I Feel My Death Is Near

23 May, 2021
Q It started in April this year. One of my cousins who is around 19 years old got ill and died on the 3rd day.

The doctor said he was having some infection from an old, inner wound. It was a shock to me because I met him just a week ago.

After a few days, one night, around 3 am while working (I'm a software engineer) out of nowhere I got a feeling like what if my time has come right now. My heartbeat went really high. I really got worried.

I told myself it was just my thought. I drank some water but it did not help. I started walking in the room, but I was so disturbed, then after a few hours I went to sleep and when I woke up I was fine.

Then the same thing happened again after a few days. I tried sleeping, when I got up I was okay. That time I didn't know these were panic attacks, and it is a medical condition. I was thinking these are some kind of signs that my time is near.

I have found out that it is a medical condition and it’s all related to my mind, so since this realization, I'm not having these panic attacks, but I do get these feelings like as if my heart stopped for a moment. I often feel I am going to die soon.

Usually, I get these feelings around 9 pm or so. I feel so down that time and don't feel like eating or doing anything. The only thing that helps is sleeping.

What is going on with me? Do I need to see a psychiatrist?

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Oftentimes as we are passing through life stages we experience various strong emotions and thoughts. At some points, a fear of dying may develop.

Treatment usually consists of cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation/stress reduction techniques as well as medication.

From an Islamic perspective, doing dhzikr, reading Qur’an and making duaa is also very effective in relaxing the mind and curbing anxiety.



As Salamu Alaykum brother,

I am sorry to hear about your cousin who passed away. I can imagine that it not only hurt you, but it was also a shock because you had just met him and he suddenly died.

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It can be quite upsetting when a young person (19) goes in for an illness and medical procedure and ends up dying.

As we know, brother, all is in Allah’s time and Allah knows best. May Allah swt have mercy, forgive and grant your cousin jannah.

Triggers & Anxiety-Panic Attacks

As I understand, as a result of this sad situation, you are suffering from feelings of fear that “what if your time is now”, or if “he can die so quickly.” Now you are worried about dying and it’s causing a lot of anxiety and panic.

Brother, you did indicate that at the time you were going through this you didn’t know they were panic attacks, but you do now.

You didn’t state if you went to a doctor or counselor to address these feelings, but I am thinking that you did as you now know that it was due to panic attacks.

You understood that what you were experiencing was not due to signs that your time is near but they were truly panic attacks that were likely triggered by the death of your cousin.

Since you found out that they were panic attacks, your mind started to relax.

I Feel My Death Is Near - About Islam

You did not mention whether or not you ever experienced symptoms of anxiety or panic in the past. Often times anxiety/panic disorder emerges in the late teens or ’20s as a result of a life occurrence (trigger) or as a seemingly random event.

There may have been other times in which you experienced the anxiety of panic symptoms. However, they were not severe or persistent enough to warrant your attention.


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In day to day life, some anxiety is normal. We cannot escape occasional bouts of anxiety.

However, when it becomes a situation wherein it alters our thought patterns, behaviors and/or causes us to change our routines, it is time to address it.

Some examples would be avoiding crowds, not going out, experiencing prolonged fear, racing heart, shakiness, thoughts which cannot be redirected.

Life Stages & Thanatophobia

Oftentimes as we are passing through life stages we experience various strong emotions and thoughts.

At some points, a fear of dying may develop. It may be triggered by a friend becoming ill and dying, seeing an accident and somebody dies, or the loss of an elderly loved one such as a grandparent.

It is with these experiences of death that we begin to process our own mortality.  We realize that life is not permanent. We realize that our time here is short.

Often times young adults in their 20s do have a lot of stressors such as a career, job, school, family and so forth.

Add on to that the stark realization of the fleeting nature of life, it can lead to anxiety, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder with thoughts of death.

A lot of people your age group to go through this. It usually passes within a short period of time as the mind tries to make sense of this new fear and actual realization.

There is a term for your specific type of fear and it is thanatophobia. Thanatophobia is a fear of death or fear of the dying process and is frequently seen in those who are in their 20’s.

While thanatophobia is not officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a disorder, it will most likely be diagnosed as general anxiety or panic disorder with death as an underlying theme.

The Healthline describes symptoms as “more frequent panic attacks, increased anxiety, dizziness, sweating heart palpitations or irregular heartbeats, nausea, stomach pain sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.

When episodes of thanatophobia begin or worsen, you may also experience several emotional symptoms. These may include avoidance of friends and family for long periods of time, anger, sadness, agitation, guilt and persistent worry”.

Treatment usually consists of cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation/stress reduction techniques as well as medication.

As I understand your current status, you do not have such severe panic attacks as you were experiencing before, but you do get feelings like your heart is sinking along with fear. You reported that these feelings occur around the same time in the evening.

These feelings that you are getting may still be related to panic attacks. They are classic symptoms which affect your heart and your cognition, which makes you feel like you may die soon.

Seeking Allah’s Help, Stress Reduction & Counseling

It is my suggestion insha’Allah that you need to go back to your doctor and discuss what you are going through and request ongoing counseling to help you cope with these episodes.

I’d also kindly suggest that you begin to practice relaxation and stress reduction techniques.

There are many good and effective techniques for anxiety and panic such as deep breathing, progressive body relaxation, aromatherapy, biofeedback, tai chi to name a few.

From an Islamic perspective, doing dhzikr, reading Qur’an and making duaa is also very effective in relaxing the mind and curbing anxiety.

I suggest dear brother that when you are beginning to feel the anxiety coming on, make duaa to Allah to relieve you of these feelings and begin a deep breathing exercise or another relaxation process.

Insha’Allah as you acclimate your mind towards these activities, you will begin to find some relief.

Perhaps these feelings occur at the end of your day because you are trying to wind down and relax after a very hectic day. When one is busy working or going to school and doing daily chores and tasks the mind is kept busy.

Around the time we try to wind down and relax our minds is when we often get flooded with feelings of depression, panic or anxiety.

They may be fleeting or they may last longer. With the utilization of relaxation techniques and stress reduction however you should be able to get these feelings under control.

As stated, I do recommend that you do go back to your therapist and continue with counseling so that you will know how to better deal with these feelings and thoughts.

salam,

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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.

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.