I was around 7 or 8 when my Great Grandmother passed away, and my Mum gave me the option to attend her funeral. I didn’t really understand the concept of death or what went on at funerals but as a child I knew the whole family would be gathering and I didn’t want to miss out on anything exciting.
When I saw the coffin lowered into the grave I came to the realisation that’s where my Grandma would stay and that she’d be trapped under the earth forever. Forever. That’s a really long time, is this what happens when everyone dies? Is this what’s going to happen to me? Am I going to die? And there we have it, that’s when my fear of death began, the main fear that I still hold onto now nearly two decades later.
I wasn’t quite sure how you died, my Grandmother was 90 so I wasn’t sure if it was something I needed to worry about until much later in life. Obviously though as I started to get older I discovered that there are many ways to go. ‘Will I die?’ became a common phrase of mine, if I fell over, if I grazed my knee and started to bleed, if I bumped my head. A huge faze of mine was when I learned that food could go out of date. Before I ate anything I would ask if the food was in date because I was convinced I’d die if it wasn’t. I’d ask any responsible adult I could to ensure that my meal was safe and I wasn’t going to perish. That faze died out after a while but still to this day I’ll call my mother every so often to ask things like ‘is this cheese still good?’ And ‘how long does salami last?’ Fun story, one New Years Eve I actually did eat off salami unintentionally and was violently ill vomiting etc. I survived! What a relief! I wasn’t likely to die from food which freed my mind to worry about something else.
Nowadays I’ve graduated from death by food poisoning to things like leaving the gas on throughout the night and gassing myself to sleep (income my OCD, I’m a checker but more on that another time.) Headaches that I worry might actually be an aneurism – not likely, I have sinus which causes my headaches but you know, what if?! And all the rest, what if all the double cheeseburgers catch up and I have a heart attack? Yes it’s silly I know, when I die I wont even know so why worry? It’s inevitable right so why not just enjoy the time I have on earth instead of wasting my time being anxious? Wouldn’t that be nice! On average 1 in 4 people suffer from anxiety so it can’t be that easy.
I think it’s that I. Just. Don’t. Want. To Die.
Maybe it’s FOMO, I mean what if I die and then the next day something exciting happens? Also I kinda wanna know who’s going to show up to my funeral.
So what’s the best way to deal with the ‘what if there is no afterlife and when I die I just lay there forever?’ If I find out I’ll let you know, and trust me I plan to. I’ve tried the psychologist and medication path, and they both have their merits, currently now I’m on a very low dose of Lexapro. But like I said, it’s only a low dose and doesn’t always cut it. I plan on trying everything under the sun from diet and exercise to hobbies and selfless acts like giving back to others. So follow me on my journey while I stumble along trying to make sense of what’s going on inside my imaginative yet sometimes bloody disruptive brain.