Tag: death

Overcoming the fear of aging

Overcoming the fear of aging

Aging, like sickness and death, is part and parcel of life. Everyone who is born must eventually age and die. This is the natural cycle of life. However, not everyone ages in the same way. Some age gracefully. Others age with fear.

Fear is Optional

If you are fearful of aging, you should know that this fear is not inevitable. It is there only because of your own past experiences, your own beliefs and your own attitude towards it. In the end, it is a matter of choice. Aging is inevitable but fear of aging is not. Aging of this body is a physical phenomenon. That is why it is inevitable. Fear, on the other hand, is a mental phenomenon. It is optional.

Identify Your Fears

If you are fearful of aging, you should try to be more specific and identify what it is that you are really fearful of. Generally, those who fear aging are actually fearful of sickness and death. Those who believe that they can age with a healthy and functioning body have little fear of aging. Those who think of the possibility of sickness and death as they age become fearful.

Having identify our specific fears, it then becomes possible to do something about it.

Fear of Sickness

If it is sickness, then we can start to live a healthy lifestyle. It is never too late to start a habit of living healthily. If you smoke, stop smoking. If you drink alcohol, and especially if you drink heavily, then tone it down. Drink less. Scientific studies have actually shown that a small amount of alcohol is good for your physical health but too much is harmful. Sleep early and wake up early. Sleep well. Exercise regularly. Eat healthily. Drink lots of water. Practice yoga or tai chi. Learn to meditate. All these improve the quality of your life, making you healthier mentally, emotionally and physically.

Fear of Death

If your fear is death, then once again you have to be specific. Is it the process of dying that you are afraid of, or is it death itself? If it is the process of dying, then the real fear for most people is actually the fear of a painful dying process. If that is the case, we have good news for you. Science and medicine today have reached a point where we can almost always minimise pain in the dying process. In most cases, we can even totally eradicate pain. However, even without medicine, pain can still be managed well. Physical pain may be inevitable but mental suffering is optional.

The question then is how do we free ourselves from mental suffering in the presence of physical pain? The answer to that is a strong mind. We can train our mind to be strong and resilient. It is a skill, and like all skills, it takes practice. The most common and popular mind training is meditation. So, learn to meditate, and learn it well. Gain mastery over your own mind. Then you will have little to be fearful of.

Fear of the Unknown

Lastly, if it is death itself that you are afraid of, then it is most likely because death is a big unknown. What happens to us after death? This is a spiritual question, and you will need a spiritual answer. It all comes down to your belief system. So, when you talk about death, and especially when you want a solution to this type of fear about death, then you must re-visit your spirituality, and the very nature of who you are.

Are you simply this body or are you more than just this physical body? When you die, is there a part of you that continues on? This is your quest. It is a journey that none can take for you. Only you can do this for yourself.

Understanding the Grieving Process

Understanding the Grieving Process

What is Grief?

Grief is often defined as intense sorrow caused by a loss. We grieve when we expect to lose or have lost someone or something that we are attached to. The intensity of our grief is proportionate to the degree of attachment that we have to the loss. In other words, the more attached we are to the other person or thing, the greater is our grief when the loss occurred.

The pain of loss can sometimes feel overwhelming, and is often accompanied by a mixture of emotions and thoughts. It is important to know that grieving for the loss of a loved one or something that we treasured and valued is a natural reaction. It is alright to feel sad, hurt and confused when we are grieving. Often, the grieving process can take a long time before we can move on with our life.

Causes of Grief

Some of the more common causes of grief are:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce or separation
  • Loss of a job
  • Miscarriage
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of health
  • Financial loss
  • Retirement
  • Loss of a friendship

Stages of Grief

According to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five stages of grief. They are:

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger: Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

Dr. Kubler-Ross observed these stages in her patients who were terminally ill. While these may be common reactions to loss, it is also important to know that each person experiences grief in his or her own unique way. Variation is common and is to be expected. Also, it is not necessary to go through all the stages in order to heal.

Four Tasks of Mourning

William Worden suggests that there are four tasks one must accomplish in order for the grieving and mourning processes to be completed appropriately, and life equilibrium to be re-established. They are:

  • Task 1: Accept the reality of the loss. …
  • Task 2: Process your grief and pain. …
  • Task 3: Adjust to the world without your loved one in it. …
  • Task 4: Find a way to maintain a connection to the person who died while embarking on your own life.

Accepting the reality of our loss is necessary for healing to occur. The more we resist this new reality, the longer it will take us to get through our grieving process. As we gradually accept the loss and move on, we establish a new equilibrium. Pain and sorrow subside. Confusion is gradually replaced by new outlook in life and new purpose.

For most people, life goes on. Some may even find a renewed vigor and appreciation of life.

Pathological Grief

However, there is a handful who may continue to have symptoms of grief that are far too long, too debilitating and too intense. This would be considered pathological grief and would require consultation with a psychiatrist.

Cultivate a Friendship with Death

Cultivate a Friendship with Death

Why We Fear Death

“Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark.” – Bacon

There may be a thousand reasons why we fear death, but most of all we fear death because we fear the unknown, and death is an unknown entity to most people. We fear that dying may be painful and we do not know what will happen to us at the point of death.

Some people fear death because they imagine the dying process to be very painful. Death is not painful. In fact, death is often very peaceful and silent even for those suffering from cancers or other terminal illness.

Read More Read More

A Memorable Death

A Memorable Death

Marvin is 55 years old and he has a brain tumour. He is getting physically weaker by the day and is now having difficulty in breathing. However, he is still mentally very alert.

Although Marvin knows that death is imminent, he does not seem to fear death, at least not outwardly. As he is not talking very much about his impending death, I take it as a sign that he or those around him have not fully accepted the reality of his situation. I personally feel if this hurdle is overcome, it would make a tremendous change for all.

Read More Read More

On Death and Dying

On Death and Dying

While I was having my lunch two days ago, a patient of mine approached me and made a request that I go to her house to see her husband who is dying of cancer.

Her husband has been suffering of a cancer of the neck which has spread to the liver and other parts of his body for many months. He was growing weaker by the day and his body was getting thinner and more cachexic each time I saw him. I have been visiting him at his home once in a while to help change his urinary cathether.

When we reached her house, I went in and upon looking at her husband, I realised that he had died. To make sure, I checked his carotid pulse, a major pulse at the neck, and found that it was absent. There was no more spontaneous breathing and his pupils were fully dilated and not reactive to lights. I therefore pronounced him dead.

Read More Read More

How to Overcome the Fear of Dying

How to Overcome the Fear of Dying

As a doctor and a hospice volunteer, one of the most common fears that I encounter in my job is the fear of dying. In fact, this fear is so common that we have come to accept it as part and parcel of our life. In our fear-driven world where a lot of our actions are motivated by fear, the fear of dying seems like just another fear we need to live with.

However, I have had the good fortune to come across people who are able to die with courage, dignity and peace. During their final days and even up to the moment of death, they remained in peace and without a trace of fear. It almost looked as if they welcome death.

Regardless of the kind of illnesses they may be suffering from, each of these people have some common traits.

Read More Read More