My Fear of Death & How to Overcome It | About Islam
Home > Ask the Counselor > Mental Health & Disorders > My Fear of Death & How to Overcome It

My Fear of Death & How to Overcome It

Questioner

S

Reply Date

Nov 21, 2017

Question

Salam. For the past 3 months, I have been deeply troubled; I am suffering from anxiety and fear of death. Although I know it is inevitable and one cannot escape it, somehow I am not able to overcome it. What exactly troubles me is the moment of dying. Is there any way or any surah or du’aa’ to recite in order to overcome the pangs and fear of death? Jazakallah!

Counselor

Answer


My Fear of Death & How to Overcome It

 


In this counseling answer:

“According to psychologist Erikson, the life stage you are in now is referred to as “Intimacy versus Isolation”. At this stage of development, young people seek out close relationships which result in lifelong friendships, marriages, and stronger family ties. When these relationships are absent, it can lead to isolation, depression, even anxiety and other disorders. As you stated you do suffer from anxiety, it is no surprise that the anxiety has led to thoughts or feelings of death or dying.”


As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,

I am sorry to hear about the fears you are going through. When I was in my early 20’s, I experienced the same fear; therefore, I can empathize with what you are going through and feeling.

It is actually very common for people in your age to begin to think about death. Strange, as at this age, death should be the furthest thing from your mind as you are young and presumably healthy. However, I have seen in my clinical work as well as some of my family members and friends the onset of a pre-occupation of death to the point wherein it becomes an obsession and a consuming fear. These thoughts usually start out in the early to mid 20’s and either diminish as the individual goes through a rationalization processor gets worse (anxiety, panic disorders, agoraphobia, and so on).

According to Erikson, the life stage you are in now is referred to as “Intimacy versus Isolation”. At this stage of development, young people seek out close relationships which result in lifelong friendships, marriages, and stronger family ties. When these relationships are absent, it can lead to isolation, depression, even anxiety and other disorders. As you stated you do suffer from anxiety, it is no surprise that the anxiety has led to thoughts or feelings of death or dying.

In young adulthood, you are dealing with a sense of pending independence, going out in the world on your own, as well as possibly losing someone you love to death, such as a grandparent. One’s support system, feelings of being valued, and having a sense of belonging may help transition through this phase. Although if it interferes with daily activities and causes severe distress, you should seek counseling.

While you did not elaborate on your symptoms, it may be possible that you suffer from panic attacks as well. Panic attacks can come suddenly with many physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shakiness, feeling faint, difficulty breathing, etc. They can come with emotional symptoms as well such as feeling as if you are going insane, feeling that things are unreal, or feeling as if you are dying. Panic attacks are episodic bursts of intense anxiety which can become quite debilitating if not treated.

Additionally, your thoughts of death may or may not be related to Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder, which is also a clinical disorder. “Adult-onset cases of ASAD begin in late teens or early 20’s, with 80 percent of all first onsets occurring by age 30”. While this may interlude with Erikson’s theory of intimacy versus isolation, it manifests mostly due to unresolved/unmet needs as moving through the life stages as a child through young adulthood.

There is also another type of phobia called thanatophobia. This is described as “an unhealthy fear of death” that interferes with daily life. Fear of death, which consumes your thought and prevents you from leading a normal life, maybe a psychological condition and needs to be evaluated by a mental health professional.”

I do not know if any of these scenarios may be the case with you dear sister as I do not have enough information. Only a therapist can assess and evaluate you one on one; therefore, I highly suggest you seek counseling.

In the meantime, know that this is a fairly normal phenomenon you are experiencing. If you deal with it early, it will not manifest into a full-blown psychological issue. As it has only been three months, I suggest you do get evaluated and treated.

Also, try to keep a journal in sha’ Allah and write down when these thoughts happen, how long they last, what you were thinking before you began thinking about death, as well as any major events or stressors in your life that may have contributed to these thinking patterns. This will give you insight into any triggers or unresolved issues that you may have.

Additionally, please try some relaxation techniques which in sha’ Allah will reduce your fears and provide calm within your spirit.

As far as suras or du’aas to recite/make, I am not an Islamic scholar so you may want to submit your question to the “Ask the Scholar” or ‘Ask about Islam” section. However, I encourage you to make du’aa’ in general that Allah (SWT) brings peace and comfort to your heart. Read Qur’an for guidance and reassurance and do dhikr for remembrance of Allah and also as a way to bring peace and calmness to your mind.

You are in our prayers dear sister. Please let us know how you are doing.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:




About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

find out more!