The fear of death and dying isn't uncommon. Most of us fear death to some degree. There is some evidence, however, that a "good death" is more difficult to achieve when death is feared -- an important reason to try to face the fear and perhaps overcome it. Fear of death is so common that it has spurred multiple research projects and intrigued everyone from scholars to thanatologists to religious leaders around the world. Some interesting findings have emerged from studying the fear of death. For example, women have generally shown more fear of death than men, perhaps because women are more likely to admit to and discuss their fears. There is conflicting research about fear of death in young people versus the elderly. While most researchers will argue that young people fear death more than the elderly, one study done with dying people in Taiwan and published in theJournal of Pain and Symptom Management showed that the fear of death actually didn't lessen with increased age. Interestingly, the same study showed that patient's fear of death decreased after they were admitted to hospice care - likely a result of the education and emotional/spiritual support patients receive from the hospice team. So what is it about death that has us so scared?
Types of Death Fears
Fear of death is broken down into specific fears:
•Fear of Pain and Suffering - many people fear that they will meet death with excruciating painand suffering. This fear is common in many healthy people and is seen often in patients dying of cancer or other painful diseases. •Fear of the Unknown - death is the ultimate unknown--no one has survived it to tell us what happens afterward. It's in our human nature to want to understand and make sense of the world around us but death can never be fully understood while we are still alive. •Fear of Non-Existence - many people fear that they will cease existing after death. This fear isn't confined only to the non-religious or...