Mental Health Monday continues our weekly series today with an eye-opening, hard-hitting look at the deep-seated fear and anxiety we all have about dying and death. Dr. Barry Lubetkin, interestingly chose this topic today, the very day after the Christians of the world celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – this is just my personal observation.
“A 76 year old gentleman consulted me recently concerning his lifelong Type-A behavior at work and at home. He never rested, he told me. He was always ON, working, strategizing, planning. He hadn’t vacationed in years and refused to ever consider retirement. He had denied his family countless hours of quality time with him, while he went about driving himself, never stopping to smell the roses. After several hours of therapy it became clear that one of the motivators behind his inability to relax and stay in the moment was a profound fear of dying. By never quieting himself, he was able to continuously distract himself from anticipating his own demise.
This case is not the exception. As Baby Boomers begin to experience the physical and mental effects of their aging, they are forced to consider the inevitability of their own mortality. While many are able to accept with grace that dying is a natural part of living, many others secretly live their lives with terror about dying, and develop mental and physical behaviors designed to DENY its reality. Obsessive compulsive behavior, cruel and sadistic personality styles, certain phobias, depression, severe anxiety, and even ironically, suicidal thoughts are often partially driven by unexpressed anxiety about dying.
Since we all are going to die eventually, we had better become as proactive as possible in de-horrorfying and de-catastrophizing our thoughts about our eventual demise. A sensitive and experienced cognitive behavior therapist can be helpful. Also I strongly recommend the best book on the subject of overcoming terror about dying….”Staring at The Sun” by Psychiatrist Sydney Yalom. It should be required reading for all of us. It is that good!” As always feel free to email me at IBT104@AOL.com