Death Anxiety

We all have it. We all subconsciously act on it. But what is it? Merriam-Webster defines thanatophobia as “fear of death”. With this fear of death, “the paralyzing terror produced by the awareness of one’s mortality leads to the denial of death awareness and the repression of death-related thoughts” says the existential psychologists Victor Florian and Mario Mikulincer in 2004 when they observed the phenomenon. 

It may be easy to say “well yeah, I’m scared of death”, but just how much? Most people do not think about the everyday actions for avoiding death that they may do such as; driving slower to avoid an accident, walking on sidewalks, avoiding bridges in case they collapse, or keeping knives pointed away from the body when cooking so as to avoid stabbing accidents.

Death anxiety strikes us all because while we fear death, we do not actively do things to tempt fate so to speak. We subconsciously go out of our own way to avoid peril and stay alive. Death anxiety is a lurker and we all act on it, knowingly or not.

It is always right around the corner.


We experience mini-deaths each and every day. Like normal death, it is the cessation of something once thought to be continuous. The death of a relationship, an object, a job, a workshop, etc. We experience death everyday and it is hardly noticed because it is not extraordinary. These deaths are mundane and uninteresting which makes the act of an individual dying that much more significant. It is easy to accept these little deaths because we choose to actively forget the path we were following before and instead, follow the new path that no longer has the dead as a part of it. It is forgotten and we evolve without it. Mini-death is no small matter however, we are re-training our brains to live without that which we thought we could never be without. They help shape us and get us to where we are today, all while subconsciously preparing ourselves for the grand acts; and by that I mean individual deaths. Mini-deaths are just as a much a part of life as regular deaths. Have you experienced a mini-death lately?

A professor once said

“This class is not for the light-hearted. Neither is this program, and to deal with the insane amount of shit you are going to see and have to deal with; you’ll need to take care of yours first. Take care of your shit and figure it out. It is the only way you are going to be able to be successful in this industry.”

This really motivated me because I had shit that I was absolutely not dealing with and had no plans to start. But this resonated in me, felt like I was meant to hear it. My shit needed to be taken care of and dealt with. I took the sign as an invitation to turn my research paper into a challenge for myself. Could I write a research paper researching what I had to come to terms with and really understand? Research for what I felt I had no control over and that gripped and strangled me tighter and tighter each and every day?

I could and I did.

“Bipolar Disorder and Death Anxiety”, a research paper, by me.

One tell-all question

I suppose a good place to start is with a question I will never tire of hearing, “Why did you choose funeral service?” My answers have changed with time and I’m sure they will continue to do so. However, my interest in the macabre started at a very young age. Spending much of my time up in Massachusetts, I was always surrounded by nature and spent much of my time outdoors. This resulted in my finding of numerous “treasures”; a baby mink here, a dead frog or bird there. My Grandfather was always very supportive of my curiosities. I once asked if I could set a dead frog I found on fire and he told me to keep it away from the house. Needless to say, I thought my Grandfather was the coolest guy around. He let me do what I will and a slow fascination began for myself about what happens after we die.

It’s easy to believe what your family or community tells you about the death subject; especially when that is what they practice and is what is readily available for information. Luckily for me, while there were few who held firm to their beliefs and ideals, none were forced on me. I grew up with my own ideas and thoughts and eventually settled to where I am today. I am spiritual, but I believe in Mother Nature. I believe in the wind, and the tides, the moon, and the sun. I believe we were created from stardust and we will return to the earth and fertilize new growth as we were meant to. However, I respect and honor those of all religions and beliefs. I find there is beauty in anything and everything worshiped.

I decided to get into this business not only because it is what has always fascinated and intrigued me, but also because of what I can learn and build on in many areas. I have only cracked a few religions on the surface, while most of that knowledge lends to the funeral tie-in, but I hope to learn more. It is a beautiful thing when someone decides to believe in something, and it can be magical when others choose not to discredit or bash those beliefs but instead honor and embrace them. We are all people, regardless of physical or spiritual attributes; we all deserve to be treated as such, and that starts with understanding.