you might think I’m talking silly or daft, but think about it, we have all been there before, when life had not created us, yes before we was created, biologically we have not been created, we totally are non existent , I sometimes wonder if we was gone before we was born for longer than what were going to be gone after we die? it would be about the same, but then there must be a time when you have been dead longer than what you was gone before you was born, I think about it like space, space is never ending so imagine if space is death and the earth is life, then your flying along for infinite time,( no beginning, no end, life is just the one stop off in the middle, like a break from nothingness, for ever), until eventually you come across earth, you cross earth, in your own time, and then you leave earth behind, and your back on the same path as before, only still for infinity, but you have already passed by earth, that’s as far as it gets in space terms, the space idea stops, I personally think that we can only be made once, magic special things don’t happen in real life, some people like to think they do, and I guess in life to a certain extent maybe they do, I think life is magic and real special, but why would magical things all of a sudden happen in real death, the main reason I look at it like space is because, really we don’t know if there’s another planet with life on it, so we don’t know if were going to come across life again, but really its sad to say we don’t, biologically we have been made and the biologically stuff that made us had come and gone, been used up, next its some one else’s turn, i look at it like this, imagine my child, I could easily give live to some one, but if I don’t have a child that life will miss there slot and never have life come across that chance again, I believe we are dead before were born. Ask yourself were was you, what was you, what did you have five hundred million years ago, and that again or even 100 years ago, you were non existent , your going to go back to it but your never going to come back, That’s why I think its vital to create life, our children act the same as us, because of our jeans that’s the only real way we can carry on living.

    · – you may go to heaven or hell, depending on some kind of judgment of your actions in this life (Judeo-Christian view) I really really really would love to believe this, I’m pretty sure people that are just as worried and scared of death, have used this to make them self not suffer from thanatophobia, although I’m sure they believe this as much as what I believe.

    · – reincarnation (Hindu, Buddhist) ha ha ha, now this, this makes me laugh, this is just stupid, even if we did get reincarnated, well we don’t know anything about our last life, well I certainly don’t, so even if this was the case, it would not make any difference, it would be the same as me dying and others being born. Which happens anyway with.

    · – some people believe in ghosts, or spirits of the dead who somehow just float around the earthly plane making a nuisance of themselves I sometimes feel, because our life energy has been around for such a long time in the world, such as life, that presence of our self’s could be left behind, only slight energy, Nothing we could know about, and I only believe this 10%

    For those who believe the first option, a fear of death is not very rational. After all if you don’t exist, what does it matter? You won’t be suffering. To this I say, not existing knowing that I will not exist and never come back, to me rationally seems the scariest bit, I believe people only have a certain amount of feelings towards life , for me I can feel that very non existence, iv seen in my head, lived even felt it in my mind, I can sense knowing that I’m gone, dead the same as my uncreated children all our right now as I type. I personally don’t understand why people cant be brought back to life, get the heart to work, get the blood to work, I know we cant, and I think a reason why I feel so much fear, is because, I can not explain no matter what I say to no matter who I say it, I can not explain ever how much I can feel that non existence inside me, and I know its a really bad thing. I sometimes think when your dead, your body has to get cold, surly your body can still feel the heat draining out as the first few hours of your death set in, what about as the neutrons and electrons slowly die in your brain, this certainly will not happen straight away, what if you wake up, and you realise you cant move ore feel and your just buzzing in your head, slowly your forts fade away into nothingness. What even if your forts are forever trapped inside your mind deep deep down, yelling for infinite, get me out of here, like a real life nightmare, in death, for ever and ever trapped, what if all the people who are now dead, are all suffering. So people tell me its impossible, well they like to think that, really how does anyone know that’s not the case, that’s why I want to be cremated, so I don’t give my body/mind a chance to feel that.

    For Christians, and similar viewpoints, a fear of death could be related to some kind of guilt. You feel you have done wrong and you are going to hell. In that case all that is required is to repent and you’ll be forgiven – easy. This is real, reading this, I don’t expect you to take it serious, but I think I have a memory of being in hell, sometimes I think I have to do things properly, like be nice and not do anything bad, to the extent that I have to put rubbish in the bin properly, I think this is my life and I’m here to put right what I made wrong in a past life, I do remember being in hell, I really do, its always been in the back of my mind, since I was really young, I don’t know nothing about this, but I know its really something that’s always been there, I do put this down to having a bad nightmare when I was a child, lets hope I’m right.

    Those who believe in reincarnation may be afraid of their own karma. They may have done wrong and fear a horrible next life. It’s understandable. It’s also understandable for those who believe in spirits or ghosts to feel afraid. Who would want to be floating around forever, feeling cold and scaring people?

    I get the feeling that most people with this fear haven’t quite worked out their own beliefs yet. They may be searching, and the fear could be a healthy sign that they are moving towards some kind of spiritual growth.

    I believe I may be searching for something in my life, I believe I’m only 5% the person I want to be, in terms of accepting and being happy and understanding, but I know that what I explained earlier on, is my belief and I am certainly not searching for some kind of spiritual belief, as you are saying I may be doing, as I know that what my beliefs are, even if i don’t like them. When your a Christian I think you like what you believe

    Some writers (like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Victor Frankl and also in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) emphasise the need to confront one’s own mortality in order to grow or really be able to live well. Death is a necessary step on the road to rebirth in a number of ways, some of which are symbolic. There’s a cycle.

    Fear of death could also be related to other problems. It could be due to narcissism (fear of one’s own nonexistence) or fear of the unknown.

    It could also be related to a death-wish as sometimes we fear what we really desire. I really don’t think I have a death wish.

    I don’t have thanatophobia and I’m frankly quite unconcerned about the whole thing. I don’t fear death and I don’t pretend to know what is going to happen to me there. I have some kind of faith that tells me it will be OK. But I find the whole thing very interesting. Ok but do you ever really tell your self loudly enough, one day I will die, and do you listen. The scariest thing is it can and does just happen at any time for no known reason no matter who you are. What this tells me in life, is that how precious life is, and how important it is to show our loved ones how important they are to us, everyday day and chance we can have, I some times think soon one in 6 will die early, either me, or a family member, this scares me as well, the more I think it, the more I believe it will happen.

  127. Christina says:

    August 21st, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Wow. This is absolutely incredible. I never would have thought so many people would have this fear. Mine started after choking on a cup of cranberry juice less than a year ago. I began to fear choking and it turned to a fear of heart troubles or whatever else popped up. Any tiny little problem I seemed to be having that was really nothing sent me into obsessive thoughts about dying from it.
    The fear probably started because of a few different things including choking on the cranberry juice (I haven’t drinked cranberry since btw, and I didn’t drink any juices for a while) as well as earlier experiences with my dad having kidney stones, nerve troubles, gallbladder attacks. Also my mother died a couple weeks after I was born from a stroke (she was quite overweight, however). So put all those things together and I get this super-duper little phobia.
    I do get panic attacks from it and I do worry about death everyday, especially before going to sleep. I’m currently worried about having a heart attack or something else happen because my heart pounds if I think about it, even though I’m only 16 and perfectly healthy (although I should lose 20-40 pounds). So it does seem incredibly irrational, but I just can’t seem to completely shake it off. I believe in God and an afterlife, but I still don’t want to leave this earth nor do I want to experience the pain of dying.
    My temporary cures for it are music and nature just because that’s what relaxes me. That’s what makes all my problems go away. ^_^ But that doesn’t last indefinitely unfortunately. Although I hope and believe I’ll get over this eventually since I never used to be worried about death except for the last few months. I was, however, slightly depressed over the last few years, ever since I started junior high. Only slightly as I was usually pretty happy. And I’m very happy now except for the whole fear of death thing. Hopefully I’ll get rid of it eventually.

  128. Christina says:

    August 21st, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Oh yes, another thing I was going to mention is that I feel like I’m in survival mode 24/7 or at the very least whenever I get panic attacks about my phobia. And as I read in a previous comment, it is like if I don’t have the fear or if I’m not alert, then something could happen. It’s like feeling you’re in constant danger. And if you relax and take it easy, you could be in trouble. *sigh* I wish there was a cure for this…

  129. Alison says:

    August 24th, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    I am a 39 year old woman with two young boys (8 and 5) and a wonderful husband as well as a fabulous career, and I DON”T WANT IT TO END!!! And psychologists have the nerve to call this irrational? I have been struggling with this off an on for as long as I can remember. 4 years ago it got really bad. I’m not really sure why, but I susepct it had something to do with the finality of making the decision with my husband to not have any more children. I felt happy with the idea of not having more children, but the idea that the childbearing phase of my life was over was devastating to me. Along with it came the concept of aging, failing health and yes, of course DEATH. It got to the point where I was having frequent panic attacks and feelings like I was not even in my own body. I saw a therapist and went on medication for awhile, but eventually weaned myself off because I didn’t like the side effects (as a woman who values my health and fitness, I found it hard to “feel better” after gainign 20 pounds). Since weaning myself from the medication, I have been doing much better and have managed to focus my attention on other meaningful things in my life and avoid a great deal of philosophizing about death. VICTORY!!!

    Not so fast. Now I am dealing with another Thanatophope in my life – my 8 year old son. I find it fascinating that he is expressing these fears to me now, when I have NEVER discussed or indicated in any way my fears to him. Even when I was going through my worst time, I managed to keep up my active, fun, Mom persona until well after they had gone to bed at night.

    Anyways, I had a sense that he was going to be dealing with similar issues to me. When he was five he was watching a Dinosaur show and all of a sudden realized that Dinosaurs used to be alive and were now dead. He turned to me with a look of fear in his eyes and said “Am I going to die?”. That day, he had a full blown panic attack and we could not calm him down until he fell asleep from complete hysteria. Since then, he has not had another attack, but I know from things he has said that it has been brimming under the surface. Last night as I was tucking him into bed he said “Mom, I’m afraid of dying”. I sat with him for an hour after that and tried to help him talk about his feelings, but frankly, it’s not easy for one Thanatophobe to say to another “don;t worry, everhting will be fine”. He talked about not knowing what ahppens when you die. He wondered if you just sleep and dream forever (which for a very active boy is not a fun thought). In the end I realized that trying to reassure him was not helping. I picked a book off his shelf that I had picked up a couple of years ago called “What to do when you are scared and Worried” and we reas some together. Of course, it deals mostly with the more typical childhood fears (i.e., fear of the dark, spiders, thunder etc..). Some of the exercises were helpful though (relaxation, positive visualization, deep breathing) – distraction mainly. This morning he seems a bit better. He’s yelling at his brother, so that’s a good sign.

    As you can imagine, I am terrified at the prospect of my son having to go through what I have been through, and I am determined to do my best to help him through it and offer him my support in a way that it was not offered to me growing up. I only wish that I could save him the fear and anxiety. We are not a religipus family. My husband and I both have science backgrounds and do not beleive in God or an afterlife, which makes parenting a Thanatophobe even harder. I don’t feel right telling him things that I don’t beleive, although I will tell him things like “some people beleive …”. He asks about Heaven, and even though I have never told him it DOESN’t Exist, I think he undersatands my thoughts.

    If anyone is also in the same boat as me, a Thanatophobe raising a thanatophobe I would love to hear from you. It’s so important that we do the best we can for our children to help them cope with this hopefully better than we have. Any ideas?

  130. JackP says:

    August 24th, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    well, interestingly enough, a conversation with my dad revealed that he suffers from it to some extent too; although in the other direction my three year old is just starting to grasp the concept of death, so it’s a bit early to tell…

  131. Alison says:

    August 24th, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks JackP,

    I didn’t mention, but it is relevant that my Mom has definately suffered with this quite severely her whole life. I guess I thought that because it was seeming to affect the female side of our family that maybe my sons might be garnered some immunity. no such luck, I guess.

    As for me, I feel that, although I have had some releif over the last few months, I am always teetering on the brink of falling into that deep depressing place again. I am quite concerned about my ability to deal with my son without finding myself on a slippery slope back to nightly panic attacks. I am doing my best to use my cognitive behavioral strategies to keep me on the “sane” end of the spectrum for the time being.

    I should comment, that for me, I have also found some success with diet and exercise as well as supplements. I do a 10 kilometer run 4 times a week and lift weights 3 times a week. I always feel more alive and content after I exercise. I am very consious of maintaining a healthy diet of lean protein, complex carbs and lots of fruits and veggies. I take a daily dose of Omega-3, evening primrose and stress complex b vitamins. It’s all speculative as to how much this has helped me, but it’s worth throwing out there.

    I also should say JackP, that when I stumbled accross this site, I read your blog with my jaw on the floor, because I had honestly never heard another human being describe so exactly the feelings that I have struggled with my whole life. I thank you for putting this out there and I do find some solace in knowing that I am not alone.

  132. EJ Bako says:

    August 30th, 2007 at 4:01 am

    This article really helped me out. I have always been a skeptist and never a firm believer in an afterlife. I basically figure that I should worry about what I do during my time on this planet. However, recently I have become more worried about death not because of the physical ordeal it is, but the mental. I’m only a teenager with many years left to live. I have heard the line “what you worry about often never happens.” Death WILL happen. I’ve realized that the main reason is we have to come to grips with it. We will be gone from this planet at one time or another. I think we just need to worry about stuff while we’re here rather than when we’re not. There are much better things in life to think about besides its end. I think this phobia can be cured by just doing good in life. So when your time does come you will be completely satisfied with your accomplishments. Instead, of using the phobia to hold you back, it should be used as a building block. Think, if you make the best out of life and have a ton of fun doing it. By the end of your lifetime you may realize there’s not much left to do. I don’t know if I want to be spoon fed baby food and be bed ridden forever. The truth is, we NEED death. Without we’d have no incentive to LIVE. So don’t worry about dying worry about LIVING. And heck, I think this mindset may just help.

  133. Vicky says:

    September 7th, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you for posting this, and thanks also to everyone who has commented so far. Knowing I’m not the only person to have suffered this for years really does help me.

    Before today, I’d never known the term “thanatophobia”. I did a Google search for “phobia fear of death” and came across this (and the crackpot article JackP describes in his post). While I just sneered in disgust at the latter, I was so pleased to have found this page.

    I’ve always felt ashamed of this fear. I felt it was wrong, that it was unique to me, that it had no name, and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. Because they didn’t understand, try as I might to explain, and I felt alone in my suffering.

    But now I can see it *does* have a name, and it’s *not* just me… it feels somehow validated. It’s not just my brain malfunctioning- it’s a real phobia that other people describe in the exact ways I experience it. Knowing that is a small comfort that I’m incredibly grateful for.

    I’m also one who falls asleep by sticking the TV on and keeping my mind occupied while I drift off. I also first started having this fear as a young child; sometime before the age of 10. I used to approach my Mum sometimes, when we were alone, and tearfully ask her, “Is it okay if I cry for a while?” When she asked me why, I couldn’t really give an answer. What 6-7 year old child should be having thoughts of mortality and non-existence??

  134. lizann says:

    September 9th, 2007 at 12:34 pm


    Man, I just want to say that you really described me to a “T”…all your reasoning and arguments are exactly the same points I have made to others when I have tried to speak to friends about it. it is true that it seems like no one else suffered from this [no one I knew]….but now I don’t feel so alone…after reading how many others suffer like I do from this awul phobia! Bless you for wtiting this and showing me that I wasn’t alone! :-)

  135. anonymousyeah says:

    September 21st, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    How long has it been since I lasted commented on here? July, around 3 months ago. Ontop of when it first started (late may) thats four months that I have had this fear now. (again I know its nothing compared to some, but in those first 2 weeks I was hopeing it would go away soon)

    To be honest, it had kind of gone for a while but its kicking in again. When Im listening to the radio, some of the songs remind me of it. Or things that people say when their talking and they dont even mean anything by it but it just reminds me again.

    It is the worst thing ever. Its the fact that were here, on a plannet in a big black nothingness. And then one day were not here anymore. Theres a comment a bit further up this page about it feeling a bit like a curse, and thats what I feel like sometimes. Sometimes I think about space and evrything like that, but I cant understand it. Being brought up as a christian, theres allways a thought in my mind about heaven and hell and God. And then I think if it isnt real, then I can entirely understand why people would have invented it. To try and help people to lead better lives and not be scared of dying.
    Other times im just like “come on then death, Ill be glad to leave here because its pretty sh*t anyway” and I cant be bothered with it. It just sucks.

  136. A. says:

    September 29th, 2007 at 1:41 am

    I am so incredibly glad to have found this site. I’ve been looking for a long time, but all I seemed to find were ‘definitions’ (obviously written by people who have NO experience whatsoever with the phobia), ‘publicity’ for weird religious groups, or links to thriller novels… *sigh* What you describe, however, is exactly how I have felt for a long time. So, first of all: thank you, so so much, for putting this online.

    Let me start by saying I am the type of person who needs to talk about emotions and fears, obsessively talk about them. I NEED that, I think it is some sort of defense mechanism. Anyway, I have amazing friends who are prepared to listen to just about anything I have to say. I have talked with some of them about my fear of death, (extensively, with one person in particular) They really try to understand me, but they just don’t. At all. They don’t get what I am afraid of. Some people even said things to me like: “I understand you’re scared, but there’s nothing to be scared of, really. Once you’re dead, you won’t be there to experience it, will you?” They don’t get that THAT is exactly what I am afraid of.

    Nothing anyone has said to me to try and help me, has actually helped me so far. Someone said: “You just need to find your purpose in life, find a goal.” I am thinking: “There IS no purpose, setting a goal is useless. What’s the purpose of building something that you KNOW will be destroyed?”

    Then someone said to me: “I understand your fear. But you are 21 years old, you’re too young to be thinking of that. Death is still far away.” Well, is it? We don’t know. I could die in my sleep tonight. I could simply slip in the shower and hit my head on the sink, and *poof*, I won’t exist anymore. Also, even if I die an old toothless woman of 86, that moment will still be ‘now’. It was ‘now’ when I started to write the post, yet here we are, 20 minutes later, and the time is still ‘now’.

    Someone else asked me: “So you are saying the finish is more important than the journey?” No! The journey is great, the journey is amazing! That’s just it! I don’t WANT to get to the finish!

    And then there’s the “Therapy will help you get rid of your fear”- argument. Not in my head. Therapy will help me IGNORE my fear. It can help me manipulate my mind, set the fear aside for a while so that maybe I will be completely happy, completely content and completely without fear. I will also be completely kidding myself.

    Maybe therapy could have helped me if this was a ‘simple’ (no offense meant) case of being afraid of the unknown. However, I am not afraid of the unknown. I am afraid of what can’t be known. I am afraid of the unevitable inability to ‘know’ or think. I am terrified of oblivion, a state that cannot be known or even imagined (believe me, I’ve tried, and it results in utter chaos and panic every time).

    I am sorry I am making this such a long post, but it feels like such a relief to be able to tell this to people who feel the same, who truly understand (although I wish that understanding upon noone). Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, and I appreciate them trying to help immensely. I am incredibly thankful for them, listening to me and engaging in a discussion that they know they cannot win, because my fear can counter any argument, however logical that argument might be. And still they persist in trying to understand and help, which is wonderful. It is just so incredibly sad to realise that with so many lovely people out there trying to help me, no one can actually help me.

    Lately I feel like I shouldn’t talk about it anymore, at least not with my friends (which is another reason why I am so happy to have found this site). I feel like “my material is getting old”, I cannot say more than what I have already said. I fear I will bother my friends if I continue to talk to them about this. I fear that they will start to think: “If you’re really so scared, then do something about it or keep quiet” (I am referring to the fact that I think therapy cannot actually help me). Yet like I said, I NEED to be able to talk, to keep talking, without cease, about the things that haunt my mind. Somehow in doing that, it feels like I’m fighting it. Or at least scaring it enough to keep it at a safe distance, for now.

    For now… :(

  137. Melina says:

    October 7th, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    well i came across this site while searching the net for the symptoms of ‘thanatophobia’ and to my surprise i didn’t find what i thought i would… this website/blog/forum has been the most helpful thing i have read… although i don’t think about it everyday and i don’t have panic attacks when i do, death worries me, it worries me a lot… im scared to talk about it because i know people will tell me im being irrational and “silly” which is what my boyfriend says.
    i believe my fear of death started at a young age when my scripture teacher told me that after we die, our soul lives on for eternity.. that scared me, i couldn’t fathem the idea of ‘forever’.. but since then my fear has changed completely, i no longer fear what will happen after i die but rather i fear not living until i’m old and grey…
    there is so much i want to accomplish in life, so much i want to do and see. i am only 20 years old and all i think about is the future i want to live. i love my boyfriend so much and i can’t wait until we get married and have a family together but i am so scared that something will happen, one of us will die before we get the chance to get married (mainly i feel as though it will be me). my heart hurts when i think about it and i cry so much. i have no idea why, and i hope that it’s just me being “silly” but i have this feeling that something really bad will happen to me tomorrow or soon-not suicidal or anything like that, but this odd feeling that i will have a car accident. i can just picture how sad my family and loved ones would be. i hope and pray that i am wrong..

    i guess deep down i know that perhaps it is irrational to think the way i do because no matter what i think and how i feel nothing can change the fact that i will die one day, i can’t choose when or how so why do i worry about it? i wish i didn’t because it hurts. maybe i think this way because i am so happy at the moment and im just scared that my happy/perfect life filled with love and joy will be snatched away from me…

    the bootom line is i don’t want to die, im not ready to say goodbye to a life i have barely begun to live.

  138. Jean says:

    October 14th, 2007 at 9:26 am

    I have suffered for many years, but now I am in my 50s it is not just at night when it takes over my thoughts. It is during the day in the middle of work, walking the dogs, cooking a meal a cold dread. I end up shouting and calling for my husband, who comes and starts talking to me about anything, just anything to get my mind off it. I am becoming frightened of this phobia taking over my last years of life and me missing the best bits. It seems the happier I am the more the thoughts crowd my day. I am going to have hypnotherapy to see if I can get some peace

  139. Alison says:

    October 29th, 2007 at 5:20 am

    I have not posted in a couple of months, and things are up and down for me. My terrible fear came horribly true this summer for someone OTHER than me. A colleague of mine was killed in a horrible incident (a bear mauling). A beautiful, caring, energetic 31 year old woman, who ironically probably never suffered from Thanatophobia. At her funeral, it occured to me that I was more affected by this incident than many people who knew her better than I did. I think it’s because of the way that I process the concept of death differently from other people. Of course anyone who knew her was shocked and horrified and incredibly saddened, but I am haunted by it constantly. I look at her picture frequently and I can’t fully process that she is gone. That one instant in time can eliminate you from the planet before you even have a chance to know what is happening. I guess what is at the heart of my fear is the loss of control. The fact that in that moment, you have no control, you have no choice but to give yourself up to death. I HATE not being in control.

    I am quickly approaching my 40th birthday and I can’t beleive that this much time has passed in my life. In many ways I still feel like I’m 25. I don’t see a 40 year old woman in the mirror (or I don’t want to). I just hope that my fear doesn’t grow worse with each passing year. I can’t fathom how I will deal with turning 70, for example, knowing that you can’t cheat death much longer. Hopefully i will get that far…

  140. Kim says:

    October 31st, 2007 at 5:09 am

    I have been reading these posts for about a year. I have become terrified of death since my mum died at the start of this year. Mum seemed aware, and stricken by what was happening to her.
    Jean – I am 51 and so identify with the daytime worry as well as the awful nights with no sleep.
    Alison – I too, dread being about seventy and knowing that I am truly almost out of time for EVER. Having a break is one thing – but never being me again! Argh!!
    People say that I look 35, but I am NOT…
    I seem to have constant belly ache over this, and a recent gastric emptying scan showed gastroparesis – a whole other story, but I feel so ill and am sure stress isn’t helping. I think this fear will actually kill me. What an awful irony.
    Thank you for allowing us to share, Jack ((((((((group hug))))))))))
    We so need one.
    We could do with some people taking pity on us, and giving us good advice…anyone of about seventy who has learned to cope with this????

  141. Darren Taylor says:

    November 5th, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Jack like many others that have responded I share your fear also. It’s not irrational but it’s something I certainly don’t like to talk about and have never really shared with anyone. I think about death almost every night, when I’m kissing my children goodnight and thinking some day I won’t be here for them. I can’t stand the thought that some day I will be separated from my family and it’s at this point I’m torn between what I believe in and what I want to believe in.

    I would like to believe in some kind of afterlife, I like to think I have Christian views and values though may not practice particularly well! However, there are questions to which I can’t find an answer that always disturb me. For instance, if there is a God, why is he so secretive? Why does he not pop his head up every so often and say listen guys, I’m for real, worship me, follow me, live your life well and I’m here for you. Are we really supposed to believe the written word of men from thousands of years ago which has more than likely gone through many many translations and versions – and thats it? Nada. Not another dicky bird? Can’t Jesus appear every so often just to reassure us? If anyone can rationally please explain why not, I’d really love to know cos this could be the clincher for me!

    What I do believe in is that there is something that happens to you when you die, what I don’t know. Why? Well if you’ve ever had anyone close to you die there’s this gut feeling that you can’t explain, that you know they can hear you, you know they’re still around in some sense. Has anyone else experienced these feelings?

  142. Luelle says:

    November 11th, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Just wanted to say thanyou so much. I’ve been reading these post for quite a while now and wanted to post but not really know what to say. After reading this article and realising that I was far from alone I was brave enough to tell my parents, and found that, although varying in severity, almost everyone on my Dad’s side of the family suffered from something similar. After losing my best friend to cancer when I was about thirteen, I have spent almost every night in cold sweats, hot flushes, hyperventialtion, panic attacks and sometimes something resembling a fit where I can’t stop shaking and convulsing and squeaking. I just can’t bear the eternity of death, the fact this life is EVERYTHING, all that we will ever be. Tis may sound odd but as a child I always treated eath like a kind of rest, I never really comprehended the fact that death was so very final until the funeral of the girl I had pretty much grown up with. I realised that I would neversee heragain, and that when I died I would never see ANYTHING ever again, or hear anything or feel anything or even think anything and it is more than I can bear. After pretty much doing nothing about it for three years, I am now getting some counselling which helps a little bit but my biggest fear is the ineveitable worsening as I get older. I cannot imagine staying sane knowing that I only have years left. How can someone cope with that? I read a buhddist saying once that has helped my a little bit, I use it like a mantra when things are really bad- it says that we are only waves, we exist only for a moment then we are part of everything else again (far more eloquently than that though) but the idea of being a “wave” which is amdeof a small part of everything is strangely comforting to me. Thanks again, becuase reading this made me feel like I was not on my own with this.

  143. Chris Debiec says:

    November 24th, 2007 at 12:27 am

    Finally! Tonight not to optimistic I started browsing net lookin’ for some REAL info about it. In last two years I tried few times to find any usefull info about thanatophobia. And tonight I landed here. Same problem, same thoughts… In my case this nightmare started when I was teenager. I spend few years of my life “browsing” informations about most popular religions, and the problem began when I rejected all of them. Then I started thinking about the moment of death. In years my thoughts slowly evolved into nearly sure facts. From last 2 years this poison infects my mind deeper and deeper and my fear of death became real phobia. Every single time I’m preparing to sleep I think about it. And usually it ends with panic attacks. Sometimes I’m running away from my room, as the awareness of “being switched off” one day owerwhelming me. I can’t accept that one day I’ll stop exist. I, “me” must exist forever. I know it sounds sick, but it’s true. I can’t accept the end. There must b something after death. But as I rejected all religions, the real problem begins… Every night I’m aware that there might be nothing after. But there must b something to continue my existence. This fear became overwhelming… I’m worried that soon I’ll need professional help. But blocking those thoughts by medicaments of hypnosis is totally unacceptable. I am too aware of my existance to made any suden changes in my logic…

    I really need to talk about it with real person. To exchange thoughts, points of view, just to analyse deeply thanatophobia and the death. Please if U can spare some of Your free time to call me or send me an e-mail I would b really grateful.

    I live in London,
    My e-mail: [email protected]
    Mobile: 07852214686 (text me first)

    I really need to talk. Thnx!

  144. Nathan says:

    November 30th, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Wow. I can’t emphasise enough how amazed I was to stumble across someone with the same fears and doubts I have. Thank you for an extremely insightful article. Without ever having been to see a doctor or similar about my own fear, I was unaware that it had a name, or was even a legitimate phobia in the first place. I think you just about summed up everything I’ve been fretting about for the past 6 months. Feels good to know I’m not the only one…

  145. Mike says:

    December 1st, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I too am a scientist and our thoughts are so similar that it is scary.

    I have dealt with this for about 7 years now off and on.

    It started when my wife and I decided to spend the rest of our lives together. Before that, I had a “normal” fear of death. The thought of death would pop up but would just as quickly go away.

    Now, it has resurfaced with the arrival of my first child.

    Has anyone else noticed that the “fear cycle” coincides with major life events?

  146. nancy says:

    December 1st, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    In my search on the web at 4am for some answers about Thanatophobia, I am grateful to have found these comments. My daughter who is 15 is now having serious episodes at night. We live in the US. Her heart palpitates and she generally feels unhealthy. She is an A student with specific goals and ambitions in life. She already knew what Thanatophobia was and said she has had it as long as she can remember. I am just now dealing with it because it has now distupted her life to the point that she is not sleeping at night and having crying episodes that last over an hour the rest of the itme just awake. Then she finally passes out some time in the afternoon after school. So on top of the mental anguish there is the sleep schedule that is all off. This is very serious but help isn’t exactly out there so readily. My first priority is to get her sleep schedule back on track even though we are not big on drugs. A sedative sounds great right now, (for me too.) I’m exhausted trying to figure all this out. I feel saddened that this is probably going to ruin her life and that I waited so long to acknowledge it. She had told me of it before but I didn’t understand it. Now its a crisis. Its unfortunate that this is ruining people’s lives. It seems to be people with such a vigor for life too. She knows exactly what she wants to do in life, what college, what profession, etc. She’s so bright, beautiful and the picture of stability to everyone who knows her. We have never been religious but maybe it would’ve been better if we had been because then there would’ve been a “belief” that there is at least heaven and hell that we go to. But basing our whole lives on something like that seems dumb. I can’t believe people really believe in heaven and hell and that religion has been able to control the masses with this crap. I believe that heaven and hell are always at your reach. and this Thanatophobia is hell on earth. I wish it were as easy as saying “I have a choice to be happy or not”. Being able to have control over your inner self takes a lot of soul searching and spritual development. I can’t help thinking that there is something nutritionally as the key too, that can help. Along with therapy, there are many books on amino acid treatments diets and mood calming herbs like valerian or kava kava. We have a very healthy diet in our family. I’m also making an appt. with a pediatrician and psychiatrist as they can help with sleep medication if needed. I want to treat this as promptly and seriously as possible without overreacting all at once with the wrong approach. I’m trying to be level headed about this situation but at the same time I am now in fear for my daughter’s life.

  147. Hannah says:

    December 3rd, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Luelle, and Nancy’s daughter, I am in the exact same postion. I am seventeen and I live in the UK, and know exactly how you both feel. I love life to much to bearthe idea of it ending, I know what I want from life and what I want to give back. Just knowing there are girls out there who feel the same is a massive comfort. I too had a very disrupted sleep cycle a while ago because panic attacks would come and go for hours. I also cry for no reson and get very strong very sudden inexplainable urges to break and ruin things, like smash mugs onto the kitchen floor or tear essays in half- I’m worried this will get worse. But as for sleep cycle, in the short term, although it sounds silly, reading a lighthearted book or watching something fun on TV before you go to sleep really helped me, because it was always as I lay in bed that I would begin to panic. I also go to sleep only when I am tired so I don’t lie awake for too long. Finally, when I do start to panic, I write a page or so about how I’m feeling, and having a focus point and an outlet for my terror stops itbottlenecking in my headand really does help to calm me down. I was at my worst about a year ago when my boyfriend killed himself, and wish this back then I’d found a site like this to make me feel less alone. I hope my suggestions help someone; they certainly got my lifeback ontrack when I honestly thought I was going to break down irreversibly. If not, then I guess adding my voice will make someone else feel a little bit less scared and alone. Thankyou everyone.

  148. Mike in NM says:

    December 6th, 2007 at 2:34 am

    I remember the days in college, in the middle of the night, feeling like I was walking a tightrope over the pitch-black void of eternity, gripped with the most terrible of terrors and the deepest of sadnesses. I remember it all too well.

    Greetings from across the pond, from the high desert in the southwestern US. I’ve spent the last few days reading all of the comments on this amazing blog and I’m left with the feeling of being totally blown away. Amazing. JackP, I don’t know if you fully realize what you’ve done here but you’ve touched a lot of lives, you’ve really made a difference.

    One thing that has struck me about all the comments is the issue of age. When I’ve done me Googling on “death anxiety” I’ve found that it’s reported less in the elderly than in younger age groups. There’s a lot of teens and twentysomethings that have posted on here and there seem to be a few of us middle-agers as well both early mid-age (30′s) and later mid-age (50′s) but I haven’t seen anybody post beyond 50.

    Could that be because death anxiety truly does lessen with age?

    Also, I see that we all seem to have an early onset of this thing in common. Childhood and teen years in particular seem well represented. Is there some common thread? Did we all have some traumatic experience during those times that may have acted as a trigger for this?


  149. Hannah says:

    December 7th, 2007 at 9:09 am

    My fear of death was certainly started by the suicide of someone close, and I also think it’s worth saying that I was always very very aware of death as a child and a younger teenager but it never upset or scared me before, just blew my mind with the hugeness. I think it was the association of the vastness of “never again” which I struggled to get my head around and the negative attachments created by lsosng someone who I believed to be “too young to die”.

  150. Mike in NM says:

    December 8th, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Hi Heather,

    Sounds like your response would be totally logical. A suicide is a hard thing to wrap your mind around. I read somewhere where it’s an increasing problem here in the US with the elderly, especially elderly men. But when it’s a young life……that’s so much harder to accept.

    I’ve been really good at playing tricks on myself, logic-wise. In addition to taking meds. Celexa helps with the obsessive thinking, in breaking it up. So, I find it hard to dwell and keep the cycle going.

    Looking at mortality tables for us here in the States helps too. Even though I’m almost 40, the odds of my living to 60 or 70 appear really good, based on actuarial tables (and family history). So, this takes some of the immediate fear away when I think about it.

    Winter is the hardest month for me when it comes down to all of this. I really am a sunny weather, warm weather kind of guy.

  151. Hannah says:

    December 9th, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    Winter is also really hard for me- there was some debate as to whether I was suffering from SAD, but it seems it’s a psycological reaction beacuse dark, regardless of season is very much a trigger for my dpressive bouts.

  152. oliver says:

    December 12th, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Mike, your post about how no one who says they are older than 50s has posted, is interesting. I don’ t know the answer. Possibilities might include- fewer post, because fewer use the internet regularly; they don’ t post becasue they have reached an acceptance and serenity about it; they don’ t post because they are completely terrified about it and don’ t want to think about it, or write about it, but try to block it out

  153. Mike in NM says:

    December 12th, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Hannah,

    Yeah, winter has always been hard for me. All that death in nature, the “dying” of the year you’re in, all of that has always had an effect on me in a big way. We share a real love of sunlight. I have sun on me, I feel like I’ll live forever and be invincible. I’m surrounded by too much gray or too much dark and it really gets to me.

    Thank goodness for anti-depressants is all I have to say!

  154. Mike in NM says:

    December 12th, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Oliver,

    Thanks for your comments. Great points all. Kind of makes it hard to discern what the real reason is because every reason you list is pretty logical.

    I know that, in my own life, now that I’m in my late 30′s, while I still have my bouts with the darkness it doesn’t seem as vivid or as intense as they were when I was younger. Of course, as I alluded to above, I’m medically adjusted for happiness through the use of SSRI anti-depressants, which greatly helps. I find it a lot harder to get on an obsessive thinking binge about darkness and nothingness on my Celexa, so, it helps mitigate my thanatophobia a lot.

