The Fear of Dying

“Everybody will die, but very few people want to be reminded of that fact.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

What are your thoughts on dying? I know most of us would want to put it off for as long as possible! One thing is certain though; it’s going to happen for each of us.

My perspective on dying has changed in my years as a hospice chaplain. Whatever level of fear I may once have held is just about gone now. I have seen too many peaceful deaths to view it as something to be feared.

One thing I often hear in varying ways is: “I am not afraid to die, but I do fear what it might be like to die.” It seems that the basis of that statement comes out of a genuine worry that we will suffer as we near the end. But I have seen that fear does not often happen for the hospice patient. Our nurses are very in tune with the nuances of pain and are able to use their expertise, along with the guidance of our medical director, to keep the patient comfortable.

What is it about some people that causes them to not fear death? One key factor that I have seen is that it has a lot to do with their faith. People of faith have a hope that reaches beyond this life. They believe that there is life “on the other side.” A life where all things are made new. A life without sickness or suffering. A place of being reunited with loved ones who have gone before. I have seen this hope among many people of diverse religious backgrounds. Attending to one’s spiritual self is a big step toward lessening the fear of dying.

May you be blessed with decreasing fear and ever-increasing hope as you travel this road called life.

Rev. Randy L. Kightlinger
Hospice Chaplain/Spiritual Counselor
VNA of Venango County