Facing the reality of death as we get older is one of the challenges we all face. Today, escaping the reality of death, namely “Avoidance attitude”, is the most popular coping method. However, we should be aware that some of the usual ways of coping can create existential anxiety and can also steal from our quality of life.In the face of the reality of mortality, it is important to have a “buffer system” to maintain our psychological serenity and cope with death anxiety (Routledge & Vess, 2019; Juhl, 2019).
Here are some suggestions that can buffer death anxiety:
1. Creating meaning
According to the Terror/Fear Management Theory (TMT), having the feeling that one's own life has a meaning or that life in general has a meaning enables the individual to live with the awareness of death and without fear. When people do something important that satisfies their soul, they have no time to worry about death. For this reason, it is very important for the individual to clarify his deepest personal values and to serve these values in his life. Research suggests that any resource that one feels meaningful (such as work, relationships, science, and belief) must serve an individual important value.
2. A change in priorities
Death anxiety motivates us to be creative. We can achieve more when time is limited. Mortality inspires us to live an interesting and meaningful life. It causes us to choose our priorities and live more effective lives. If we were immortal, we could justifiably delay our actions indefinitely. It wouldn't matter if we did something now or tomorrow.
The term productivity, a form of symbolic immortality, can be seen as an expression of going beyond our own existence to leave behind a positive legacy. Productivity can transform the fear of death into a deep sense of satisfaction.
As humans, we have a biased view of life and death. We see death as something that separates us from life (that is, from all our material and spiritual assets). Some ancient teachings speak of suffering because we are attached to the transient things in life that are constantly changing. The way to end our suffering is to cut off our attachment to ephemeral/temporary things. For example; wealth, power, etc. Thus, we no longer fear death because we will have nothing to lose.
5. A cognitive-behavioral approach
Our emotional lives are shaped by our beliefs and values. The observer influences the "observed reality". By developing the capacity to choose how we interpret life and death, we can free ourselves from negative emotions. Stoic teachings suggest that we focus on what we can control and not worry about what we cannot control. Knowing that you are doing the best you can in the current circumstances allows us to accept everything (life and death) calmly and calmly.
The most powerful way to deal with the fear of death is to face it instead of avoiding it. Research on anxiety reduction shows that exposure to feared situations is one of the quickest and most effective remedies. In the context of death anxiety, it involves practicing exposure to death-related issues. For example; regularly reading obituaries in the newspaper, reading literary accounts of death and the law, writing a will, planning funeral arrangements, imagining his own death, eulogies about how he would like to be remembered after his own death, etc. These exercises can be very helpful in reducing death anxiety. Yalom (2008) states that confronting one's own death fully consciously (with both thoughts and emotions) is to overcome death anxiety.