Anonymous asked a question:
Do you have any idea as to how I can combat my death anxiety related to a generalised anxiety disorder? Despite having been a Christian for the entirety of my life, I’m really struggling with the fear of losing loved ones and eventually, dying myself. My greatest fear is just becoming nothing.
Dear friend: I have the same fear.
The other day I was on the couch watching a show with my wife and my dog, and I had the crazy (if unoriginal) thought that a hundred years from now, we’ll be gone. The people in the show: gone. Our pictures and trinkets and trophies and stacks of collected papers will soon mean nothing to no one. What will become of our stories? Who will remember us?
I can’t say that I know how to deal with this all the time. The terror of death is a real anxiety. Some theories have said that we work and play and create and pray to ease the fear of annihilation. It could be true. All our living could be a futile dance towards the grave.
As a Christian too, sometimes the Christian story gives me great comfort. Other times it can feel so abstract and unreal. I want to believe so badly that we are headed towards a better eternity. But my doubts run rampant. I doubt, a lot.
I have worked now in the hospital for over three years. I see death and dying constantly. Chaplains are called to every death and Code Blue and end-of-life situation, so I’ve seen it all—even too much. Young and old, babies and teens, and once someone who was over a hundred.
One of the things I’ve learned is that our youth does not guarantee a long life. I could be gone today in an accident. I could have a fall or seizure or cardiac arrest or arteriovenous malformation or I could develop a rogue cell in my body that decides to duplicate endlessly until my “vitals are no longer compatible with life.”
Rather than scaring me though, I have slowly and painfully come to accept it. We are at the edge of eternity, always. In some ways, it’s a little bit of a relief. I know this won’t be true for everyone, but seeing death so much has shown me the pure fragile state of life and how precious it is. I can’t believe I am here.
It is electric to me some days that I am still around, can still love, can still kiss my wife and eat hot bread and watch a show on a Thursday night with my dog asleep on my lap. And so each day, each breath, each moment, is one more I want to be here for. I am not scared to die these days. I am scared of not living.
We will be together again one day, and I will tell you the stories from that short time we had on earth.
By the way: Medicine, therapy, and recovery groups are also perfectly legitimate ways to find help for anxiety and depression. May you find all the resources you need. There is no formula for any of this, and it’s okay to be scared.
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