Our mortality is an inevitable part of life, yet it remains one of the most feared topics in society. For most people, this fear is rooted in the unknown. However, we’ll explain how accepting life on life’s terms can be a tool to improve your life.
So, is it possible to learn how to accept death as a part of life? Yes, we believe that it is possible. We’ll explore practical ways to deal with this serious aspect of life. We’ll even learn how to use this fear to improve our lives. Sound crazy? Hear us out.
Of course, it will require dealing with this existential fear. But there are tactics and strategies you can use which will eliminate or reduce the dread that accompanies this event.
Accepting Death as a Part of Life
The fear of death can creep up on us at any age and stage of life. It can arise from different sources like a serious accident, a terminal diagnosis, the news of a loved one’s death, or even reading about death or serial killers online. This fear might manifest as general anxiety, sleeplessness, or depression. The thought of the unknown, of leaving everything behind forever, or of the pain that comes with death can be overwhelming and debilitating.
As humans, we contemplate our existence, and the realization that we will one day pass from this world can be difficult to swallow. It is known as “the dark night of the soul” or our existential fear.
But what about the rest of the animal kingdom? Do they fear death, or are they focused on survival? It’s natural for animals to seek out ways to prolong their existence. Whether searching for food, avoiding predators, or finding a suitable mate, every living being is wired to prioritize survival. The biological imperative of perpetuating one’s species drives many animals to fight for their lives, but is this because they are aware of their mortality?
We may never know for sure, but one thing is certain: every organism on earth is equipped with survival instincts. Small creatures like insects and bugs may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they, too, have an innate drive to stay alive. Some insects, such as bees and ants, will even sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their colony.
Is the survival instinct based on accepting death as a part of life and therefore acting in ways to preserve life?
But do bugs know they are mortal? It’s unlikely that they possess the cognitive ability to grapple with such abstract concepts, but their behavior suggests that they are acutely aware of the dangers surrounding them. Insects and other small creatures must constantly navigate a world fraught with peril; every moment of their existence is spent fighting for survival.
On the other end of the spectrum, larger animals, such as predators and prey, also exhibit behaviors that suggest a deep-seated desire to stay alive. A lioness will do whatever it takes to feed her cubs, while a zebra must always be on guard against the threat of a lurking predator. Fear is a natural response in these situations, keeping these animals alive.
So do animals fight for life because they fear death? While it’s difficult to know for certain, the evidence suggests that survival instincts are hardwired into the brains of all creatures, regardless of their level of cognitive ability. Whether or not animals can contemplate their mortality is a question that may never be fully answered, but what is clear is that the drive to stay alive is universal.
We will capitalize on the innate survival instinct that we share with many living creatures while employing the analytical power of our mind to execute tactics that will help us in dealing the fear of the unknown and learn how to accept death as a part of life.
Accepting Life on Life’s Terms
Life is unpredictable, and we cannot control everything that happens to us. Having an optimistic and realistic worldview helps us to weather the unexpected things in life. We live in a world where we are constantly reminded of the importance of being in control. From picking the perfect job to controlling our relationships, we are expected to maintain a tight grip over every aspect of our lives.
However, the truth is that control is nothing more than an illusion. No matter how much we try to hold on to it, life throws curveballs that disrupt our carefully constructed plans. In reality, the more we try to control our lives, the more restricted we become. We spend so much time worrying about the future and trying to shape it to our liking that we forget to live in the present moment.
What’s worse is we learn to substitute mythology and superstition for facts. This only creates more tension and conflict in our lives since reality does not conform to the ideologies of religion. So, what can we do to break free from the illusion of control and find true happiness? The answer lies in letting go.
By letting go of control and the illusion of religious baggage, we release our grip on the things that we cannot control and open ourselves up to the beauty and unpredictability of life. We learn to trust the universe and have faith in the journey rather than obsessing over the destination.
However, we do have control over how we respond to those situations. By accepting life on life’s terms and accepting death as a part of life, we can let go of the need for control and find peace in the present moment. When we learn how to accept death as part of life, we can focus on what is important and meaningful.
