Why Are We Scared of Death?

Why are we scared of death? Why do we fear it so much?

Let’s say you have to travel to China. You know almost nothing about China (except for the fact that everything you buy here has a ‘Made in China’ label on it). You don’t speak the language. You’ve never been there.

You will, I’m sure, Google hotel and restaurant information.

You’ll check the local transport and average fares.

You’ll click to see what must-see monuments exist close to where you’ll stay.

We’re all going on a journey. It’s called Death. Do we Google it? You’re kidding me, right!

Do we read about it? Do we ask questions? Do we have the courage to tell someone we’re scared to death of dying?

The one-word answer to all of the above: No.

Ask what you’re afraid of and why. The No.1 reason why we shy away from the topic is fear. The only way to overcome fear is to walk toward it. Ask what it is about death that makes you afraid and start a conversation about it (with yourself or a friend who won’t flee).

Start with one question. That question could be: A) Where do we go when we die? B) What is my soul’s purpose? C) Do we come back or is there only this one life? Stay with that question and stay open to answers. Read a book. Talk to someone who volunteers in hospice. Ask an elder for their opinion.

Embrace uncertainty. We’re so invested in a 5-sensory experience that we don’t believe in anything that we can’t see, smell, touch, hear or feel. Death is a dimension beyond the five senses. In a culture that admires certainty, it is scary to say “I don’t know” or “I’m waiting for the answers to emerge” or “I need to meditate on it.” Yet, life at its very core is all about uncertainty.

Do we know what will happen 30 minutes from now? We think we do—because we have clocks, calendars and planners. Those who live life to the fullest are those who embrace uncertainty. That means giving up the need to be right. The need to know everything. The need to have all the answers.

We love mastery because it helps us feel safe. Death is not something we can master. It is a grand mystery. We need to go with the flow. Those who conquer death are the ones who conquer life—because they live more fully.

Listen to and feel this moment. Know that the next moment will be whatever it is. And all is well—because you’re not in charge. The Universe is.



  1. Michelle Dodd on September 18, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Uma, I LOVE this post. Beautifully written and a great topic! Way to give people permission to face their fears and deal with some of their “existential angst” that we all deal with from time to time, some more and some less.

    • Michelle Dodd on September 18, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for chiming in. Fear of death is common. But we need to move toward facing that fear instead of running away from it.

      • Uma Girish on September 18, 2014 at 4:40 pm

        Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for chiming in. Fear of death is common. But we need to move toward facing that fear instead of running away from it.

  2. […] Not in the classroom. Not around the dining table. Not anywhere. Most of us grew up with parents who treated death like sex education, a necessary evil. They cleared their throat, looked away, made an awkward joke, patted you on the head, told you to go play and left the room. By showing embarrassment and discomfort around it, they taught us to do the same. So, when a colleague loses a parent, we shuffle our feet and look the other way. We agonize over a condolence letter we have to compose. We have an anxiety attack over what to say or how to comfort. How, then, do we stop tiptoeing around that dreaded D-word? READ PART 2 here […]

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