Plato said that learning to die is learning to live better. And, if you think about it, this thinker was right: the idea of dying is a background noise that accompanies us throughout life and must be dealt with. Sometimes we avoid facing the discomfort this reality is causing us, and we simply choose not to think about it. But there comes a time when the question needs to be asked: How to face death?
In this article, we’ll go over some useful psychological insights and clues on how to live with the idea that one day we and our loved ones will pass away.
Several keys to knowing how to deal with death
The fear of death is, as far as we know, a universal phenomenon. It is present in every culture that has been studied and, oddly enough, even people with stronger religious beliefs are not saved from it. In fact, recent research has shown that Buddhist monks living in monasteries have a greater fear of death than average, although theoretically the doctrine they follow leads them not to focus on the ‘I’ and therefore not to worry about his own disappearance.
However, it is practically impossible to assess death positively. that does not mean that we have to resign ourselves to suffering for that to unsuspected limits. There are many ways to lessen the negative impact of end of life, and all of them involve acceptance. Let’s see.
1. Don’t take life as a fight
It has long been criticized that we talk about having cancer as a “fight” against the disease. Indeed, thinking in these terms leads to assuming a frame of reference according to which those who survive are the strong and those who die are the weak: they could not win and lost a battle.
The same is true for all causes of death, including deaths from natural causes. As humans, we have no capacity to voluntarily control all of the biological processes necessary to stay alive; it is something that simply escapes our interests, and therefore no matter how hard we try, we can’t stop the end of life from reaching us.
2. Suppose it is normal not to live
Because of our tendency to build a strong sense of identity formed by each other’s autobiographical memory, we take it for granted that it is normal to exist, to be able to look from you to you in the same nature that will remain here for hundreds of millions of years. However, this is an illusion, and on the other hand it is one of the things that makes us suffer the most when the idea of death approaches us.
If we believe that by default we ourselves are in the category of “what is there”, the end of our journey is something that will destroy the foundations of all our beliefs. Not only will we have to face the fear of physical pain; moreover, it can lead us to an existential crisis.
Therefore, it must be assumed that our awareness and sense of identity are just fragile realities mounted on a complex web of bodily processes that do not always have to function.
3. Close our personal story, but not all of it
In the process of death, a paradox occurs: it is good for the deceased to go through phases of farewell, if this can be both his loved ones and the places and objects for which he feels affection. However, at the same time, it is good not to just wait for death. Absolute inactivity leads to rumination and obsessive thoughts, and in this way the anxiety is always kept very high.
It is good to feel that there is always something to be done, when it comes to the possibilities. This means that you don’t even need to have a good degree of mobility. If you want, you can find things to do. Of course, no one should insist that a sick person do things just to follow this principle; it is oneself who must choose.
4. Know the nature of fear
By definition, no one suffers from being dead. What produces discomfort is both the prospect of ceasing to exist and feeling physical pain, on the one hand, and the emotional pain that someone’s death produces in loved ones. , on the other hand. Much of what it means to perish has to do with how we experience the death of others, which in most cases makes us feel very bad.
However, when it comes to self-death, death does not even have to be accompanied by physical suffering. Its effect on us it can be the same as losing consciousnessSomething that happens every night when we start to sleep. Many people suffer more from living experiences than from death itself. It must be assumed that the emotions to be dealt with are rather related to the communal experience of death, and to being the person who is at the center of the ritual of mourning for others.