Most of us are excited about the many decades of life that we have ahead of us — decades that we want to fill with the passions, people and places that matter to us.
At the same time, as we reach our 50s, it’s common to start worrying about our mortality. Many of us begin to think about the fact that we may have fewer years ahead of us than behind. Some may even come to fear death, no matter how far it is in the future.
Talking with the members of Sixty and Me and Boomerly, I am always amazed how some people are afraid of death, while others find it easy to accept their mortality. So, to help those of you who have a fear of death, I asked them for their advice.
Here are a few tips, based on the advice of other people over 50 who have conquered their fear of dying.
Take Control of Your Life
Spend quality time with the people you enjoy being around. Try new things. Challenge yourself. Most of all, keep active and engaged with positive activities. If there is something that really rankles you — do something about it! If you have unfinished business — take care of it! If you have someone you need to speak with — make the call!
Don’t keep going to a job that is deeply dissatisfying, or stay in a relationship that makes you unhappy. You have many years to enjoy everything that life has to offer. Who you spend your time with matters!
The fear of death is often the fear of not living on your own terms. You deserve to see your dreams come true. The more you embrace life, the less frightened you will feel about giving it up when the time comes!
Learn to Accept that Death is Natural
It helps to recognize ourselves as part of a great cycle and find comfort in the fact that everyone else must go through the same thresholds: conception, birth and death.
Near-death researcher Norman Van Rooy once said, “Like the child being born, we have no choice but to yield ourselves to the unknown.” You can choose to view your body and your contribution to this world as an honor. We have had the privilege of living; so, let’s be grateful and accept death when it eventually comes.
Read the Available Literature and Self-Help Guides About Death
Many writers have shared their own ruminations and musings on the subject of death. Also, religious leaders, philosophers and mystics have built a magnificent library on the subject of the afterlife. Their works may not tell you, with certainty, what happens after you die. But, they may help you to tackle the equally important questions of why we are here and how we should prepare for the afterlife.
Adopt Rituals and Explore Spirituality
Whether you are religious or not, rituals are important for creating a sense of meaning in life. They also give continuity to our existence. A ritual can be as simple as taking a walk every afternoon or lighting a candle each morning. You can recognize a seasonal change or something emotional or physical happening in your life. The choice is completely yours.
If you are curious about your family’s religious practices or want to explore new spiritual ideas, now is the time. Don’t be afraid to ask the “tough” questions about the afterlife. These are the only questions with the potential to guide you to a deeper understanding of your faith - or any aspect of your life, for that matter.
Focus on Living Well
There are so many simple things that you can do to live a healthier and more positive life. In fact, sometimes the smallest steps, applied consistently, lead to the biggest changes. Make a commitment to walk every day, rain or shine. Explore your passions. Write a “bucket list” with all of the amazing things that you want to do before you die. If you are busy living, you won’t have time to worry about dying.
Plan for Your Passing
Many of the questions that we have about dying are religious or philosophical in nature. But, what about the practical concerns? Many of us worry about dying because we wonder what will happen to our family after we are gone. Will our grandchildren be happy? Will our spouse be able to recover from our passing? If so, will they have enough money to continue to live the kind of life that they deserve?
These are all valid questions. The good news is that, while we can’t control when or how we leave this world, we can control much of what we leave behind. Many people feel a sense of relief when they get their affairs in order - even if they have many decades of healthy life ahead of them. They know that, should the unexpected happen, their wishes will be clear and their legacy secure.
At the end of the day, the advice from other people over 50 who have conquered their fear of death is simple: focus on living authentically, passionately and well. A fear of death cannot take root in the heart of a person who is truly satisfied with their life.
» wikiHow: "How to Overcome the Fear of Death"