How do I handle my thoughts about death?
I recently keep thinking about death. Initially, I felt horrible and unacceptable as when people die, everything ends forever. Then all the bad feelings come in. I am obsessing in the fear of death. I have tried to accept it and think positively such as ‘focus on now’, ‘live happily’, ‘live for love’, ‘live for a better world’ etc. But I still confuse about the meaning of life: if we all die, then why do we need to exist?
Thank you for writing and raising this very relevant question. For hundreds of years, philosophy, science and faith have debated on the meaning of life and there is no right or wrong answer. People may have different interpretations but what matters is to find our own personal meaning. It looks like you have been thinking hard to reach that goal and thinking about such existential questions can be overwhelming and scary.
It’s part of our normal development to wonder about life and death and to ponder your mortality at different stages of your life. Sometimes, thoughts about death are triggered by a significant event such as losing someone or being in or witnessing a scary accident. Times of transition can also cast uncertainty on the future and lead people to worry about their life in a broader way, about its meaning and its end. It is part of young adults’ natural development to try consider how meaningful their lives are and what to do with them.
Death is a difficult concept to grasp and it is common to fear what we don’t fully understand. In some cultures, it is also quite taboo and it may not be easy to talk and think about it. While it is normal to think about life and death, it can be disruptive for your concentration on your academic tasks or on work, in daily activities and in interactions with friends or family if you find yourself obsessing about it and fearing for your life or for your health on a regular basis.
Having clear values can give you a sense of direction and help you to participate in a meaningful life. Thinking about what is important to you can help, e.g. the people you love and value the most, things you want to achieve in your life, how you want to participate in society, and the qualities you value. Some people find some meaning in their spirituality or religion. Whether you are a religious person or not, you can always discuss these issues with someone from Chaplaincy. Chaplains are here to support spiritual growth and can help you navigate questions such the meaning of life.
If you still can’t help feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, changes in your mood or any impact on your quality of life, it could be helpful to talk with one of counsellors at Counselling and Psychological Services.