  155. Nicole says:

    December 24th, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Recently I have discovered that I am terrified of death. It has started over the past few months, probably by an increase in the amount of horror films I have been watching but I cannot help it, I have a morbid fascination with people being torn apart or eaten by other people so I keep watching these scary things. Now any situation I get put in I always have some sort of sick idea for how it could result in my death. I was sleeping above my sisters bunk bed and thought,
    “I hope the top bunk I am on does not fall on to her and kill her, I would feel so guilty, Christ I would have killed my own sister! (touch wood)”
    “Imagin if there was something that I could not see but could see me and I just feel my leg get chopped off and cannot see what is doing it but it keeps chopping me up.”
    There’s some dog growling, well it sounds like that anyway and there is a grill that the heating comes out of in the floor – “there is something in the heating system, some creature or mad dog or mad man that is coming up.”
    “someone is going to come and rape me and my sister”
    I was in the house by myself the other day and my music was playing and I was in the bathroom, suddenly it cut out and I was sweating and felt just like I was in a horror movie as I walked back towards my bedroom.
    I will be in the bath and visualise someone ripping through the shower curtain with a knife.
    The worst was when I was stuck in a train station at midnight in the middle of nowhere with one friend and a wierd train assistant. We went to wait for the next train that was 15 minutes away and as we waited in the warm waiting room my mind was going crazy as the radiators made all sorts of wierd noises and I imagened someone who was crazy breaking through the walls or stabbing me through the walls, or killing my friend and me being left. I even told her “imagen if mad attack dogs came through that door..”
    When I was younger, around 11, I used to lie in my bunkbed at night and not be able to sleep for 2 or 3 hours because I would imagen aliens from the movie signs poking their long hands up into my bed, or I would hear a noise downstairs and break out in a sweat, my body would rush freezing cold then be suddenly really hot, and none of my body could be out of the covers or I felt something might be able to get me.
    I have watched so many horror films and I see the fear people have when they are put in horrible situations that they can see could and probably will result in their death and the thought of being tied up and cut or drilled up slowly terrifies me,
    Oh god, even now I am imagening that some physco is going to read this, track me down and do just that to me.
    I think I need to see a councillour.

    Yours, Nicole

  156. Bev says:

    December 27th, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    I have spent months thinking I was going mad, and although nothing said on here is going to help.. I am so glad I know I am not alone. The original posting was like reading something I had written (if only I was that amusing too!) – I have been trying to talk to my boyfriend about how I feel, and although he holds me at night and I make him keep talking until I can sleep, he thinks I am being irrational and can not give me any words of comfort.

    I know when my fears started.. I was 40 this year and everyone says I look about 30 (which is great) but my body knows how old I am, its changing..degenerating…dying and wont be fooled by nice make-up and hair. I used to say ‘I dont mind getting older because I dont look old’, then I realised getting older means closer to death and its the NO MORE the NOTHING the NO MORE ME I cant cope with. I am probably (if I am lucky) half way through my life!!! where did the other half go??? I want more…A LOT MORE!

    Something else that is making it worse is my deep deep love for my family (I am thinking of my parents specifically). I am getting older, they are already there..old, and one day THEY have to go – I cant handle it.. big time. Im not ready to cope with it and I never will be ready.

    Everything I see or watch or do, it pops into my head…its driving me mad! I have a daughter, my beautiful daughter.. I dont EVER want to be without her or want her to be without me. I want to be like her again, an eleven year old with no fears, no worries, just everything to look forward to.

    Im not a depressive, Im pretty normal and my life is pretty good. I think, like some of the others, (and something I had already said to my boyfriend before I found this site) that I need to believe in God and an afterlife. I am jealous of people who truly believe because they dont have the heart gripping fear creeping up in their chest each night as they close their eyes.

    I have found myself trying to treat it like a phobia.. if you hate spiders you hold one. If you have a fear of your own death what do you do? I look at stuff on the internet to try and dull the fear by acclimatising myself, but it does not help much, although I am very drawn to how the Victorians handled death with beautiful momentos of theor loved ones (memento mori).

    Sorry its so long, sorry I cant help anyone else, but this is the best therapy I have had in months even though I feel like crying just writing it. I hope people still post on here and can maybe offer some help to all of us. Good luck to you all.

  157. Anonymous says:

    December 28th, 2007 at 3:30 am

    Wow… so many people all like me!

    I am a 27yo girl from Melbourne and have struggled with this phobia since my first memory at age 3 when my grandmother died and I found myself thinking “what do you mean someone is gone? if granma is gone then that means I’ll be gone one day… well why did you bring me into the world then? what’s the point of that?”

    I have some light to shed. I bet many of you have always wondered why you are surrounded by so many people enjoying themselves and virtually oblivious to the fact that they are on an inevitable collision course with non-existance? Well, there is an answer. It is the serotonine and noradrenalin chemical balance in the brain, the same chemicals that keep you feeling happy.

    As for a cure… there is none really. The most important part is to ensure you are chemically balanced because if you fall into depression (like I did) it makes the phobia so incredibly worse. After a lot of medication I am now struggling to de-frag my brain and stop it obsessing about death. I can tell you there is nothing worse than depression combined with thanatophobia – on one had you are petrified of death, on the other hand you want to kill yourself… and then that makes you feel very confused.

    I will be on to my 2nd psychiatrist shortly seeing as my first one turned out to be a religious nut that would bible bash me (I’m an atheist). I’m hoping to learn some techniques to block these thoughts of death coming into my mind.

    I don’t like the fact that there is absolutely no point to my existance and I find it hard to not dwell on that fact and the fact that I will one day disappear and be conscious of nothing. Have you ever pondered what the point of doing things is when you won’t have any recollection of them later (ie when dead)?

    I see no point… and that’s why I would never consider having children.

  158. Mike in NM says:

    December 28th, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    What’s the point? It’s a question I’ve been grappling with myself Anonymous. It’s a rough one. Right now I’m in the midst of a terrible depression which has me thinking about all this stuff all the time. A question like, “What’s the point?” pops in my head regularly.

    Katherine Hepburn, an atheist herself, was quoted as saying, “I’m an atheist, and that’s it. I believe there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.”

    That’s the best I can come up with. The Buddhist idea that we’re all trapped in this existence, so, we should try and be there for one another. That’s all I can think about, answer-wise.

    I hope others are doing okay. I read these posts regularly because, well, I do find some solace in knowing I’m not alone.

  159. Danii says:

    December 30th, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    It’s me, Anonymous, back again but not being anonymous :)

    Yes, I have to say I can’t stop thinking about this stuff either… it’s why I’m going to undertake cognitive behavioural therapy – to try to train my brain to fob off these thoughts… because they are totally and utterly pointless and make me so anxious I get sick.

    As for Buddhism… I find it depressing. I really don’t understand why we keep breeding if any of us have a buddhist mentality. I’m surprised by how many people who have posted with this phobia have children… did they not contemplate that this phobia means you have a crap quality of life and that you are possibly passing on the condition when you have kids? I would never wish this upon anyone and hence would never breed.

    I think religion is so popular because people have an inability to accept their own mortality.

  160. Mike in NM says:

    December 31st, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    We’re Not Alone……Famous Thanatobes….

    Bruce Willis admits to being obsessed with death.

    Jordan is obsessed with dying young.

    Apparently the late Ana Nicole was obsessed with her death as well.

    Blogger Anastasia has the same problem.

    So…..apparently we’re not alone. Even the famous (or some of them) have our “mortal condition” as well.

  161. Charlotte says:

    January 1st, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you! Although I’m sure everyone else feels the same and that is such a comfort because this condition is so,so isolating. The thing that scared me a lot in Donnie Darko was the quote: ‘every living thing dies alone’ which is so true and debilitatingly petrifying. Therapy may not ever cure any of us, but im just hoping that it will give me some sort of release from the ‘elephant in the corner’ that is the concepts of death and conversely ‘forever’. Until yesterday I had no idea there was a name for this condition, i just thought i was defective and just imagining other people having the same attacks as me seems weirdly comforting… im always stared at, tears streaming down my face and my constant uttering of swear words to myself because there is no wayof coping. Now i have a confidence that i will not be laughed at and ridiculed if i go and see my GP. As soon as I get back to uni (im 19), im heading straight to the doctor’s with a printout of this and demanding some help. I don’t want to ruin the one thing I value most… life.

  162. Rossana says:

    January 5th, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Thank you so much for putting it out there in such explicit manner . I’ve been dealing with Thanatophobia on and off since I was a child and went through all the thoughts you mention. It has made me an insomniac and a loner, and I experience panic attacks because of it quite often . As you say,the only thing that calms me is the thought of the Inexplicable and its presence. Religion has never worked, because it is so easy to understand how people who suffered losses or experienced the same cold sweats and suffocating moments that we do could make up ” places where we go on”. Scientific discoveries, alien contact that brings the secret of never ending life…I’ve used everything but Duncan McLoud and searching the night for vampires to calm down :D .
    I wish everyone an afterlife.Thanks again.

  163. Vanessa says:

    January 8th, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Wow, I could not believe I had a phobia that was more serious than spiders.

    I recently went on a exchange program with my town, and the night before I left my father droped the bomb on me that he has feared me dieing before the age of 20. And this really sucked because that was what triggered all of my problems. I am soo afraid of dieing lately that I can’t get it out of my head, and it really has a hold on me. Being 17 and having a problem that completely depleates my mental health is really taking a toll on me. I have lost focus in my studies and have even quit playing sports because the thought “Whats the point in anything?” has often come up in my mind. Which is a horrible thought because I am supposed to be Christian and everything in life is basically like a test of loyalty and morals for a Christian. But I have never gone to a church in my life, I practice Christianity at home, and I am the only one in my family that is even slightly religious.

    But last night I talked to my brother and he explained it to me like this….. if I am going to die, I am going to die. It is inevitable, and no matter how many nights I stay awake nervous and scared about death its not going to change the fact that it is coming. Actually, because it raises my blood pressure, it might bring me closer. I know, not the very thing you want to hear right before you go to bed as you think about your phobia, but its the truth. And believe it or not, everyone at some point in time has to come to that realization that they will not be around forever.

    It is kind of scary, but I have come to a revolution. The reason that we are so scared of death is that our minds are telling us not to take the moments that mean soo much for granted, and love as much as we can. Improve our world, get rid of poverty, eliminate crimals and that type of thinking. Pass down your better atributes to your children because they are the future, and the future must improve. So maybe take your phobia as a sign, and do more things for others, get out in the world and make a difference, because once you make a difference, then you will be remembered. Maybe you won’t be around, but your innovation for a new and kinder world will be. And it will influence many people.

    And if you still can’t get this phobia out of your head, then maybe your life is missing something, and you are afraid your life will end before you get that something in your life. So make a change…. go after that really cute guy that you met at your bosses Christmas party, or tell your wife about your phobia and tell her how much you appriciate her and take a walk together and talk about how you can improve the relationship you share together.

    Don’t let this phobia take up more of your precious life, because the more you waste thinking about it, the more you are gonna think about what you could have been doing rather than dwelling on something so obvious, like making love to your spouse and taking a bath together after.
    Life can be much better if we just learn to block this out.

  164. ed says:

    January 8th, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I actually googled the question does anyone else feel the way i do about this. I am right there along with you. i also have death on my mind daily. I agree with your statement..

    How do you want to be remembered?
    I don’t. I want to still be here.

    i feel like that as well, also i cant feel how it would be to die,, if that makes sense? it is as if i cannot picture it, I cannot see life going on without me in it.. It is so unreal.

    You put this into words a lot better then i, i feel as if soemthing is goign to happen soon that will make me understand why i feel this way.. I also study religious cultures to find out how they developed, is it real etc.. I aslo dont want to believe to hedge my bets and do live my life treating others wel and being overall a good person.

    i woudl love to discuss this in detail anytime.

    thanks for this blog.


  165. Laura McGeough says:

    January 23rd, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    This is something I have always suffered with-as long as I can remember. I used to run into my parents room at night and announce ‘I am going to die one day and I don’t like it!’. I used to just suffer at night, but since giving birth to my son, these thoughts have crept into my days and are now really affecting me. I am just fed up with getting into bed every night and having this feeling of dread wash over me. It is so overwhelming. Then I start counting up how many years I have left and what I was doing that many years ago. I actually dread getting in bed. Even though my husband is beside me, I feel so alone. This relentless counting. I sometimes think it is because I love my family too much-if thats possible. The thought of the possibility of never seeing any of them again really distresses me. Then I start questioning life itself and why we are here. Then I question if there is an afterlife why is it there and is there one after that. I sometimes feel I am going crazy. Being a scientist doesn’t help because that is one thing I know Science can never answer. This phobia is consuming my life-this dread is so immense. I really feel it must be the only phobia that cannot be cured (sorry to be so negative). But how can it be? No-one knows what happens after death. What if its really bad? What if I never see my loved ones again?

    Then I think would I want to live forever. I think the answer is no-how weird is that! Also there is nothing I can do about death so go with it. I only have these thoughts on a very good day!

    My only comfort is that I sense a guardian angel watching over me-I think it is my nan on my mothers side which is spooky as she was not religious at all and did not beleive in all that ’silly spiritual stuff’. Don’t ask me how but I sense her sometimes. Thats what keeps me going-because she died and went through my ultimate fear.

    Does anyone else go through this constant countdown? Any ideas on how to stop it?

  166. Lisa says:

    January 27th, 2008 at 11:28 am

    This is exactly what I have been going through. I experienced it once before after I had a large financial gain. I started questioning “Why have I won this. Is something bad going to happen”. I then started freaking out over everything I did ie. scared of driving in case I had a car accident, scared of sleeping in case I didn’t awaken etc etc. It eventually subsided however came back with a vengence about 12 months ago just prior to the birth of my long awaited girl. No not a day goes by without me thinking about how I do not want to die. I look at my gorgeous children and almost cry because I want to see what they become when they become adults. Now I worry about every medical symptom I may have (I currently have a swollen gland on my right jaw. I’m convinced its sinister however is only probably due to the sore mouth ulcer I have inside my mouth in the area of the gland; which by the way mouth ulcers only started to arrive with this phobia obviously as a result of me stressing out). I worry I will fall down the stairs. Unfortunately I am in a job which on occasion requires me to attend sudden deaths. Two of which prior to my maternity leave involved apparently healthy women of similar age to me dying unexpectantly (one of which was a GP). With the resurgence of this phobia I now wonder how I will cope returning to work now that my maternity leave is over. I feel its getting worse and am almost convinced to seek assistance from my GP. It is good to know that I am not alone.

  167. Mike in NM says:

    January 27th, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Don’t know how many of you are on MySpace but I thought, due to the enormous response to Jack’s posting this blog, I’d start a MySpace group on the topic.

    Feel free to drop by if you’d like:

  168. Lou says:

    February 1st, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    I can’t believe this, I thought I was a freak, I thought I was alone. The only person who knows about my fear is my husband as I suspect my parents will long have forgotten about the panicky fits I had as a young teenager. Its as if I have written the comments above, myself. Like Jack I can’t understand why other people aren’t running around like headless chickens panicking about death. It seems a perfectly reasonable thing to me to be terrified of, the not existing anymore, the switching off of my life and, now that I have a baby, the thought of leaving her. This phobia has always been with me (I’m now 30 years old) although it has varied in severity. I kept trying to convince myself that I would be ok after the birth of my daughter because, as she is a part of me I will never really cease to exist, however, its worse now then it ever has been. I don’t think about it at all during the day, its as if my daily routines distract my brain, but the phobia almost always gets me at night, during that bit when your falling asleep but your not quite awake either. I find myself pouncing on the husband, inevitably waking him with a start, and holding onto him for dear life. If he’s not there because hes at work, I jump out of bed and I’m dashing about the room in a full blown panic attack. Then, as suddenly as it came its gone again. I spend time wondering how long i’ve got left. My Grandma passed away a few weeks ago, she was 81 and I keep thinking if I live like Grandma then Ive got 51 years to live. Whats worse then the panic attacks is the feeling that Im wasting my precious life worrying about how long ive got left before I dont exist anymore and the feeling that im counting down til D day. I dont suffer with depression and otherwise no one would know about my phobia. I feel very jealous of people with faith who are unafraid. For this reason I have been trying to search for my own faith by attending church as I do believe in ‘something’. I am also convinced that there is no cure and that all we can do is try to distract our minds and fill our lives full of activities and happy times in order to try to keep at bay the horrendous fear. I certainly don’t want to pass this phobia onto my daughter. Im so relieved to have found this site, it expresses everything I feel and Im glad Im not alone with this fear. It has also shown my Husband that hes not living with someone who is barking mad! Thanks.

  169. Faye says:

    February 23rd, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Looking to ease my problem, i found this very article. I had just read about nebulas and galaxies exploding and life on earth on aol and suddenly, I was in such incredible fear. I have to say, thank you. I can’t exactly describe why I’m grateful but partly, I’m relieved. I cried while reading this because I thought, I know I’m definitely not alone and 75% of my thoughts were finally&eloquently written down even though by someone else. I’m only turning 20 in over a month but I’ve realized this problem at too young an age. At 4, I clearly remember how I’ve come to percieve myself and my existence. Around age 6 – 9, I started having fears of the death, the notion of it, dreams of it. It’s exhausting. I tried explaining it to people but it just never seems worth the time. Only a very few know I have thanatophobia but I don’t think they understand it very well and they may say things that really irritates me to the ends of the world! Ugh. Unfortunately, unlike yourself, I have depression and I’m an emotional masochist. It may not be mainly connected to my thanatophobia (there are numerous factors) but they do cross paths more than enought times. The only sure fire way I can deal with it is by playing positive, passing the time, and scheduling a “crying time” every month. Anyway, thank you. At the moment, I really do feel at ease after reading this.

  170. Mike in NM says:

    February 27th, 2008 at 3:36 am

    After reading Faye’s comments it got me wondering on this side of the pond how many of us have had this problem since we were kids? I remember not being freaked out about death and dying until my teen years but, actually trying (and failing) ton conceive of the whole thing as a little kid. Thinking about what it would be like and eternity and all that. Or, trying to, the best a 5 or 6-yr old could.

  171. louise hampshire says:

    March 8th, 2008 at 5:17 pm


    if you are like me, finding this webpage has given you a HUGE breath of fresh air – you are not alone! you are not a freak!

    it is for this reason that i have started up a discussion board for people to come together and talk about this phobia and to offer advice/comfort, or just simply to say these thoughts out loud….

    have a look

  172. captainsensible says:

    March 9th, 2008 at 9:07 am

    I have been a lurker on this thread for over a year. I’ve not said anything because I either didn’t know what to say or was unable to contribute anything that might help other people who are plagued by a sometimes paralysing fear of death (not just the dying process, but the refusal to come to terms with the seeming inevitability of non-existence).

    I see the problem like this:

    If we could choose between not getting old and not dying or getting old and dying, most people would choose not to get old and not to die.

    At the moment (unless a combination of medical scientists and cryonicists manages to develop means of preventing ageing and death), we do not have this choice.

    Consequently, the human race has come with lots of ways of trying to convince itself that the unacceptable/now what it wants (ageing and death) is somehow acceptable or even desirable. Someonce once suggested to me that (historically) the entire purpose of human civilisation has been to give meaning to death/make it appear to be less than the complete catastrophe that it is.

    This has taken many forms. Some people turn to religion, which I regard as classic delusion: I cannot accept the fact that grass is green (i.e. that I will die and that my brain is merely a complex bio-electrical human organ which creates the illusion of a separate entity called ‘a consciousness’ [aka soul] instead of consciousness merely being the product of a complex brain and being entirely dependent on that brain for it’s existence), therefore, grass is blue. Some people seek a kind of pseudo-immortality by having children or leaving behind creative or financial legacies etc.

    For the thanataphobe, these things are useless. I also think that the distress of the thanatophobe also has a lot to do with living in a world where most people (inc. religious people and atheists) believe in this kind of nonsense. It has the potential to drive you crazy; why are so many people willing to accept death and not be at all troubled by it?

    However, I think I have something which might help (although it won’t make you live forever)…

    I am terrified of death. I don’t want to die; I don’t want my parents to die; I react to any death (even of people I’ve never met/don’t feel anything for) badly, and I live in the hope that a combination of medical science and cryonics will save me and those that I care about/am able to help (and that I earn enough money to do so). I also (if I’m completely honest) hope that the reductionist/materialist description of the brain/consciousness that I described above isn’t true (even though there is no evidence that it isn’t). I like the idea of an aftelife/existing forever; I don’t believe it (again, not much in the way of supporting evidence), but I hope that is exists.

    However, being afraid of death and/or worrying about in a cripping way can have devastating consequences: physical and/or mental illness, loss of job, career, and income. All of these things are more likely to make the thing that you are afraid of (death) happen sooner rather than later. Not worrying/being afraid will hopefully result in a longer, healthier, and happier life (and a better chance of living long enough [and earning enough] to take advantage of any life extending technologies should they be developed).

    This is not religious or metaphysical/psychological bullshit. This is THE TRUTH!

    I can’t change the facts about death, but it is think THE TRUTH about the fear being USELESS & DESTRUCTIVE is very empowering.

    If becoming sick with worry about X is more likely to make X happen and you don’t want X to happen, then being afraid of death in such a crippling way doesn’t make any sense, ergo don’t do it! Live life to the full; enjoy life; achieve things. All of that will increase your chance of cheating death, but sitting in a dark room with your head in your hands and crying yourself to sleep (I’ve been there) is more likely to make you a victim of the very thing that you afraid of.

    To quote from Dune:

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

    I sincerely hope that this helps.

    Good luck everyone!


    I can’t change the facts about death, but it is think the truth about the fear being _useless_ is quite empowering. It’s not metaphysical or religious woo woo; it is the _truth_ : becoming sick with worry about X is more likely to make X happen, ergo if you wish to avoid X, being afraid of X in such a way doesn’t make any sense.

  173. captainsensible says:

    March 9th, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Apologies for the all of the typos in that, btw (and the chunk of quoted from something else I wrote about this that I didn’t delete – forgot it was there). I hope that it doesn’t confuse what I was trying to say.

  174. Mike in NM says:

    March 20th, 2008 at 2:01 am

  175. Anonymous says:

    April 3rd, 2008 at 2:40 am

    It is so refreshing to finally find a site with a real persons opinions who understands! Googling got me nowhere. But yet, after all the research I have done, I can’t seem to get an answer. I’m glad I’m not the only one, but how do you stop fearing something that is inevitable?? Impossible. I’m agnostic, and heavily into paranormal anything, but even that doesn’t help to calm me. I don’t even know when it started, but now I can’t go a day without thinking it, and the more I realise that, the more I think it. It’s an endless cycle. If only I KNEW I had NOTHING to fear at the instant of mine or any loved one’s death and afterwards, I would never worry again.

  176. anonymousyeah says:

    April 7th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Guess what? I know I havent posted on here in a long time, but I still have thanataphobia after nearly a year of it starting. It is not as often as last year or as frequent but I still get it sometimes at night.

  177. James says:

    April 10th, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    1. You’re likely reading this at 3am because you just woke up thinking, “What the hell?? I don’t want to die!”

    2. You’re glad you found this site.

    3. You felt a sense of comfort.

    Like many of you, I’ve been dealing with this since I was young.
    During my first year at the Art school, I created an entire project based on this fear. Remember those dioramas we made in grade school? This project was similar to that but more of a peepshow.

    Imagine four of these boxes place in a shape of a cross.

    The first box had faces of people of all ages, races and genders. It was lit in a way where all the faces were fading gradually into the darkness.

    The second was a morgue filled with body bags, charts and other typically things you would expect to see. The lights are off. In the middle of the room, a gurney with a body appears to be hap hazardly placed as if someone forgot to lock the wheels.
    There is a messy desk at the back of the room. It is covered with charts, empty soda cans, and other garbage. The computer screen was left on. Appearently they were watching porn at work.
    In the foreground are two blue feet. It’s a first person view.
    Behind the desk, there is a window. The glow from the other room illuminates the morgue. The other room is a nursery.

    The third room is a church. Images of saints illustrated with stained glass tower over a single coffin, sprinkling different colours over the room. It appears to be a funeral service. A dramatic spot light directed at a woman. She appears to be distraught over a death this person’s death. She screams in the air, pleading. There is no one else in the room but her.

    The last room isn’t a room. It’s a panoramic view of a large graveyard in the middle of winter. The ground is partially covered in snow. In the sky, the word “time” appears.

    In the center of these four peep shows is an open area. Imagine you took off the lid of a box and looked into it. It resembles a coffin. A fancy wooden boarder finishes off the edges. Inside you see white bedding trimmed with white lace.

    The way the boxes are designed, the viewer forced to bend in an awkward position to view the interior of this ‘coffin’. A clock sits in the middle, but the numbers have been replaced with words. As the second hand moves it corresponds with a method of death.
    Cancer *tick* Lung *tick* Breast *tick*” and as it passes the category of death changes. ” Natural Disaster Earthquake *tick* Tornado *tick* etc.”
    In the middle of the clock is a shattered mirror. The viewer sees part of there face while they stare into it.

    I’m not entirely sure what I made or how this project was viewed. I think it was just my way of dealing with it. I have some pictures but unfortunately I had to disassemble it (freaking huge!) I’ll try to post them later. I’d love your feed back!

    In a way, reading everyone’s responses. I feel that now I have a condition and it has a name. It’s not my fault I feel this way. I guess I’m going to try to control it the best I can.


  178. anonymousyeah says:

    April 10th, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Its an awful thing to have. I find it strangley comforting to read that the singer James Blunt has it too. I dont know why but I just do.

    @ post above – it would be interesting to see some pictures of your project.

  179. James says:

    April 13th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Everyone seems to want answers. After hours of panicky, depressing and drunken rants, these are some insights and exercises that we (myself & lovely friends) have done. This has helped me get some fucking sleep!

    Side note: I’m not a great writer, but I hope I can communicate most of the ideas.

    1. The issue is control. The fact that you cannot control this particular aspect of life is what we freaks us out.

    2. Realize at some point in your life you will WANT to die. For whatever reason– When what you have built (i.e. projects, business, relationships, etc.) have ended.

    3. On the same note, do stuff that will exist when you’re gone. Make art, have kids, name a building– create a blog that will help people (thanks JackP and fellow bloggers.)

    Take the control back:
    I made a timeline and pinned down an age where I think I’d like to die. 60 would be good, just because I’m not the healthiest person. I smoked when I was a teenager, etc.
    60-75 is borrowed time. It would be nice to see my Grandkids if I decide to have some of my own…
    I don’t want to live at 75-on. I’m 26 now and by the time I’m 30 I’d like to have experiece ‘x’,’y’,’z’.
    In another part of the chart, I brainstormed things that I think that will make me happy in the future. A bucket list.

    This list contains things that people expect (love, money, etc.) and things that some might find strange. If you like to walk around doing jumping jacks in public– do it! Robbing banks fill your soul? Do it! Not that I am encouraging criminal activity, but who am I to judge? You might rob a bank and the event may change a teller’s life. He may become a cop and in turn, fighting crime brings happiness his life. Of course, the trick is doing things that you can accept the consequences. Keep happy, but I’ll let you draw the line.

    “We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

    Speaking one of the best movies ever made… It’s like this:
    Life is a movie. You can alter the plot but the ‘writers, director and editors’ have the final say.

    Sometimes it’s too long. Sometimes it’s well thought out. Sometimes there are holes in the plot. Sometimes they cut out a scene that you nailed. Sometimes there are too many appearances from an annoying character — BUT the movie ends. Always. And there’s always a sequel– only it doesn’t star you! They took the main character out of the story!? WTF??

    Not all movies have to be Disney classics. Keeping happy doesn’t mean making muffins and signing to birds. The movie can be amazing–90% of the time sequels suck anyways. Just try to win best picture.

    and the one thing my roommate said that really snapped me out of it:

    FUCK DEATH- Laugh in his fucking face!


  180. James says:

    April 13th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    i’m terrible sorry i didn’t end my tag. oops! if someone could edit that, i’d appricate it.

  181. JackP says:

    April 13th, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    @James: tag editing: not a problem… !

  182. Hannah says:

    April 15th, 2008 at 12:35 am

    Really good to see people are still posting! Having seen so many people on here I am now brave enough to talk to friends about it- and was surprised to find someone who had the exact same fear, and thouht she was alone. Would encorage people to do the same- if one person feels like they aren’t going mad then it was worth the odd looks from the others, I guess! Also, I had a momant the other day which made me realise that being aware of your death isn’t always bad. Not a very inspiring story- saw a guy, too scared to talk to him, figured “ah, hell- I’m gonna die. Might as well live while I’m alive” et voila, boyfriend of three months. Wouldn’t have done it without insane thanatophobia… Small thing, but on a larger scale I think it has a silver lining. And for anonomousyeah- a year on and my thanatophobia has subsided LOADS- down to about two bad nights a month now, from two good nights a month this time last year! Good stuff and much love for everyone ’cause thanatophobia sucks.

  183. Anthony says:

    April 22nd, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    I too am thanatophobic and I have an inner battle with myself over whether or not I believe in religion/afterlife/god. I am very logical/scientific in my thought process and I always need definite answers and explanations for how and why things are. I was wondering if most of you are the same way. I really want to believe in an afterlife, I just have a hard time getting around the whole lack of an explanation of how that could realistically exist. Are any of you really religious?

  184. Keziah mulholland says:

    April 25th, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    I don’t know whether I’m glad to have found this site or not right now. I’m crying as I type cos this phobia is ruining my life and I can’t see any way of it getting better. Its getting worse and although I’ve had it for many years, its not something I speak about, its too scary and painful and makes me even more anxious. CBT has been given to me and yeah thats not helping. How can it when its gona happen to me at some point. Im so frightened all the time and behaving more crazy every week.I have great trouble going to sleep as that seems to be when the fear completely overwhelms me and Im just so tired all the time. Im gona bite the bullet now and write a few things that I do and hopefully someone will understand and help me. I won’t eat new foods myself or let my children as panic that might be allergic and have anaphalctic shock, every pain or odd feelin I have anywhere in my body makes me panic that Im gona die of heart attack, brain tumour etc, frightened in swimming pools in case I or my children drown, cannot get out of breathe as panic I can’t braethe, if I see someone else not being able to breathe or wheezy I feel like I can’t breathe either, too scared to eat too much in case I have heart attack as I once saw on TV. Panic if I make plans and then change them at the last minute that Im gona do something that kills me or my children and that if I had just not done it then we would be ok, get scared in my car that Im gona crash and die or kill my children, can’t say the words die, death, dying, funeral, died. Freak out when I see graves or funeral palours or anything to do with dying, I see danger everywhere and am terrifeid of me or my children getting injured. I have to check my children are braething at night and also panic that my husband is gona die. Watching adverts for anti aging creams or anything like that brings on panic. Am obsessing about my wrinkles and that my body is getting older. My daughters losing her baby teeth and this is freaking me out because these are her only teeth now. God Im mad I think, all this is just a few examples of my thoughts every day. Im so tired of it. Can anyone help me?

  185. Anonymous says:

    May 11th, 2008 at 2:24 am

    I suffer with this too. I had it when as 12/14 for a while and then it dissapeared. Now I’m 18 and I cannot get rid of it. I think I’m going to book myself into councelling soon as I cannot cope atall. I cry, sweat and can’t breath every night because of it. My mum understands but I don’t think she realises how bad it is now. I appear happy to everyone because I don’t want them to talk to me about it but as soon as I’m alone I think about it constantly and it’s ruining everything. because my parents dont understand it is good to find others that do. I think its came back because of something I read in a religious magazine recently. Also my neighbour died too. I also stress about education alot and have alot of dreams, I want to pursue every single one of them and knowing I might not have the time is depressing. I also suffer with weight issues meaning I can’t be who I want to be and thinking it may never happen is awful I;ve lost alot of weight but the problem is that I still can’t get clothes due to my dramatic weight loss i still appear fat. I know I am getting an operation soon for it I think this might help me overcome some of my fear and i’ll feel happier but Im scared of the operation and i’m scared that even if I get it my fear will go for a while then come back and hit me and ruin another couple of years. I know i shouldnt be like this because the time we do have is being ruined but i really cant cope. sounds weird but lately i feel like death is the only way out of my depression but im so scared that i wouldnt even be able to kill thing i like though is the name of my phobia is greek and my name is also greek. and a part of my name means resurection. i would like to be counted as religious but religion is the thing that seems to have started making my depression worse. i do hope i everyone finds help soon. x

  186. Fee says:

    May 19th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    I am currently off work because of this. Felt I never had time for anything, started to feel life was draining out of me.. Fear me coming to an end. This started last year and my boyfriend has tried to support me but doesn’t understand. At 26 it hit me that I’m not immortal. Used to be able to avoid toughts and say ‘stop spending life thinking about it’ Also have fears of growing physically older. Talked to my friends who say they don’t have the same fear as me. One said he and his wife had just had a similar discussion and he just wants to have a good time while he is alive. Can’t see the point in my job at the moment (can’t take my money with me) but going to try to go back soon. Have constantly tight chest, lost weight (which people commented on) I never relax. I would agree that it’s a fear of not knowing when, where, how it will happen. Though I don’t really want to!!! Wish horrible feeling when I wake up would go away and I could stop dwelling on it! suspect others pretend they are immortal or just have a far more positive attitude! Don’t want to be without my loved ones or think of them without me. My Grandad was a vicar and I was sent to Sunday school but feel scepitical now. Don’t know if it helps anyone but I read some Dorothy Rowe books and found them helpful, also a book by a fellow phobic called ‘nothing to be frightened of’ which just made me feel not necessarily better but that I wasn’t alone. Been to two counsellors who didn’t help. Doctor said I was depressed because I was thinking about death. Going to try massage/relexology to help relax me in hope I might feel less physically bad.

  187. Anonymous says:

    May 21st, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Wow, what an essay.

    I’m a 14 year old guy, from Cambridgeshire and suffer from this phobia.I’m not actually scared of the dying part. I am scared of the not knowing what will happen after bit.

    I want to believe in life-after-death, but for some reason I can’t maybe because its not realisitic in my sense. But thinking about not existing terrifys me, well when i’m dead it probably wont, but now it does.

    The average life age for a guy is 79, but some don’t even reach that age, some even younger, and this is also another thing that scares me, the whole facts and figures. I some strange way I want to be a tree, one that lives for centuries, at least then I probably wont have a fear as I would be a tree.

    I think my phobia started when my cousin died at a young age, twenty-something I believe, it didn’t shock me at first, my cousin’s death. But then it hit me, that could of been me, for all I know. Life goes to fast, and in a wierd sense I wish I was never bought onto this planet, then I wouldn’t have the fear.

    I know it’ll happen, someday, somewhere, some year, some hour, some minute, some secound, but I really don’t want it too. I’d think in bed how to resolve this not my phobia, but death itself. I’d hope by the future scientists would’ve come up with a device to stop you from dying, but the population is growing already, so that wont happen. Well don’t they do a freezing thing and keep you like that for ages, and you wake up in thousands of years, but I’ll either die in the process, or when and if I do wake up, humanity would have probably dissapeared.

    I talk to my friends about it, and they understand. I asked one of my mates if she was scared of death, but she said no, and wanted to put as much stuff into her life, and thats what I have now decided to do. Do as much things in my life, so when I think I am near death, I can look back at memories.

