How can I focus more on living, when I have such a fear of aging and death?

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Answered by: Sandi, An Expert in the Aging Gracefully Category
Everyday my grandmother would get up smiling. She limped to the kitchen to put on coffee and then sat and drank it with me. I often asked her why she was always so cheerful and her answer astounded me. “Because I’m above ground,” she would reply. "There is no fear of aging in my life."

Everyone knows that as the days pass, so our lives pass. There is nothing we can do about it, so the best thing is to not only live with it but live with it smiling, and realize that ‘above the ground’ there are many beautiful things to do and experience. There will always be something new and beautiful to learn no matter what our age.

Know that we were born into an unfamiliar territory, seemingly a place we’ve never been before, and we entered a most beautiful and complex world. What we’ve done with this new existence was totally up to us, but each day is new and untouched, so why not make it a new and untouched experience.

And the same may be waiting for us at the end. We may leave this truly exciting existence and enter another unfamiliar but beautiful world. How thrilling! A new adventure.

So we should focus on living by facing our world and staring it in the face. Get as much as we can get out of it. Plan for the immediate future, and by that I mean take each day as it comes by making plans for that day. And when nighttime comes through, we will feel accomplished and will look forward to another day. Our fear of aging will decrease because we are keeping mentally young.

But what about when life is focused on dying? How do we cope with death then? Working at a hospice center, as a Clinical Hypnotherapist, is taxing and rewarding and encompasses this question wholeheartedly. These lovely people know that it is their last hurrah. They visualize things like being in a coffin or urn. They look at me dead in the eyes and ask, “Where will my soul go? Will I feel it? Do you think there’s something afterward?”

These questions cannot be answered intelligently. But they are not asking for intelligence. They are asking for comfort. So coping with living is hard enough. Can you imagine having to cope with dying when you’re old or ill?

This is the only world we know of. Just the thought that we will never see a tree leaf again or the ocean and sky is enough to imagine the unimaginable. For some reason, we can only envision darkness at the end of that tunnel regardless of what anyone says. So, how can we not focus more on dying than on living? Especially as we advance in age.

We cannot think of aging without thinking of our demise. It’s natural. It’s normal. And we cannot think of our demise without thinking of darkness. It’s natural. It’s normal. So here’s how we have to think of it:

No one has come back to tell us it’s dark and gloomy on the other side. And no one has come back to tell us we’ll be floating on a cloud heading to a visit with Saint Peter, either. One thing we do know, it’s a natural inclusion of life. It belongs there. It’s supposed to be there. We don’t remember being afraid of birth so it stands to reason we won’t remember being afraid of death. So what are we doing?

We are spending our time, trying to cope with the fear of our inevitable death with each birthday that we reach. We’re worrying about the inevitable. We’re wasting all the lovely experiences afforded us while we’re here and it will be such a shame for us to waste each and every day, only to look at one another and say…”That’s all there was to it? It was a cinch!”

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