It is common for people to realize that the fear of their mortality has kept them from doing the things that are the most important. The acceptance of our mortality brings things into focus and helps us reprioritize our life. This will often lead to changes in career and living arrangements, which lead to a happier, more fulfilling life.
Here’s How to Accept Death as a Part of Life
Fear is not bad; it is one of the core emotions we all experience. It is a natural response to situations threatening us or our loved ones. Fear is not always bad; it can keep us from harm, signaling that we must take action to protect ourselves. However, fear can also hold us back from achieving our dreams, making new friends, or taking risks that may ultimately lead to success.
Fear can manifest in different ways. It could be a physical reaction such as increased heart rate, sweating, and trembling, or a mental block that prevents us from thinking clearly and making good decisions. The key to overcoming fear is distinguishing between actual danger and perceived threats. To do this, we need to learn how to face and deal with fear in a healthy way. Here are the steps:
1. Acknowledge your fear
The first step in overcoming fear is to acknowledge that it exists. Please don’t ignore or dismiss it; it is a natural emotion, and everyone experiences it at some point. Identify what you are afraid of and be honest with yourself. Accepting life on life’s terms starts with acknowledging your fears.
2. Understand the cause of your fear
Knowing the root cause of your fear can help you address it better. For instance, if you are afraid of public speaking, try to understand what makes you nervous. Are you afraid of being judged, or do you feel unprepared? Identifying the cause can help you prepare better and take steps to overcome it.
3. Face your fear
Avoiding your fear will only make it worse. If you want to conquer your fear, you must face it head-on. Start by taking small steps toward your goal. If you are afraid of public speaking, start by speaking to a small group of friends or family members.
Accepting death as a part of life requires you to dig up all the fears associated with the unknown. Take it a step at a time. Ruminate on it, and discuss it with others. Bringing your fears out in the open will help you to overcome them.
4. Don’t substitute one fear for another
For example, many religions substitute the fear of death for fear of hell or, rather, the loss of your afterlife benefits in heaven. This is the classic bate-and-switch tactic that keeps you a paying customer. After all, you don’t want to go to hell. Sadly, we are all going to hell in someone else’s religion. Don’t fall for this scam.
5. Regulate your emotional equilibrium
Learning to meditate and practice mindfulness can help you calm your mind and body and manage your fear in a healthy way. Practice meditation or deep breathing exercises to help you relax and stay focused. There are other things under the umbrella of self-care that you can do to reduce anxiety and stress. You are less likely to go down the rabbit hole of fear when emotionally stable.
6. Seek support
Seeking support from family, friends, or a professional counselor can give you the support and motivation you need to overcome your fear. Sharing your fear and talking about it can help you gain perspective and develop a plan to conquer it.
If your fear of death is tangled up with other traumas, then working out a plan with a professional is a good idea. Accepting death as a part of life makes you face the losses you’ve already encountered.
7. Use Laughter and Humor
Humor is a quick way to sidestep anxiety related to death. It also has positive psychological effects, lasting after the laughter. Watch a movie or video that makes you laugh. It’s that simple. You’ve finally found a healthy use for your mobile device (1).
It’s important to understand that when you watch a scary movie, you reinforce the fear of death. Fear releases chemicals that stimulate the same areas in the brain that are receptors for pleasure. This is why people get addicted to scary movies, haunted houses, and amusement parks. They are addicted to the high of fear. (2)
It wasn’t until 1979 that Norman Cousins published As Anatomy of an Illness, which outlined the analgesic effects of laughter. Laughing increases our immune response, exercises the cardiovascular system, and achieves long-term physiological benefits. It’s no wonder cat videos are so popular. The results of laughter create an immediate change in our mental outlook.
Genuine laughter differs from mimicking the physical action of laughing. Also, shared laughter between two or more people builds trust and community. Here’s the reason TV shows use a laugh track. It is a temporary tactic which puts on the back shelf for a time, allowing us to get past the terror.