  188. Anonymous says:

    May 23rd, 2008 at 9:13 am

    There is no such thing as death.
    Death is a word human beings made up.
    All words are abstractions.
    All words are lies.
    The human being has a mind which simplifies things in order to make practical decisions. In reality every object is unique yet part of a whole. Yet we generalize that a given object has enough general similarity to another object we are familiar with so that in order to eat we say it has enough characteristics to be categorized as an apple therefore it is safe to eat, and we can make a decision. Theoretically it might be a poisoned apple but the chances are so remote we take the risk and eat it. You leave your house and walk down the sidewalk. Theoretically a drunk driver could veer off the road and kill you. But the chances are so remote that one is willing to take the risk.
    If you stay in your house and go to sleep you might not notice an intruder and he might enter the house and kill you. If you have an alarm he might figure out how to disable it. But the chance is remote so you prepare yourself with a good lock or a even a gun perhaps but you don’t go to ridiculous extremes having a shot gun and hand grenades in every room and a set of cameras of every room linked to the bedroom.
    All of these are scary thoughts. But it is a personal choice to think about them.
    Think about being in a grave and people shoveling earth over you. It’s a scary idea that you might choose to imagine. It’s also kind of thrilling to think about like a horror movie. Yet if you were dead and people were shoveling earth over you would not be alive to experience that. So that image has nothing to do with being dead. So all of these scary images, graves, pools of blood, hospital rooms are from the point of view of an alive person seeing someone else dead or as if imagining looking at oneself dead. But that is not what you experience when you are dead. When you are dead you don’t have experience. It not that you “experience nothing” because the word “nothing” in this case is meaningless. You simply have no experience. Well what is that like? It’s impossible for a living human being to conceive of that. So all these scary images you have in your head are phony. They have nothing to do with being dead. A lot of the scary images are also of the process of dying perhaps in a scary way. But the process of dying is a temporary thing. Once you’re dead whether you got stabbed to death or died peacefully in your sleep is irrelevant. Once you’re dead the way you died is irrelevant. In fact there is no such thing as “you”all there is is a body. That body is just a vessel. It’s not “you”.
    So who are “you”? That’s another phony thing the mind came up with. There never was a “you”. There was this first and last name and that is all there was. That’s an abstraction not a real thing.
    There is no such thing as death.
    There are only transformations of matter. Everything in the universe is one thing, there are no separate parts. It’s all attached into one big lump.
    That you conceive of a “you” as a separate entity is a lie that the mind tells you because that is what the mind does. It simplifies. Logic is an abstraction.
    It’s a personal choice where you focus your thoughts. Suppose you have only one day free to do laundry and the laundry room closes at ten. It’s 8 o’clock You’re watching T.V. and would prefer to keep watching T.V. But you will your mind to turn off the T.V. and focus on getting the laundry together.
    If you allow your mind to focus on T.V. until 9:30 there is no time to get the laundry done. To do so would be to waste the free period you had that week to do laundry. So you focus your thoughts in productive ways. Thinking about all these contrived notions about what death is a waste of time because they are all false.
    Maybe your scared of death but also fascinated by it. That’s fine go ahead and draw pictures of graves, tombstones and steak knives, that might be creative. Keep in mind those are symbols and have nothing to do with the actuality of what death is? So what is the real version of death? One can never conceive it. In fact conception is not a part of it. All our thoughts on death are phony.

  189. JackP says:

    May 23rd, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Well, you appear to have missed the point of my thanatophobia at least. It isn’t the idea of lying in a grave not being able to experience anything, it’s the idea of there not being a me.

    I wouldn’t say that I personally am fascinated by death; I try to avoid thinking about it generally, what with my fear of it. It’s fine if you want to believe that all of your thoughts of death are phony, but please, respect other people’s opinions.

    Other people do believe that there is such a thing as death. In fact, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t really have so much to worry about…!

    Words are indeed abstractions, but they also relate to concepts which can be grasped and understood, unless you doubt the fundamental ‘reality’ of all that you experience: and that’s the sort of conversation that’s better after a few pints :-)

  190. Jesse Caple says:

    May 24th, 2008 at 6:15 am

    You (the author of this page) and I seem to have a bit in common. We both have thanatophobia, and we both at one point wanted to seek “the realization of an afterlife” as a cure. Also, we both seem decently intelligent (probably a bit above average, although that sounds a little arrogant; hahah).

    I, however, am only 18. I just began having this problem recently… 5 or so months back. I don’t intend to struggle with it forever, however. I also intend to be “okay” with no afterlife. Why seek religious solutions when there are scientific ones? I’m about ready to end this nonsense; so, here’s my new theory…

    1.You’re not about to die:
    1.1: Looking at the mean age of people in first-world countries (which increases every day), you’re not going anywhere for a while.
    1.2: People don’t realize this, but the numerical probability that you’re going to die tomorrow (google it) is IMMENSELY IMPROBABLE. (this doesn’t even factor in high IQ) A bus isn’t going to hit you. Math wins.

    2.Immortality IS a possibility (with a little money):
    2.1: Advanced age extension is being worked on every day. People are living longer and longer every single year.
    2.2: New research on freezing and unfreezing humans is starting to take place. Give it a few decades and you might be able to go into something like this without fear of not being awoke. It will also get cheaper over time (yay, capitalism). More into the future = better bio-technology.
    2.3: Commercial cybernetics is on the horizon. It is already possible to receive an artificial heart, if you need it. It is only a matter of time before full cybernetics is no longer a nerd’s wetdream. Just the impartial cybernetics that will be released in the next 50 years should be enough to keep me living to 150 or even 200. (then freezing :D ) It’s just a matter of legalities and capital.

    3.Realize the absurdity of this situation:
    Why loose sleep over something that is inevitable? I don’t loose sleep over our dwindling down planet (global warming and all that). I don’t loose sleep over corrupt politics (does my vote even get counted?). I don’t loose sleep over mass-spread stupidity (the cause of these problems…). Why do I loose sleep over death? Is it because, it’s more scary? Probably not. It’s probably because the other one’s seem changeable, regardless of actuality. Death seems closer and more impossible to escape. However it is THE SAME as the others I listed.

    If you’re going to “delude” yourself with religious zest (oh god) and afterlifes of fanatical nature (yay virgins), why not just look towards solutions with a much higher probability of accuracy instead? Hopes this helps both of us.

  191. JackP says:

    May 24th, 2008 at 7:33 am

    …oh, I dunno. I like the sound of an afterlife with a big pile of virgins. But that’s probably just ‘cos I’m a lecherous so-and-so :-)

    Odd as it may sound, the fact that — to my eyes at least — we’re completely fucking up the planet — helps my thanaphobia. I keep thinking: oh well, at least I won’t be around to see the whole thing properly destroyed.

    The key thing of course is to be able to accept the inevitability of death, although understanding postponement of it is possible. I wouldn’t say I’m there yet, although my compromise is to accept that if I spend too much time worrying about it, it will spoil my enjoyment of life, and then the limited time I have is of less quality — and what’s the point of that?

    But I’ve still not ruled out afterlifing either :-)

  192. Jesse Caple says:

    May 24th, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Hm, well I’m at the point that living a thousand years would just be… “cool.” (learning everything that humanity has to offer, and then some) So, I like that whole idea myself, hahah. I agree with not wasting my life on this issue, though. Worrying about death is like worrying about the end of your vacation while you’re on it. Just silly… Just tell that to me when I’m cowering in bed, though. :|

    Personally can’t bring myself to believe in a soul. Grew up christian, and turned agnostic. Pretty much an atheist at this point. Been there, done that. Now rather go onward to try and live in a Ghost In a Shell era (as I call it). That’s actually the biggest thing to me… The epic disappointment of not living in a space-travel-capable, global-information-accessible era. At least I got the internet. (woot :D )

  193. Kez says:

    May 27th, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Well I’m glad to see there’s been a lot of activity on this site, I don’t think of myself as dim, but alot of the recent blogs make no sense to me!! Am I alone in this?? I’ve had a good couple of days and have managed to not be on the edge of hysteria some of the time! I find, for me if I keep manic busy then I just don’t have time to think!! But then there’s the dreaded bedtime! Went through an awful few days last couple of weeks when I kept waking up in a panic and hardly slept but then pure exhaustion kicked in and took over!! I’m working 3 jobs, looking after my 2 small children and starting a college course, that should work re the keeping busy eh??!! I try to be spiritual and believe in afterlife, but I just don’t FEEL it. Gona fake it and hope that the belief becomes real? Probably kidding myself, but gotta do what I can to get through each day. Hope everyone has a good day free from anxiety. x

  194. Richard Rayment says:

    May 28th, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Its good to hear the opinions of so many people who seem to have exactly the same fear as me. It’s only today I realized it had a name.

    I’ve had this fear for a long time, and I’m again young at 24. I can’t really remember when it started or why. Its only recently that its got a lot LOT worse for me. I can’t go about my day to day tasks without thinking about death or dying. The fact that I work in a pathlogy lab dealing with peoples blood all day (thus see a lot of information regarding illness and death) and that my house is right next to a cemetary really probably don’t help things.

    I agree it is a rational fear of the unknown… but the fact that I .. one day … will no longer exist fills me with the greatest dread. This has been happening more and more recently … It also really baffles me that I walk around and look at people and think “how can you be so happy when eventually your going to die, how can you deal with this fact and I can’t?”
    I had a really weird experience when I thought about everything that existed before I was born – and the fact that I was unaware of it. This really threw a spanner in the works as I linked the before birth unawareness to what I think happens after death. It also doesn’t help when I start thinking of the possibility that I should exist at all. I suppose deep down it’s harking back to that why am I here (bugger the we!… why am I me …. now)

    I find this fear very difficult to deal with and, this is the first time I have told anyone about it. Ironically again a google search pointed me in this sites direction. I am more and more thinking about therapy as I need to at least be able to enjoy the life I have while I can. While I have this almost paralyzing fear so regularly I find this difficult to do.

    Not that it matters but Religiously I’m in the atheist box… but I tried to get into buddhism to offer a more acceptable explanation to a few things in my life than the science I have spent my life following.

    I don’t know that I want to be around forever (even if ‘forever is a possibility’) I just hate the overall uncontrollable inevitability of it all.


  195. Fiona says:

    June 4th, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    This is exactly how I feel; makes perfect sense to me! I think perhaps the reason people don’t talk about this more openly are the bewildering responses you can get from those listening.

    I’ve had this particular phobia since I was about 4 years old (now 40) – it followed the death of my grandmother. My mum, obviously upset and not best disposed to thinking up a constructive explanation, told me that death was just like going to sleep except you didn’t dream and you didn’t wake up. Not the most reassuring thing to hear; I spent months and months waking up in the night worrying I’d die if I fell asleep again.

    I find it strange that so few people are able to appreciate that it the cessation of me that I find so terrifying. Saying things like “well you won’t be here to worry about it” REALLY don’t help – that’s the whole point! And also “why worry about something that’s inevitable” – how does something being inevitable remove the possibility that you may find it worrying?

    I also very much agree that perhaps having a scientific mind can be part of the problem; I’m a (hopefully) soon-to-be neuropsychologist. I am also a fervent follower of all things ‘Fortean; but similarly need just that bit extra proof. Faith and belief just won’t do for me!

    I do find that over the years episodes have become less frequent, though no less debilitating when they do occur. They generally seem to be triggered when I am in a rut in some way. I am just having another episode, though not quite as bad as previous attacks, I assume because I am feeling a bit wobbly a year after a bereavement. I also agree very much that distraction is the only thing that seems to work, but it does make for a rather relaxation-free life! Similarly to many people here I love life and everything in it – the endless possibilities, the things to see and experience discover.

    As far as unusual experiences go I only have two fleeting but very vivid occasions that I can relate. One was a brief spell of lucid dreaming; I have fantastic dreams anyway (Indiana Jones x Harry Potter x Doctor Who!) but the experience of ‘coming to’ in a dream and realising I was, to all intents and purposes, as awake as I am now was very exciting. Exciting to the point that I woke myself up! The other was (I think) an out of body experience, though again it was so exciting I managed to sit bolt upright shortly after what seemed to be popping out the top of my own head.

    In conclusion it is strangely reassuring to find so many other people thinking in exactly the same way as myself. Although it doesn’t offer a solution (and I am sure that there must be some way of living more comfortably with this) it is very helpful to know that someone knows what I’m talking about.

  196. Fee says:

    June 5th, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Me again! Good to read the two comments above, it’s how I feel but I just didn’t articulate it very well. Doing my best to be positive and enjoy myself. Been going to gigs, running, swimming so that’s good. Back at work part time too. Keep telling myself it’s the same for everyone and been feeling oddly cheerful! Don’t get me wrong I still think about it all day long but maybe the voice is a bit quieter or I’m having a go at ignoring it….
    Anyhow, hope everyone has a good day.

  197. icequeen1 says:

    June 16th, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    id just like to say its refreshing that some1 has the same thing. and your right about there not being much help on the net etc apart from the definitions. i myself can talk about it but not many people really understand. its amazing how many people do have the same problem. xox

  198. Kami says:

    June 19th, 2008 at 1:05 am

    I saw this article so long ago and I thought I would come back and comment. It was my first introduction to the term ‘thanatophobia’, and it was a welcomed relief to finally have some sort of definition to the fear.

    I just want to thank you for writing this, because it was this article that led me deeper into research about this fear, (unfortunately) through another (short!) cycle of dealing with panic attacks over the fear of non-existence, and then, finally, to where I am now.

    Faith is not an option for me. I am firmly an atheist and I am pretty damn convinced that all religions are nothing but control mechanisms/coping devices. Thus, I was led to an inevitable search towards another approach — life extension. Cessation of aging-related degeneration. Some scientific studies have shown that in ‘late life’ (somewhere around your 80s) aging seems to slow…even stop. After reading that, I went on a relentless internet search for more possibilities as far as extending my lifespan. I am a firm supporter of the SENS movement and am about to start practicing my calorie restriction diet. My hope is that I can preserve my health into my 80s and (assuming that the cessation of aging is related to a chronological counter, not state-of-body, which seems to be the case) then achieve ‘biological immortality’. Biological immortality translates into at state in which you are no longer growing ‘more likely’ to die. If I could retain the body/health of a forty year-old, then I would remain, as long as I lived, as likely to die from disease/etc. as a forty year-old.

    Will I live forever? No. An accident or some sort of disease or something would do me in eventually. But this has been for me what religion is for others. The possibility that death is not absolutely inevitable…the possibility that it would have to be something like a radical cancer or a car accident to kill me gives me so much peace. My once frequent terrors, flight responses, hours of crying have diminished. No longer do I feel helpless, instead, I feel empowered to fight the inevitable. Because if aging doesn’t kill me, it doesn’t seem like death is beyond my prevention.

    I may be just as crazy as the religions I cannot imagine sharing the dreams of ‘heaven’ with. But this one works for me and maybe, for those of you who cannot find it in your psyches to throw yourselves in faith, it might offer you some condolence.

  199. oliver says:

    June 23rd, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Just read this really unperceptive article about thanataphobia, that says stuff like

    “Here’s a range of possible beliefs about death:
    - nothing happens, you cease to exist (materialist view)
    - you may go to heaven or hell, depending on some kind of judgment of your actions in this life (Judeo-Christian view)
    - reincarnation (Hindu, Buddhist)
    - some people believe in ghosts, or spirits of the dead who somehow just float around the earthly plane making a nuisance of themselves

    For those who believe the first option, a fear of death is not very rational. After all if you don’t exist, what does it matter? You won’t be suffering. ”

    Hmm, right… so not existing is just cool with this person…

    One person on this (Pickards) blog said they would like to believe in an afterlife, but are not sure they can as they are a person who likes rational proof. That’s me as well, and I’ve looked for it and not found it.

    Some people have also posted about future technologies that might be able to extend life or even stop death altogether. I have read some interesting pages about it — e.g. google ray kurzweil/ BT’s futurologist Ian Pearson/ or Aubrey de Grey (Methusaleh Foundation). Theories range from repairing cells with nanotechnology, finding what it is that gives a message to cells to start degenerating and stopping it, and downloading the mind to computer and living in a sort of virtual reality or in a synthetic android body — presumably this would have to be done in such a way as for your consciousness to continue during the transfer process fom brain to computer and so you were not just duplicating your mind and then letting the original version die… The latter options sound pretty crap at first but I guess it depends on the technology – say they manage to make virtual reality of Matrix type quality. And say you are, in whatever scenario, aware of the “real”world as the whole world is by then so hooked up to computers and video cameras and sensors of all kinds etc . Say also they have created artificial bodies that can feel like biological ones and computers that have emotions and original thoughts etc. It (IT and biology) could all start to overlap.
    Optimists think we will be able to significantly extend human lives in a few decades’ time and then in about 40 or so we might have achieved a way to be immortal (unless, I guess.

    We can but hope I suppose. It seems silly that as we are so technologically advanced in many ways we are still bound by basic biology in this case. We might think it’s great we are living longer on average etc etc, but the actual maximum has never changed. I read a piece of writing from the 17th Century about death and the author said every village in England probably had a few octogenarians and some people lived to 100.

  200. oliver says:

    June 23rd, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Another ****ing ridiculous online article I’ve just found claims:

    “Some of us find comfort in religion and a strong belief in the afterlife. Others turn to science and the study of Near Death Experience desperately looking for some proof that we really do possess a soul that lives beyond the finality of death. Everyone, in their own way seeks an answer that will calm and soothe their fears. Studies show that deeply religious people fear death the least while the more skeptical were haunted by their death fears. However, atheists don’t worry at all – for obvious reasons. It has also been noted that the fear of dying also seems to lessen as we age.”

    so let me understand this …. deeply religious fear it the least, those who think there might possibly be something after death but are skeptical fear it quite a lot, and atheists don’t fear it at all (so how come the religious ones fear it less than not at all?) “for obvious reasons”. Bizzarre and wrong claims, and another example of ignoring the bit about not liking ceasing to exist. Also can it really be true people fear it less as they get older?? Sounds dubious to me.

  201. oliver says:

    June 23rd, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Oh. I’m glad to see my last post has now been posted. At the first attempt the blog told me I had made a “fatal error”. That is not a very sensitive way of putting it on this thread…

  202. Joey says:

    June 23rd, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Is anyone on medication?
    maybe this thought is caused by a medication?
    just a thought.

    Anyway, Im 15 and I just had this thought after auditioning for the reality show America’s Got Talent and didn’t make it. I read on an article that is usually is caused by a traumatic experience and I think that was mine. Any ideas?
    I really hate this thought cuz I used to be inspired and now im not. =(

  203. Oliver says:

    June 29th, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Unlike a lot of phobias that are irrational, this one makes perfect sense. No one wants to die – it’s just that most people just try to ignore the fact of it or believe in a (likely) fantasy about how there is life after death.

    I just pledged a monthly donation to The Methuselah Foundation, a UK-based organisation working to defeat the biological causes of death. Why don’t you as well?

  204. Oliver says:

    June 29th, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    ps, at the risk of stating the obvious, I meant above that it is likely the afterlife is a fantasy, not that it is likely there is an afterlife.

    pps I would say it is arguable thanatophobia is not a phobia at all really – isn’t a phobia by definition a situation where one has an exaggerated, unrealistic, irrational, fear of something? What is irrational about not wanting to die?

  205. Oliver says:

    June 29th, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    San Francisco – Peter A. Thiel, co-founder and former CEO of online payments system PayPal, Founder and Managing Member of Clarium Capital Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, and angel investor in social networking site Facebook, has announced his pledge of $3.5 Million to support scientific research into the alleviation and eventual reversal of the debilities caused by aging, to be conducted under the auspices of the Methuselah Foundation, a charity co-founded and chaired by Dr. Aubrey de Grey.

    Mr. Thiel commented “Rapid advances in biological science foretell of a treasure trove of discoveries this century, including dramatically improved health and longevity for all. I’m backing Dr. de Grey, because I believe that his revolutionary approach to aging research will accelerate this process, allowing many people alive today to enjoy radically longer and healthier lives for themselves and their loved ones.

    Mr. Thiel will donate a total of $500,000 over the next three years to fund pilot research projects intended to deliver early stage validation of the “SENS” approach to combating the debilitation caused by aging.

    Additionally, from now until the end of 2009, Mr. Thiel promises to match every dollar donated to the Methuselah Foundation for SENS research with a 50 cent matching contribution from himself, up to a maximum of $3 Million of matching funds.

  206. Lizzy says:

    July 3rd, 2008 at 6:12 am

    Hi. I am happy to have stumbled upon this site. It is of great comfort to actually see other people acknowledging this fear. I didn’t think I was alone by any means- there are too many damned people to think that we are that freakin unique. I think this blog is of special importance also because I attribute a fear of being alone when I die ( not meaning i wont have family or friends around, but meaning I’m the one who will be doing the dying; they’ll just be watching me do it) to the phobia as a whole. I was just watching “The Others” and it triggered in me what I can best describe as a brief, manic episode where I burst into tears and felt myself just absolutely losing it within a minute’s time of fixating my thoughts onto the notion of my own non-existence. It’s such a dreadful feeling, I never really knew what an actual phobia felt like until I recently have been having this problem. I have a freakin’ phobia. And it totally utterly blows. Why couldn’t it be of spiders? Why did I have to pick this “gem” of a fear? I have realized that my short term fix is to force myself to get up and walk away, go to a different room and start getting into something. Luckily I can get my mind off it when I do this. I think in the long-term if I could commit to a spiritual belief then I’d be ok with the whole thing. From a purely scientific evolutionary standpoint, it is detrimental for humans to have this phobia. It is abnormal as it can not have a positive effect on human survival and evolution. Maybe the planet is having us evolve into a self-destructive species b/c we are pretty much a plague to Earth…not to sound like a whack job, but people have this egocentric collective conscience that totally disregards the indisputable fact that we are a product of this planet, as much as the grass beneath our feet and the tree outside my window.And it bothers the crap outta me. Along with this fear of non-existence. Which started when I would look at my dog and feel utterly hopeless and terrified of him someday non-existing and fading into my memories. I think this fear comes from a place of love-love for life and for what we love about our lives. If I am not me, then who am I? Is it I think therefore I am? If dying means that I no longer think, then that would mean I am NOT, I become nothing. The more I type, the more I think that this is not the case. I’ve been reading Eckard Tolle’s book, A New Earth, and it has been helpful in this whole ” I am” business. I best be finishing it. Thanks for everyone’s posts, we are not alone.

  207. Lizzy says:

    July 3rd, 2008 at 6:19 am

    P.S. I don’t see how medication could help most people who have this phobia…maybe if a person is really in deep and has actually gotten into a clinically depressed state, which I myself am no where near being in by any stretch of the imagination. Like others have said, I am honestly a positive and happy person overall with all my ducks in a row. :)

  208. Robert says:

    July 7th, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Hi you fellow-death-fearing people :)

    First of all, I do not fear death (the fase/period), but the possibility of ‘nothingness’. I dread the thought that we just ceize to excist…eek!
    The argument that I shouldnt be scared because there is no suffering doesnt help me…at all. I dealt and am dealing with suffering all my life and it does not even begin to compete with the amount of joy and hapiness in my life. I love my life and do not want it to end.

    I have spent all my life searching for the paranormal (collecting ouija boards, robert munroe’s books = OBE, NDE, Aliens, Ufo’s, multidimensional realities, automatic writing, and of course all the ghost and death stuff). I does not help. If anything…it strengthens my fear for ‘death’.

    This phobia is a double edged sword. Be aware that the fear of death actually could lead to fear of living! Since I read ‘the secret’ I acknowledge some things put forward in the book/film. By spending time and energy in a certain subject you make it a reality (mental note, start thinking about an audi TT and winning the lotery). So, in short, what helps me is not to think about it to much and focus on ‘living’!

    Think about this. What if you had the absolute proof that there is ‘life’ after death. What would you do differently then as oposed to when you do not know?


  209. hayley says:

    July 20th, 2008 at 2:55 am

    i haven’t really ever left a comment about this before and i don’t really no what to say. I’m only 18 and already fear death, even though it’s far away yet. The act of dying doesn’t frighten me at all, painful or not. The thing that gets me most is the ‘nothingness.’ I often wake up in the night and think about how i will be NOTHING. It boggles me to think where does my mind and all my thoughts go?? When i wake up thinking about this i get breathless and i have to get out of bed stand under my landing light and snap myself out of it, attempting to get back to denial. I don’t want to force myself to be in denial, it’s not healthy.


  210. Kim says:

    July 21st, 2008 at 5:15 am

    So far it has become worse as I have got older. People in their fifties start to get cancer and heart stuff more frequently. Time also goes faster and faster (why is that?) I Might have thirty more years but if I die at the age Mum did ,it will only be around 18 more. It COULD more easily be ANY day now that I am an older git! I wouldn’t mind being dead for a few years and then coming back… it is the word eternity that chills me. I seem to be afraid (terrified) day and night, which is burning me out. I don’t know which would be worse – going quickly now, or living till seventy or more and this terrible phobia driving me increasingly insane, because I know for sure that death is growing closer. Ugh, and thrice ugh :-(

  211. JackP says:

    July 24th, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Just a bit of info for any of you in the UK: I’ve been asked to be a telephone guest on the Richard Bacon show on Radio 5 Live (except it’s hosted by Rachel Burden, as he’s on holiday) because they are going to be talking about death.

    I know there’s going to be me (a thanatophobe), there will also be a funeral director and a comedian taking part, apparently. Think it’s just talking about the idea of death in general, rather than thanatophobia, and if it’s anything like my previous radio experience, I’ll only be on for about thirty seconds and then will be left feeling “is that it?”. But, it’s one more step towards my plan for world domination….

    So, if any of you are interested (not sure if you can get it outside the UK, mind) the ‘death’ section of the program is due to take place between 11:59pm Wednesday 30th July and 1:00am Thursday 31st July. That’s British Summer Time…

  212. oliver says:

    July 28th, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Cool, good luck Jack. Look what you started by your blog posts! Funny that this topic just wasn’t really being admitted to/discussed much anywhere else on the net (apparently). It IS a big one and one that a lot of people would rather ignore than look at honestly. people would rather anything – believe in all sorts of odd religious ideas and dubious paranormal claims etc rather than face the fact we most likely just cease to exist, and that’s not a nice thought and there’s not so much we can do. If the curing aging/death technology doesn’t progress as much as I hope in the next few decades I might have to get insurance for cryonics… Can you listen to Radio 5 over the net do you know? I am not in the UK

  213. JackP says:

    July 31st, 2008 at 1:43 am

    Well, I enjoyed radio 5. Not sure whether or not it’s available outside the UK (you can always try) but you can download the show from FiveLive: Richard Bacon (Wed) for the next week or so.

    The bit about death will start about two hours into the show, with me talking about thanatophobia a little, a funeral director sharing some insights into funerals (was delighted to hear people are asking for ‘burn, baby, burn’ but disappointed no-one mentioned ‘going underground’), the comedian Liz Carr (off of the Ouch! podcast), and a vicar (?) or clergywoman of some description whom I can’t remember her job exactly.

    I enjoyed doing it, I hope people enjoyed listening, and while it didn’t cover thanatophobia in any great detail, my hope is it will do for at least one person what this post has obviously done for many already — let them know that they aren’t the only ones who feel that way.

  214. Emma says:

    July 31st, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Well, I wish I had come across this earlier!!!

    Glad there are plenty of other completely sane & non-depressed people who are as tormented by thanatophobia as I am!!!

    I remember struggling with it when I was much younger & I did suffer with depression for a few months in my late teens but it only really came back with a vengence when I met my husband & it has been getting worse every day since! Have only just recently mentioned to him my constant thinking about death -not just my own but of everyone I care about…he didn’t seem concerned by it! At least now I know it is an actual phobia as I have been worried about it being a different type of depression or something but this makes sooo much sense!!!

    I have been told I may have OCD but I think that that is incorrect, but possibly OCPD as I have all the traites of OCD but without the quirks being a means to prevent something bad happening -I just like things in a very particular way, do thinks a certain amount of times etc. but think that it’s people who don’t do these things are the ones with a problem not me! Haha!!!

    It’s a shame there seems to be nothing to ease thanatophobia as it is a right pain, especially when trying to go to sleep! I agree it is probably worsened by no religion or belief in ghosts/afterlife etc.

    Maybe instead of describing us as having an abnormal & excessive fear of death we should be described as having an abnormal & excessive love of life?


  215. oliver says:

    August 5th, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Listened to the R5 show – thought it was quite a good overview of the topic, and your contributions were good. Although I’d say they didn’t really fully address why it can be frightening to think of ceasing to exist, or the problem that rational skeptics can have with trying to believe in an afterlife etc with no good reason or proof – they just seemed to assume it is a great and desirable thing to have some sort of faith – well of course it must help, it’s obvious, but it doesn’t mean the beliefs are actually true just because they are comforting. Also most believers don’t even really know their own churches’ teachings very well – for example it is a fundamental part of mainstream Christianity, mentioned in the creeds, that not only do we go to Heaven (or Hell, or Purgatory if you are Catholic) but that at some time in the future we will be resurrected in bodies at the final judgment after Jesus comes back – but how many British Christians actually think this is likely? The Bible also says that after Jesus came back from the dead he was able to appear and disappear at will and finally floated into the sky and disappeared into Heaven, from which he will return again bodily one day. It is said the kind of resurrected bodies faithful Christians will have one day will be ones like his – “glorious” ones that don’t decay and can do miraculous things. How many people think this really happened/will happen? Second Century Christian writer Justin said Christianity was definitely not just about thinking you would go to Heaven when you died, but principally about bodily resurrection when Jesus returns.

  216. oliver says:

    August 5th, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    I thought it was good thought that funerals are getting a bit less solemn and formal, more personalised, more about celebrating the person’s life etc

  217. kaylee says:

    August 11th, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Im 20 and i dont really consider my age to be an age where i should really be scared of stuff like this but i am!!! I always think about it at night time especially, the thought like you said of not being here is just beyond comprehension! I hate it and wish i could get rid of the sickening feeling of it all!

  218. James says:

    August 14th, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Dear Writer,

    I’m not sure how you got through the supernova part. This conversation freaks me out. I have the exact mental conversations with myself about death as this. I have severe anxiety attacks usually just prior to falling asleep. This is my internal dialogue that escalates:

    “What is it going to feel like when I die;
    Oh, I won’t know because I won’t be able to feel because, I won’t be able to think;
    There will be no me

    James, calm down you don’t have to worry about this right now;
    Why not! I’m going to die I have to fix this;
    You can’t fix this, you have no choice but to worry”

    This dialogue cyclically rotates in my mind until I either, scream out loud, call my mothers name, my wife’s name, or say the f-word.

    And then it is suddenly gone and does not return for days. It feels like I’m possessed for god’s sake.

    I too have had ghost experiences, which totally confuse me, but also give me some hope.

    I would really like to keep this line of communication open.

  219. Andy says:

    August 17th, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Ok everyone with this fear who has contributed or read this blog.

    I have thanetophobia and had it for years and probably since childhood.

    I used to worry about nuclear war and my death as a consequence. At fourteen my Mother said to me “you have one life, you just have to live it.”

    She also said, “those who worry about dying all the time are not living life” to the full anyway!

    I have come to the conclusion that there can be only two possibilities when we die. One is, that if we know or are experiencing anything post dying, it will be an afterlife of some sort. Although, I ponder what? On the otherhand, we are sleeping and knowing absolutely nothing. We could be dreaming though.

    We all sleep and wake up. Perhaps, one day we wont wake up. In sleep we come to no harm whatsoever and everyone we know will die too.

    I guess in this life we ought to be kind, caring and forgiving. Religion my be the way it is up to you to choose.

    The power you have is to know this and to live your life in the way you want to be remembered.

    Your liberation from thanetophobia is your NOW.

    Live life now and try not to worry about the inevitable because it’s all you have.

    If you have other thoughts please email responses to this blog or [JackP: removed email address to try and reduce the likelihood of it being picked up by spammers. If you want to email andy, try using 'andy', followed by 'mason', followed by 'blue' at hotmail dot com]

    sleep well and relax because this is the only one life you truely know about. xxx

  220. LISA says:

    August 18th, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    OMG…….I’m glad we know what this is but is there a cure, I tried changing my diet, exercise, read about a dozen books and nothing, vitamins, tea, and medication and nothing seems to help. I suffer in silence since I dont want my kids to worry and my new husband thinks im just not happy with him I dont know what to do I just read something about acupuncture and stress, Im gonna try that next is there anything else you can think of that would help I want to live a normal life again….???

  221. Heidi says:

    August 19th, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Well, I like many here, didn’t realize until today how many others have similar experiences and the same phobia of nonexistence. It’s not to say that I’d be so self-centred as to not think that I’m the ONLY one that suffers – good grief – ‘get over yourself’ LOL! And like many of you, other than this ONE thing, I’m a very happy person of reasonable intelligence and sound mind.

    I’ve not read through the posts left by all, but certainly will return to read more.

    My conscious recollection of thanatophobia began when I was 5 or 6 yrs of age. It may not have been a sole cause, but certainly contributed to years of insomnia through childhood. I don’t suffer from insomnia any more but still experience the panic attacks or over-whelming sense of nothingness/non-existence on a regular basis.

    I have experienced clinic depression before when I went through a number of difficult life experiences all around the same time. That’s all water under the bridge, and I can definitely say that this is nothing like depression. Having lost both my parents, some family and a child-hood friend has not made much difference in the level of anxiety I experience. It may have been more present during those times of mourning, but I don’t think they cause it.

    I was very religious for a time in my life, but never truly bought into the idea of the after-life or God as it is portrayed in ‘popular religion’ (i.e. Christianity, Bhuddism, Muslim). Certaily no offense to anyone, but my mind just can’t embrace fully any of the philosophies of these structured organizations. To me it seems so archaic and limiting. I don’t dismiss completely an existence after this one. In fact, I believe it quite possible, but in what form if any our consciousness will exist is of course unknown – and even that (if it is so) is rather an unsettling thought.

    To exist in a semblance and/or form in which we now are – that is what we want to keep, isn’t it? I relate it to mental illness, dementia, alzheimer’s or the like. People that deal with these states of being are not the same person as when they have all of their mental faculties. I’m really making a short statement of it here, but I think you get what I mean. If I were to lose my identity even to a mental illness and not be able to return to who I am now – that would be like death, and that would to me constitute non-existence.

    Any how, I’m more susceptible to the phobia when tired so I best sign off for now. It’s nice to be able to rant a bit about this. Wow… woooow.

  222. unknown says:

    August 20th, 2008 at 1:25 am

    “To fear death is nothing other than to think oneself wise when one is not. For it is to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not even turn out to be one of the greatest blessings of human beings. And yet people fear it as if they knew for certain it is the greatest evil.” (Socrates)

  223. JackP says:

    August 20th, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Well, if you can get Socrates himself to come tell me that, maybe I’ll stop worrying :-)

  224. unknown says:

    August 20th, 2008 at 2:17 am

    Lol, I think the main problem with thanatophobia is not the death itself but what comes with it. The fear of the unknown is far more obsessing. But I think being dead is the same as not being alive. As far we don’t know what will happen 1000 years from now we don’t know what happened 1000 ago because we were not born. So why do we have to worry about something that we won’t never experience?

  225. Kim says:

    August 21st, 2008 at 1:39 am

    …because we didn’t know that we were unborn …but we do know that we will vanish again…Ugh!

  226. Caroline says:

    August 23rd, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    You know, it really bothers me when people say ‘you weren’t scared of not existing before you were born’ – well, before I was born I wasn’t able to THINK about not existing! Now I am, it is torture!

    I am a serious thanatophobic, and it pretty much is consuming my life. At 30 years old I think constantly about death and most nights lie in bed agonising over it, and trying to imagine myself not being able to think any more. Sounds silly doesn’t it? How can you imagine not being able to think? Well, I try – and then go into a massive bout of tears and panic, etc. Absolutely scared to death of being dead, not being able to think, etc, even though I won’t know about it. Does not compute!

    Even more petrified of something happening to me and my children being left with their Dad who does bring in the money but is 100% inept in every other way, emotional too. It scares the hell out of me!

    Also, of course, spend a lot of time thinking about losing my children. What an awful way to live. But I really can’t help it.

