Comprehending the full implications of one’s inexorable mortality is scary, but for non-addicts and those with a relatively balanced state of mind, it’s usually nothing more than a fleeting thought. In other words, most of us understand that constantly pondering about the inevitable does more harm than good.
Now, on the other hand, we have recovering alcoholics such as myself, who although are capable of recognize the futility of hanging onto the fear and dread, are simply unable to escape it. The good news is that therapy can help you come to terms with your own mortality and regain the ability to live your life without the looming presence above your shoulder.
Defining Thanatophobia Correctly
Thanatophobia is often a component – whether or not a person is experiencing it as standalone or as a symptom of a complex of phobias – of necrophobia. Necrophobia constitutes a fear of all dead things, and the proximity to them makes the person suffering from it nervous and uneasy. Thanatophobia, on the other hand, represents a paralyzing dread vis-a-vis your own impending death.
What Generates the Fear of Dying?
Lots of things, actually, but the reason to fear the end of your journey varies from person to person. For some us, not knowing exactly what to expect once we are no longer breathing is a reason to panic. For others, the beliefs instilled by our religion with regards to the eternal punishment for our sins are the source of fear.
At the same time, death itself may not constitute the object of panic, but rather the prospect of dying slowly and/or painfully. Also, individuals who have young children or elderly parents are afraid of what might become of the “dependants” once they pass.
Why are Recovering Alcoholics More Prone to Experience Thanatophobia?
During early sobriety, sentiments of guilt are very likely to develop, which tend to render the vulnerable psyche of the former alcoholic susceptible to the idea that a punishment for his deeds is at hand. Furthermore, prolonged alcoholism comes with very real physical consequences – kidney, heart, and nervous system problems – and that could make the former addict fear for his life. The fear of not being able to actually get a second chance and actually enjoy the sober life due to some ruthless twist of events also comes into play.
How Can You Beat the Phobia?
There are numerous ways to cope with idea of mortality. For instance, acknowledging the fact that every single living organism in this world – not only humans and animals – end up in Charon the Ferryman’s boat is one example. Philosophical, spiritual, or religious convictions – for those who embrace them – have also been known to provide some comfort. Another example implies realizing that existence without an end would take away the uniqueness and miraculous nature of ever-changing and adapting life.
If you do not feel that you can handle the phobia of dying on your own, then my suggestion is to seek counseling to discover the roots of your fears and overcome them.