Okay, you can’t watch cat videos or the three stooges 24/7. So, humor has its place as a temporary strategy to give you immediate peace of mind. Laughter may not remove the underlying fear if you have a fixation with death, but it will provide a way to help you regain your emotional equilibrium so you can deal with it better.
8. Eliminate Harmful Religious Baggage
When children learn to talk, one of the first things they ask about is death. Does everyone die? What happens when you die? Will I die someday? These questions should lead us on a journey of exploration to find the value in life. However, religion steps in to provide answers. They want you to buy afterlife insurance so you can go to heaven instead of hell. Are you a customer?
Religion substitutes one fear for another. It substitutes the fear of death for the fear of hell. Instead of showing how to accept death as a part of life, they give you something else to fear — he’ll, the devil, and demons... They are happy to sell you the antidote to the things they’ve manufactured. If you purchase their belief system and pay your dues, you go to heaven, the good afterlife. But if you don’t buy their religion, you go to hell, the bad afterlife. Heaven is paradise. Hell is the worst kind of torture you can imagine. (3)
Religion magnifies the fear of the unknown. It cloaks this anxiety in the fear of evil spirits and hell. The fear of imaginary enemies is just as viable as the fear of falling, drowning, or being attacked by snakes, spiders, or animals.
The fear of hell, the devil, and demons becomes a phobia. And people will cling to their fear again because it produces an addictive response in the brain. So fear is addictive, and nothing generates more fear than the unknown.
The only way to handle this is to learn how to accept death as a part of life. The experience of the “dark night of the soul” has been a catalyst of the all-time money-making scheme, the afterlife.
Beliefs about life after death or the afterlife are a part of our cultural narrative. People who do not follow a religion or believe in the existence of higher power still have beliefs about what happens when you die.
How to Eliminate Fears Imposed by Religion
1) The first thing that will help you overcome the harmful programming of organized religion is to understand your approach to the subject of a higher power. This imaginary friend is the linchpin that upholds all the harmful religious baggage. If you know why you accepted this concept, you can see how to get past it.
2) Another approach is to use comparative analysis to trace the source of your sacred ground. Comparative analysis is a step-by-step process of comparative religious study. It forces you to look at the true sources of your beliefs.
3) A good process for facing the anxiety of any kind is what we call exploring memories. Here, you search for positive and negative memories. Then you look at how these memories link to emotions. This can be an emotional roller-coaster because many of our memories get tangled up with a variety of good and bad emotions. Sorting these emotions out takes some work.
“The conquest of the fear of death is the recovery of life’s joy. One can experience an unconditional affirmation of life only when one has accepted death, not as contrary to life, but as an aspect of life. Life in its becoming is always shedding death, and on the point of death. The conquest of fear yields the courage of life. That is the cardinal initiation of every heroic adventure – fearlessness and achievement.” — Joseph Campbell
Part of this process uses a technique called the repeating question. Here, you take the memory and ask yourself, what does it mean? You keep asking and recording what comes to the surface. You will be surprised at what emotions a memory can hold once you dig past the superficial elements.
4) Finally, the process we call breaking the patterns of thought and behavior. This exercise focuses on dissecting our self-talk. Our fears are reflected in our thought patterns. Identifying and fixing these negative triggers stops you from sliding into anxiety.
9. Increase Your Social Interaction
Social interaction is also necessary to develop and maintain a healthy mindset. Children deprived of loving contact develop unhealthy coping skills. If these aren’t identified early, they follow into adolescence and adulthood. The lack of proper social acclimation can lead to narcissism and other anti-social disorders.
Healthy social curiosity is the way we learn to care for and share. Developing healthy friendships reduces our anxiety about life’s uncertainties, including the fear of death. (4)
Terror management theory (TMT) explains (5) how we develop strategies to shield us from the anxiety of our mortality. TMT is based on the works of Ernest Becker (1962; 1973; 1975) (6). He theorized we develop these coping mechanisms early in life, mirroring the tactics of our family.