  227. C says:

    August 25th, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    I am a 25 year old OCD sufferer who is also terrified of dying must be some link it seems to be because we think more id imagine. I am scared of the actual act of dying and no longer being here it seems like why bother doing anything when your gonna die eventually.I think it can then bring on hypercondrhia because anything you have wrong with you, you automatically think the worse because your are so scared of dying. Good quote tho from film ‘Last King of Scotland’- ‘A person afraid of dying obiously has something to live for’ dont help though im aware i have so much to live for and i never wanna die not ever im quite happy here i am, i know everybody does it eventually but im willing to break the trend on this one thanks!

  228. C says:

    August 25th, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    and im female not that that makes much of a dif but just letting you know more about me

  229. Paradiddle says:

    August 27th, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Jack. That was spooky about the place in Corfu where people go to ask questions of the dead.

    1) is that a bit like an FOI request?

    2) I never had you down as a medium….more of a, well, ……probably made your night lol

  230. Paradiddle says:

    August 27th, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    not sure I agree with this quote, but as you mentioned one of my un-favourite drummers Phil Collins in your strangers on the train piece, here’s one from my favourite drummer:

    If you’re frightened of dying

    You ain’t really alive

    Roger Taylor – ‘Young Love’ 1984

    oh and by the way, I’m not really alive but I am working on it…..good to know I’m not the only one and that its not an irrational fear of Thanet in Kent.

  231. Chris says:

    September 8th, 2008 at 1:20 am

    The Curse of Being Aware…

    I didn’t visit this site for a long time and I’m happy that it’s still here. In fact it’s the only reasonable place to visit on-line to find some true support. Many times I had to explain to others why thanatophobia is different from all other phobias. Basically it’s hard to find anything more than just a short definition: “fear of death or dying”. I thought maybe it’s time to do something with this leak of information. I’m planning to make a short vid for portals like YouTube with many important information. Currently I’m quite well “controlling” this curse. But when I landed here for the first time, I was totally overwhelmed by it. Thnx to so many comments here and supportive e-mails from few people from here I get a new strength to fight with it. Thnx for all this support!
    I’m thinking about finding some common factors, reactions, thoughts etc. to create some clear picture of this curse (as I call it).

    I would like to ask all people who wish to help me to send an e-mail with details of Your personal life with thanatophobia. You can do this in any form You like, everything counts.

    I believe the best thing I can do now is to tell You about me and my life. I don’t expect from You to give as many details as I do, share with me only facts You feel ok to talk about:

    The story: Since I was a kid I was not taking religion seriously. I was born in Roman Catholic family, but as soon as I began to analyzing the surrounding world and became aware of being a part of society I was finding visits in church as a boring repeating ritual. And the more I was learning about Christianity the more I thought about it as a pointless fiction. I became interested in other religions and after basic studies of fundamental rules of those most popular ones like Judaism, Buddhism, other fraction of Catholic church, Islam etc. I ended up with conclusion: All of it is just a way of living and setting some basic rules for living in society. In the age of 17, I fully responsible called myself an Atheist. And a year later, just when I became an adult person something happened that changed my life forever. I was going back home with my friends and I was walking with 16 y.o. girl. We were crossing the street on “zebra” and since a car stopped to let us cross the street we continue talking while going on the other side of the street. Then suddenly a second car showed up from behind the first one and hit with huge impact the girl. I was just a half-step behind her. She died on scene. I realized that I could be dead too, it was just luck . And I started to think about death more and more. As and atheist I rejected afterlife. And I started wondering how would my death look like. The more I was thinking about it the more a vision of “being switched off” scared me. I couldn’t and still can’t accept the fact of stop existing. I discovered that I simply MUST exist! My life can not EVER ends. It changed me forever. I started enjoying my life as much as I could. I discovered drugs (before I was 100% against) and in that time I thought I found something that will “prolong” my life – Amphetamine. The fact that average people sleep around 8 h a day which is 1/3 of a day was in that time terrifying. When You think about sleeping taking Your whole life: 1/3 of Your life is “wasted”! If I would live 60 years, 20 years will be wasted! But amphetamine changed everything – I could finally enjoy more hours of “living” every day. As U can surely predict soon I became addicted to it. I understood that it’s a paradox because by using amphetamine I’m devastating my body and this will lead to earlier death. There is no point to tell more about drugs here. The point is that I realized that I’m going to die and there is nothing I can do about it…

    Currently I believe that there must be some form of afterlife, but my beliefs are not based on religions. I studied by myself the complexity of the universe and theoretical physic, and there is so many incredible facts and questions, that there must be some reason for all this. I also became interested in existence of “ghosts and spirits”, most convincing is EVP. Currently I am able to go to sleep without quite common among other sufferers the vision of my dying and “invasion” of thoughts about dying. Currently I don’t have a panic attacks, which really allows me to function quite normally. I know that my current state is not permanent, but I’m happy that right now I can have nearly normal life. Hope it will last as long as possible…

    Additional info about me:

    Name: Krzysztof (Chris)
    Age: 27
    Martian Status: Single (engaged)
    Kids: No

    Thanks for reading. If U can share any information about Your life with this “curse” please send and e-mail on my address
    [email protected]

    Together we can let the others know more about our problem. About the curse of being aware of death.

  232. Anonymous says:

    September 9th, 2008 at 2:59 am

    I find it a huge relief to know that so many people suffer from the same condition that I do – while I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, it’s somewhat comforting to know I’m not the only one.
    I also find that these “panic attacks” – or whatever you want to call them, happen usually at night, though more and more they’ve started to invade my thoughts in the day.
    As for cures, I find it can be helpful to express myself in some way to at least temporarily extinguish the fear. I’ll draw or something, for example, and try and pour my fear out into that. It doesn’t stop it altogether, but usually does for a while.
    Thanks for reading

  233. eve says:

    September 12th, 2008 at 1:31 am

    im writing this at 1am after having another panic attack about death im 23 and ihave a fear oof death i feel when im thinking about it i can be 23 lying in my bed than im 80 and then im dying in that moment i hope everyone knows what i mean i just cant image me not being here not torching not hearing not seeing i do live life to its full and i have still got loads of amazing stuff ahead of me but i never want it to end

  234. panda says:

    September 24th, 2008 at 5:31 pm


    I feel relieved to know that I am not the only one who suffers from thanatophobia and I’m very glad that I found this site.

    My panic attacks began when I was 12. At that time I would start crying in the middle of night. I thought at that time that it would eventually go away.

    It didn’t…

    Now it is worse. I would experince shortness of breathe in the middle of the night and start vomitting. After that I would not be able to sleep until the next morning.

    I feel totally frustrated and have been doing alot of reading up lately.

    I am considering psychiartric treatment. Has anyone tried hypnotherapy yet? Does it work?

  235. Matthew says:

    September 29th, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I have had feelings like this for many years. I am absolutely terrified of non-existence.
    I cant comprehend why other people are so nonchalant about it. I feel totally trapped by my totally inescapable inevitable death. I found this site after having a episode where I uncontrollably shake, yell and panic.

    I believe that most people are wired to ignore their mortality or to convince themselves that their consciousness will continue into some sort of afterlife. I would gladly go to a christian hell than cease to exist.

  236. kathy says:

    October 5th, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Like others I did not know there was a name for this anxiety. I too have had this fear most of my life-I am 35. Most recently it has been much worse. I almost died with my daughter _hellp syndrome. came close last year with a ectopic pregnancy which drs thought I was bleeding internally. after that i had a breast lump which turned out to be benign however i have several other lumps that the drs keep looking at and feel as if i will never have clear answers until they diagnosis me with cancer. i think all of my medical issues have spun my fears out of control to a irrational level now. i think about death all the time. i too am not afraid so much of how i will die but just the non exsistance and leaving my children with out me, is so bad I almost wish i was dead. how stupid is that? i would not say i am a depressed person however this makes me depressed and pointless at times. the only thing that has helped is to stay crazy busy, which is only ignoring this in my head. my husband can not understand this and just tells me to enjoy my time here. which is nice in concept but i just wonder how can he be so ok with death. he is not religious so i just think then it is me who has a problem with my brain. maybe it is ocd. if only i could have fears of spiders or something that is rational and something i can avoid. i can not avoid death. i am jealous of people who have faith and believe in after life. i question everything, to be able to do that. i am too scientific. life is beautiful and a gift, i dont want to loose it forever.
    on a different note, i have had dreams of loved ones who have died talking to me, have felt a presence, and have felt that something bigger than what i see is here. i have had premonitions, which i tend ro rationalize away. for instance saying oh, that was a coincidance. does anyone else do this. i think just writing this down can help. releases some of the deamons maybe.

  237. rosssolomons IS AT yahoo THEN A DOT com says:

    October 13th, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Wow, i just the other day told my girlfriend that i thought i was the only one…. i suffer from this chronically, like you cannot believe. I truly wish i could say that knowing that im not alone in this is reassuring but unfortunately that does not change the inevitable, it is far far greater than that. Matthew lee hits the nail on the head with the theory of religion being designed to help people cope with this completely RATIONAL fear of something completely terrifying beyond measure, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. i feel that the birth of religion was a natural almost evolutionary step which occurred unconsciously to help human beings deal with the horror of death, and to be honest i see nothing wrong with that at all. i too truly envy those who believe without any doubt at all, and often wish i could purge my scientific mind for a spiritual one. unfortunately i then also fear that if that was possible that i would forget about the horror of death and that life would pass me by even quicker, that i would pass through life blindly in other words. One thing i must add how ever is that this terrifying “sickness” has taught me to appreciate life more, to treat people better, and to almost slow life down by taking note of every single moment… But then again i always bare in mind that i will not exist or exist in pure nothingness for exponentially longer than i will be alive with my loved ones, and the sunshine, and the feel of rain on my face in winter etc etc etc. in essence that will be an extremely agonizingly dark, quiet, and lonely ETERNITY that will as the word eternity suggests never ever end. Hard to imagine that happening to those i love around me too, often hurts more than when i think of my own DEFINITE fate. On the brighter note though i must add that i am not depressed perse, in fact i am happy and my human brain still allows me to appreciate while i am alive somehow, regardless of that sickening feeling that taunts me in the background.

    Feel free to contact me if anyone feels it may help to share experience. i know i have probably left something out that i wanted to share but then again maybe its better im not thinking about it right now as it may give my horrified mind a couple hours or at least minutes to rest in peace so to speak :) good luck to all of you.

    [JackP: have edited your 'name' slightly to make it slightly less likely it will be picked up by any spam bots passing by...]

  238. Jessica says:

    November 12th, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Last night I was having what I call “an episode” where pretty much all I do is cry because of how bad things get when I start thinking about these things. While writing about how I felt, I was searching for something to call what I felt and found your blog. While it didnt “help” perse it did make me feel a lot better on another level and I just wanted to say thank you. <3

  239. James Black says:

    November 14th, 2008 at 7:46 am

    I’m glad to see someone else shares much of what I feel and believe. I’m a very scientific mind, and believe everything can be explained by science — The only boundary between that which has and hasn’t been explained being our own understanding (or lack thereof) — I’m a 21 year old male. I’m an athiest (This is not something that I use to define me nor a characteristic I usually shout about proudly, just something that I find in this case to be of realtive interest given the implications, and the connections of such to the topic at hand) but am not one out of choice, so to speak. It’s not that I don’t want to believe, rather that I cannot believe. Beyond the veil of false hope that a religion would offer me, my cynical thoughts would still betray me — Why live forever in heaven or hell, when you can live forever here? It’s more familiar. I wonder if anyone who suffers from thanatophobia has considered the fear of life as well. I’m not saying I’m suicidal, nor phobia-ridden, just of a mind that is never at rest, and constantly thinking thoughts I’d rather put to rest. With science on the rise, longer lifespans and immortality may very well be within our grasp. As much as I fear death, the idea of living forever also frightens me… Although, not nearly as much as death. I’d live forever if given the choice, but I know the longer that “forever” becomes, the more inevitable that death I fear becomes as well. Freddy Mercury puts it best in Bohemian Rhapsody, with several hints at a hidden fear. “Is this the real life, is this just fantasy, caught in a landslide, no escape from reality,” building up to “I don’t want to die, I sometimes wish Id never been born at all.” I sometimes feel the same way, as without the initial spark of life, I would not have this consciousness that aches me so. Another great musical example of these feelings are when Layne Staley sings “Some say were born into the grave, I feel so alone, gonna end up a big ole pile a them bones,” in the song Them Bones.

    Normally, songs where others go through the same thing I’m suffering from help me. It shows me that they suffered through their problems and were fine in the end anyways. For this, however, it’s quite the opposite. In the end, both Layne Staley and Freddy Mercury succumbed to death. These songs that should bring solace to me, only cause me to dwell more on the subject I’d rather stay away from. I’ve lately stayed up later and later, till three in the morning in hopes of escaping my nightly suffering. It seems the thoughts ail me most when my brain idles. When I shower, or lay down to sleep — Those moments when I have no pressing matter to keep my mind busy — it tends to wander off (without my permision) into the all-too-familiar territory I’d prefer to never visit again.

    I’m sorry for my ranting, but I was relieved to find someone else who could express perfectly what I was feeling. If you find yourself interested in conversation some time, I’d be more than thrilled to to get in touch through AIM, MSN, Email, etc (I’m not of the mind to post any method publically, but if you are interested, I’m more than willing to send contact info through email)

    -James Black

  240. sian says:

    November 16th, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    This is the first time I’ve ever search for anything to do with “fear of dying” and I came across this blog. It has been very interesting to read about everyone experinces. I’m scared to think about dying when I’m not in the frame of mind in case it makes it worst when I do get the frame of mind, if that makes any sense to you!
    I don’t feel that I suffer badly from thanatophobia (I didn’t even know that there was a name for it). My first expericence of it was when I was about 8, lying in bed at night and thinking about “me”, my existance and mortality. It terrified me and I would cry myself to sleep. I was brought up in a christian household but I have always, like James had a scientific mind and am a non-believer.
    I feel that religion helps people come to terms with death and there is a part of me that wishes that I did believe.
    30yrs on and until a few years ago I “forgot” about dying and just got on with life but then my mum died and I was with her, watching her taking her last breath. Maybe for most people this could be a sad but peacful experience and for the first couple weeks that’s how I felt but then it turned to something else. Two and a half yrs on, and I really wish I hadn’t been with her. Everytime I have a negative thing happen to me in the day, when I’m trying to get to sleep my mind always turns to dying. I know alot of it has to do with having had a dis-satisfied day and I’m sad that I have just wasted another day which means that I am one day closer to the end of my life.
    I love life so much, I am a very cheerie happy person and not deperessed but I wished that I would not have these thoughts. This morning was the first time that I woke up with these thoughts and this I found very disturbing.
    I suppose a lot of it comes from not being totally happy, as I know when things are going well I do forget about it. So even though I try to be a very happy person maybe I am only trying to make the most of what I can but deep down I am not happy.
    Hmm….never thought of analysing myself but it make a bit more sense when I read back what I’ve just written!
    I do my best to stop myself getting into a panic attack as I know they make things worst. So if I do start to feel that my thought are taking me to somewhere I don’t want to go then I will grab a book or something and just try to focus on something else even if it is a totally dumb thing like an argos catalogue! but I really wished that I didn’t have to think about it.
    Do most people find that the night time is when it happens or that it is worst then?
    Bye for now

  241. natasha says:

    November 18th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Wow. Just stumbled onto this site. How significant that 2 years on from the original article, the comments thread is still alive and well ;-)

    I’m 30 and first became aware of my thenatophobic thoughts and feelings at the age of about 7. I’d lie awake with shivers thinking about death – the inevitability of death, fearing the death of those around me and my own death, the randomness of it all. My mother tried to raise me with religious belief, but it never made sense to me – it just sounded like fairy tale magic, like father christmas, the tooth fairy etc. Needless to say I always felt different. Other kids around me seemed to be able to relax and engage with the here-and-now, whilst my mind always wondered towards existential issues and being painfully aware of the fragility of life.

    I’ve never since been able to truly believe in religion, despite my wish to change my fundamental scepticism. I doubt if anything or anyone can persuade me to believe, as much as I’d like them to! I do think it would provide me with significant psychological comfort, but alas, I cannot force myself!

    Perhaps because my thenatophic thoughts started so young it has had a huge impact on my life and psychological well being. Over the years my anxieties have gradually broadened to all facets of my life and have become so debilitating and exhausting that I’ve finally decided to ‘opt out’ on life for a while to give myself another serious attempt to heal myself via psychoanalysis. (I’ve tried all sorts of medications/therapies to try an nail this so that I can start living instead of just existing and fearing the inevitable).

    My take on the situation is this:- we (humans) are a freak accident, an eventual result of random conditions occuring simultaneously at the right time to produce “life”. There is no “intelligent design” or a godly designer/judge/leader of the universe. We just happened to occur through chance. Unfortunately, through this accident we achieved consciousness, which is our biggest undoing as individuals and as a group as a whole. Look at the carnage that consciousness has brought about…

    We, as human beings, cannot cope with the frail and delicate consciousness we possess. We’re all trying to find ways to cope and survive. Our consciousness brings us great pain.

    Some people have stronger and well-adjusted defences (religious belief, denial, displacement, etc) that help us get by and feel more content wth life. Others don’t. Just consider alcoholism, gambling, drug abuse, sex addiction, obesity, domestic violence, criminal behaviour statistics, child crueltly/abuse, elder abuse, mass genocide, extremism etc, not to mention mental illness statistics. Our consciousess is our greatest flaw. Unlike animals, we face the burden of introspection and fearing the unknown and we can’t handle it. Full stop.

    I probably sound like a really depressed nutcase (I probably am!!), but I’m more inclined to believe that I simply lack well-adjusted defences to buffer/shield me against the reality of human consciousness. I’m hyper-aware of the frailties of human beings and hyper-aware of my own frailty and I simply can’t handle it.

    My “rose coloured glasses” have been faulty since the age of 7, and at 30 years of age, I’m still trying to get fitted for a great pair that will help me live life more “normally” until the inevitable comes along.

  242. natasha says:

    November 18th, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    P.S. I forgot to outline my actual fear/preoccupation related to death in my above post! It’s not necessarily the event itself that worries me, rather it’s the shift from having a brief, finite existence to permanent, infinite non-existence that I really can’t get my head around and accept happily.

  243. Brie says:

    November 26th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I am super terrified of death. Sudden death, terminal illnesses, accidents and dying young. I lost some of my friends who died young. I am suffering from this phobia for 2 years.(21 now)

    I fear that I will have symptoms of death. Like you know, people act strangely before their deaths? I will always avoid myself from talking too much just becuase I fear that I will say or act like people who act strangely before their deaths. I know its irrational but it just comes to my mind.

    I also fear of places where death has taken place. My friend died while cycling in this island and i have a project field trip on this island! I’m anticipating.

    I will also have panic attacks whenever I am anticipating for any festivals or celebrations cause I fear that I might not be able live till that time.

    I also fear that I can’t marry, have kids and have grandkids! Everynight, I’ll pray to God to lenghten my lifespan. Prayers help me alot to calm my mind and soul. As a Muslim, I believe in afterlife and i was told that it’s a good thing to fear death so that you tend to obey God and avoid doing things that are against my religion like adultery, alcohol, drugs and etc.

    Do write to me if you wanna share stories about your thanatophobia at [email protected]

  244. Ellie says:

    November 28th, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I can’t believe i only just found this thread! There is so very little out there! My fear of deaths been almost unbearable for about 5/6 years now and I’ve done countless internet searches and found nothing of use.

    It’s great knowing I’m not alone but slightly depressing that no one seems to have made much progress in conquering this fear.

    I’m a bit upset that so many of you found therapy to be of little help, i booked an appointment with a councillor a week ago and I’ve placed a lot of hope on it. I’m in my last year at university and just can’t cope with my phobia or whatever it is on top of everything else.

    I’m going to give religion a go to, I’ve always like religion and wished I was religious, annoyingly I can just about conceive in some form of God but its the afterlife I find hard to conceive. My parents are so atheist it makes my head hurt they think of all religious people as ignorant, which I don’t so I’m still holding out hope. I’m thinking of looking into really liberal Christianity like Unitarians or Liberal Quakers they seem very open and accepting of science, other religions or lack of, and they’re very anti fire and brimstone. They’re all about making your own journey and finding your own answers , ‘truth seeking’ isn’t that what we’re doing really searching for truth or at least trying to find some peace in what we already know. I don’t want to force a belief of the afterlife on myself i just want to feel at peace with life now live it well. Maybe if I’m lucky ill make my peace with death at the same time.

    It’s horrible and debilitating and I’m close to breaking point but i still hope to get better, a lot of you seem to have given in, my 21st birthdays on Christmas Eve and I’m determined not to spend my adulthood in fear and depression like i have for most of my teenage years.

    Thank you for this post, I’m glad I’m not alone and i wish you all luck in dealing with our common problem.

  245. Melissa says:

    November 28th, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Wow, I have been reading the comments on here for a while today and finally scrolled down to see if I could still leave a comment even though you posted this so long ago, and am happy to see people are still leaving comments. I am shocked at how many people suffer from this. I have suffered for probably 9 years. I had a couple good years w/out worrying and I think it is when I have the less stress in my life.

    It is very hard to deal with this. Just in the last week or so it has come back and it is really bad. I am so tired of worrying about it. So tired. I have dealt with it for 10 years. Worrying does no good. I COMPLETELY agree with you that if I knew of an afterlife I would feel at ease. I read a comment on here that it scares them that the even the world will end one day and even the universe. Hmm. I wonder what will happen when that does happen, even though I am sure that is millions and millions of years away. Wondering will do no good, and won’t give me any answers. I get quite frustrated sitting here thinking that no matter what, I am never going to know why we are here. What is the meaning of all of this or are we all just some result of a bunch of molecules and particals that have come together. I hope that is not the case, I hope we are here for something or have some meaning. Human life seems so special and precious to me, I hope we are not just a bunch of DNA and then we die and thats it. Everything we are or were, every memory, every moment, every feeling meant nothing. We just die. And then rot away in the dirt.

    I have been searching for answers. I have been reading about mediums like John Edwards and Allison Dubois. I had my hopes up bc they were so convincing at first but further research has shown me that they seem like a bunch of fakes.

    I was reading about a ‘medium’ that YOU had met with and that is how I stumbled upon your blog. I read that blog on that guy you had the phone reading with and you said you would post more on it, but couldnt find a post on it. Did he really know things about you no one could have? Please let us know or me know or tell me where I can find the post on the medium.

    I have read things on the internet where ppl claim John Edwards knew something cold reading couldnt have told him and same with allison, but then I have read so many fake things about them.

    Does anyone have any success (please dont B.S. me. Please).

  246. joe haynes says:

    December 1st, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    I have had the fear for about 2 months now. I believe its because my personal situation has changed. I think the best thing in life is to have a goal even if it might not be amazing to anyone else. Keep Focussed and just embrace the journey of life. When you finally die your answers will come.

  247. Melissa says:

    December 2nd, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    No one knows if ‘the answers will come’. That may just be something we as humans created so we dont go crazy knowing when we die thats it. We die. No answers, no thoughts, nothing.

  248. Irene says:

    December 4th, 2008 at 11:27 am

    I really don’t know if suffer from thanatophobia because my problem is not my own death but of those whom i love. Last year my uncle died of heart attac. It took me about 6 months to sleep a whole night through without waking up at least every hour. when my parents sleep i go looking if they are breathing. 3 days ago my mother was sleeping so heavily that i thought she was dead. I touched her hand and it was cold and for the 5 seconds it took her to wake up it was hell to me. even my blood pressure rised higher then ever before and i am only 29 years old. i keep thinking someone is going to die and then i think that someone is actually going to die because thinking about it will make it happen and then i feel terrible because someone will die because i thought about it. But that is crazy and i know but this terrible thoughts are stuck in my head. i dont know what to do.I wish there was a pill i could take to make me stop thinking all this things. I know its all in my head. (sorry for my english. I am greek.)

  249. Melissa says:

    December 5th, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Irene, that is how mine started out. Seriously, you should go get some counseling and hopefully they will give you some meds to help you out. I’ve been learing a lot about this the past couple of weeks, and I KNOW I need help. It’s hard to live here in the USA and go see the doctor, I don’t know if it is that way in Greece or wherever you are at. I don’t have insurance and I am flat broke (our economy sucks right now) so I don’t know if I’ll be able to go see a doc anytime soon. I hope so. Try to ignore it for now, but go get some help as soon as you can. I will do the same.

  250. Hayley says:

    December 8th, 2008 at 2:09 am

    I am 19 years old and have been having these thoughts for near on 8 or 9 years now..the thoughts had stopped for quite some time but recently I cannot sleep at all due to this phobia.
    I get so panicky I have to move around but still no decrease of hysteria-like emotions.
    I have tried to talk to people even though I get upset and scared just speaking about it I still tried. I even sought out the help of a counsellor who expected me to go through the process of speaking about death (after it took so long for me to trust her) to a totally different person after she left to find another job…no one seems to want to LISTEN to me…I get the same old

    ‘Oh stop being silly, just dont think about it’ (Said by family and close friends)

    How can I not think about it when its just there!? Dont you think I have tried to ‘not think about it’? Rant over but I have always felt as though I have to deal with this on my own and its coming to the point where I just cant anymore.
    Still im scared to talk to anyone just incase I get tossed aside yet again…

  251. JackP says:

    December 8th, 2008 at 8:33 am

    I know Mike set up a myspace group ( – I don’t know if that’s still going.

    If anyone wants to set up a similar thing for facebook or other social networks, I’d guess that would be a good place for people like Hayley to talk about it, as the other people there would already have an understanding of what she’s talking about.

    I don’t really have the time to take that much of an active role managing a group (although I could maybe help out now and again), but I am on facebook and would certainly stop by if someone wanted to set up such a thing.

  252. Luc says:

    December 8th, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Nice article, I’m there with you! I once read that higly intelligent people who tend to question everything, are the ones with these thoughts. To bad we both are, intelligent people.

  253. Jorge says:

    December 16th, 2008 at 8:20 am

    Greetings from a fellow tanatophobic, it really makes me feel well that there is a group of people with this same anxiety causing fear of death I have.

    I would really like to encourage everyone to keep posting. The more we build awareness on this and a “community”, the more we will work together on the issue and hopefully find ways to cope with our fears and experiences.

    In my case, there is one thing that I have done that allows me to sleep well if I really need to: smoking pot.

    I am not a heavy smoker, but I always have trouble starting to fall asleep, as I get this feeling that I will cease to exist if I do. For some reason, I do not have that fear while under pot and I can consciously decide I want to sleep and do so.

  254. Kristina says:

    December 27th, 2008 at 6:24 am

    I have been having this fear for so long…I think I was 10 years old when I first wrote that I hope I will know when I get older what will happen after death. As a teenager, I used to wake up, brush up my teeth and thinking that it does not make sense. It even does not make sense to kill yourself because life is so short that it will come even before you realize. I will look at myself in the mirror and think that it will soon be ugly, with wrinkles and death. It seems such an enormous black hole. I would go to our garden and think of the the land, how my body will be part of it one day, eaten up by warms and bacteria..It just terriefies me. I do not seem to understand what is the meaning. Maybe I identify myself with my body. Sometimes I think there is more to it. I havee these moments when I think that I can see myself from the outside, I am somewhere else, outside of my body so there might be more. But I really get scared by it. What is this thing? I was nor particularly raised religious, but I think that it would have been such a relief if I was. It is really hard to believe if you were not raised this way. I try, but I always doubt…
    This dear comes back when I try to identify myself. How do I want to live my life? What do I want to do? But then all starts to get blurry and come back to this question, I wish there was a cure…

  255. Coop says:

    December 28th, 2008 at 1:48 am

    I am interested if the author is still reading and discussing this topic.
    Better yet if anyone at all has found some sort or cure or moderator for this condition.

    I have been treating my “anxiety” for a few years with Busipin and occasional lorazapam. Problem is I honestly dont think my dr or my ex-psychiatrist has a clue about this condition. They do not understand the severity of it and I cannot express it correctly.

    I mean how do you express, a constant “flinching” , the certainty that death is a second away, pretty much all the time. Yeah it can be that bad.

    Anyway, I cannot take the “best” dosage of anti anxiety medication because I will never wake up. I am very sensitve to medication, and almost everything makes me sleep. So I take busiprine 1 at night, 2 days on, one off. And lorazapam if I really need it. The DR will not perscrib regular dosages as its addictive, LIKE so the DAMNED what, I would rather be addicted than deal with this.

    Pain killers do wonders, true wonders, Vicodin is wonderful, problem is I refuse to use it for this, I would simply ruin it for pain relief and then when I need it for that, it will not work.

    anyway, I have been maintaining pretty good until now.

    Yesterday, I almost died, a very very close call.
    I will write the experience below

    problem is, now I am totally completely a wreck.
    No sleep last night, even when I took lorazapam and busiprim, They should of knocked me right out, no luck.

    I have been up and shaking and nervous and in the middle of a panic attack since. It bad bad bad. Truth to tell, if I did not have so much good in my life, I would be serious risk of suicide. I am terrified that I have an attack like this, at a time when I am sad or things are not going well.

    As it is, I am fine, plus I truely fear death, or the experience of it.
    I think for me its more of the process of going from life to death that literally terrifies me! I am pretty ambivalent about death itself.

    anyway, a treatment that has worked would be awesome
    so far it seems
    anti-anxity meds
    cognitive therepy
    and religion

    seem to be the going things
    and they are lacking.

    feel free to email my main email [email protected]

    the experience…..

    Well, I was out hunting with my wife and a friend. We rabbit hunt with beagles. The stupid dogs go after a deer, and got out of range of the shock collars.

    The worst thing happened, the went down into the river bed.
    This is not a NICe place to be, this river is banked by 200-300 foot cliffs.

    I had to get my dogs, I love them more than anything.

    So I followed them down a cut, I ended up having to slide down the cliff and use a fallen tree as sort of a slide. to get down.

    there was NO way I would be able to climb back up that without ropes.

    I figured I would head downstream to a old road that used to cross the river.

    by the time I got to the bottom I was soaked
    I found the dogs and started downsteam
    the going was horrible, fallen trees everwhere. Prehistoric ferns up to my waist, so I could not see the ground!

    We finally got close to where the road should be. and to my horror
    the cliffs went directly into the river!
    there was NO way I could get past, and live that is.

    then the seriousness of the situation hits me
    I stupidly have no matches, no phone, no damned radio, the batteries were dead dammit! Normally we are up top, and never ever go to the river this way.
    in the summer we walk the road, to do a bit of fishing, but never up here!

    So I was trapped, it was freezing, and getting dark and I was wet totally
    Hypothermia kills people and kills them very very affectively
    within 30min to an hour

    I was exhausted and fading fast.

    I was shouting for my wife and friend but they could not hear me
    If they could of heard me, I would of had them go for mountain rescue
    GOD two guys with rappeling gear would of had me out of there in 10 min.
    but as it was I was trapped
    Matches I could of found a place, started a fire and waited for rescue.

    startign a fire without matches, HA, not when everything is totally waterlogged from days of raining snow! not without even flint! and guess what, NON down there.!

    Hell writing this scares the hell out of me.

    I finally stared to walk back upstream, I know there was another road abotu a mile up, but I did not think it went to the river bank. but I was closer, if I could see it, I could maybe make it up.

    Then I found a cut, nice landslide and worked my way up it.
    Me and the dogs that is….

    I started climbing, this damned thing was nearly 70-80 slope
    I got up about 1/3 and could not move anymore
    I was so worn out. the cold and exhustion was getting to me.

    I kept thinking, I could not give up, the dogs needed me.
    I could NOT let my dogs die, that would kill me!

    I shot my gun a few times spaced , in hopes my friends could zero in on me.
    very unlikely in that damned canyon, I know what that does to direction and sound.

    then when I was getting some more shells from my pocket, I found a fruit rollup! miricle, NoT really I remembered it from last hunt, duh. finding that made me remember my diet pepsi I had in my vest. Thats how far I was gone, I was at the stage of forgetting food and water…. bad news, especially for someone so totally experienced and trained as me.

    so I sat and got a sugar snack and drink in me. rested for about 10 min
    I did nto dare sit anylonger or I would get too cold

    I continued on, and thank the stars, gods whatever, I got to a shallower slope
    with LOTS of dear trails, all nice and fresh.
    (my stupid rabbit dog, starts sniffing them, HE gets serious punishment for that.. not abuse, but I have to break him off deer, we really do spoil our dogs, they sleep in bed with us even)

    Once I found the trails I knew that there was hope. lots of it.
    at the least I was halfway up, and my wife and friend would be able to locate me, if they come that way.

    But we did find a trail I could go up, by the time I hit the top I was crawling.
    but hell, I was still going.

    I got to the top, and its nice flat forrest land, FLAT, FLAT lovely FLAT!
    You mountain climbing dudes are NUTS

    I worked my way to the service roads, and started spaced out shooting to locate the others.

    They were down the road by the river, and tried to head upstream
    and found the same cliff I did.
    they were just climbing back up themselfs, a good mile by road
    (forrest road, no cars)

    they planned on calling in mountain rescue, as soon as they hit cell signal
    but they found me.

    A very bad situation came out ok

    Except now I cannot sleep
    I am constantly shaking
    and scared out of my mind and the damned meds dont help
    If I am not well by monday, my dr will be seeing me again.

    OH and to stop comments of how stupid I was…..
    YES, I was stupid! Espcially with all the outdoors experience I have, all my life.
    I am the type of person who caries a survival kit in my car for gods sake.

    But I have never never lost my direction in the forest.
    I can navigate by stars, sun, landmark
    I rarely have a compase.

    We were just doing a bit of rabbit hunting in a tree farm.
    that is flat and has roads all over, and we would not be more than a mile from the car.

    It never occured to me that I would get trapped in the canyon.

    But thats what kills people the things that do not occur.

    A simple precaution of having matches, would of been all I needed.
    I would of been perfectly save until rescue came!

    Trust me it wont happen again..

    But now my Phobia is worse than ever much worse!
    I have had near death experiences before, but all of them were before I developed this Phobia.

    I want the damned PHOBIA gone!

    thanks for reading!

  256. jessica says:

    December 29th, 2008 at 4:11 am

    i feeel like exactly the same and no1 understands me at all
    and yeah they call me mad saying they wudnt be suprized if i killed my self cz wen im havng one them days i say ”well im gna die anyway soo y even bother stressing ova schl wrk” buuut come on diein is what im trying to aviod. i can laugh and joke too but at nights it does honestly get scary..i suffer from anxiety attacks from it. my body goes dumb and i scream because i cant breath and think im going to die. every birthday just makes me down as im one step further to dieing…its going to happen no matter whay and then thats it for me all my hrd wrk an alivenes will be forgot about. there is only one thing in life that is promissed and that is death…it sickens me…i think nooo i will have a family one day and be married…but i mite nt b able to have kids for all i knw and i cud spend my days in and out of bad relationships…. i hate it
    like you sed also u can controll ur weight….i do that i like how i can be skinny and be even skinnyer if i wnt to because its in my hands only

    i am 17 by the way and am a student…plus for the record i can spell its just im trying to get my thoughts out as fast as i can….
    i wasnt always like this..i can remember thinking before along with everybody else ”yeah everyones dies”.. it all happend the day i watched my grandmother die in hospital for a sudden brain hemorage..then 2 days later my other grandmother dying…..i watched as she lay there diying and it was out of my hands…i cudnt do nothing..nothing but talk to her and tht done nothing to save her…watchin the heart moitor beebing all thru the night was horrible and changed mt life then seeing it just stop to a line…..
    tht was it she had gone and i coudnt do nothing…the room in hospital was full of my family like 20 of us crying in a small small room…i still felt alone
    that was the day i changed the way i thought…… i cant sleep
    its been goin on for 2 years now…. its 03:57am right now…i do anything to put me my self of being in the dark alone with only my phobia…..isnt it werid when u know u dnt wanna think of summit but its the thing that always cums back..i too hope theres a after life that wud b my only cure i think….and yes ive seen ghosts….i seen my grandmother in my face…and my family didnt belive me….that scared me tho…but now im ok about me hope
    im stuck and dont know what to doo….my grades are slipping as im so tired and cnt consentrate…no1 understands how it feels knowing yes its goin to happen and il neva see my mum or sisters again….and i wnt have musiic or my paint brushes ahhh it kills << nt the best wrd to use lol
    shud i go to the doctors?? im scared he will laugh at me
    and say there is nothing he can do….is this common??
    please get back to me i need some help of sombody who understands
    thanks for reading xxx

  257. Joe says:

    January 5th, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Hi Jack,

    I read your blog on thanatophobia, superb, also good to know im not the only one shit scared of dying!

