Near Death Experiences / Afterlife Studies/fear of death


Hi lately I have been trying to help my mother with her fear of death while talking to her about dying and what scares her about it I began to realize that every time we started to talk about it I would get this fear in the pit of my stomach knowing that one day I was going to try to take a breath and wouldn't be able to and then for the next few minutes smother until my body died. I live the fear as though it's about to happen. I get this fear all the time now it's always going through my mind thoughts of dying popping up for no reason living it as though I've been put on a waiting list for surgery feeling the fear about the operation not knowing when I'm up but also knowing I can't stop it. Is there something that can help with this fear
Please help

Hi Cyndi,

  Thank you for writing to me at All Experts, Near Death Experiences / After life Studies with your concerns. I will help you to the best of my ability.

  What you are suffering is known as Thanatophobia, literally Death Fear or Anxiety. In your particular case it is known as Existential Death Anxiety [your reaction in the pit of your stomach], or the knowledge that life ends and that you will eventually reach that point. But it goes a little beyond that, it has become a psychological barrier to your daily enjoyment of life and a preoccupation. Neither are healthy, and doing unhealthy things doesn't help keep premature death at bay. Statistic: Most people who go into a hospital or a surgery with the expectation of dying live up to their expectations [no pun intended] - most pass away.

  There is not much that I can say about death. It happens, it's real and it's not going away. You concern seems to be that your death will be lingering, a slow demise, or painful, or both. In the song "The Gambler" as sung by Kenny Rogers there is a verse that goes, "The best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep." That however is not always possible.

  Besides the above anxiety regarding the possible physically unpleasant  aspects of dying, what can some other fears be? One is the fear of non-being, the complete erasure of the person that is you where you enter a black void deprived of anything and any one for all eternity. Well the good news about that is that you no longer have a consciousness. You would be totally unaware of being dead because everything about you no longer exists.

  Another is the fear of an afterlife, in particular, the all to famous life review and judgment from "God". One side paradise and the other Hell. Personally, I think that I would go crazy in about two days if all there was to an after life was sitting around praising the big cheese. Besides, I'd miss my friends! Cyndi, let me assure you that through all of my research, a life review happens, but there is no judgment by a higher power [this is not based on religious texts]. You enter the spirit realm like everyone else. This is similar to the Jewish idea of Sheol, a place everyone goes. As Douglas Fairbanks, Senior said upon his death, "I never felt better.", or Thomas Edison's last words, "It's very beautiful over there."  For those who have died and come back [near death experience], Edison is right.

  Back to your main concerns, I would highly suggest that you talk this out with a psychologist or counselor who has some knowledge in Thanatophobia or fears with anxiety in general Yours is not an uncommon state of mind. As for taking that last breath only to struggle for another and smother, chances are that you will slip into unconsciousness and be unaware of the event. Acceptance of a pending death is a varied and personal affair. Some uselessly struggle, grasping at bed sheets trying to avoid the inevitable, while others in their moment of finality simply accept it as a part of life.  Maybe they see the light, maybe they see the predeceased who have gathered at their bed side to take them into the next phase of life. Fear will not change death, but facing that fear will help wonders. Please find someone to talk one on one to. You may be able to get information from a Hospice near you. I have a list on my web site:

  or you may find better success by doing a more localized search.

  In closing, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any other concerns or to follow up on this issue. Remember you are robbing your self of living when you are preoccupied with dying.

Very warm regards,

Greg Pocha,

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Greg Pocha


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Greg has intensively studied Thanatology [the study of death and dying], Near-Death Experience [NDE], Shared Death Experience [SDE] and After Death Studies including Life After Death/Life After Life and proposed this category to AllExperts to share his knowledge to the public in a compassionate and understanding manner. Greg specializes in Near Death, Shared Death and After-life Studies as well as Pre-death and Death Bed Experiences. Greg will make all attempts to help you with general information regarding your concerns or will make every effort to give you referrals. He will not answer questions that are related to religion or that are religious in nature.

  • NOTE: This category is for the answering of questions pertaining to Death, Dying, Thanatology, Near Death Experiences, Shared Death Experiences, Death Bed Visions, Survival of Consciousness, Afterlife Study. For questions about the "paranormal" see below.

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  • Experience

    During his studies in Parapsychology Greg decided to expand his education to include the sciences. He immediately developed a keen interest in not only the after life, but in the events that proceed it. Therefore he became knowledgeable in Thanatology, Death, the Dying Process as well as being extremely well versed in Afterlife Studies [Life After Death and the Survival of Consciousness], Near Death and Shared Death Experiences, Pre-Death Visions including Death Bed Visions/Experiences and all related subjects and theories including medical research and professional journal writings.

    Greg is currently working toward a Diploma in Advanced Parapsychology. Outside of practical hands-on experience and field work for over a decade, he owns a private reference library, exceeding 900 books, dealing with his areas of interest. This ever growing library is available should references need to be made to help in answering your questions. Volumes include works by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD., Robert Hatch, Sam Parnia, MD. Ph.D., Therese Rando, Ph.D., PMH Atwater, LHD., Raymond Moody, MD., Jeffery Long MD., Melvin Morse, MD., Craig Lundahl, Ph.D., Harold Widdison, Ph.D., Eben Alexander, MD., George Ritchie, MD., Maurice Rawlings, MD., et. al. Greg's on-going involvement in research and education is unending.

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