Accepting death taught me to release fear and find self love
It may be assumed that an Article titled ‘Accepting Death’ is written by someone nearing the end of their life; perhaps an elderly person or someone who has been given a terminal diagnose. I am not unwell, I am healthy 28-year-old; I have learnt to accept death through my childhood and adulthood experiences of bereavement. Acceptance has changed my life and I hope it can help you too.
We do not think about death until tragedy strikes and we are forced to acknowledge it, however even in these circumstances we will try to avoid talking or thinking about dying or bereavement. We find something to keep us busy, to take our mind away from it; we prepare a conversation topic that specifically does not involve death, dying or the departed. I remember a colleague of mine pep talking me before meeting with another colleague whose Grandfather had recently passed “do not ask about her Grandparents, be careful what you say about family”. I then became very reserved and awkward in fear of accidently saying something that may upset her. Those of you who read my recent Blog with Let’s Talk About Loss “I didn’t know what death was”( letstalksaboutloss.org/2019/07/28/i-didn’t-know-what-death-was ) have an insight into my experiences with bereavement and consequently my passion for encouraging others to talk about death. I want to make it very clear that whilst many of us have experienced bereavement, none of us will experience grief in the same way. We all have our own way of processing death and grief because we are all individual and unique, and therefore we will not heal in the same ways and at the same time as one another. Some may want to talk about their bereavement soon after their loss others may need time and space to process their grief. What is crucial is that they know someone is there and willing to listen when they feel ready to talk.
Anxiety & Fear
Anxiety and Fear are common emotions in the initial aftermath of the passing of a loved one because we have lost a part of our familiarity, our safety net. Following the sudden death of my step father I became neurotic about danger; I would go over all the terrible things that could happen in a day, I was no longer able to sleep in the dark, ambulance sirens evoked a fear that one of my loved ones was in danger and I would often send a casual message to family members just to get a reply to reassure me they were OK. Amongst all of this I had developed a fear of dying myself, I became fearful of dying young, what I would miss out on and what I would or would not leave behind. I blamed myself for not being able to save my step-father and subsequently I lost a lot of self-esteem and sense of self-worth. This went on for several months before a GP mentioned the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder, my research into this reassured me that my fears were not real and thus began my healing journey.
Faith brings great comfort to those going through bereavement; I believe my strength is derived from my faith in the afterlife and that there is a Higher Source protecting and guiding me throughout my life. I understand this is not for everyone and therefore I will not delve into this area too much. I will mention that my research into Near Death Experiences was the catalyst to me releasing any fears I had about death and ultimately excluding the emotion that is fear from my daily life. Many wellbeing coaches advise that worry is a pointless emotion, it can cause so much turmoil and take over our enjoyment of life. There is nothing positive that can come from worry; worrying will not change the situation or the outcome. Worry is fear, it is unwarranted fear. We are taught that human beings need the emotion fear because it is an intuitive warning that we may be in danger, however I was unjustifiably fearful in my daily life; I was not in danger. The way I look at life’s challenges now is significantly less bleak than it was because I have accepted death. When we think of a bad situation we may be advised that it could be worse, we could be dying or to appreciate the fact we are alive and those still living; if you were to release fear of death then what is the worst that could happen? There is nothing left. When we let go of the emotion that is fear, we release many other negative emotions; jealousy, anger and anxiety are all derived from the emotion fear. A really big one for me was self-love, we no longer fear rejection and therefore we are open to being and accepting ourselves as we are. I will argue that when we learn to love ourselves, fear is no long useful because when we love ourselves we take care of ourselves, we make sure we are kept safe and therefore we do not put ourselves into situations that evoke fear.
Emotion is energy and energy attracts like energy
Ever notice when one bad thing happens another follows? Our feelings create our reality and therefore a negative emotion in the morning can determine the rest of our day (another topic for another day). So when we are fearful we attract things to fear! I do believe the key to letting go of fear is talking and being more open about death and bereavement because death is always the worst case scenario and is the cause of many peoples anxieties; health anxiety, anxiety about flying/heights/water/small spaces, anxiety about losing a child/spouse/parent etc. By letting go of this fear and subsequent negative emotions, we are able to enjoy and appreciate every second of life more. We are told that fear can help us to survive and prompt us to protect ourselves when used for its primal purpose; for example people often account a sudden gut feeling in the pit of the stomach and a ‘sixth-sense’ knowing not to take a particular turn when they have found themselves in a dangerous situation but we don’t need to experience the emotion fear to keep ourselves safe in this situation. In fact we are more likely to keep ourselves safe by replacing fear with love because we love ourselves enough to listen to and respect what our body is telling us. We love ourselves too much to put ourselves in a situation that may harm us. People may even ignore the emotion fear in a dangerous situation if they do not have self-love because they may dismiss themselves as just being paranoid or silly (how many times have you ignored your gut feeling about a person or a situation only to kick yourself later for it?). I am not suggesting that releasing fear and being full of self-love will make you immune to danger, I am advising that life is more enjoyable when we learn to let go of every day fears about situations we may or may not have control over. Wayne Dyer (motivational speaker) famously once said “it makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there is nothing you can do about them, and if you do have control over it, there is no need to worry”.
Some exercises that I have found helpful on my journey to releasing fear and finding self-love include mediation, running, self-healing books and self-love affirmations. These may not work for you but I suggest spending more time doing the things you love as a really good starting point.
This blog is an insight into my ongoing healing journey and whilst I hope it helps others, I do not expect that your journey will be the same because we are all individual and unique 🙂