    I have to admit, I laughed myself silly reading it, I coudn’t have said it better myself, very elequently put.

    As you point out its difficult to determine what is a healthy amount of time to spend thinking of death, like yourself I may spend around 30mins a day. I dont have any other fears, other than spiders, seriously. I think a big trigger perhaps for me was my dad dying about 3 years back, hit me hard in a private way (inward) I often wonder about what might have caused my overthinking about death, in the hope that knowing more about that, may lead to a way of understanding it better. But I honestly cant envisage a time when I will think ‘ok great my time is up’ No fucking way..

    Anyway I few things that I think may have had an effect on my view of death: When I was a kid I was completely sheltered from death, like when my grandparents died and anyone else, my folks kept it a big secret. Although I was brought up a catholic ( I was alter boy for a bit ) as an adult I dont have a belief in any god as such ( wish I did ) But I know I would be kidding myself, so thats not an option, which displeases me no end! As for ghosts and the paranormal I would describe myself as open minded, but on the same hand im far from being convinced about anything whatsoever in that domain. Again I would love to be proved wrong. I guess I believe your thrown in the ground or whatever and you rot and thats your lot, im not helping you here am I ? Sorry.

    Like yourself im very interested in science, and wish I could get some solace from that, which i probably do as its one of the few things that can give some perspective on things..

    Answers to your questions ‘how do you want to be remembered’ I suppose ‘I just want to be remembered’, if I cant bloody be here.

    I think it might well be how we are wired, that makes us this way.

    I also think theres always a rational explanation for things too, ive also had some strange experiences, but im not convinced, im not going to be boring going on about that, im sure you have heard it all before. I guess that sounds very narrow minded, but I dont consider myself to be.

    Well done Jack for sharing this.


  258. Joe says:

    January 10th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Hey Ditto,

    Read your posts and could really identify with that.

    You said “It is the time between finding the lump or the doctor finding something in a routine exam and getting the diagnosis, and being told it is terminal, and the last day”.

    I cant imagine feeling anything other than terrified on getting that kind of news, I feel I would lose my mind.

    My father had a fear of dying and always maintained he wouldn’t want to know if he had something terminal ( a view which I feel should be respected ) However he was diagnosed with lung cancer, and promptly told he didnt have long to live, my father was a very brave man and seeing the fear in his eyes was the saddest thing I have seen. He had a horrible time, basically choked to death in the end.

    What also upset me about this whole thing was that the people who were in his ward (Death Row) were treated with no genuine care or decency, i remember staying overnight with my dad and trying to get the nurses for one thing or another and they were surfing the net, or on the mobile to their boyfriends or something. I have the greatest respect for nurses and im maybe this was a one off, just a great shame that people dont seem to give a shit that you only got a week to live. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if somehow the wards of the dying could have the atmosphere of a maternity ward.. I get the feeling that would be a bit tricky!

    So all that hasn’t helped me a lot with my own fears! Just enhanced them!

  259. BH says:

    March 14th, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    First off, I think this a wonderful, worthwhile discussion board. I have suffered from thantophobia on and off for about 20 years. It’s rare that you can talk to anybody that even understands this fear. I’ve seen maybe 5 or 6 different psychologists over this time and none of them had any clue what I was going through. The last guy I saw said, “It’s hard for me to pity people that live in our area.” (I live in a nice area). I promptly explained to him that I wasn’t looking for pity. In fact, I can’t stand pity. I was looking for a cure for my condition. He could take his pity and shove it up his a$$. Even if he did pity me, it would do me know good. lol. I know most of you know my point. It took me at least 10 years to even understand what I had. Then came the huge struggle with religions and the same fear a lot of you have expressed (what is the meaning of life? and if there is none, what is the point of existence? and all this crap scares me to no end).

    Not until the last few years did I share my anxiety disorder with anybody. My family certainly cares, but it’s hard for them to help when they don’t understand. My favorite discussion was with my Mother. I asked her about life after death and she said she’s not scared, because there is life after death. So I said, well what if there isn’t. She said, “then I won’t have to worry about it.” Man, I really envy that way of thinking. What most people don’t understand is we who suffer from this need more then people telling us what we should believe. We have to feel it.

    By no means have I kicked this entirely, but from many years of struggling, I think I can be of some help. I’ve talked to many people on the subject and I’ve gone through times in my life when I felt I was “cured” or certainly felt better.

    First of all, a couple of the posters have challenged others to “prove life after death” to them. This is a very difficult route to take. Trust me, I tried it. For one, no matter what I tell you I believe, it’s not going to matter unless you believe it. And once you do believe it (deep in your heart), it’s not going to matter either. I guess what I’m saying is don’t try to find answers through science, because there aren’t any answers there.

    I’m going to give you some good resources to explore for yourself. Some of these may not work for you. I can only express what has worked for me. I have no reason for anybody to believe the same as me. I just would like to help people (fellow sufferers of this horrible affliction).

    Meditation is a very powerful tool. To learn to meditate properly I would suggest reading The Three Pillars of Zen. You can get it cheap on or other places on line. Diane Goble, who had a Near Death Experience, has a lot of wonderful information that helped me. Her website is
    If you really want to immerse yourself in meditation, check out Vipassana Meditation at
    I may sound like I’m pushing Buddhism with this, but I’m not. You can practice Buddhist meditation and still be true to Christianity or whatever religion you are – even atheist. This practice teaches you to slow down your mind, to find out who you really are. Our thoughts (especially us who suffer from thantophobia) can be our own worst enemy. Me must learn to quiet our minds and find the “silence between the thoughts.” This is where you will find the answers you seek.
    I understand the horrible, frightening, gripping fear that seems like it will never go away.
    I personally believe I have felt a taste of what Christains call “The Holy Spirit”
    and Buddhists call “Enlightenment” during various times of meditation. This feeling relieves all anxiety and provides truth and wisdom that can’t be explained in words. I certainly am not claiming to be “enlightened” or a saint, but my suffering has lead me in many directions to try and “cure” myself and in my opinion, there are good ways and bad ways. Alcohol, drugs (even prescription drugs) provide no real help in my opinion, but Martial Arts, Meditation, Exercise and good nutrition are actions that helped me.
    I am a work in progress, but am confident I’m going in the right direction.

    This is all I will post for now, but if you have any interest in more info, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]

    Again, my only motive is to help people with this horrible anxiety.


  260. Alex Paradise says:

    March 16th, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Beautifully written article, thankyou.

    Here’s the way I’m currently dealing with the darkness as it crops up (with mixed results)

    1. Actually, as the Buddha tells me, ‘I’ don’t exist anyway, therefore it follows I cannot cease to exist.

    2. ‘I’ shall live my life as well as I can, and when I’m done I hope to be ready to roll.

    3. In any case, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    By the way, as a fellow developer I’m sure you realise that if you’ve managed to hard code your mind to this process of thinking you’ve done bad, my friend, and so re-write that code and make it user-configurable immediately.

  261. Melanie says:

    March 16th, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I have been living with this awful fear for quite a long time but it seems to be getting worse, I’m so scared of any teeny weeny little pain or abnormal feeling in my body as a sign that I am about to die, imminently!!

    Most people think we are just stupid or mad and irrational, but they can’t possibly understand the debilitating affect it can have on your life.

    Mine seems to be so much worse after losing my mother 7 months ago to a very sudden heart attack, now all I can think about constantly is death and when it’s my turn. The thought of leaving my husband and young son is so agonising, the affect it will have on them tortures me.

    I go to bed wondering if I will see the next morning, then spend the next day worrying about if I will last the day, a very nasty cycle.

    I don’t understand it all as I’m a rational and logical person with my own business, but this is just awful, so any help anyone can offer I will take. It’s got to be better than the doctor always offering tranquilisers to help me and my counsellor telling me that everyone dies….as if I don’t know that fact!!!

    Well, that’s enough of my ranting, hope someone can help me in some small way.


  262. Sunjo says:

    March 28th, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    It has been really encouraging to read of so many fellow-sufferers. I am in my sixties and have been a thanatophobe since I was 8, so it is possible to live with things, even if never quite solving the problem. It is nearly impossible to convey how you feel to people who don’t suffer from this, but the coping mechanisms I have found most helpful have been meditation, self-hypnosis and the attempt to “live in the now”. Eckhart Tolle’s books are good for this.
    If all else fails I try to distract myself with childhood’s favourite books – sometimes helps.

  263. Jenna says:

    April 3rd, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Thank you all for making me feel human again and not like some wandering freak of nature.

    if anyone would like to chat more about this phobia or maybe just have someone to talk to who understands (I know I’d like that) please add me on msn or email me at snowflake [underscore] obsidian [at] hotmail [dot] co [dot] uk

    I have had this fear since I was a little girl, Im now 25 and considering starting a family yet I am crippled by this phobia, I have panic attacks ranging from shortness of breath to full blown episodes believing I am going to die right there on the spot.

    It stops me from sleeping, undertaking a degree at uni, as whats the point as I might die before I finish it. so on and so forth.

    I am currently taking anti depressants and am on yet another waiting list for therapy. This time CBT does anyone know if this is useful in this case or not ??

    I am not depressed, Im a happy cheerful person, Im just scared of the end.

    They call it irrational fear, but it seems very very real to me!!!

    Jenna xx

    [JackP: Jenna, I have edited your email address as I know from experience any email address left on the web tends to get picked up by spam bots and you'll be deluged with offers of viagara otherwise. This should hopefully reduce the amount of spammers picking you up...]

  264. Hannah says:

    April 17th, 2009 at 12:50 am

    Joe you have made me feel even worse! I was readinng Ditto’s comment about getting cancer and dying and the bit in between and thats what scares me everyday.

    I’m really sad that nobody has a cure for this thanatobia and i’m really scared now because I know it will never go away.

    In ways this website has helped as I know now people feel the same but Its made it worse as I know now there is no cure.
    It just ironic i’ll live with this fear until i die.

  265. Hannah says:

    April 17th, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Oh dear I sound so depressing!

  266. Hannah says:

    April 17th, 2009 at 1:00 am

    I think i’m going to look into meditation…

  267. JackP says:

    April 17th, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Hannah, that’s a fair point – at least when we die, the thanatophobia will be cured :-)

    And don’t worry about sounding depressing here, that’s kind of the point. Those of us who suffer from it generally find it difficult to talk to others about it as they a) feel that we shouldn’t worry about it and we’re being a bit morbid or b) we might end up depressing them, and we don’t really want to inflict that on anyone else.

    One of the things I have learned however, is that it’s an awful lot more common than I believed when I first wrote this article.

  268. Anon says:

    April 22nd, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Obviously you hear of many others who are a little “afraid” of dy… but to acknowledge there are others with this extensive numbing fear thanatophobia(dare I say it)I found it very warming and comforting.

    I have had this fear accompanied with panic attacks for 19 years but I feel it has laid dormant since childhood years. Jointly, I suffer from pyrophobia as well as thanatophobia so the countless word association triggers (panic) are somewhat pathetic!

    For years I had a fear of going to sleep and sometimes get panicky when I awake for the realisation I have woken up and am still here! (some may find this odd)

    The most frustrating part of it all, whereas other phobias can be dealt with by gradual introduction (pictures and the object itself)… ie spiders, birds… how do you face death???

    I was told I have to come to terms with it.Very difficult as I am also filled with anxiety worrying about loved-ones passing on too. Russian roulette springs to mind, who’s next? Well its easy to say live everyday like its your last and enjoy life when you fear the end to such enormity!!

    So Pickards thank you for letting me have a ramble where I have felt safe to do so!

  269. mommax4plus2 says:

    May 3rd, 2009 at 2:29 am

    I don’t so much have a fear of myself dying although I do feel that I will die of an auto accident and sometimes when on certain roads it feels as if that’s the one I will even die on. But, what I fear most is the death of one of my children. (Is there a certain phobia or anxiety for this?) Sometimes I even have horrible visions in my head. What is wrong with me?! I did have a miscarriage after my first son and it was due to a car wreck. I don’t know if this may be linked to my fear or not. I still have I guess anxiety or panic attacks when riding in a car and driving past side roads. I get scared and think that someone is going to T-bone the car I’m riding in. I feel as though I’m crazy sometimes. Help!

  270. Rab says:

    May 3rd, 2009 at 11:47 am

    From personal experience, believing in an afterlife doesn’t cure the fear of death or others dying, not even a bit (there’s the whole judgement thing still to come – like the X factor panel only scarier).

  271. Yarw says:

    May 7th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Why don´t you try to read more about Near Death Experiences ? It´s a promissing research area with so many serious medics and psychiatrists on it in the last few years.

    Take a look in this conference that took place in the UN:

    There is a (little) hope.

    Another tip:

    If you are young, let to think about death in the future, when you are old. Yes, i am also terrified with the idea of ceasse to exist, but i try to distract my mind with other thoughts.

  272. JackP says:

    May 8th, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Sorry, that previous comment (and another just like it) was incorrectly identified as spam. Has now been released from spam list (well, obviously, otherwise it wouldn’t be the previous comment).

  273. Melissa Boyd says:

    May 13th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Reading this was amazing, my hands were shaking because I thought I was the only one. Now I can say “I have Thanatophobia” and it feels a bit better knowing the name…like I wasn’t just going mad with my panic attacks etc. If anyone wants to talk to me about this I would be grateful. Please add me on Facebook, , I would love to talk to someone about this.

  274. hopeless says:

    May 21st, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Hi,wow i didnt think this is such a common problem,i thought that there was something seriously wrong with me and that im the only one with this problem.. all tho there is something wrong with me..anyway,this is my story.. Im 25,first time i had these terrible panic attacks was when i was about 16,thats when it all started..i got into deep depression coz of it,i couldnt handle it anymore as i felt like my life had no sense,the thought of death was absolutely messing my head.There was nothing in the world that would make me happy,i told my family about it as they could see there was something wrong.. everyone tried to help me but nothing was helping..It was bad for few months but then i got better..dont know how,its like my mind just clicked.. i must say sometimes i was thinking about it after and sometimes i felt like it was coming back but then i was trying to think about something else and i was ok… now im 25 and 5 months pregnant,and the other night all of the sudden i woke up with horrible panic attack and stupid thoughts about death again… and its back,i cant get rid of it,i think about it 24/7,i didnt tell anyone about it even my husband coz hes so happy about the baby,and i wish i could be as well..dont get me wrong im really happy about the baby but i wish that other stuff was out of my head,so i could enjoy my life with my scared my baby is stressing coz of what im feeling as well..i really dont know what to do,i know its possible to live not thinking about death 24/7 coz i did before and i was so i feel like my life has got no sense again,i dont want to tell my husband coz i dont want to spoil hes happiness,i dont know how he would take that i’ve got some kind of mental scared of hurting him and worring..i really need help but i dont know what to there anyway you can just get rid of it one and for all? thanks

  275. Vicky says:

    June 2nd, 2009 at 8:22 pm


    There really isn’t a way to get rid of it for good- at least, not that I know. But the fact that it comes and goes from year to year seems to be somewhat ‘normal’ behaviour for this phobia.

    I had a year and a half of almost blissful non-awareness of mortality after I first came here and read this article. But I too am now back into the old habit of occasionally letting my mind wander, and then suddenly hitting that terrible dark place in my mind, which sends my stomach into a nosedive of sickening dread, after which I will typically blank my mind as much as possible, reassuring myself, even talking aloud to myself (but only quietly, and not when anybody is around). It’s just my coping mechanism, and it usually keeps me chipper again for another few hours.

    As many have already admitted themselves, I am not a depressed person. But this phobia can really dampen my enthusiasm for the day. All the rationale of “You’re wasting your life by thinking about it now” just doesn’t stick for very long. :(

  276. thanatophobic says:

    June 11th, 2009 at 7:46 am

    I’m 19 and this has been an issue for me since 9/11. ive tried to explain it to family, friends, and therapists but no one seems to truly understand. reading all of this made me cry because i finally found people who understand and i know im not the only one.

  277. Kate says:

    June 18th, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this post. I am 20 years old and have been dealing with fear of death for a number of years but most cronically for the past two … spending anything from 30mins – 2 hours a day thinking about it UNLESS I am with my boyfriend 24/7 and therefore distracted. I also deal, recently, with fears of my consciousness already not existing – there being no real ‘me’ and in effect lots of mini-deaths experienced by parts of ‘me’ everyday. I know this sounds kooky but I wanted to throw it in here in case it was related and anybody else felt the same.

    I do believe that religion is probably the only ‘cure’, but I am a lifelong atheist and skeptic. I did for a year or so back in my teens manage to persuade myself that re-incarnation ‘might’ be true, which helped a little, but I can’t do that any more.

    Anyway, you made all the points more eloquently than I ever could – thank you for making me feel not so alone (though of course, it doesn’t make me feel much better; you know this, I’m sure!)

  278. Dermot says:

    June 24th, 2009 at 12:22 am

    yes of course it would be nice to believe in an afterlife but who wants to be worshiping a divinity or entity for an eternity, My problem was analysing religion as their was alot of literature lying around then i read the first eight pages of genesis and came to the conclusion that if this is what one bilion catholics believe in then we are rightly fucked as its incredibly flawed and full of farcical fabricated falsehoods. When i die i might have a cushion intered with me as i’ll be either repenting or giving praise and worship for an eternity and as the body is to be reunited with the soul then guess it would be easier on the knees. how old is god again and what was he or it doing for billions of years berforethe dawn of mankind????

  279. Vicky says:

    June 27th, 2009 at 9:00 am


    I kinda know what you mean. I feel somewhat the same way whenever I read certain science articles. Like, one I read a couple of days ago was talking about all the hundreds of billions of sub-atomic particles that pass through the human body every second. After reading stuff like that, I’m just left mulling the reality of “me” being nothing more than atoms and energy, neurons and synapsese, made of the exact same material as the rest of the universe. How, then, can I possibly consider myself sentient, or alive? And when I die, the neurons simply stop firing, and gradually the particles that make up my body will recycle back into the earth. And in a few billion years, the earth itself might recycle into the galaxy when our Sun expands and our solar system disappears… it goes on forever, billions and trillions of years ahead of me and my (and our) insignificant presence. They say time is relative, too; a lifetime to us, is an imperceptable blink to the universe. Where, then, does anybody expect to “go” after they die? There was no life before… and there will be none after.

    Depressing stuff that runs through my head, aye!

  280. Leanne says:

    June 30th, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    I’m so glad to have come across this article. Thank you Google. Even if it’s a few years old now. I hope people still read the comments.

    I guess Thanatophobia is basically what I have, though I’m having harder luck finding information on what really terrifies me.

    I am afraid of dying yes, but what scares me more, much more, so much that when I think about it my stomach turns horribly and I well up with tears and nearly suffer panic attacks is the thought of the end of the world.

    I know the world will easily outlive me, it’s a horrible thought but I can acknowledge that, and as long as we don’t bomb each other I know the sun won’t destroy the earth for a few good billion years, long time I know.

    But what freaks me out is that thought of nothing, complete nothingness.

    As you may guess, I don’t believe in an afterlife, not at all, but I wish I could. I just can’t see it being possible, so the thought of me dying and then eventually there being nothing ever is so painful for me to think about, but it will happen.

    The idea of having no thoughts, no memories, everyone we loved gone, everything gone and a complete blankness scares me out of sleeping a lot of nights.

    If anyone has any advice on this I would greatly appreciate it, as it’s making me quite down and I am very pessimistic, which I think is caused by this fear.


  281. JackP says:

    June 30th, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    The best I can offer in terms of practical advice is “keep busy”. That keeps you focussed on other things…

    Another thing I find is that I tend to suffer most when trying to get to sleep. Therefore I find it much easier to avoid worrying about it if I have the TV, radio, or iPod on – and then I’ll fall asleep listening to whatever is on.

    And yes, people still stop by to visit and read the comments regularly (although I’d guess returning visitors only look at new comments – 281 comments is a lot for anyone!)

  282. Faye says:

    July 1st, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Wow. I was 19 when I read this blog&left a comment and now, 21. It’s amazing to know that many more people are coming forward about this issue. It’s strange how common it seems here but close your laptop and go about your routine, I can’t find a single friend to share my anxiety sincerely.
    I think I’ve gotten ‘better in some ways’. Keeping busy and having someone to take care of you emotionally 24/7 helps but one day, when there is nothing to do and no one to hold unto, I’d prolly fall right back into my anxiety, easy.
    But for now, I can go through a day without intense fear and I can control it while in a workplace or a classroom. What I can’t help are my panic attacks. In fact, the less time I fear, the greater the anxiety when it does hit. Not only that, I have to deal with my impulsive need for (what I shamefully confess is) self-injury and the increased intensity for every increased anxiety.
    Who knows when I’ll confront the idea of death and brave the unknown future but I hope to grow more as a person if I do.

  283. Lindsey says:

    July 2nd, 2009 at 8:30 am

    I am very thankful to have found this site. Everything you’ve said in this post goes along with how I feel as well.

    I’ve had this fear of dying ever since I was little. One of my earliest memories of it was when my mom read some little kids’ book to me.. I have no idea what the book was, but it rhymed and like went through all the stages of this girl’s life and then the last page was a gravestone, her death. This page absolutely terrified me. I developed this particular feeling whenever I worried about death, and that feeling would be with me even in my dreams.

    I also developed an irrational fear of choking whenever I was younger, probably around age 10, and I think it might have stemmed from my thanatophobia. I got to the point where I couldn’t eat. I physically couldn’t get myself to swallow food, I was so afraid. My mom took me to a doctor about all this, and for some odd reason I don’t really remember talking to him, but I eventually overcame that problem.

    My fear of dying was on and off since then, and just in this past year it’s started to come back (I’m 19 now). I, like a lot of you have said, mostly worry about it at night. I’ve started having dreams where I know that I’m going to die very soon and it’s just a matter of time. I usually can feel better about it if I keep my mind occupied and am with close friends. I completely agree with what you said about knowing it would be comforting if you believed in an afterlife, but just can’t. I feel the same, I’m just too logical.

    Also, this does depress me from time to time, but I’m a VERY happy person a lot of the time. Right now it probably just sounds really bad because I’m talking about all the negative stuff. It IS really comforting to have found this website and to be able to read all these posts by people who understand though. :)

  284. caribbeangirl says:

    July 7th, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Ever since my father died of cancer last september, nothing has been the same. I had my 1st full blown panic attack early this year and it was THE most terrifying experience in my life!!! my dreams and my nights seem to be consumed with the thought of dying. Yeah i do think about dying a violent death like a plane crash or a car accident or being murdered. Even posting my thoughts right now seem sooooooo eerie and i think about not being here and ppl reading this post after i have ceased to exist…mind blowing. I also think about my body lying in a casket and decomposing or being burned to ashes…my body immediately tenses up and i get cold sweats.
    I grew up in a christian family but now question if i even believe in God…I would like to but I am not sure if thats whats in my heart…
    In general I am an adventurous, open-minded free-sirit and I dont consider myself depressed but some sort of relief would be gr8!!!
    I haven’t even broken my silence to any of my friends or family and there is nothing out there on working thru this on a personal level. It sucks!!!
    I am 26 yrs old and would love to get married and have kids some day soon but I wonder if thats what my destiny holds…

  285. IanMcK says:

    July 8th, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Like others I am pleased to find this site though I did know that there are others with this fear. I am a retired psychologist and have no idea of any therapy that might help. Have wondered if hypnotherapy might do it but would have to have a lot of trust in the therapist
    I first discovered this fear at the age of 13. Now 75 with the day getting nearer it is almost as strong as ever, though only from time to time. The main trouble is that I believe it is a completely valid insight based on the fact that our ‘self’ is the centre of our world even if we are unselfish. Fearing the death of that self is a totally rational though very painful. I first found I was not alone when I read a short story by John Updike called ‘Pigeon Feathers’. It is about a fourteen year old boy who suddenly realised the horror of not existing. So the author must have known the panic himself. Recently a British author Julian Barnes wrote a book “Nothing to be afraid of’ though he also had that feat/insight of eventual non existence and accompanying terror.Trying to explain it to those who do not share the fear is an exercise in frustration. They just don’t get it.
    ( Living for ever is an uncomforable thought! But better than dying)

  286. Paul says:

    July 8th, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    wow i knew i wasnt alone with this phobia but i did not think this many people suffered with it, my problem is that i fear death and i believe in god so therfore an afterlife so what do i do? This phobia for me is terrible i cant fly because the plane might crash, i dont watch the tv, listen to the radio or read newspapers incase i here terrible news that may kick me off, i dodge certain situations and conversations in everyday life, it effects my love life to, i find it hard to meet new people because of this. my own mind is against me! i can turn innocent comments into the end of the world, i can convince myself that people are coming to get me and that there going to kill me( bloody hell i think i might have a few issues to deal with ). i can pin point this phobia to an accident i had when i was six, i was hit by a car and broke my leg and fractured my skull after flying through the air from the impact, i awoke in hospital in pain and lots of it with everyone running around me none the wiser as to why i was there, your ok my parents said through their tears, for weeks after i had to listen to “stupid boy you could of died why did you run over the road” the car had hit my left leg and sent me flying through the air, if id of been a step or two behind myself id of probably died right there. anyway i started to get a re-ocouring dream of what felt like being on a convayer belt with huge faces either side of me calling out “hes mine” i still to this day do not know what it was or ment, but it scared me and i often woke up crying and realising i was scared of dying. i still remember going into my parents room as a child stating i had a nightmare about “it” again, or telling my mother through tears that i didnt want to die. im thirty know and have two children myself and my eldest has just told me last week that hes scared of dying so im now urgently trying to find out more on this phobia, i dont want my child having a ruined life like iv had so far, so please if anyone knows of anything please let me know, im considering hypnotherapy or regression

  287. Eduardo says:

    July 9th, 2009 at 4:45 am

    I always want to write about that, but I leave things for tomorrow too many times.
    I have these symptoms from my 7 years, today I have 40 and my life is a mess for that fear. Is good to know is some kind of common mental trick, I feel so alone thinking im the only that suffer that.
    Good article.
    Sorry my English.

  288. tina says:

    July 10th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Thank god i just found this site, i have always been unable to discuss death and been uncomfortable with the idea, however, for the past week i have not slept and am off to the doctors today because this fear has overtaken me. i cant not think about it no matter how much i try and it gets a lot worse when i go to bed. i have no idea why this has happened right now but it is ruining my life at the moment, im so scared ;-(

  289. Anita says:

    July 10th, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I am so pleased that I am not the only one suffering from this. Not that I would wish this condition on anybody, I find it extremely dibilitating and frightening. I also have an Anxiety disorder. I starting suffering from this around 15 years ago, although it has relieved at times, it has never left me. When I first began to suffer with it, it was horrendous and my mind was preoccupied with death 24hours a day. It made me feel very depressed and I was referred by my GP, to mental health services for cognitive therapy treatment. The psychiatrist said that my condition stems from the fact that I had an extremely traumatic childhood. I lost both my parents at a very young age and under traumatic circumstances within 4 years of each other. By the age of 12 and just before my 12th birthday I had lost both my parents. Although, my sister does not have this condition. I cannot watch or read the news at times, as I find this makes me feel worse, nor do I have the courage to travel on a plane/drive on the motorway anymore, cannot visit the cemetery or look at a coffin in a hearse. If I do visit the cemetery (accompanied), I can smell a clinical smell on my clothes, which is clearly phsycological, as nobody else can smell it. The condition severley limits my life.I have been referred back 4 times and feel that the treatment I received has always been inadequate in terms of the lenghth of time they could give you. I was discharged before I felt I was ready. This was mainly because of the NHS waiting list. Therefore I would recommend that if you are to use NHS services, make sure you have a back up plan and try some self-help techniques – books etc and consult a private therapist. Never give up! I am so determined that i want to beat this, as I cannot move on with my life until I do. Unless people have suffered with it, they do not understand and if you mention it to people, they look at you and treat you as if you are crazy and say, things such as “I dont give it a second thought” I find this quite ignorant and I would never trivialise anybodys phobia because it is an illness. Therefore I no longer mention it, only to my doctor and therapists.

  290. Alan says:

    July 17th, 2009 at 3:01 am

    This is a brave and important blog and almost perfectly sums up my own thanatophobia, which pretty much dominates my entire thinking on life: not just the fear of death, loss of consciousness, loss of thoughts and feelings and things I love, but also the fact that knowing things have to end, at least in the way they are now, for me undermines the meaning to everything in life, if things that one values can’t last, have to end. I’m a poet, and am often tormented by the realisation that everything I create will eventually die also, or at least, my awareness of it will die when I die. This sounds very egotistical, and I suppose it is, and I’m not proud of it, but it seems it’s beyond my control. I think it is probably pretty common among creative people such as poets. I suppose what I can’t come to terms with is the death of the personality, the ego, the soul or the essence of one. Both the thought of loss of consciousness, and, oddly, also the opposite thought of a wakeful eterntiy, simply because it will be so different to what we have grown used to in life – even though this is often difficult and unhappy much of the time – trouble me equally. It’s as if I never want anything to change. I’ve written extensively about it through my poetry. I have the pure obsessional form of OCD by the way, but have also realised myself that my Pure O is rooted entirely in the fear of death, hence thanatophobia. Anyway, enough from me. I just want to say well done on the brilliantly candid blog. It’s reassuring to know that so many others out there have to live with similarly insoluble thought processes on a daily basis.

  291. Emma says:

    July 17th, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I’m really pleased to have found this site. I’ve suffered from thanatophobia since I was about seven or eight years old – I’m now 31. It used to take the form of intermittent bouts of extreme terror when thinking about death, nothingness, eternity, etc – eternity especially freaks the hell out of me nearly as much as not existing does. They always used to happen at night. But in my early twenties when a friend died, I had an episode that lasted a few months when I felt like this nearly ALL the time – I thought I was having a breakdown. I knocked the weed on the head and saw a counseller a few times. I hadn’t had great hopes about the counseller but it did in fact help to be able to talk to someone about things. Eventually I felt more normal, and over the next few years went back to just having the occasional night-time freak out.

    Now however I’m going through something similar to that last episode. I have a two year old daughter and a husband. It’s not just my own death that terrifies me, but theirs too, and the death of everyone I love. The transience of everything terrifies me. When I think about it, it makes me feel as if I might as well already be dead, since when I am, it will be as if I never existed. There won’t be any “me” to look affectionately back over my life and remember the things I did and the people I loved and who loved me. I’m dealing with a more or less constant background hum of dread, basicallly.

    I’m going to the GP this afternoon in the hope she might refer me for some CBT. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being scared of death but I need to find some ways of coping with my fear before it takes over. I’m also looking into hypnotherapy for similar reasons.

    Like many of you, I don’t believe in God or an afterlife of any kind. I have no doubt that some sort of spiritual belief would be a huge comfort but that’s not a compelling reason to believe. I’d like to believe in Father Christmas too!

    Thanks for reading, take care all of you.

  292. Laura McGeough says:

    July 24th, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Just wondering if anyone has tried hypnotherapy? Am wondering whether it is worth paying out for-god I HATE this phobia!

  293. Emma says:

    July 26th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I’ve made enquiries, Laura, but it is expensive and there’s no guarantee it will work or even help, so I’m undecided.

  294. Chris says:

    July 29th, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Having stumbled across this blog in an attempt to find answers/feel better about how I’m feeling, it is strangely reassuring to see so many experiencing the same, when people I’ve tried to speak to about really can’t get their heads around my thought process or empathise.

    That said, I’m not sure my thanatophobic feelings necessarily follow the trend.
    I’ve experience the panic/anxiety and worry when contemplating death since I was around 7-8 years old. However, it has not been constant since that date and has come in waves separated by periods of feeling perfectly happy and content with life on the whole.

    I’m currently in one of my “worry periods” but this is the first time in probably 8 years that I’ve been confronted by the work and dark thoughts, so I’m not sure whether the fear of death is something that is always there in my thoughts but only appears at certain times.

    It’s almost as if there is some valve or trapdoor that opens whenever I’m feeling very low and these death thoughts flood out to make things worse and consume my daily thought process.
    We have recently lost 2 people we knew, one of them in his 80s, the other quite young so I’m not sure whether this has opened the “thought tap”. The last time I felt consumed by death I had recently moved house, been turned down for promotion and started a new relationship, a large element of change in my life in contrast to the repetitive nature prior to this.

    I think the reason they consume me so much, when they do occur, is two-fold.

    Firstly I experienced the death of people close to me from an early age, my father died when I was 5, my mother died when I was in my early twenties and in between these 2 deaths the remaining grandparents passed away. My parents were both an “only child” so I have a very small family.
    I am now in my late thirties and in contrast the bulk of my friends have both parents or at least one of them still alive and I guess the contemplation of death for them is associated with people reaching a “ripe old age”.

    Secondly, I was brought up in a Methodist family, my father was a minister for a time and therefore we attended church regularly, had our lives intertwined with weekly church related activities and believed in heaven and the joy contained in the afterlife.
    A combination of working on Sundays, starting to question my religious beliefs rather than accept them as “gospel” and my mother’s cancer meant I lost my faith around the time she died and I have turned away from religion ever since.

    How do I deal with it?
    I’ve had counselling in the past but found this only to be cathartic when I was “in the chair” for that hour once a week and it didn’t really provide any answers, other than talking to someone where they didn’t judge and it didn’t matter if they couldn’t relate to what you were going through.
    However the counsellor was a Christian and she found it difficult to relate to someone who couldn’t have 100% faith in there being a heaven/afterlife.
    I’ve tried to read up on the various religions and articles relating to the afterlife but have not really found this of any great comfort other than I do feel there is “something” after physical death but I’m not comfortable with or confident of what it is at present. Perhaps that will come with time.

    As I said, the thanatophobia only seems to appear in periods of what I guess could be called depression, therefore I try and address this if I can. It can be difficult to motivate yourself at these times or think about future events.

    My attitude at the moment is that I’m not really feeling any more comfortable regarding life after death and I’m going to die one day be it soon or in my bath chair, so I need to be able to enjoy life and the now.

    I shut out the thoughts by trying to keep myself busy and also active but have also found St Johns Wort to be of use in boosting my mood so that the thoughts don’t come so often. That’s perhaps why, in my case, I think the thantaophobia is the outcome of something else rather than a primary problem in its own right.

    I now have a partner and 2 young children so I have to deal with this, so it doesn’t have a negative effect on their day to day lives even though none of them really understand what is going on in my thought process.

    I feel the better for laying out my current thoughts in writing, hopefully some of this may put things into context for others or they may feel able to counter/add to my current attitude.

  295. Emma says:

    August 3rd, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I can identify with a lot of what you say in your message, Chris, especially the bit about the “valve or trapdoor” that opens when you’re feeling low, and how your bleak thoughts tend to be more prominent during times of change or upheaval. I find this too. I’m sorry to hear that you lost both parents at far too young an age, and about your more recent bereavements too.

    I’m still going through my own hard time, though the initial blind terror has been replaced by a more manageable feeling of hopelessness/bleakness that ebbs and flows from one day to the next. It’s definitely worse in the mornings – I hear that this is a feature of depression too and I notice that you make the same link.

    I hope that things look brighter for you soon.