So, it’s not just accepting death as a part of life but unmasking and removing the tactics we use to shield us from the fear of death. Most of the strategies people use to keep from facing this reality are based on religious mythology and superstition.
A healthy family provides a community in which the individual is valued. This intrinsic value of self shields us from the terror of our demise. People can face great dangers when they live for a higher cause. We learn we receive affection and praise when we follow the rules. If we don’t, we face punishment. The terror of failing to follow the rules is the terror of failure.
Increasing our social interaction provides a support system for people with shared life experiences. Healthy social relationships boost our self-value. These two elements are the foundation of TMT, which can eliminate stress. They also reduce anxiety related to mortality.
Using virtual communications is one way to increase social interaction without increasing the fears associated with the pandemic. (7)
Embrace the Unknown Accept Death as a Part of Life
Fearing death is a pretty normal part of the human experience. It’s a universal fear that affects us all, no matter who we are or where we come from. For some people, however, the fear of death can be a paralyzing force that prevents them from living a fulfilling life.
But what if we told you that the fear of death could be useful? When we accept death as part of life, we are accepting life on life’s terms, not on fear derived from mythology and superstition. What if we said it could help you live a better life, one that’s full of purpose and meaning? Sounds crazy, right? Hear us out.
Death is scary because we fear the unknown. We don’t know what’s on the other side of death, and that lack of knowledge is a lot to handle. We may also fear leaving behind loved ones or missing out on experiences we’ve yet to have in this life.
But consider this: What if instead of resisting our fear of death, we used it as motivation to live our lives to the fullest? After all, if we know that our time on this planet is limited and that we don’t know when our last day will be, it’s a good reason to make the most of our time.
Here are some practical ways to use the fear of death to live a better life:
1. It is the spark that is intended to ignite your inner spiritual quest
We call this quest spiritual exploration, and you use spiritual technologies or tools to explore consciousness. It has nothing to do with joining a religion or accepting the existence of imaginary friends and enemies. Learn to accept death as a part of life. That is what makes life valuable.
2. Prioritize your goals and dreams by setting a deadline for them
The fear of death can help us gain a better perspective on what’s important in life. It can remind us that our time here is finite and to make the most of it. Setting a deadline for our goals gives them a sense of urgency that can help us focus on what’s truly important.
3. Use your mortality as motivation to take risks
It’s easy to get stuck in a comfortable routine, but the fear of death can motivate us to step out of our comfort zones and take risks. Whether pursuing a new hobby, traveling to a new place, or starting a new career, taking risks can make us feel more alive and fulfilled.
4. Practice gratitude
The fear of death can also help us appreciate the present moment and be grateful for the time we have. By focusing on what we do have instead of what we don’t, we can find more joy and satisfaction in everyday life.
5. Make an impact on others
One of the most significant ways we can use the fear of death is to turn it into a source of motivation to make a positive impact. Whether volunteering, mentoring, or simply being kind to those around us, making a difference can give us a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Death is the ultimate unknown, and it is normal to feel anxious about it. However, by acknowledging our fear, understanding it, and dealing with the sources of artificial fears, we can learn to accept it. We can learn how to accept death as part of life, and by doing so, we can live a life full of joy and purpose. Remember, living fully is the best way to conquer death.
(1) The Laughter Prescription, National Center for Biotechnology Information
(2) The Biology of Fear, National Center for Biotechnology Information
(3) Overcoming a Fear of Religion in Social Work Education and Practice, Taylor & Francis Online
(4) Social curiosity as a way to overcome death anxiety: the perspective of terror management theory, National Center for Biotechnology Information
(5) Terror management theory or management theory: A theory: A theoretical perspective ethical perspective on origination, maintenance, and research, University of Tennesse Chattanooga
(6) Ernest Becker, Wikipedia
(7) My life became more meaningful: confronting one’s own end of life and its effects on the well-being-a qualitative study, National Center for Biotechnology Information