Death Anxiety: Existential Issues

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The existentialist approach, which stands in a very important place in terms of understanding human, aims to contribute to the process of self-discovery by focusing on the essence, the effort and the potential of the human being instead of framing with theories and assumptions. The existentialist approach deals with the individual’s confrontation with the pangs of being. Basically, four final concerns are the field of study of the existentialist approach: death, loneliness, freedom and the meaning of life.

Absolute End: Death-Mortality

IIt is unclear what happened at the time of death, the experience of the deceased, how death came, what would happen after death. This uncertainty about death is the basis of our concerns about death. Our effort to make sense of such an abstract phenomenon leads us to explain it with the things we know, know and are concrete. So much so that the description of the world after the death of the world’s rivers, food and blessings, etc.. with. Literature, which commits death the most and makes the bravest confrontations with death, gives us plenty of examples:

Always the same thing again and again, all these endless days and nightsIf … Quicker to what? DeathdarknessNonoAnything better than death


“It is life, more than death, that has no limits.

Gabriel García Márquez

Self-awareness is a great gift for man. Awareness is our cornerstone when we determine who we are, what we want to do in life, our goals. While reminding us that we exist, it causes us to recognize a bitter truth: Mortality. Man’s desire to be one and only makes him the leading actor of this one life; it is also difficult to accept being mortal for a leading role. What we do the most against death is to deny it. This denial functions like a defense mechanism. But always exists in human nature. This heroic aspect of the narcissistic structure leads the person not to think of his own death but to pity the person next to him. Because he’s not gonna die. We admire those who have faced death and won. For example, we want to know the story of cancer survivors in full detail.

There has been a phenomenon of heroism since ancient times. In primitive ages, a hero is an appreciation given to a person who goes to the world of spirits and returns from there. Heroism is one of the first reactions against the horrors of death.

Even though anxiety about death increases and decreases, it is always visible in the life cycle even though it is visible and hidden. The idea of ​​death in children does not occur until the age of 3-5. Death is an abstract concept and cannot be experienced, so it is difficult for children to understand. Young children observe traces of mortality around them. Autumn fallen leaves, the death of insects and animals, disappeared grandparents, mourning adults are children watching but they are silent in the face.

arents who are desperate for children to express their concerns clearly, try to calm them, avoid talking about them, or try to comfort the child with narratives such as heaven and reunion. Perhaps these initial reactions to death confront us with the helplessness of our mothers and fathers, who we think are indestructible in any way, and form the core of our first fears about death.

What Scares Us the Most About Death?

To be forgotten, to be burried, to be abandoned, the interrupted relations… The answer we give to this question provides a clue to the basis of our fear. Our answer is a reflection of our fear in life. What haven’t we been able to do in our lives? What are we worried about?.

Human is a social being. In most of the things we do, we are with others. However, dying is the only thing one do alone. Sometimes people slowly withdraw from the dying person. Desperation brings them to this point because they do not know what do do in the face of death. Or they would avoid facing their own death. Sometimes the person close to death empties his surroundings. Not to upset the rest, the fear of saying goodbye to them is the main reason. But such loneliness increases the fear more. Anxiety of the person who is approaching death or experiencing anxiety about death should be acknowledged, be physically present and approached with empathic language.

The thing we do most about death is to deny it. But the best remedy for death anxiety is confrontation. Confronting death causes great anxiety, but it also gives us the opportunity to make sense of our lives. The life of each of us began to end one day. This really means running away from the freedom to live our lives as we wish. We make our lives meaningful to the extent that we can face death, accept and begin to live with it, and understand it. We have a chance to live every moment. When we give ourselves this opportunity, we can be ourselves.

Cindy Brown
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