  296. Amanda says:

    August 4th, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Why is it that my fear of death and dying always gets so much worse when life is happy for me? I’m getting married in a couple of months to the most wonderful man I’ve ever met, and we’re making wonderful plans for our life together. I can’t imagine just not being around anymore. I’m also developing a fear of flying, or rather dying in a plane crash (not great seeing as we’re going on a plane on 25th August!). It’s reassuring to see everyone’s input here, I just wish my fear would go away as then I’d be completely happy. Reading Jack’s blog was like a huge relief and almost made me cry, it covers everything I experience, I even have had something of the stranger experiences and have been advised I can “tap into” that sort of thing. I’ll be visiting here again I think x

  297. Laura McGeough says:

    August 10th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Amanda yes it is so true for me too that I am worse when I am at my happiest! How odd… My fear has definitely worsened since the birth of my second child Tom. In addition, there have been low times in my life when the fear has gone. I guess this makes sense really-why would we want to leave ‘new’ loved ones whom we are so close to. The thought of never seeing my husband, children, mum, dad, sister and so on makes me panic, especially at night. I often lay in bed counting years-I mean thinking about what I was doing say 10 years ago and then thinking god that does not seem that long ago. I then panic when I think of how much older and closer to death I will be in another 10 years. It is simply not knowing whether I will see my family again and thats it-they are my everything.

  298. Anonymous says:

    August 11th, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I think one very important thing to consider is how compl our brains are hardwired to our thoughts, and the more time that we spend sulking and thinking about this fear the more it is then hardwired into our brain.

    Ex. A grumpy guy..who is always sad and negative throughout the majority of his life becomes a grumpy old man.

    Our memories are networked to our emotions.

    This is called our neuro network

    When you think of the word ‘love’ instantly you think of either a loved one or perhaps something you love doin, your brain hardwires that emotion to specific thoughts. Which can then in turn lead to other emotions.. like sadness, heartbreak n death which can then start you back all over to thinking about love..

    I believe that the strongest way to overcome the fear of no longer existing and missing your loved ones, is to hardwire your brain by stating constructive positive thoughts things that you are grateful for, things that make you feel strong inside, and you have to tell yourself that you are taking this time out of your day to positvely wire your neuro network into being more positvely and to strengthing oneself to overcome the thanatophobia.

    The more you let the subject depress you the more depressed individual you will become as a whole.

    In a way fear of non existance is a selfish point of view, and in doing so I think that lowers our gratefuleness toward life.

    If you love your family and you know that at any moment its possible for them to be gone possibly forever, then cherish the moments that you do have together, learn to tell yourself to be stronger and to enjoy the moments you spend.

  299. nate says:

    August 15th, 2009 at 7:32 am

    its 3am im tired

    thanks jackp this has helped a lot

  300. Dominic says:

    August 22nd, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Wow, I had a phobia of death. I know this sounds selfish but I wanted someone else to have it too so I could relate. Another phobia I have is of family dying.

    The tips to get over this doesn’t help as they bring my fears all back by saying “You might be reincarnated”. I would not like that simply because I want to have one life and not redo my life only to go through the same pain again various times.

  301. Orchid says:

    August 24th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I am 20 years old and have had thanatophobia since I was 9. This all started when my family dog passed away. I am unsure whether or not you will read my response as I can see your story as invoked many many people to do the same. Whilst reading your article I noticed my eyes welling up and I stated to get a bit blubby. Why? Because I felt like I was reading something about myself. The only difference is that I am not male, married, a scientist or been to Corfu. Everything else, the way you felt about death, the panic attacks, the weird happenings, everything. It made me realise that I spend all that time crying in my pyschologists office for no reason-I thought I was a freak. I thought that no one else had what I have. I cannot explain how grateful I am I found your link (actually, it was the first one that came up on my google search =P). After living with random panic attacks for years I thought maybe I would have either a)taken my pyscholgists advice and gotten into religion and decided to convince myself there was an afterlife or b) I would be used to them by now. I have done neither. I whole-heardly beileve in evolution and the non-existance of a god, so I am not really making this easy for myself. I didn’t mean to waffle, but to cut a long story short, after ending up on medication when the threapy did not work, I am still the same when I have a panic attack now, at age 20, as I was when I was 9, running into my parents bed room crying asking what was wrong with me. However, reading your article today whilst at work, randomly seeing if there was any hope for people like me with thanatophobia, has made me realise that I am not alone with this, that I am not crazy, and that I shouldnt give up. Thank you.

  302. Linda says:

    August 30th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I was so relieved to read your article, I’ve had this awful fear now for about 45 years. No-one I’ve ever spoken to about it has understood that it’s the NOT EXISTING that terrifies me so much. (I must admit only to have shared my fear with two husbands and a sister in law.)I honestly thought I was the only person in the entire world who thought this way.
    In my experience, the fear can recede temporarily, sometimes for months at a time.
    I have trained myself in relaxation techniques and pray often (for the reasons you mention). In fact I cannot sleep at all without doing both.
    At my worst I wish I had not had my children, as I have condemned them to a taste of life, only to stop existing one day. I have done this to them. In rational moments, I understand that they don’t share my terror.
    I am considering psychiatric help as I feel I am wasting the valuable life I have worrying about the loss of it.
    I wish you, and all the other people who have commented, an afterlife, with full cogniscence. Should I find a solution, I will be sure to get in touch.

  303. matthew says:

    September 4th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    It’s scaring the shit out of me and i don’t know how to cope with it. I can’t sleep at ngiht, if you’ve ever taken ecstacy it’s like my body is on a constant stream of this drug and i have a deep dark feeling in my chest which is debilitating.

    Just want it gone from my life becaise i WANT to live every bit of it in happyness but its scaring me so much that it wont go away.

  304. Krystal Grace L. says:

    September 9th, 2009 at 4:42 am


    I just came across your post. Thank you for speaking out about this phobia. My boyfriend has thanatophobia.

    I am a scientist and tend to think about things scientifically as well, but have looked into religions. I agree with Galileo’s view on science and religion, that science can not prove that there is not a God or afterlife. However, unlike you and my boyfriend, I lack a fear of death even when exposed to things related to death. Therefore, I have trouble relating to someone who has this phobia’s feelings, but I do understand what you are saying.

    I am currently attempting to do everything that I can to help my boyfriend with his phobia. I understand that it’s not so unusual to have a phobia such as thanatophobia and that I should not be frightened or upset by it. Something that I would like to ask you is that, have you ever considered looking into the topic of “the creative spark”? Do you think that learning about creativity and engaging in activities that really allowed you to use your imagination would help? I’m sure that there is no easy solution and that one must be patient when trying to work through this sort of thing. Is my suggestion of trying some creative activities helpful to you? So far my attempt to be supportive of my fiancee seems to be helping, but I thought it would help me too, if I could get some other opinions. I worry about him at times even though I believe in him. So, if you don’t mind me asking, what do you think?

    As a side note, my boyfriend and I have been dating consistently for 10 years, aren’t having any relationship problems, and are thinking about getting married. We both come from divorced families and have recently been exposed to death in the family and some sad events that we could do nothing to prevent.

  305. Sallygirl says:

    September 13th, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I find it hard not to assume that people who say they aren’t afraid of death or not bothered by it are just not smart enough to understand the reality of it. Ever notice most stupid people are really happy? I believe if you think too deep about anything you are sure to discover that the cold hard truth is exactly that. I am a very cynical person i cannot help it, I can’t do religion, spirtual healing, yoga or anything like that because those things make me laugh. I see all these things human beings have created to make them selves feel less alone, more in control or power, having a purpose when lets face it… if we had a purpose wouldn’t it be more obvious to us by now? (Ants have more purpose than us). I envy stupid people, I’m 18 and started university in highschool, I plan to have my degree before I’m 20. My life is so great, even though i had a shit childhood which made me grow up very fast but I am like all of you. I don’t want to leave this. I want more. I get panick attacks at night and sleep with music on or the computer so I don’t feel alone. I’ve been in one serious relationship after another since i was 14 because If i have someone to hold me at night for some reason i sleep like a baby. It’s sick really. I have to say although i find human way of life, society, social constructions which we follow to sort of lack purpose, I couldn’t be happier believing in this reality we have. Do well at school, your jobs, find the perfect partner, get married, or don’t, have children, or adopt, watch a movie you know why? because for some reason these things are forfilling to us. The way i deal with the fear of death is to become totally dellusional and subjective and just live in my own reality ignoring…reality (pretty contradicting for a future journalist haha). I have come to a point in my life where the choices i make really are just for me, I will experiment with drugs because I’m curious, I will do great at uni and a career because I want money because i want a beautiful house one day and i want a beautiful man and beautiful children and lots of family. I have basic morals like i would never harm a human being because i myself would not like to get harmed yaddy yadda but other than that I make my own rules, everyone, just live. If we have any purpose at all that’s it. To enjoy all these beautiful things we have. If we were not to die we would be selfish.

    P.S sorry if any of this is offensive to some people, it is only my point of view and if I have spelling mistakes I apologise also, I am tired as F*ck haha. All your posts are so heart warming to read, to know that human beings can share and open up to strangers and we can at least agree on some things without religion, race, equality and all that come into play. F*ck our differences, we are all so much more alike than we are different.

  306. Cris says:

    September 16th, 2009 at 3:38 am

    So.. yea, I’ve had so many “odd ailments” in the last 5 years my physician has given up hope on me. My therapist just links it back to depression… well, I had a therapist until I realized it wasn’t doing anything for me.

    I have a degree in psychology and it turns out that I’m my own best case study.

    I have sat here in tears the last 2 hours because my best friend from college 13 years ago posted on facebook her dad passed away. I’m sad and scared for her, of course. I’m praying for her but at the same time, I cannot help but apply it to me.

    It’s been this way for almost 6 years… since my dad died.

    I have been seeking an answer as to why I cannot get death out of my head. Why I have panic attacks before I sleep because I’m scared I’m going to go to bed and not wake up. Scared I’ll die alone. Scared my kids will die. Scared my husband will die. Scared I’ll leave them without me or scared that I’ll be left without them. I’m clingy and absolutely unbareable to live with at times. I have to be reassured that “I’m ok” and don’t like to leave the house. I get in a car and my thoughts drift to “is this the moment when we get hit by a train,” “is this the moment we are side-swiped”… I know they are horrible thoughts and dark, and I know there is no reason for them – but I have them.

    Of course – no one wants to talk about it because it either 1-reminds them that they are going to die and it is upsetting to them or 2-they think that I’m a drama queen and should just get over it.

    So.. yea….

    As I sit here with pain in my chest and tear stains on my cheeks, scared ****less of dying, I have to look it up on the internet. I have to read more about the one thing that scares me to try and understand it… which conversely keeps it on my mind. Rock and a hard place…. totally a rock and a hard place.

    So – I appreciate your post.

    A therapist never brought any of this up, even though all my conversations drifted back to death. So, can a person be self-diagnosed? Is that legal?

  307. Rachel says:

    September 19th, 2009 at 8:32 am

    This is unbelievable! I thought I was insane. I’ve been in therapy since I was a kid for one thing or another but nothing has been persistent like the death thoughts. I can’t go to sleep without wearing myself out before hand because I’m so scared that I might not wake up in the morning. My husband can’t understand, he says that it is in my head. Sometimes I want to go to the hospital and beg them to make sure I don’t die but they can’t, nobody can. It is the scariest feeling in the world. Drinking and weed can’t make it go away anymore. It’s so strange because it comes in waves. Sometimes I hope that things will be wrong in my life so that I won’t value it as much as I do. For a long time I could care less if I was living but when I was 16 the death thoughts started coming. I don’t know about you but I want to live forever, I can’t imagine not being here. How do other people just accept it like it’s no big deal? I see old people or watch certain movies and it triggers a full blown panic attack. Damn, what to do?

  308. Anonymous says:

    October 12th, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I can identify with some of you, when you say that the death thoughts become apparent when you are very happy. As you have quite rightly identified, this is because you fear that “nothing in life is forever”. Trying to deal with this condition is very much hard work and can be debilitating at times and I find it extremely annoying at times when people trivialise your condition and say things such as “never mind, just try and switch off”. You cannot just swith off and pull yourself together, you have to train your mind. I find that keeping busy helps, but the thoughts can creep in. Other techniques I have been advised to try are by saying STOP out loud which I do if I am at home on my own or if I’m in public, I think of the word STOP or Wearing an elastic band around your wrist and stretching it and releasing it so that it bounces back onto your skin. That should distract your mind, because sometimes we get so fixated on issues that we need to come away from it. It takes up too much time and energy that we could be using for something more meaningful and productive in our lives. Eveytime I have dreaded facing up to things because of feeling extremely anxious, the thing I have dreaded so much has not even been 1/4 frightening as to what I intially expected and I have been pleasantly surprised. By trying simple things that I stopped doing because of the thanathopia, has helped me greatly, but I still have a along way to go. some days I now look forward to trying new things and I’m assuming, like me, you all have good and bad days. As I have become older and wiser, I think to myself, trillions upon trillions of people/ animals etc have done it before us. Death is just a natural part of life. Try reading “Living with Fear by Isaac Marks” Dont ever give up looking/trying self-help. All the best!

  309. Krystal Grace L. says:

    October 15th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    I don’t recommend putting a rubber band around your wrist and popping it. It can get out of hand and you could hurt yourself. For anyone who’s interested, making models (models that you have to build with your hands and not on a computer, even if it’s just origami) might help. Making models is supposed to improve your ability to focus too.

  310. Anonymous says:

    October 17th, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Krystal, using the rubber band was just one technique that was suggested to me and is not set in stone. Everyone has different needs and has to find something that works for them. I’m sure people would have the good common sense to stop the rubber band techniques if it was causing them more harm than good!

  311. Laura says:

    October 19th, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I to suffer from this. I’m only 16 and it’s only started over this past few months. First, it started with panic attacks but earlier in the year I had an ECG because I thought there was something wrong with my heart because I was having palpitations. Now, as the months go by I lye in bed at night trying to find the comfiest position for me to breath properly incase I suffecate in the night. I place my hand in a fist on my chest as I need to feel something against my chest for me to feel as though I’m breathing properly. At night, all that goes through my mind is I’m going to die… If I get ill and take tablets, I think the tablets are going to kill me in my sleep. I hate it, I want it to go away. Through the day, I’m fine… maybe because I’m pre-occupied? I don’t know. When I’m at my boyfriends house and we go to sleep… again I’m fine as maybe it’s because I feel safer with him? Maybe if something did happen there would be someone there to notice and save me before I did die… just being alone and not being in this world anymore terrifies me. I really want it to go away, but pushing it out of your mind isn’t as easy as the doctor says.

  312. aly says:

    October 21st, 2009 at 5:52 am

    I often find myself trying convince my mind things about death that I’m not sure are true. Does anyone else feel this battle within them. As Pickards suggested I am scientifical in nature as well and though I would LOVE to believe in an afterlife, although I hope and even pray (although I say, if you do exist…) every day that death is not just the end, I can’t truly believe and it kills me. I end up depressed, crying, worrying about my loved ones, and then my brain instinctively tries to make it better. I think, how is it possible that we are here, capable of all this though, capable of love, of magnificent stories and artwork, how is it that we can have all of these miracles in life and not have some purpose or meaning, someplace to go when we’re gone. Then, naturally the logical side of me says, that’s just the way your brain evolved and developed, it doesn’t mean anything, as soon as you die that’s it, it’s over, no more thinking, no more anything for eternity…the minute I think about eternity I feel like screaming it is so frightening and terrifying and so much that my mind can only hold onto that concept for a few minutes before it puts up protective boundaries. I know which side of my mind I want to win and I wish it would to bring me comfort. I often envy religious people with so much faith because they believe their loved ones go to a better place, they believe that they themselves will go to a better place and I imagine that makes dealing with death (while not easy by any means) a heck of a lot easier. I just don’t think I will ever be capable of true faith, I need proof, and unfortunately that wont happen til I die and then who knows if I will even have a mind to process that truth :( We are born with the instinct of survival, why do we have to be tortured so, why is it only us (diagnosed) souls who have this problem? Are we the only ones capable of thinking that far, are we the only ones who can’t buy into the theory of God (that sometimes I feel was just created to bring comfort), is it something in our brains preventing us (or making us) see the truth? How do those utterly religious people believe so much, were they granted a gift, a gift to know there is indeed an afterlife, or have they simply convinced themselves and in turn attempt to convince others? So many questions, so many circles my mind wanders in, and I know they will never be resolved. While seeing that there are other people like this brings me comfort it does not ease my fears. What should we do?

    In regards to the seeing something “remarkable” I only have a testimony from an old teacher. He asked us one day to name what we were the most afraid of. The class went around, snakes, spiders, the usual, and when it came to me I naturally said death. He stood up and walked over to me, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “there is no need to fear death, I was dead for three minutes and I know there is something after we die, it is a comfort, a feeling, a prescence.” He is native american and I have always admired their belief systems and for that moment I believed him. I knew for a fact that he thought he was telling the truth. And maybe he was, sometimes I think back on that moment and it brings me the slightest bit of comfort, but that is the only shred of evidence I have, and I know that the feeling of comfort upon death, if even for a few minutes, can simply be a reaction of the body :( I wish I didn’t know that. Sorry for babbling so long but it helps to get my thoughts out in writing instead of keeping them bottled up and circling inside my head.

    Good luck to all of you in finding comfort and peace in your own lives, and for the sake of the world, please dear God…exist.

  313. David says:

    October 30th, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Wow here I was thinking I was the only one who felt this way. Unlike you my thanatophobia started at a very young age probably around 8 years old it developed. I remember it was a Christmas eve night and I had this dream that my dad died and it totally freaked me out because I woke up thinking and knowing 1 day he would die and that nothing would stop that.

    Well as I got older it has seemed to get worse. I don’t think of dying every night but I do get the occasional anxiety attack where I just think about dying and it just freaks me out. My thing is death to me seems so unreal to me, I mean its just crazy to think that one day I won’t wake up that I won’t exist on this planet anymore. I can’t imagine not waking up and seeing my wife or mom or dad or sister thats just so hard to believe to me. But I know its going to happen and it scares the living shit out of me. Everything you have said is exactly how I feel its amazing.

  314. jamie robinson says:

    October 30th, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    you are defo not the only one with this. everything you said is the same as me. altho i was wondering if you get nervous when you hear loud sounds when your alone??? mine also got triggerd when i fell in love n its got better now we have split up i dont no why tho.. i still have it just not as bad. i used to get it were i would wake up in the middle of the night sweating n shaking thinking i was dying.. no longer likke that but i still find it hard to sleep thinking that im going to die in my sleep not being able to say good bye or tell people how i feel. and i no i could get treated for it but i dont want it because i find it nice that i at least no that its going on if i didnt i affrade that i would die. its wierd im affrad now and if i get treated. i just want to b able to block it out when i really need to so i can sleep but my perents just want me to get it sorted quikly but its not that easy. i think if was living more of what i think is my dream life it woulnt be so bad, but then maybe it would be worst. you just cant win with this fear.

  315. Amanda says:

    October 31st, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Firstly I would like to say I wish everyone here well & I’m so sorry about some of the horrible things that have happened.
    I’m 17 years old, just a kid practically, but I am so afraid of dying, it tears me up inside, I think about it constantly, I am terrified to lose people, I cry myself to sleep at the thought and I can’t stand it anymore.
    It’s so hard and I can understand how everyone feels.
    Feelings of dispair and total fear are with me every second of every day.
    Driving by graveyards or seeing funeral cars causes me to have panic attacks sometimes but the worst thing is, nobody else knows about this but me, I try to talk to people but they tell me not to think about it, I have my whole life ahead of me, but I can’t stop.
    I’m living my life in fear every day, I don’t have a clue what to do, I’m not religious so I do not believe in heaven & hell etc, I wish I did.
    I block out everything with alcohol and drugs which I know will send me to an early grave, but it makes me feel so much better & I can relax, my boyfriend, family & friends don’t understand.
    The only people who do are the ones here and I’m so glad this was posted.
    Don’t worry, you’re not suffering from thanataphobia alone :[ x

  316. Ross says:

    October 31st, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I have recently started getting worried about this… exactly what this blog eplains, but i just hope that once i get to a certain age, the fear will change into hope. Everybody gets bored with everything, and hopefully we will get bored of life too. But just when i think i have cured myself, the fear of shit like cancer pops into my mind, smoking doesn’t help this fear. Maybe i should start eating more vegetables, who knows?

  317. LB says:

    November 4th, 2009 at 5:38 am

    It is soooo reasurring that many people suffer from the same condition. My phobia has been apparent since i was a teenager where i would get a brief panic and then it would go away. It kicked in BIG STYLE when i was at Uni, when i was 22 years old and was terrible. I had almost 7 years without any real issues, even reading books called Operation Certain Death!

    It return soon after i met my current girlfriend when i was 29 because i wasn’t very well. I hid it from everyone and soon disappeared after 2 or so. Happy days! It returned 3 or so months ago, not sure why. I think it may have been all the emotional build up from moving away from home to start a new life abroad.

    I can’t look forward to the future because i keep thinking that IT is going to happen soon. Anything that happens to me physically, i think the worst. Pain in the head (Brain Haemorraghe), tightness in the chest, (heart attack), pain in the stomach (cancer). Which i think is irrational, at the moment.

    The “funny” thing is, is that i too am pretty outgoing. Pretty much live life to the full. Lately, this is consuming me. I will crack it as before, just sooner, rather than later. Have just started Yoga and learning how to play the guitar. I’m hoping that this may be the solution. Thanks for listening and good luck to you all.

  318. Yunie says:

    December 2nd, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    It is nice to know that there are also people out there who feel the same way as me. We do have a lot in common in this battle of unknown fear.
    I always try to see everything in logical way. I have been searching for the truth about life, in the meaning of “existence” for quite long. I read Nietche books and also read about psychoanalysis from Freud. Those books are hardly understandable for me, but though I got the point of what they already stated in their books. I tried to understand the world beyond my limits. Learn about life but not in the touch of any religion doctrines which I think they are all skeptical for me.
    Then about few weeks ago, I got very terrible panic attacks, I felt wrong, insecure, anxious and also with other physical sensations. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt so scare and didn’t know what I scared about. just wasn’t feel right. I thought that was only my PMS but then day by day it go worse. The thought about death triggered most. I couldn’t sleep well because of my mind kept thinking about it. I went to the doctor to find out what happen, maybe there was something wrong with my body or something, because my heart was pounding and I had a lot of sweating, dizzy and weak, I lost my weight. The doctor tole me that I have HBP. I was so surprised because I normally have Low Blood Pressure or at least normal. Then I started to change my life style, exercise, good diet, no coffee or alcohol but still I have those unwanted thoughts. That was really bad, I didn’t know what to do about it or at least to lessen my negative thoughts.
    I searched through internet about anxiety and panic attacks. I found quite a lot articles about the way to overcome it. I was hoping that I could overcome it within 1-2 weeks. I found it hard because I also built the fear of flying (I will have long flight within 4 days ). I am so scared right now about the negative thoughts about flying. It stress me out so much.
    It is so hard for me to live the life with this thoughts. I feel so helpless and hopeless. I want to go back to me again, feel the NOW not past or future. just want to live the now and hope for tomorrow.
    With this kind of live, I become really doubt about what should I believe. People told me that I got a divine blessing by realizing about it and that I am reminded to get closer to GOD. but I am to logical in this and scientific so to speak. I don’t know what should I believe. I sound like being trapped in the middle of a crossroad. Don’t know where to go to find my self back.
    if anyone want to talk to me or help me. Please add me on MSN, or facebook or email me to this address uni(underscore)sy at hotmail dot com

  319. tame says:

    December 7th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    My recent pre-occupation with death started with the loss of a good friend to Cancer in early 2009. It all seemed to happen so covertly and suddenly, he was only 35 years old. The death notice issued by his family seemed so casual it knocked me right back on my heels! Yet only months earlier he appeared to be in the peak of good health, chatting on his Iphone and arranging a weekend nights out with the lads in between busy, bustling periods in his furniture shop. My uncle died a few years previously and I found that difficult enough to fathom even though he had serious health problems for many years. Now the fear of even thinking about my non-existence invades my mind ever more frequently. I am middle aged, my partner is also in that age bracket and our son is still only a toddler. My parents are elderly and my concern for their wellbeing has risen exponentially.

    I have had awful bolts of fear strike down on me after hearing of yet another cancer case in the family (2 this year). Then it takes me some weeks before I can stop looking at depressing Cancer research websites or similar. Some of this activity has even led to periods of warped personal enquiry where every little feeling of discomfort in my body could be a stage of a serious illness to the point where I could be diagnosed for hypochondria.

    I live and work away from home for weeks at a time, and the loneliness that brings is unsettling to say the least. Nightime now brings its own dreaded flavours of claustrophobic drowning despair, many nights I barely sleep.

    The thought of dying in my sleep often shoots through my mind at the instant that I am about to drift off. Then I spend the next hour or 2 petrified that nobody would know my last thoughts, words, action, imminent plans, or how would my son cope and grow up without daddy. Thoughts that just pop up and stubbornly refuse to lie down and fade until I am near exhaustion.

    Yet out there are many people at the opposite end of the spectrum who seemingly embrace the possibility of death, its consequences and what their families might end up dealing with in such an eventuality: Soldiers, Firemen, Policemen, Security personnel, other danger-occupations, sports or pursuits. Many times I wander how on earth do they get on with it doing some of the most dangerous jobs in the world, knowing that they stand a greater chance of being killed than the average man and leaving behind their families? Then it leaves me feeling hopeless and gutless in comparison and seemingly powerless to assert a revised mindset.

    In my 20′s I had numerous bouts of Astral dreams that were so spectacular that ordinary existence seemed… Well, ordinary! They were not dreams as such but a different plane of consciousness, at this level I was able to move the ‘self’ across inpenetrable barriers like walls, doors and floors. So incredible were these experiences that the excitement soon turned to fear of not returning the self to my physical being. I still have them, although sparingly by choice. I like to derive some comfort in thinking that the astral journey may hold a key to the afterlife. However, now I torture myself with thoughts that most of it could be just an exquisite aberration or exercise that my brain along with many thousands or millions of similar capable people on earth must execute towards a human evolutionary process that has everything to do with advanced human life in the millenia and eons to come and nothing to do with the afterlife.

    I pray for a time where I can soon consolidate, rationalise and overcome the rapidly all consuming, obsessive and destructive thoughts of death and the unbearable fear of a nothingness where I once stood, breathed, conversed, shared and laughed with my loved ones.

    Any similar to share, I would be most pleased to.

  320. candice says:

    December 11th, 2009 at 3:29 am

    Thank you. Because of this phobia I have OCD, anxiety attacks are a weekly experience, I’m a hypochondriac, I worry all the time, etc. My formula was: Seeing my Dad die + falling in love with my husband = Thanatophobia. It is a comfort to know others are out there.

  321. Aaron Doyle says:

    December 15th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Wow this makes me feel marginally better. This just started about a month ago for me, but I’d had a bout of it before. This time was precipitated by the hospitalization of my mother. The last one was preceded by my uncle’s death. Now I’ve flip flopped between being an agnostic and a deist for most of my life, but I’ve never taken the idea of an afterlife to seriously. Still I’ve always looked at life as something to enjoy everyday and when it’s over I won’t be around to care one way or another. It started with this fear that my children would never get to know their grandmother, and just spread from there. The thought that I will cease to be terrifies me. However, the thought that all my loved one’s will perish absolutely devastates me. I have anxiety attacks and have trouble sleeping. I just want it to go away. I want to be able to look at the world the way I used to. It’s entirely unproductive and I can’t enjoy this life I love so dearly if all I think about is death.

  322. Jen says:

    December 21st, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I am 15, nearly 16. When I was 14 I developed depression, anxiety and started self harming. Exactly one year ago my depression got very serious and I tried to commit suicide because I literally felt as though I couldn’t survive my feelings. Obviously I survived, am recovering and am glad that the hospital managed to save me. Ever since that though, I have developed this fear of dying. It is horrible and I keep getting panic attacks from it, i hate them.

    I am haunted by images in my mind of my body just lying still and rotting away. I am terrified of not being able to feel, to think or to see. I am terrified of not being able to consciously think and be aware anymore. I also am now terrified of sleeping because I always feel as though it is like dying and that scares me. The fact that I suddenly loose awareness is horrifying to me. The only thing that gives me the slightest bit of hope is that when we are asleep we get dreams so maybe we will experience something when we die too but i honestly have no idea. When I am busy pannicking about dying and crying over it I am scared that time is going too quickly. It seems to be literally rushing past me and I feel as though my life is going to be over so soon. It all feels too quick.

    I have no idea how to alleviate my fears!

  323. Becca says:

    January 7th, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I can only say what so many other people have said already – this blog post could have been written by me. I have suffered from thanatophobia for as long as I can remember. As far as I’m aware, the first incidence occurred when I was very young (probably about 5 or 6). I vividly remember walking into my parents’ bedroom and saying to my mum, “I don’t want to die”, and then bursting into uncontrollable tears. Since then I’ve often thought about death at night and I’ve always needed to have the TV on before I can comfortably fall asleep, but usually my day-to-day existence isn’t affected by these thoughts. However, when I was about 15 I went through a period of crying constantly because of a crippling fear of the nothingness which may follow death. This lasted for a couple of months, and I eventually seemed to forget my fears. I still thought about death occasionally as I had done before, but it no longer took over my life. I don’t remember how this happened, but I wish I did because now I’m going through the same thing again. I’m 22 and I feel that my life so far has flashed by before my eyes. I’m so scared that, in the blink of an eye, I’ll be 60/70 and staring death in the face. I can’t think of my parents without being scared of their deaths. My dad will be 50 this year and that number scares the heck out of me, especially because his dad died at the age of 63. What if my dad’s destined to only be here for another decade or so? I can’t physically cope with that thought. Also, both my grandmothers died at the age of 68, one of a brain hemorrhage and one of an aneurysm. Although my mum’s dad is still alive and well at the age of 73, I’m terrified that most of my family and I are going to die relatively young.

    I can’t stand the thought of never existing again. I truly wish to believe in an afterlife but the logical part of me can’t see it being a possibility. I think science provides too many convincing explanations for things.
    These thoughts are currently ruining my life. I can’t focus on anything else. My days are consumed with worry and I have a constant feeling of nerves and tightness in my chest. As usual, it becomes worse at night. Last night I had a particularly bad experience in which I couldn’t stop crying and began hyperventilating.

    As others have said, I’m not a depressive person. I’m normally very happy and smiley, and I love my life. I think that’s the reason for my extreme fear; I can’t stand the thought of not being able to live my life with the people who mean the world to me. My fears seem to become more pronounced lately when I’m happy. This Christmas was probably the worst of my life because I just couldn’t enjoy myself. Every time I tried to be happy around my family, all I could think was that I’ll eventually lose everything. I’m beginning to wonder about the meaning of life and think about how pointless things are. What’s the point in being happy or close to people if one day we’ll all be torn apart? What’s the point in doing work or trying to achieve anything in life when it’ll all be worthless in the end anyway?

    The only hopes I have are that I may be able to find a faith to cling to (although my scepticism is currently preventing me from doing this) or that my fear will simply lessen with age. I can’t understand how elderly people manage to make it from one day to the next with the knowledge that they are old and that any day could be their last. When I’m old I believe I’ll fear going to sleep every night in case I never wake up. I can’t stand the thought of aging. I detest the thought of retirement and I don’t understand how people can possibly look forward to it when all it signals is your entrance into the final stage of your life.

    I don’t know what else to say. Everything seems to have been said already. It’s a slight comfort to know that other people experience these feelings too, but it doesn’t take away my phobia.

    If anyone is still reading this, or if the writer of the original blog post has any advice, I’d greatly appreciate some tips on how to cope with this debilitating fear. I’ve posted on a forum elsewhere but the only advice I’ve received is that I should seek help from a doctor or counsellor, but I don’t understand how that could help me.

  324. JackP says:

    January 7th, 2010 at 9:58 am

    To be honest, my policy for managing it is simply to ensure that I’m never going to sleep without some background noise, whether it be the TV or the radio.

    This gives my mind something to focus on instead of allowing it to wander somewhere I don’t want it to.

    Beyond ‘keeping distracted’, I’ve not really found any better techniques for dealing with it, I’m afraid.

  325. Becca says:

    January 7th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Hi Jack.

    I already go to sleep with the TV on. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember; most of the time it helps to take my mind off things, but my thanatophobia has been particularly bad for the past month and now TV doesn’t really distract me anymore. I just feel so disconnected from everything I watch. I envy the people I see on TV who manage to get by without worrying about death. I wonder why they’re happy when one day they’ll suddenly and simply cease to exist.

    In your original post over three years ago you talked about wanting to believe in an afterlife. Has this belief progressed or provided you with any comfort?

  326. Sally says:

    January 7th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Like so many, I could have written this post myself.
    I believe my Thanatophobia began as I realised the truth of mortality too young to know how to deal with it, and is now triggered when I am faced with significant change or events that are beyond my control.
    I wonder how much of it is tied up with these issues – the inability to control and/or fight the inevitable?
    Like you, I am probably more sceptical about any form of afterlife; I am a rational person in every other respect. But with scientists like Stephen Hawking believing there is *something* out there, I guess it’s not as crazy a thought as I have been telling myself it is…

    I just wanted to say thanks for this post and for making me realise I am not the only one out there.

    If you know of any therapist-types that specialise in this area, I’d be interested to hear about them.

    Thanks again.

  327. Amazingly this IS the short says:

    January 13th, 2010 at 12:10 am

    [EDIT: Yes, they were all stuck in the spam filter - I have released them all, because even though one is more or less a duplicate, some points are slightly different]

    Thanks very much for offering a place for people to discuss this issue, JackP. Thanks to everyone who has commented as well, since I know all too well that these things are hard to talk about. I, too, have had these same experiences since I was about 6 or 7. I’m a white female and will be 40 this year. Given that I’ve rarely come across anyone who can even begin to grasp the agony and loneliness that I have often felt while living my very ordinary life, it is amazing to me how incredibly similar some of these people’s experiences are to my own.

    Here was a gem that stood out for me from the comments section:
    “The transience of everything terrifies me. When I think about it, it makes me feel as if I might as well already be dead, since when I am, it will be as if I never existed.”

    For me, it isn’t only terror and sadness over my own death, but the fact that there is death at all for anything. My family, cats, flowers, redwood trees, little black beetles in the Amazon rain forest — the world is full of beautiful and interesting things dying all around us. And hardly anyone seems to notice their passing. Even when people do notice, fewer still seem to care. It is incomprehensible to me.

    This phobia seems to me to be very related to the problem of Existential Depression, from which I suffer. They aren’t quite the same thing – but I think those that suffer from Existential Depression are likely prone to Thanatophobia. If you are interested in the more personal details of my struggle to find meaning you can read the too-long-to-repost-rant I left on this blog: I think many of you would enjoy reading that blog as well, and might feel a kinship with those who commented there. Knowing you’re not alone doesn’t ‘fix’ the problem, but it does make you feel less crazy…lol.

    However, I will repost here some of the information I left in a follow-up post to my rant over at the Existential Depression blog, because I think for the first time in my life I’ve read a psychological theory that was really of help to me. I hope it is of some help to some of you:

    “While I was reading about creativity and depression, I found a different article presenting evidence supporting a link between very high physical and emotional sensitivity to the world and exceptional giftedness.

    I learned that research supports the idea that the exceptionally intellectually gifted may simply have a fundamentally different emotional experience of the world than other people. That the same openness to particular experiences that creates intellectual giftedness also enhances the ability to emotionally empathize with others and these especially intense emotional reactions often create a person with strong ethical positions and drives them to feelings of social responsibility.

    Then I found this fascinating passage in a Wikipedia entry: “Some gifted individuals experience heightened sensory awareness and may seem overly sensitive to sight, sound, smell and touch. For example, they may be extremely uncomfortable when they have a wrinkle in their sock, or unable to concentrate because of the sound of a clock ticking on the other side of the room. Hypersensitivity to external stimuli can resemble a proneness to “sensory overload”, which can cause persons to avoid chaotic and crowded environments. Others, however, are able to tune out any such unwanted distractions as they focus on a task or on their own thoughts, and seem to seek and thrive on being in the midst of lots of activity and stimulation. In many cases, awareness may fluctuate between conditions of hyperstimulation and of withdrawal. These conditions may appear to be similar to symptoms of hyperactivity, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism-spectrum conditions, and other psychological disorders, but are often explained by gifted education professionals by reference to Kazimierz Dabrowski’s theory of Positive Disintegration.” Here’s the link:

    I believe this to be true in my case (IQ tests pegged me with a 169 IQ). Last year I went to this stupid shrink who diagnosed me with like 10 different major psychological conditions (I say he’s stupid because he diagnosed me with all these conditions after one single 1/2 hour meeting where he hardly even made eye contact with me and simply asked me a battery of dumb questions off some checklist — a checklist where I had to say if I had EVER experienced a variety of problems. I’m older now. EVER is a long time and I’m pretty introspective, so I had to honestly answer yes to most of the checklist questions).

    Anyway, I liked the Wikipedia info on Dabrowski and his Theory of Positive Disintegration quite a bit so I thought I would share it with you:

    In a nutshell, Dabrowski’s idea that this existential anxiety and depression we feel is really a catalyst for significant personal growth that can potentially help us create a new, very individual, highly authentic way of relating to the world. What I read really resonated with me. I now plan on pursuing this course of treatment in my own therapy.

    I find a couple of elements to the theory particularly compelling:
    1. It explains why I just can’t bloody well “stop being so sensitive” and why I’m so frustrated by others insensitivity. And it explains my feelings of alienation. I thought I was odd mostly because I was an only child, but it makes sense to me that people who are biochemically more open/sensitive to the world might naturally have some radically different experiences of their environment. Maybe kind of like being able to see in Technicolor when everyone else can only see black & white? But instead of just seeing, you’re feeling and thinking things in Technicolor.

    2. It gives some desperately needed meaning and context to the pain of anxiety and depressive rumination. The good news is that it’s actually psychic growing pains. Hurts like hell, but it’s temporary. The bad news is it’s a pain you are likely to have to suffer through multiple times until your personality becomes firmly established. But it all ends with the happy notion that at the end of the day we may be able to actually meaningfully reintegrate with the world and find some peace. Better, they claim that in real life people actually can and do make it to this stage and give examples.”

    I’d be interested to hear if this theory resonates with anyone else here who has Thanatophobia. I can’t even put into words how sincerely I wish all of you the best in your struggle to find meaning amidst the chaos.

  328. Amazingly this IS the short says:

    January 13th, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Please ignore this comment if I posted twice, the Submit process didn’t seem to complete….

    Thanks very much for offering a place for people to discuss this issue, JackP. Thanks to everyone who has commented as well, since I know all too well that these things are hard to talk about. I, too, have had these same experiences since I was about 6 or 7. I’m a white female and will be 40 this year. Given that I’ve rarely come across anyone who can even begin to grasp the agony and loneliness that I have often felt while living my very ordinary life, it is amazing to me how incredibly similar some of these people’s experiences are to my own.

    Here was a gem that stood out for me from the comments section:
    “The transience of everything terrifies me. When I think about it, it makes me feel as if I might as well already be dead, since when I am, it will be as if I never existed.”

    For me, it isn’t only terror and sadness over my own death, but the fact that there is death at all for anything. My family, cats, flowers, redwood trees, little black beetles in the Amazon rain forest — the world is full of beautiful and interesting things dying all around us. And hardly anyone seems to notice their passing. Even when people do notice, fewer still seem to care. It is incomprehensible to me.

    This phobia seems to me to be very related to the problem of Existential Depression, from which I suffer. They aren’t quite the same thing – but I think those that suffer from Existential Depression are likely prone to Thanatophobia. If you are interested in the more personal details of my struggle to find meaning you can read the too-long-to-repost-rant I left on this blog: I think many of you would enjoy reading that blog as well, and might feel a kinship with those who commented there. Knowing you’re not alone doesn’t ‘fix’ the problem, but it does make you feel less crazy…lol.

    However, I will repost here some of the information I left in a follow-up post to my rant over at the Existential Depression blog, because I think for the first time in my life I’ve read a psychological theory that was really of help to me. I hope it is of some help to some of you:

    “While I was reading about creativity and depression, I found a different article presenting evidence supporting a link between very high physical and emotional sensitivity to the world and exceptional giftedness.

    I learned that research supports the idea that the exceptionally intellectually gifted may simply have a fundamentally different emotional experience of the world than other people. That the same openness to particular experiences that creates intellectual giftedness also enhances the ability to emotionally empathize with others and these especially intense emotional reactions often create a person with strong ethical positions and drives them to feelings of social responsibility.

    Then I found this fascinating passage in a Wikipedia entry: “Some gifted individuals experience heightened sensory awareness and may seem overly sensitive to sight, sound, smell and touch. For example, they may be extremely uncomfortable when they have a wrinkle in their sock, or unable to concentrate because of the sound of a clock ticking on the other side of the room. Hypersensitivity to external stimuli can resemble a proneness to “sensory overload”, which can cause persons to avoid chaotic and crowded environments. Others, however, are able to tune out any such unwanted distractions as they focus on a task or on their own thoughts, and seem to seek and thrive on being in the midst of lots of activity and stimulation. In many cases, awareness may fluctuate between conditions of hyperstimulation and of withdrawal. These conditions may appear to be similar to symptoms of hyperactivity, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism-spectrum conditions, and other psychological disorders, but are often explained by gifted education professionals by reference to Kazimierz Dabrowski’s theory of Positive Disintegration.” Here’s the link:

    I believe this to be true in my case (IQ tests pegged me with a 169 IQ). Last year I went to this stupid shrink who diagnosed me with like 10 different major psychological conditions (I say he’s stupid because he diagnosed me with all these conditions after one single 1/2 hour meeting where he hardly even made eye contact with me and simply asked me a battery of dumb questions off some checklist — a checklist where I had to say if I had EVER experienced a variety of problems. I’m older now. EVER is a long time and I’m pretty introspective, so I had to honestly answer yes to most of the checklist questions).

    Anyway, I liked the Wikipedia info on Dabrowski and his Theory of Positive Disintegration quite a bit so I thought I would share it with you:

    In a nutshell, Dabrowski’s idea that this existential anxiety and depression we feel is really a catalyst for significant personal growth that can potentially help us create a new, very individual, highly authentic way of relating to the world. What I read really resonated with me. I now plan on pursuing this course of treatment in my own therapy.

    I find a couple of elements to the theory particularly compelling:
    1. It explains why I just can’t bloody well “stop being so sensitive” and why I’m so frustrated by others insensitivity. And it explains my feelings of alienation. I thought I was odd mostly because I was an only child, but it makes sense to me that people who are biochemically more open/sensitive to the world might naturally have some radically different experiences of their environment. Maybe kind of like being able to see in Technicolor when everyone else can only see black & white? But instead of just seeing, you’re feeling and thinking things in Technicolor.

    2. It gives some desperately needed meaning and context to the pain of anxiety and depressive rumination. The good news is that it’s actually psychic growing pains. Hurts like hell, but it’s temporary. The bad news is it’s a pain you are likely to have to suffer through multiple times until your personality becomes firmly established. But it all ends with the happy notion that at the end of the day we may be able to actually meaningfully reintegrate with the world and find some peace. Better, they claim that in real life people actually can and do make it to this stage and give examples.”

    I’d be interested to hear if this theory resonates with anyone else here who has Thanatophobia. I can’t even put into words how sincerely I wish all of you the best in your struggle to find meaning amidst the chaos.

  329. Amazingly this IS the short says:

    January 13th, 2010 at 3:22 am

    I tried to post twice, but am having some problems. Another comment I saw on a different post makes me think I might have got stuck in your spam filter. HELP — get me out! It’s dark in here! (er…that’s my cries for help from the deepest depths of your spam filter.)

    Thanks :)

  330. Cirra says:

    January 16th, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Thanatophobia. I supose it fits better than Bipolar I or II or whatever I was diagnosed with a year ago. I am 42 years old. I am a nurse, pediatric home health is my specialty. I am presently in school for my RN. I am specifying all of this to let you know that I am mostly in control of my life.

    A year and a half ago, July 30, 2008, my mother died. The day before my birthday. She was a vibrant, healthy, lady. She didn’t smoke, walked 2 miles a day, enjoyed life to the fullest. She developed TTP (thrombolytic thrombocytopenia purpura) and died 10 days later.
    I tell you all of this because it is when my panic attacks began. My fear of death has always been a part of my life but it has never hospitalized me. Until that day. The day before her funeral, I was shopping for foodstuff as my house is where everyone congregates. I got hot, weak, cold sweats, gastro problems, I thought I would hit the floor. I thought I was dying. I ended up in the ER. They sent me home on Ativan. I left my mother’s funeral 20 minutes after I got there. I was to sick to stay. A moonth later I was back in the hospital for 6 days. The same symptoms as above. I just knew that I was dying and none of the doctors could find what was wrong with me. I was a panicking basket case. My blood pressure was through the roof.

    Since then I have gone to outpatient therapy and 1 on 1 counseling. Along with medication. It doesn’t help.

    It is the loss of control that gets me. When I start with the head to toe weakness, cold sweat…I can’t stop it. It is started by any physical twinge I may feel. I am overly sensitive to my body. A nagging headache, an odd sensation in my chest or legs. Getting hot flashes. Any of that will trigger a meltdown. I use to be an avid blood donor. I tried giving about 4 months after mom’s passing. I totally freaked out in the chair. My sister had to come get me. I live with this fear daily.

    2 years ago, I was the first one in the car to go anywhere. Spontenaity was a given. Now, I am terrified to literally walk around the block.

    I want myself back. I want to laugh and play. I want to enjoy life again.

    Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in my fear.

  331. Jack's Mam says:

    January 17th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that sadly Jack passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last night. His family are devastated and unable to comprehend the loss of such a loved,caring,and sincere person. The blog world will miss him too.

  332. Faye says:

    January 27th, 2010 at 2:22 am

    Dear Jack,

    Even though you may never get this message. Thank you for this sincere post. It has given the many of us either hope or ease from loneliness. May you rest in peace. I always have returned to this place for a sense of comfort, strength, and even humor.

  333. Andy says:

    January 28th, 2010 at 2:42 am

    After reading ur thantaphobic blog which I googled on my handheld because I couldn’t sleep thinking about it, I realised you are me… Fact

  334. Hannah says:

    February 5th, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I am so thankful for this, I’m sitting here crying because I have been trying for months to put it into words. Those episodes of anxiety, sweating, trembling, crying and this fear of nothingness, just to be gone, no more thoughts, no more me. And I am so happy that I can finally point people to this website and say, read this, this is how I feel.
    Thank you

  335. Sleepless says:

    February 10th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I am lost for words.

    I have spent the last hour reading this blog feeling so hopeful and inspired, it was as if somebody had opened up my head and spilled my thoughts onto the page. I feel slightly comforted to know I am not alone because for most of my life I thought I was totally unique in having this awfully consuming phobia.

    I suppose I was looking for an answer or a cure when I googled ‘fear of death’ earlier today, but the only advice there seems to be is to block it all out with TV, music, ‘keeping busy’ or to take drugs to numb yourself. I don’t want to do any of these things.

    I don’t even know JackP but having shared this awful ‘thing’ with him I feel so sad to know he has died… and there are so many questions I want to ask him and can’t. He has experienced our ultimate fear, I can’t find any comfort in this.

    Sorry to post such a depressing message but I am so sad to hear about his recent death. I once bought a book called ‘what happens when you die’ and read it from cover to cover hoping to find an answer, or something I could believe but I was left feeling even worse after reading it.

    I wish we had an answer for this cure phobia which is affecting so many people. I suppose it is something we won’t know or 100% believe until we see it for ourselves.


  336. Ian McG says:

    February 10th, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    I’ve searched the internet in the past trying to find some explanation of my ‘nightmares’. It’s always the same, lying in bed, almost asleep and then suddenly my mind gets onto the thought of my own death, then bang, I’m upright, screaming and frightening my wife to death!! It’s not about how I die, it’s just the fact that I will no longer be here.

    I was so excited to see that someone else was experiencing the same thing and had put it down to not having ‘faith’ as I had – not an excuse but maybe an explanation. Then seeing there were some many other people with the same experience astounded me.

    Then, getting to the bottom of the blog and seeing that Jack had recently died really wiped any elation away. All my love to his family.

    I do however hope that they keep this blog open in his memory and in a selfish way give us other thanatophobics somewhere to find reassurance with others of the same ilk.

    Jack – RIP

  337. Psychic says:

    February 12th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Hmm Well I was just searching on Google for some psychic readings and psychic articles and just came across your blog, generally I just only visit blogs and retrieve my required information but this time the useful information that you posted in this post compelled me to reply here and appreciate your good work. I just bookmarked your blog.

  338. A Surefire Way To Manage Your Fears While Leading A Happier, Healthier Life says:

    February 15th, 2010 at 6:48 am

    [...] [...]

  339. Amanda says:

    February 16th, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    This is all EXACTLY me.

  340. Tim says:

    February 21st, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I can completely relate to all of this. I’m fairly young and I’m suffering terribly because of it. I have anxiety and panic attacks about death quite often.

    There is a group available that has a forum for people to come and talk about it. It might be helpful for people like us if we could go there and talk a bit more directly.

    Check it out!

  341. Will says:

    February 24th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I discovered this blog approximately 6 months ago and I’m so pleased I did. I take great comfort in knowing that there are other people out there with whom I share this little understood affliction! I regularly drop in to read the most recent posts but have never posted a message before; for some reason I feel compelled to do so tonight.

    I’m 25 and have feared death since childhood. I’m not scared of the process of dying, and the likely pain involved, but of being dead itself. I’m not religious and therefore believe that once dead consciousness ceases entirely; it is this, the eternal absense of thought, of self, of me, and the inevitabilty of it, that petrifies me.

    My fear really took hold approximately 6 months ago and since then I think about death daily, usually for no more than 30 minutes in total and most often when I’m not busy. Since then, I have scoured the internet for help, for an answer, for support, but largely to no avail.

    I am dealing with my fear in the following ways:

    1. I have recently become open minded about religion and the possible existence of a ‘higher power’. I know that in doing so I am confirming my core athiestic view on religion, which is that religion is an opium for the masses, a theory used to comfort and ‘explain’ the scientifically inexplicable, but hey, trying to fool myself is helping!

    I think that whilst religious beliefs on death and the preservation of consciousness lack scientific proof, the same is also true for athiesm. I used to argue that the religious were scientifically ignorant, even niave, but the same can be argued for those of an atheistic persuasion; believing that consciousness ends has no more scientific support than a belief in an afterlife and so perhaps I, indeed most of us on this blog, are just as niave as the religious!

    There is a great deal that we do not know, and can’t even begin to imagine, about this world, its creation, life and whether any of it has a purpose, a meaning or an explanation. Our current beliefs are based largely on current scientific fact and theory which, centuries from now, will no doubt be laughed at, just as we laugh at those of our ancestors. It is this open mindedness that is currently keeping me going.

    2. I don’t think I even have a ’2′, given my rambling on ’1′.

    In summary, be open-minded. If you’re athiestic, perhaps give a little more consideration to the possibilty of a higher power – fool yourselves like me! One day we will all find out what happens when we die and so in the meantime try to live life – surely it’s better to do so than not. And if there is nothing other than eternal blackness after life, try to take comfort in knowing that it has happened to, and will continue to happen to, every living person on this earth – it’ll be just as it was before you were born, which wasn’t too bad anyway.

    ‘Ignorance is bliss’

    I hope this post helps others with thanatophobia, just as those left before me have helped me

    All the best

  342. Will says:

    February 25th, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    May I suggest researching the work of Dr Sam Parnia. Pay particular attention to his most recent book ‘what happens when we die’ which focuses largely on his ongoing study in to Near Death Experiences (NDE’s) and the possible existence of an afterlife

  343. Jonathan says:

    March 7th, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I just want to say a massive thankyou to anyone who has aired their feelings on this website as it has lifted me to some degree and i do feel that coping is the best option. I have an appointment to see my doc on Monday under which im positive ill be prescribed fluoxetine in an attempt to balance or imbalance my already too balanced or too imbalanced brain chemistry. Ive only been suffering for around a week now but its every minute of the day (its like a constant panic attack) so i can really empathise for anyone whos been strugling longer-term. Sadly, I cant give answers on what happens when we die but i can reassure everyone here (i am a long term mental health sufferer) that a particular event triggered this, as small as it may be, and we were not born with these thoughts. Im not even sure what im talking about, im just writing to cope, sorry. Thankyou everyone for sharing your phobia, glad i found this.

  344. megan says:

    March 10th, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    I am yet to be diagnosed but i’m very sure i have this.It get’s worse at night and when i am alone or not distracted.My heart beat rases and skips beats,i cry and can’t stop having panic attacks.It’s horrible.

    Thanks for this comforting

  345. Adrian says:

    March 14th, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Thank you Jack and everyone else who has posted here. I need not express much about how I feel with regards to this phobia, as my thoughts and feelings have already been summed up well.

    As horrible as this condition is for me, I take pride in having a great respect for life. I may be in much internal (physical and mental) pain but I am outwardly a much better person because of this. It is this understanding and pursuit that keeps me going.

    My love goes out to Jacks family, may your memories of him fill you with great privilege, as it has for us.

    Life is as beautiful as it is frightening.

  346. styleo says:

    March 31st, 2010 at 11:02 am

    wow i never realised that there was a condition until i was lieing in bed this evening, unable to sleep none the less unfortuanetly thinking or shall i say dreading death…it has taken me 2 years to sit and google – fear of death -thanatophobia. and now i have stumbled across this website..i have to also admit that i have felt a slight relief after reading your blog…thanks…
    I also do not suffer from depression.yet i do worry and over stress of becoming ill…i suffer from thanatophobia as well as anxiety and hyperventalation syndrome..The reason or experience that had made this occure was a very bad car accident where my best friend and i were hit by a drunk driver over 3 years ago…is this just me or has anyone got any advice or a similiar experience.?????

  347. dylan biberstine says:

    April 2nd, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    i cannot beleave there is someone out there with the same problem i have

  348. Martin says:

    April 25th, 2010 at 2:19 am

    After reading this I had to reply. I found myself nodding and agreeing with everything you’ve written here.

    I’ve had countless tiny panic attacks worrying about my Inevitable demise and it usually comes back to philosophical questions about the meaning of life the universe and everything.

    I’ve found a bit of comfort in the answer 42. If you have not read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy I recommend it highly to those trying to understand the universe.

    I try to keep in mind just how absurd life is when you think about it. Death is just as absurd, and who can say it truly is the end.

    Fingers crossed I guess haha, personally I’d rather be immortal. Put my brain in a robot if you need to, just get it done, right? haha

    P.S Just a small note. I’m a very passive and happy person. I think with Thanatophobia it’s hard to let things get to you because after all, at least you’re not dead.

  349. Sophie M says:

    May 1st, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I have exactly the same problem, I”m 19 nearing 20 now and I cannot stop thinking of death. It”s not the process of death that I fear, the physical pain involved is not something which scares me very much, it”s what happens after which scares me shitless.
    I can”t sleep at night, I have panic attacks and severe anxiety during the day, which often leads to physical sickness. I haven”t eaten properly in weeks, as I cannot concentrate on food. I”ve become distant from my friends and the rest of reality, sometimes it”s as though I”m watching things through a dream.
    Because of it, I have been signed off of work for two weeks and I”m unable to look around at other people now, without asking myself the question how the hell, is everyone able to walk round acting so normally, when like me, they too know they will die someday,

    It”s hard to explain how this condition has made me feel, but it”s like, I”m grieving already for things which I haven”t yet lost, when I look around at people like my mum, I”m filled with unimaginable sadness and panic. I understand this is by no means a way to live my life, but what absolutely scares me too my core, is the fact that nothing can ever stay the same; no matter how much we will it to. To me, it just feels as though one day I”m going to blink, and my whole life will have rushed past my eyes.

    I sincerely hope, I will get to a certain age and no longer be plagued by thoughts of death, do you think this is the case anyone?
    I have my own ideas of what it will be like after we die, I hope, desperately hope that I’m wrong,but, I simply can’t get these images out of my head, what scares me the most is the nothingness, the emptiness of it all. It’s comforting to know other people feel the same way.
    Death is such a taboo subject, I desperately wish I had someone to talk to about it, but it’s hard to know to say what to people without freaking them out aswell.

    If anyone has any words of wisdom, it would be much appreciated. x

  350. Jayel says:

    May 27th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Great post and excellent feedback on this subject as I have suffered with this for some time now.

    I find it can really hit quite hard whilst lying in bed going to sleep at night and also if I have smoked a joint(I dont do this that often anymore for this very reason).

    I would be more interested to hear how people have managed to live with this fear. I don’t think it is something that we can get away from, unfortunatley this fear will follow us to our graves. Its how much we let it that is the real issue to me, so how have you dealt with it?


    (p.s. classic Red Dwarf quote)

  351. LivingDead says:

    June 6th, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Thank you Jack. So much.

  352. chezza b says:

    June 18th, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    thank you soooo much for sharing this awful fear im 24 and have been suffering with this ever since i can remember its totally ruining my life and it mainly happens at night (every night i might add)i start to get panicky every time my partner askes if im coming to bed and then as soon as im in bed ,i close my eyes and the next thing i know im bolt right up in bed sweating ,crying,and struggaling to breathe.I have terrible visions of everything being black,i have to sleep with the landing light on and i suffer from the fear of darkness (i know it seems odd at 24 but i just cant stand it ,i keep thinking about just dropping dead for no reason or being in a coffin decaying ,im sooo glad that im not the only 1 suffering i have been to cognative therapy and also have been prescribed with anti depressents but they just mask the problem and the tablets make me feel dissconected from myself ,i also fear of going to the doctors and being told i have an untreatable illness .I have two beutiful children and feel so guilty that mummy cant be full of life and energetic i hate it.i keep thinking im going to die in my sleep and i end up so tired that im falling asleep during the day .I have no problems sleeping on the bed during the day (proberbly because its light) but its just at night time im totally a wreck.i would much appritiate it if anyone could give me any tips on how to overcome this it is really ruining my life and the therapy and tablets just didnt work .sorry about the spelling ,im just so overwhelmed (and crying my eyes out btw)that im not the only 1 who is going through this ,that i cant think straight xxxx thank you so much again ppl

  353. Alex says:

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:06 am

    To the author; thankyou for a well written explanation of what I have been going through for the last 2 years. With the exception of your ’40 minutes a day or so’ bit, I felt like this could have been my own writing, it’s exactly how I think about it all.

    I tend to suffer about 5/6 hours a day total from this so I guess my case is pretty extreme. Completely agree though, its not a depression its something else… I’m not depressed. Also I believe that us thanatophobians basically have ‘snapped’ in our brain somewhere; we think about this constantly when something would normally suppress it as a survival instinct. Mine started when a variety of factors in my life all went down the shitter at once, and I think i couldn’t cope and thats when this started…

  354. Rachel says:

    June 21st, 2010 at 6:58 am

    I know everyone has said this but I’m glad I’m not alone in this. You wrote everything I’m feeling. I have tried to talk to friends and don’t understand how they cannot think about this ALL the time. I have always had a phobia of death, or like you said, that there would be no me, no you, nothing. Recently I heard the news of an 18 year old girl driving to work in my town and died texting while driving. This made me so sad. What kind of life was that? You hardly get a chance to live and then you are dead forever. The “forever” and the unknown absolutely terrify me. Some people say they think it is a comfort that one day they will cease to exist and be at peace. I just don’t see it that way and I wish I could. I see you wrote this entry in 06 and hope you have found something to help you by now.

  355. Sarah F says:

    June 25th, 2010 at 6:40 am

    My boyfriend is the only one who calms me down from my attacks.

    It is somewhat debilitating, when I’m scared to sleep, or do anything like go for a car ride.

    But my boyfriend has some medical problems, and has been at death’s door before. When I asked him if he was afraid he told me “Not anymore.” And when I talk to him, he can snap me out of the panic attacks that I have when I think of it, where my heart beats irregularly, and I can’t breathe, I sweat, I cry, I become dizzy. He can snap me out of it.

    I have noticed a pattern. Whenever I become happy with my life, or settle into a routine I like, it happens to me.

    I’ve had it happen since puberty, and I am now out of puberty and have been for some time. So since the age of 11, which would be 10 years now, I have had problems coping with this.

    I try to talk to as many people as I can, and hope that someone understands, but the majority of answers that I get is “It’s going to happen anyways. Why are you going to be scared of it?” I just think “Okay. Tomorrow at 10 pm I’m going to cut off your leg. Don’t be afraid. It’s just going to happen anyways.” Do you think you’ll be any less afraid? Do you think murder victims realize they’re going to die and think “Hey, it’s gonna happen anyway.” And let their murderer proceed with killing them with no fight? Do you think a rape victim thinks that because they know it’s going to happen that it makes them any less scared? It’s a crap response. It’s useless.

    Fear of the unknown is a major factor. You don’t know if there is anything after this life. My mom tells me “It will be like before you were born. You didn’t know you didn’t exist. You won’t know you’re dead.” And to ease my own suffering at times I tell myself that I am already dead. That this is my afterlife. That I am just unaware that I have already had a long life, and am in a time before I go somewhere else.

    I used to excerise to escape it. Like hopping on an excercise bike would let me run from it. Or prolong my existance.

    Just because you die doesn’t mean that things you do don’t matter. They do. You will have a family (hopefully) that remains. You live in the blood that you left with them. You live in the memories you gave them.

    I personally, from my own conclusions, have become somewhat spiritual and believe in reincarnation. My mom tells me that my brother and I both remind her of her mom (who died before we were born). And in my half brother, my stepmom says she sees a lot of her dad. Who also died before my brother was born.

    Sometimes it’s easy to accept, and sometimes it’s not. It has hit me often, and hard. I will be dead one day. I will rot. I will be nothing but bone. My existance will be a memory. But also I can live through my family.

    Thanatophobia is serious. And it can be painful. It can certainly cause depression, the longer you dwell on it.

    I am not able to afford therapy, but I do believe that I need it. I believe it would be beneficial to find out why I’m so afraid of death. But to me, death means loss. And sometimes, I feel like I’ve lost it all already, and I don’t want to have to lose more, and that includes my life.

    I am thinking about it now. It doesn’t feel very good, butI feel better when I get to put my feelings out there. My boyfriend is asleep, so I am talking everywhere I can.

    Everywhere I turn, death is there. Movies, TV, Music, Books, everywhere. You’re constantly reminded of it. I watched a historical drama, and I knew what would be happening. I knew a lot of people would die in the show. When they showed a decapitation, I had a very painful panic attack, locked up, and exploded into tears. This seems to happen more and more frequently these days. In the past month it’s happened 4 times. When it hasn’t happened once in the past 3-4 years.

    I digress. It is inevitable. And just because something is inevitable doesn’t mean you have to like it. I know I certainly don’t.

  356. Jonathan Ferrell says:

    June 26th, 2010 at 3:44 am

    Believe me, you are DEFINATELY not the only one going through this. I’ve been going through this EXACT same problem ever since I was about 14. I can’t remember a time I’ve ever really believed in an afterlife and stuff, but I have ranted to beings which obviously weren’t there. I’ve tried looking at that whole “bright side” thing with no result, and accepted that anything that makes me “content” in any way is just another chemical stimulation in my brain improving my quality of life. But for what purpose? Later, I realised that “purpose” is just a man-made term, for exactly the same reason I stopped believing in contenting myself. I find myself locked in my own mind, knowing that there WILL be an end. I stumble across that word so heavily, I even lose my breathe. I keep hoping to one day find a way to live forever, to somehow alter my body in a way that I will never die, and I’ll have be content. High hopes, quite mad most would probably say. Maybe I could replace my heart before it gives out? Maybe I could put my brain in a different body and see what happens in worst-case scenario? But obviously our current society would prevent me from ever attempting such things, and I highly doubt I’d ever be so capable. So that’s it then, I’ll die. Nothing again, EVER. But like a few others have said, it helps me to write these feelings down, but then I contradict myself and destroy what little comfort I can possibly get for this. And obviously it’s not a choice to think this way, it’s just the way I am. And when things that most would deem supernatural occur, I deny it as an illusion; a mild schizophrenic cry for help; my mind trying to give me mercy. But it knows what it’s doing, and will never fall for it, no matter how much it wants to.

  357. alex says:

    June 26th, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Thank you for this, this is all so scary it helps so much to kno im not alone and i read everything everyone said and thank you all

  358. Sarah says:

    June 29th, 2010 at 5:55 am

    I may or may not have this, but like most of the other people commenting, this is something i just cant get off my mind, and it is terrifying.

    The thing that dosent make sense at all to me is that i’m only 16 and i shouldnt even feel the need to worry about it at all, but its the only thing i worry about. I guess i came to this page hoping for some way to deal with it or find something that could explain it right. Like, is there something wrong with me? But no, i guess its just something we all have to deal with. I’m at least glad i dont feel like the only one i guess..

    I’d really like to believe in an afterlife as well, but thats my problem i think, because i dont know if i believe in anything at all anymore. I used to say i was christian, somewhat, to have something to believe in. But the more i think about it, the less i’m convinced or persuaded to believe anything religious.

    I dont really know how to end this right so.. i guess. just, thank you for writing this. Really.

  359. steve says:

    July 1st, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    reading all these posts it seems everbody gets comfort from not being the only one,which is great to read. I think everbody has a small % of this but a person with thanatophobia seems to have much much more than a fair share.I beleive from self helping depressive,anxiety /panic attact problems in the past,that the brain can only realy focus on 1 thing at a time,a bit like meditation,keeping the black dog thoughts away,maybe concentrate on something very posative/nice/happy might help. TV Radio noises help non thantophobia sufferers to sleep to,parents know familiar noises settle small children. Non motor racing fans watch a grand prix,does the job for me lol.Haveing a suffering son makes this site facinating and a welcome relief .

  360. Fred says:

    July 17th, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Hum, well, I’ve read this post 2 years ago, but only now I felt like posting something on the comments section.

    Let me start off by saying that I’m an atheist and I did always found the idea of a personal god something really silly. I could go on about why, but I’m not here to debate that.

    Two years ago, I suffered from a panic attack. I think I just realized I was going to die someday and that when I die I’d be gone for ever and ever, not able to see how my kids would turn out to be and so on. That I WILL someday lose my parents and my loved ones, since no one on my family close to me has died yet. That left me terrified. I was always shaking, crying alone, for at least 1 month. My mother comforted me, told me I was being silly and unreasonable for a 22 year old. I thought so too, but I was too terrified. I live a somewhat good life, but after that things just got worse. A close friend of mine died 2 months after this. I felt terrible, but I wasn’t as terrified as before. I thought “finally I accepted it, I’m going to die, everyone is going to die. I have to deal with it and stop being a wuss”. Well, sometimes I would still almost cry when asleep when those thoughts would come to my mind, but eventually it went away.

    After I decided to go into college and try to get a better job once I graduate, my parents divorced. I felt terrible once again, I got drunk a lot, I would go on and on about how life is so pointless, on how I’d just rather die than live, stuff like that. My friends were quite shocked because I’m a pretty outgoing person, and I’ve never had love or social relations problems. I feel like only people that felt the same can TRULY understand me.

    Anyways, nowadays it’s a whole lot better. I feel like I can handle it very well. It still pops up in my mind once in a while, but I say to myself that’s how life goes and I quietly fall asleep.

    My advice is:

    - Don’t ignore the thoughts. They’ll come no matter what in the beggining, after the “click”. Just try to think about it in a reasonable way (I know it’s hard).

    - Eventually it will go away. Try to focus on things you like to do. As steve said, avoid sleeping in total silence, it will only make it easier for those thoughts to pop out. Watch an entire series of something on TV, it will keep you distracted, even if for a short ammount of time.

    - Research on the subject. Research about atheists and their views on life, on how it should be lived. Think for yourself about it, see how you can improve your life and how you view it with their help.

    Cheers everyone.

  361. Fred says:

    July 17th, 2010 at 2:58 am

    And only now I realized Jack Pickard passed away… Wow, I’m so sad right now.

    My condolences to his family and relatives.

  362. Grace says:

    July 18th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I had a feeling there must be other people out there wondering the same sort of stuff I am. Its from the moment I wake up and I think to myself, one day I don’t wake up but will I know it…no. Its disgusting and I can’t get over it. I think about it pretty much throughout the day and wonder how people can go through life and not constantly be thinking jesus one day i’m going to die and theres nothing I can do about it. I have such morbid thoughts and I don’t want to tell people them because I think they’ll worry more but I tell people and they shrug it off like yeh we die we just have to deal with it. It makes me think im crazy, I went through life for ages not even giving it a second thought and then all of a sudden i’m completely taken over by the fear that one day I’ll be in the ground just like people from hundreds of years ago. They were on this earth and we have no recollection of there existence so is there any point even doing anything in this world or are these everyday tasks just distractions from the fact that we’ll die one day. Anyone please write back I need to speak to people it helps I think… maybe not but it’s nice to see others who aren’t just shrugging it off. Although maybe stick two fearful people in a room and you’d have an absolute train wreck by the end of it. I don’t want to die and no matter what amount of thought I put into it i can’t change it and it’s so annoying. It’s like you want to find a decision thats not there, I want a logical explanation for something there is no logical explanation for. Message me if you wish, I don’t know how but please do x

  363. Laura says:

    July 21st, 2010 at 5:01 am

    I’ve had a fear of death for as long as I can remember, probably since my first dog died when I was 8 but I had been able to shake the feelings of anxiety because I was brought up Catholic and went to a Catholic grade school and therefore had a belief in heaven. But now that I’m older and high school and college are able to explain everything with science I’ve been struggling with doubts about an afterlife. I’ve started wondering if people just made up heaven to explain what happens to us after we die and it is this unassuredness that leaves my heart racing at the very thought of nonexistence. I wish I could get back that faith I had as a child so the anxiety would go away. I love being alive and the thought of having to leave this beautiful world behind for something that might not even exist is terrifying, especially if that means never seeing my family or friends ever again. If I could just have some definative proof all my worries would be gone.

  364. Kim says:

    July 22nd, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Is Jack P really dead? I am stunned.
    I wish that the post about his death was just a terrible hoax.

  365. Kim says:

    July 22nd, 2010 at 1:52 am

    “Sad News
    Due to the untimely death of Jack Pickard TPis is no longer trading. A loving husband, father and friend Jack will be missed by all who knew him.”

    My heart goes out to Jack,s family.
    I am so very shocked and sorry. What a dreadful irony that Jack started this blog and has now gone through our greatest fear.

  366. Carolina Olivia says:

    August 5th, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Please, please, please. I mean it, please. “Please what?” you ask me. Well, please, I need to somehow communicate with you. Email, msn, regular mail, skype.. I don’t care. You have expressed the exact same thoughts and sensations I’ve been getting, you really nailed it. And it just made me so relieved. I have been googling thanatophobia for quite some time now, and its a blessing to have found this site. I need to talk to someone who would understand. I need to. Please contact me. I’m looking for treatment for my phobia, but just being able to communicate would help. Please? My case is quite severe. I’ve actually considered killing myself, thinking “if I’m going to die anyways, isn’t it better to do it now than wait for years and years in total fear of it? at least i’ll know when, and it’ll be by my own hands”. Crazy stuff. (I’m not gonna do that though, don’t worry. I know its my crazy mind playing tricks. And I’m quite happy with the life I’m leading).

  367. Mister M says:

    August 9th, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you all so much for this blog.

    it help’s to know that there are other who feel the way I feel right now.

    Sophie M’s Story sounds frighteningly similar to my own.

    My biggest fear is that im going to look back on my life before I die and realise that iv spent my entire life in fear of death.

    I just want to enjoy life.

  368. Marius Ødegård says:

    September 2nd, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    You described my feelings so perfectly that it’s as if I should’ve written it myself. I came across this blog through a google on thanatophobia.

    If you have any tips or.. I don’t know.. anything at all, please email me. I listed my mail when I wrote this comment.

    For me, it definitely -does- affect my day to day life. It hits me more severely on some days/nights than others, but it hits hardest of all when I find myself alone with my thoughts without anything to distract me. I’m strongly considering psychiatric help, but I have no idea whether it’d actually -help-. I mean, how do you cope with this? You can’t exactly face your fear.. that IS the fear. That someday you’ll no longer be here. That this will all end some day.

    If you’ve got any helpful tips or anything at all to help deal with this.. please email me with it.

  369. Ben from Norfolk UK says:

    September 3rd, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I’m relieved that I’m not the only one with this problem. So many nights I can’t sleep because my mind gets fixated on trying to interpret and understand how, in so many years time, it will not be here. It frightens the life out of me to the extent I have to walk around the house, play music and tv until the feelings subside. I just wish there was some way of blocking all of that out.

  370. Ben from Norfolk UK says:

    September 3rd, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Rest in peace, friend.

  371. Karla says:

    September 7th, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Oh my God…

    You have NO idea what it’s like for me to have found this blog entry.

    For some reason, I was beginning to think I was the only one living with this phobia. I knew that, to a certain extent, everyone is afraid of death but I have full-blown panic attacks over it.

    Haha, I’m glad to see that you found the quote about “something that poses little or no actual danger.” When I saw that, I immediately thought, ‘Isn’t the possibility of dying the very definition of ‘danger’?’

    I am so thankful that I’m not alone in this. I don’t want to re-type what you’ve already written here, but almost everything here pertains to me. The ‘treatments’, the frustration, the religion, the “I’m surprised that people aren’t as terrified as I am about this.”; everything.

    I was having a particularly ‘bad’ night and I came across this. If you have any links or other things that have helped you along the way, please share them with us. I know I’ve written a lot but I just wanted to say thank you for writing about your own personal struggle with thanatophobia.

  372. gwenhwyfaer (gwenhwyfaer) says:

    October 23rd, 2010 at 12:01 am

  373. Oliver R says:

    October 26th, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I’m sad to hear the news about Jack. I first came across this blog post a couple of years ago and just decided to revisit it after a long break. I feel thankful to Jack for his helpful post and giving people a place to air their thoughts about this fear. I hope his friends and family are coping and I am sorry for their loss.

  374. Brianna says:

    December 3rd, 2010 at 6:54 am

    You are me! Or I am you.

  375. Brianna says:

    December 3rd, 2010 at 7:04 am

    I’m sorry to hear/realize the author has passed. It’s so great to know I’m not alone. It does my heart good, to read what seem like my very thoughts in the original post. I too have had exceptionally vivid dreams and nudges.

  376. Keira Andrews says:

    December 3rd, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Wow.. after so many messages I know you probobly won’t read this, but thankyou for writing this blog. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

    I first got this phobia when I was 13 and in a pub with my family in Devon. Then suddenly wham.. I was terrified. Im 16 years old now and havn’t had a single day since without it affecting me. The crying, panic attacks and even screaming (!) have all happened and still occasionally do. Though I find that I’m most vulnerable at night – does anyone else feel this way? I also find that going outside into my garden sometimes soothes me. Going into big spaces, looking at Nature (no im not a naturalist.. anything but!) really helps. Try this, it really does help!

    Everything about death scares me – the dying, the not being here, the loss of family, the coffins… etc But for me the worst is the fear I know i’ll have. When I actually know I’m dying, my body shutting down, everything – yes it may be a long time away… but its still going to happen.

    Thankyou for writing this blog, its really made me appreciate I’m not the only one. :)

  377. Ottilie CH says:

    December 11th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I’ve had this for a while now. I used to always put death to the back of my mind and just forget about it and o think about it more and more. It keeps me awake at night and gives me panic attacks. I’m not sure whether I want there to be an afterlife, if there was I could go
    to hell and I find the thought of eternity terrfying. On the other hand, dying as the ultimate end for us is also pretty scary. The thought of being completely alone as just nothing scares me but ultimately I guess it roots from fear of the unknown. The only thing decided when we
    are born is that we will die and we cannot trick or escape it. I was always consoled that when I was old I wouldn’t fear death but I think it becomes even more real and frightening at this age (I also fear the death of loved ones).
    I have no idea what to do though many thanks for writing this. It’s at least a comfort to know how I’m feeling isn’t particularly unusual

  378. Sou says:

    December 21st, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I was afraid to google “fear of dying” because I though it would all get worse. Turns out it’s called thanatophobia. easy enough, I’m Greek so I was calling it like that anyway.

    I am 21 years old and suffer from thanatophobia since I was 13. I remember the night it first occurred to me, about what happens when you die, and since then I get it every night. Sometimes it doesn’t last very long but other times it’s bad and painful accompanied with lovely panic attacks.
    The past months have been worse than ever. I get it every day, mutliple times during the day and I have a general feeling of uneasiness.

    People don’t seem to understand what I mean. They say everybody thinks about it but the fact is, they don’t think about the way I do.
    It’s like a curse, you understand what happens when you die. I wish I never knew this feeling. I wish I knew WHY it came to me in the first place. I had a pretty damn good childhood so what triggered it?

    Anyway, it’s good to know that others suffer from the same thing. But then again, you are going to die so what’s the point?

    P.S. before posting this I went up a few posts and saw the comments about the authors passing.
    I don’t mean to be insensitive but I feel a panic attack coming.
    It’s so fucking ironic.

  379. Paul says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I have Thanatophobia tried talking to some of my closest friends they ran away and said i was nuts, tried talking to online friends they said i need medical help cause im insaine, tried talking to my parents they said you have depression, tried talking to my doctor here’s someone anti-depressants


    Why do people seem to simple answer to everything is depression when im not depressed or suicidal cause those would lead to what i wouldnt want.

    the way i see it everyday accidents happen not saying i want to live in a bubble but in same way i could choke on a hard boiled sweet and with no one around i could die so its more of the case my mind constantly obsesses about it, i only recently found the name of it as randomly ive became ill and drained of energy recently which isn’t like me.

    plus the veins in my hands and arms are buldging and that never happens to me im only 24 i googled that and found its caused mostly in fear of death as a sympton (thanatophobia) need to goto doctor again get this sorted before my brain breaksdown again.

  380. Josh says:

    January 17th, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I definitely have thanatophobia I won’t say I think about it constantly but just the small things like listening to a song or something that mentions death can tigger little outburts. It seems when people are around I am able to control my self and just think about It in my mind but if I am alone or withy girlfriend (who is the only one that knows) I just break down and cry I can’t control it. The only thing that keeps me going is the thought that I still have the rest of my life left. No I’m also am not depressed I dont feel suicidal obviously as I am scared of death. I often try to think of how I can cure this fear but it seems to me thy the only way is to indeed convince myself of an afterlife, however I find my mind thinks about thing scientifically and however hard I try to convince myself my mind tells me that death is the end. That’s it gone. I hate being like this but I’m going to have to live like it until 1. I grow out of it or 2. I die.

    Sorry for sloppy grammar I typed this on my I phone

  381. Frances A says:

    January 31st, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    This ‘problem’ is getting out of control! I’m sorry to hear that Jack Pickard has died and my condolances go to his family.

    Ive had this for a long time and wondering if anyone could answer a few questions because I cant find answers to them anywhere!!
    I go thorugh phases – i.e every couple of months my mind will become obsessed with a new part of death like the death of my family, the pain, the coffins etc – Does this happen to anyone else?

    Also, has anyone actually gone to therapy for this? If so, did it work?

    Thank you Jack. :)

  382. Dejah says:

    February 4th, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Wow. Thank you SO much for putting this up. I found it randomly on the web, trying to find a REAL person that thought this way, and not just definitions. It somehow eases my anxiety… for now lol. But it feels good to know I’m not the only one.

  383. Rabble says:

    February 14th, 2011 at 2:43 am

    I made the tragic mistake in smoking marijuana. I trusted it was harmless! And it is, I guess, for most people. Unfortunately there turned out to be an incompatibility between it and I. While high, the thought of death had creeped into my mind and it made itself at home there, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I was overcome with anxiety, a pain quickly developed in my chest. I thought long and hard on it, that it was an inevitability, that everything I loved in life would someday be stripped away from me. I became overly sentimental and I wanted to cling on to everything I had. I loved my friends and enemies alike, and it pained me knowing that one day it would all be gone and I’d slip away into an endless void. I lied on the couch, hugging myself, trembling, terrified out of my mind. It was the most traumatic experience in my life, and it took at least a month for the impact from that to fade. The day that happened, I discovered this blog post and spent the next several days reading through these comments. It was nice knowing I wasn’t alone, at the least. We were all in this together. But seeing as how no one was finding any relief from this phobia was really disheartening. There was no hope for them, and so certainly no hope for me. When I came across the comment informing us of Jack having died, I had almost lost my mind. I felt dizzy and I laughed at the horrible irony. I felt like I was just beginning to know the guy. Things were bad enough as they were, and to have found out that that had happened it was like a cruel trick had been played on me. I’ll miss him.

    Somehow though, I’m feeling better now, the anxiety’s mostly gone at least. For the most part, I guess the breakdown I had could be more or less attributed to a chemical imbalance that was inside my head. Drugs will do that! I still hate the idea that I’ll be gone someday.. and knowing that, it’s really taken a toll on my ambitions. I’m just not motivated to do much of anything anymore, seeing how everything is temporary in life, that it’s pointless. I wish I could just blindly follow some faith. Believe in an afterlife where I could one day be reunited with everyone I had ever loved. It would be nice. But I’m a skeptic. I refuse to believe in anything supernatural.

    But then here I am doing a fair amount of philosophizing. Questioning why I’ve even had this opportunity to exist at all. From a biological standpoint, it’s obvious. But what circumstances lead to my “soul” or consciousness or whatever you’d call it being tied to this specific body? Does it have anything to do with my DNA? If so, it could have just as likely been another sperm that fertilized my mother’s egg and I would have never been born. So would it have been oblivion for me from the getgo? Am I really so extraordarily lucky to have gotten this chance to exist? The odds were certainly stacked against me. Or would I have simply just been born differently? Instead of seeing through this pair of eyes, I’d be seeing through a slightly different pair. Because I see no reason why I’m NOT seeing the world through anyone else’s eyes, or, in fact, another creature’s. It’s as if my opportunity to exist was guaranteed. Does that make sense? Am I missing something? I’ve certainly made myself confused thinking about these things.

    So from there I’m wondering why exactly I couldn’t be born again? People often equate death to being exactly what it was like before you were born. It was oblivion that I was born from, and it’s oblivion that’s my ultimate destination. When dead, how is it any different from never having existed in the first place? Everything that made me ME is gone. I’m gone in every sense of the word. So, from that same oblivion others will be born, just like I was. Who’s to say I won’t be seeing the universe through a new pair of eyes then? I had this chance to exist once, it’s a proven possibility, and I’m given no reason to believe it can only happen once. And since it seems like it was guaranteed in the first place… But who knows!

    Sadly it’s something we can never know for sure. It’s impossible to test. How frustrating.

  384. AtomicRoo says:

    March 8th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Like other’s this articles sums me up perfectly, it seriously could of been written by myself.

    I’ve had this fear since I was a small child, my earliest memory was of me running out of my bedroom to my parents when they asked what was wrong I became hysterical and told them I didn’t want to die. I was overcome with a fear of oblivion, and nothingness.

    Since then it’s a nightly thing, seems to mostly be when I lay in bed trying to sleep. Just the thought of my own non existence comes into my head without prompting. I have a full comprehension of the cessation of my existence.

    It can be quite debilitating at times, and to those who say it’s not dangerous, try having a full anxiety attack while driving. Only happened to me once so far thankfully.

    I find it almost impossible to talk about to people, I think mostly because most seem to have a belief that reassures them of some form and I don’t wish to “infect” them with my fears. They’re happy in their bubble, then I’m happy for them, even a tad jealous, I have no desire to ruin that for them.

    I have spoken to my girlfriend about it, my desire to be immortal, which is funny as she is happy to have an end one day and eternal life, well a physical one anyway holds no appeal to her.

    But I could live forever if granted the ability.

    Oddly other peoples deaths don’t affect me,even of people I am close to. I’ve attended funerals of loved ones and don’t feel sad or mourn them, yes I miss them, but I have that feeling like you have when a friend goes away and you never see them again, like they could easily turn up on your doorstep tomorrow.

    I hate the feeling, sometimes it goes for a while, but lately it has come back with a vengence and strayed from my nightly bedtime thoughts to me thinking about it all the time. I’m only 36 now but it feels like the clock is ticking down and the days get shorter and go faster, not helped by gaining an undiagnosed physical medical condition over the last few years.

    I like most people do the distraction method, watch some TV, listen to music, read a book. Thank god TV and radio is 24/7 these days unlike when I was a kid. I think that is the trick to throwing your mind off it, keep busy, do things that make you happy, spend as much time with other people as you can. Just hard to keep going 24/7, and it’s caused me a great deal of insomnia my whole life.

    I’m a skeptic, someone with a too scientific mind, but I hope for someone to prove an afterlife is out there. That for me is the only cure, and I also need to see it with my own eyes to believe it sadly.

    Any way thanks for expressing exactly how it is, and I wish the best for anyone who suffers from this very real phobia.

  385. DeriqG says:

    March 28th, 2011 at 8:22 am

    It really does help knowing I’m not alone.
    But, I think I’m a different Thanatophobic, because I absolutely hate the thought of death, but at the same time I enjoy the loss of control at the moment when the thought fully sinks in. It’s like a drug.

  386. Ti says:

    April 7th, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    I have the exact same problem as you; this article could easily have been written by me, word for word. I found it because I was looking for a way to deal with Thanatophobia.

    The only difference is I have had this problem since I was about 11 and could first comprehend the idea that I may simply cease to exist upon dying. Since then

    I have struggled desperately to understand how an afterlife might work, in the desperate hope that I might come to a less bleak conclusion. Furthermore the concept of eternal life in itself seems illogical to me and I have spent almost as much time worrying about the concept of time.

    I believe I am not only afraid of not being alive, but also afraid of what I can’t comprehend such as how space and time could go on infinitely.

  387. shaf123 says:

    April 25th, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    omg reading this has reassured me because im not the only one who thinks like this…seriously i thought i was the only one with these type of thoughts :/ i however am a muslim and i think i have to believe in the afterlife so that helps me too but im going to have to do some research about death in islam as i dont know much because i hate reading about death in islam it is shit scary and thats what makes me scared even more…i wish i never had this phobia and i think it started when i was 10 and my grandma passed away..after that i lost it and ive always been questioning and trying to look for answers.. i know i will die one day but i dont want to its such a crappy thought to have and i wish it would go away but noone can help you because it will happen to all of us one day…

  388. shaf123 says:

    April 25th, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    i forgot too mention i think i had a near death experience?? i was finding it difficult to sleep and then i drifted off but i woke up and all of a sudden i couldnt move literally and i felt dizzy..i was calling out for my mum but i seriously couldnt get a word out and i felt like some kind of force was holding me down or something it was really scary and i could feel my hearbeat really loud and i was sweating…i dont know how but i forced myself to sit up and after that im always ‘scared’ to go to sleep because it happened again and i dont know what to do…so yh this death phobia i have isnt helping with anything

  389. Rabble says:

    April 27th, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    To shaf123.

    That sounds like sleep paralysis. It’s part of the natural process in falling asleep. You don’t want to be kicking and flailing while you’re dreaming after all! Sometimes you wake up before the paralysis ends though, and it’s weird and scary, but it isn’t uncommon and you shouldn’t have to worry about it.

    Look up ‘sleep paralysis’ on wikipedia if you want to know more!

  390. KB says:

    May 21st, 2011 at 10:43 am

    After having this fear for years, I never knew that it was such a common fear. I have tried to explain it to many of my friends and family but no one quite gets it. It began for me when I was only 9… right after my grandfather died. I developed so many anxieties after this, and I have only began to realise were they stem from. This is something that I will alway battle with. I have become a little better, however barely. Know that I have a ‘name’ for it, and have read other peoples experiences (including your own) I feel I have a better understanding. Most of the time I avoid ‘it’ (I am doing that now) but only when alone, or faced with death of others or even when reading/watch movies do I have that moment in which I panic. My chest tightens, I lose my breath and I have to quickly distract myself before it gets to much. I have never let myself get to the point where I have let it consume me. Only when taking mushrooms have I been able to truely think about it and accept it. When I was on my trip, all my anxieties were removed and I think that what is really holding me back. I just hope that it will get better in the future. Thank you for making this posting.

  391. Dee says:

    June 18th, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    As I had tears running down my cheeks from the thought I was trying to look at cures and came across this.

    What you said about it manifesting your life once you had your wife made me cry more. This is exactly what my fear is. My thanatophobia is so clear in that it doesn’t manifest in a fear of death itself. I’m terrified of leaving my other half alone. I’m terrified of what my other half would experience if he died. Do I care about myself dying? Not at all. Am I afraid of everything I do meaning nothing? No.

    I don’t know where this has come from. No one in family has died in my lifetime, nor anyone close to me. When I was single, I couldn’t have cared less if I died there and then.

    Sometimes I am fine with it. What will happen will happen. Other days like today I can’t stop thinking about it, and when I do, all I can do is cry. I can’t watch films that contain emotional deaths anymore without applying them to myself, I can’t read any news about people dying… which is very difficult, believe me. I am not a strong person at all, I can’t rise above anything, I will instead wallow in my own self-pity and now I feel like I’m wasting away my own time.

    Sorry to explain my life story when it’s really completely irrelevent. Thank you so much for writing this. It is so eloquently written and you are right in that it’s rational, it’s common and it doesn’t make you suicidal or depressed. I hope you find a way to conquer your fear.

  392. The long road... says:

    June 22nd, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    What a great article… it describes EXACTLY what I’m going through. Sometime you forget, sometimes it flares back, sometimes it completely takes you over, that daunting realization that THERE IS NO CURE. It’s not an irrational fear at all, it’s a completely justified, very real and very unavoidable fear.

    I was going to email the author and thank him for putting the feelings so succinctly into words… then I went to the homepage and realized he’s dead now :(

    Castles in the clouds can only keep you from truly falling for so long…

  393. untamedfuture says:

    July 11th, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Almost every single thing you wrote about describes EXACTLY how I have felt for years. The same interests,similar odd experiences,everything. I’m up late because once again I can’t fall asleep and I stumbled upon this. I’d be interested in sharing a few experiences and hearing more of yours as well. Feel free to email me and thank you for helping me feel a little less hopeless.

  394. Lollipop man says:

    July 12th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I sincerely thank you for showing that I’m not alone, this really helps me and (I hope) other people tremendously.

    Just going to add that I started having these thoughts in a really nice relationship. It’s when I thought that life couldn’t be any more perfect, I realised, that the only imperfection is life itself.

    Everything you described, unfortunately, is so similar to myself.

    I started having this quite recently, and so far, there are several methods that have relieved it at least a tiny bit. Sometimes I think, that the world is too mystical to end like that, for example, that consciousness has no dimension. Why would reality even be? What’s up with THIS kind of reality, why isn’t it any other way?
    Well, now I just wonder if meditation and development of the mind can help me with that.

  395. Lou says:

    August 11th, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Wow. Reading this I feel it could have been written using my thoughts and feelings! I, like you, am more of a scientist than a religious person and I feel the root of my (self-diagnosed) thanatophobia is my curiosity and need for answers to seemingly unanswerable questions. (Why are we here? What is my purpose in life? What will happen when I die?) Obviously these are questions that are impossible (if not very tricky) to answer. It’s reassuring to know that i am not alone in my phobia :)

  396. Jenna says:

    August 20th, 2011 at 5:19 am

    I have the same fear. I’ve had it for 13 yrs…since i was about 7. I usually have an “attack” for a day or two and then it goes to something else. I had an “attack” about a month ago and it won’t go away. I’ve thought about it every waking hour. I barely get any sleep because my brain won’t stop. It was never this bad until I had my son. Now every time I look at him I think about leaving him behind. It’s so bad that I feel like I’m in an alternate world and not in reality. I can’t stop thinking….

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  398. Elizabeth says:

    September 2nd, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I’ve been suffering with this for as long as I can remember and I am now 27 and it’s at its worst! I’m amazed at how many of us lay in bed at night and think about it. Someday, I am going to be a nothing and I just can’t get over it. I too, would not consider myself a depressive either. I do suffer from anxiety and have attacks frequently now. I am recently single, but when I lived with my ex boyfriend it started getting worse and I would wake him up at night and tell him about it and cry. He felt bad and didn’t know what to tell me or how to make me feel better… nothing seems to. I also recently told a friend about it and she too feels bad and doesn’t know how to help or what to say. As happy as I am that I found your site and discovered there’s a name for it and I’m not the only one, it still upsets me. Lately, my mind has been very distracted with night school, furthering my career, the break up, and a recent summer fling that ended with him going back home… to Greece! (I am from NY) LIfe has been really tough and very sad for me in the last 4 months, however, I know it’s going to get better with time and that is a comforting feeling… only my thoughts of death that have been pushed to the back of my head are going to come back up front and that terrifies me. I think about it often and it’s the worst at night. I lay in bed and just stare out the window at big black sky thinking someday it’s going to be “lights out” for me. It’s weird though, I wouldn’t want to literally live for eternity and watch my loved ones pass away… everyone would have to live eternally with me. It’s more of just a fear of the unknown for me, but I can’t explain it. I was brought up Catholic however I find myself a believer in something, I just don’t know what. All religion fascinates me and I love to read about it, but there’s a big part of me that thinks it was created as a cure for this phobia of death. And what’s more maybe crazy is that I find myself watching these ghost hunter shows and experiences in hopes that there is evidence of an afterlife and I’ve also played with the oujia board and spoke with my grandmother and uncle and had other experiences with the oujia board that are just incredible and also I always felt a presence in my bedroom of a man but never could really make clear evidence of it. It’s like I want the proof and then comes the belief in an afterlife. I can only hope there is an afterlife, however my faith in the afterlife is very weak. I could probably use a little anger management, haha, but I do consider myself to be a happy person and rarely let my fear of death show.I thank you for this page and I thank everyone for sharing. I will definitely be back.

  399. Charlotte says:

    September 4th, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Hi, ive just found your page on google as im trying to find a way to calm my fear of Thanatophobia, so far i know i am the only person in my family or friends that suffer with this. but looking at groups and websites on google, there’s lots of people that suffer with it.

    In a way i wish to talk about it, but i get that bad with panic attacks that i just cant bring my self to talk about it, say the word death or dying or even think about it.

    i read your whole article and you’ve helped me loads, and its kept me busy reading it at 2:45am.


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  405. Ignas says:

    October 16th, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    yep, I even think of the same 4 ways I could get rid of this phobia. for some time I had a really bad case of panic attacks, I used to have them couple of times a month, other times I was able to control it. for the past 3 years I have been very successful at controling them, but it doesn’t really make me feel better. I find myself thinking less about it at day, but when I’m trying to get to sleep it becomes horrible. It’s the most mind shattering thing, when I forget the phobia, and it comes back out of nowhere making every little success in life seem nothing compared to the fear I feel at that moment.
    I have to say, that I agree that an idea of afterlife might help with the fear of death, but with that comes another thing which my mind just cannot bottle and finds it almost as terrifying as death itself – living forever, with no end. I often think that dying and later waking up to resume your life would be a better outcome…like sleeping.

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  408. gary devine says:

    October 30th, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Hi everyone,

    I am 16 and I suffer from it. It all started in 2008 when my great aunt died that I loved to bits, her husband died a months before my aunt did but it didn’t affect me as much as her death. My mum told me to remeber all the good times I had with her and then it his me that the same thing is going to happen to me, I will die and someone will have to remember the good times we had.

    After her death I was fine for a while but then her my aunts daughter in law died in 2009 and then my aunts first of two sons died just a few months ago, they all died of cancer. I though my great aunts son that’s now left on his own would suffer a lot but he has been suprisingly coping with it all, he says he’s numb now and has nothing else to lose.

    I went to all funerals, cremations, and because in such a short space of time I went through it got me thinking, alot.

    My gran is 75 and thinking she only has about 10 years left absolutely petrifies me. And then losing me my mum and dad. My gran and parents aren’t just relatives, they are my best friends and thinking that I need to cope losing them makes me want to go before them because I know I won’t handle it.

    It’s the thought of being here and then suddenly gone gets to me, thinking what its like to be dead but can’t because you can’t think when your dead its just black and empty, that’s what scares me. I am certainly not depressed I am probably one of the happiest people alive but when I am myself and its quiet and I sit still or I am lying in my bed in darkness that I then start to think about death and I go into a state of panick, I start to panick of course, my heart beats terribly fast, I shake uncontrollably and my mind goes completely blank and I feel lost.

    I haven’t told anyone about my phobia because I think they will just think I am joking, being stupid, exaggerating or laugh at me.

    I have had several dreams about death, one similary to the one posted, and I wake up crying my eyes out and then I am scared to sleep.

    I am a catholic and go to a catholic school but I dont believe in any of it which probably makes me think about it more. In school we are reminded all the time we are going to die, wither its tomorrow, next week, next year or a couple of years from now and you don’t escape which frightens the bell out of me. I can’t bare the thought of leaving my wife, children, grandchildren and possibly even great grandchildren after spending half my life with them.

    Sorry for the long post but I am so relieved that there are other are people going through the same thing as me, great post,


  409. gary devine says:

    October 30th, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Lol sorry for the spelling mistakes, I was using my phone to post and it has those predictive words and I didn’t notice them

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    thank you for writing all of this! im 17 yrs old and i’ve been having these problems for a few months now. recently my panic attacks have been happening almost every night. my mind just goes blank and i can’t breath i have to literally walk around the house to calm myself. I usually let a movie play so i can be distracted before sleep. the other night after praying for an attack not to happen i had a strange dream. me and my dad were sitting outside. All of a sudden huge missiles came out of the sky and i knew everything was over. my dad was worried but told me good luck and knowing that i was a bout to die i was extremely calm. I had a relaxed smile and hugged my dad waiting for it to be over. when i woke up i realized maybe i just have to greet death as an old friend? kind of like how harry potter tells himself “I am about to die”- Cheezy but true. your slight humor made me smile and feel a tad better. i am considering counseling but im really afraid to tell my parents and friends of my fear. the have no clue and i feel like they will think im over exaggerating or something. i will defiantly pray for both of us for the negative thoughts to be gone :)

  498. Danielle says:

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    I want to say thank you to all of you for sharing!

    I often feel like I’m surrounded by oblivious robots.

    I first found out that people die when I was 3. My father’s mother died and he was wailing “she’s gone”. I was horrified. I thought “why did they (my parents) do this to me? What is the point? In the end I may as well have never existed, it makes no difference”. I guess this is why I can’t help viewing people who have kids as selfish. I think having children is just another “immortality project” by replicating your genes.

    I was brought up Catholic but never really believed. I got rid of the phobia for a few years by working and studying excessively and being so tired that I’d go straight into a deep sleep without dreaming. I tried developing my own delusion – that I’d be able to keep consciousness and remember my life after it was over.

    Then I got depression (it runs in my family) and I started thinking about “the point” again. Depression leaves no room for denial or delusions. I will always hate that this existence comes with such a meaningless end. Woody Allen said it best – “Life is a grim enterprise”.

    I finally told friends about my phobia when I was having a total breakdown at age 27 and one told me how she is just like me. We are each others rock nowadays, it really does help to have one person who understands.

    I recovered from depression, did a bunch of stuff to confront the phobia like skydiving, flying a plane, camping in Africa… I thought I got over it but then when dealing with my dad’s estate the phobia and depression all came back.

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    I kept studying why some people don’t have this problem and it seems a combination of brain chemicals, ego and/or religion. I’d highly recommend reading The Denial of Death, albeit perhaps not before bed.

    It is a vicious circle. The anxiety gets worse, you can’t sleep, you take sleeping tablets, you still can’t sleep, you become more and more agitated and eventually so defeated you think the unthinkable – “I’m going to die, why don’t I just get it over and done with”. Fearing death and thinking about killing yourself at the same time is just so incredibly confusing.

    It is somewhat reassuring to know there are others in this world that understand, far more than just one friend. People don’t like to talk about it but I am finding out more and more that there are a lot of people with this problem.

    So again, thank you! I really do hope it gets better for all of you. I’d definitely recommend medication to take the edge off the desperation. The shit part is it also dulls any feelings of elation and happiness :(

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    As I was reading this, I thought of myself. We’re exactly the same. I can understand where you’re coming from, being a moral atheist looking for an answer that doesn’t say “get religion”. You’re a smart person and I can tell that you understand that “religion” is largely a coping mechanism created to help everyone manage this type of fear.
    I can’t really provide much advice about recovering from the irrational fear. I sought out religion as a child and it never worked for me. I do believe in ghosts, but I can’t help but wonder if they’re not actual life forms or some kind of weird time-lapse phenomenon or blending of universes that we haven’t scientifically discovered or explained yet. I can advise you how to manage it a little. I’m not a pro writer or anything like that, but I am pro at feeling almost exactly what you feel.
    -First, I noticed that caffeine was having an effect on frequency of my experience. I was drinking 2-3 sodas a day, sometimes more. When I cut back to .5 sodas a day, I noticed that my anxieties at bed time were lessened. Ironically, caffeine withdrawal will sometimes do it to me too.
    -Second, I noticed the same thing that you have mentioned a few times, but which you may have not realized yourself: attacks happen more frequently at night. I found that it was best to bore myself to sleep, to turn off my rational thought process, so to speak. When you lay in bed shutting down, especially for someone smart or mentally active during the day as a scientist or academic usually is, it’s hard to shut off. I found that playing a game that was too easy for me while laying in bed helped. I have also found that putting a movie on with subtitles on low that makes me laugh or feel sentimental and which I’ve seen a million times, achieves the same thing. The point is to find something that holds your interest enough to direct your attention to it, but not enough to make you force yourself to stay awake (as a new movie or a hard game that requires thinking, like a hard puzzle game or sudoku would).
    -Third, find your triggers and avoid them if you can. I know this doesn’t really solve your problem and makes you miss out on some specific things, but since you can’t place your faith in the afterlife, the other option as far as I was concerned was to be too stupid to realize I’m going to die, which means avoiding those things that make me remember that fact during the day time. I realized that a few of my triggers were old people (because I feel sad for them that they will soon die), cemeteries, and horror films or anything involving a lot of death or dying (when I play my favorite video games I often get a peak in this feeling, but I do it anyway because I do love my medieval RPGs) were triggers for me. Instead, fill the voids you get avoiding those things with other things that don’t trigger it. Switch from horror to romantic comedy if you can stomach it (I personally started watching Japanese animation because character development is more important to me than whether the drawing is bad or the comedy is terrible and I started focusing on understanding the language when I hear it). Since you’re so into ghosts (I was once too), try reading actual histories on ghosts instead of web “ghost fan” sites. Oh and by the way, if the science that you do is related to death and dying (like medicine and biology), you’re just picking at your scab repeatedly. Go into a different sector where dying and the workings of the human body is less prevalent a theme, like astrophysics (but do avoid meteor impact and sun explosion stuff if you were like me and nearly pissed yourself in the theater when you went in to see the new Superman in 3D and saw that horrific scene at the beginning… and if you didn’t see it, trust me, don’t. lol).
    -Fourth, contradicting somewhat what I just said, think about it. A LOT. Part of what debilitates us is the fact that we get hit with a fear attack randomly. Don’t let yourself get one randomly. You know your triggers by this stage, but you still need to find a way to make this horrifying idea of “dying” less frightening. For a lot of us, merging onto the freeway when we first started driving was frightening. The more we did it, the less frightening it was. We obviously can’t experience dying, but now that we can control when the fear crops up, we can choose specific times to allow ourselves to feel those feelings– and we have to. If you don’t, it will bottle up and leak out no matter what you do. Feel the fear and then realize that there’s nothing you can do about dying (not the fear, there’s lots you can do about that). Because you said you’re not depressive, I can say break yourself like a horse. Don’t give up on living, but teach yourself not to care about dying. It doesn’t matter, there’s nothing you can do about it and it will happen whether you want it to or not. Facing that fact is the hardest part for me personally, but I can’t foolishly hold onto some hope that I will survive it, either.
    -Fifth, try not to worry about it. Part of the problem is that you want to control your state of living. Control can be taken negatively, so let me explain that. What I mean is that you want to survive. When you think about dead, you think about surviving, and this kicks your flight or fight response into gear and you feel fear, as a result, because you can do neither flight nor fight at that moment. It breaks you when you trigger the survival response when you only think about dying, but no threat is there to face. The thing I have been teaching myself to do, and it is the hardest, is to let go of that desire to survive. I’ve done that partly by focusing on the fact that getting old seems pretty horrific too. I worked at a nursing home for six months, which is partly what damaged me in the first place into fearing death, but what I fear most is rotting alive and being conscious of it. It was somewhat comforting also to see the body prepare for death. Most older folks were either sick of being old, or lost their minds with dementia a few weeks before it happened. Now, I also sort of have a phobia of losing my mind because of that work experience and my grandmother’s prolonged suffering being old and unable to function, but I still hope I lose my mind at least right before it happens, because then I won’t ever know or wonder about what hit me.
    Once you let go of that need to survive, plan for it. I found that preparing for my funeral and emergency coma situations helped relieve some of my stress too. It’s not like I worry that my loved ones will have to deal with my bs once I’m gone. Instead, it’s a way of controlling what will happen to me after I die and if/when I lose my ability to decide what to do with my person. That gave me a hair of comfort.
    Sixth, I did something else that you might particularly like with your interest in ghosts and scientific interests: get stubborn and mischievous. You can’t control dying, so get determined to become a ghost and prove the existence of the afterlife to all humanity, especially everyone who suffers like you do. You’re not depressed, you don’t need a reason to live. But you do need to give your DEATH a purpose, or dying makes no sense to us. Religious people are doing the same thing, but religiously. They have to die to go to Heaven in this sense. We also have to die to become ghosts under current beliefs, so let’s do that! Just think of how fun it would be to mess with the living, lol. At the end of the day though, I’m still like you. Dying is still a phobia and you can’t really erase it. The goal is to find a way that works within your own belief system to manage that phobia. It will still be there like an ugly mole, but you can manage it to make it less obtrusive in your life.

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    I feel EXACTLY like you do, down to every aspect. Wanting to believe in an afterlife but simply not being able to, being a normal, jolly person, non-depressive with no suicidal tendencies (but with the thanaphobic breakdowns, which I am going through atm), not wanting to be remembered, just wanting to exist, and being terrified with the thought of the eventual disappearance of humanity and everything else, leading to a despaired “why does it matter then?”, when even immortality would be impossible, if not worse than mortality.
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    I feel exactly the same way about death… and at night I often have panic attacks because of it. Actually it’s not only at night, I’ll just start thinking about it and BAM. I mean the simple fact of thinking that I’m gonna die don’t trigger it, realizing that it’s real and it’s going to happen, does. Today I almost fainted because of a panic attack, I was so terrified I thought I was really going to pass out… It’s “great” to see that other people fear death too, and it’s pretty sad in the meantime.

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    Sums up pretty well what I’m feeling.

    Some solution would be nice. Religion is out of the question. I don’t think I can convince myself to believe in afterlife.
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