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Death 101: 4 Ways to Deal with Death Phobia

These are the steps I discovered for myself over time to become more death-accepting, and less of a runaway when someone was grieving, or had died.




Death 101: 4 Ways to Deal with Death Phobia


1. Drop the Struggle

Our relationship with death, our ‘ultimate ending,’ has an impact on how we relate to all the endings in our lives; from how we handle the end of a relationship, loss of health, loss of jobs, and empty-nesting, to simply how we end each day or a even a phone call.


People often think death acceptance means tolerating it, putting up with it, or having to like it, want it or approve of it. It doesn't mean that. When we are death-accepting we drop the struggle with it, we allow it to be there, we lean into it, or make room for it. We don't have to like it.


A healthier relationship with death is where we come to allow, and then accept death and endings as a natural part of life. Death acceptance filters into our lives loosening blocks and creating flow in unexpected places.


When death is denied, life loses it's depth

—Eckhart Tolle


2. Get Curious

Become an explorer, an investigator, a researcher. Ask questions, read, listen, follow your curiosity. Like me, you will likely discover how big the subject is and how the subject of death connects to everything in life - it is so deeply interwoven there cannot be one without the other.

4 simple (mostly secret) ways to get curious:

  • Read a book. I recommend Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, or With the End in Mind by Dr Kathryn Mannix

  • Listen to a podcast. Deathwalkers Guide to Life is an NZ podcast produced by radio host and fellow Deathwalker Kerry Sunderland.

  • Watch TED Talk. There are so many to choose from, this is an inspiring one: Dr. BJ Miller – What Really Matters At The End of Life

  • Come along to a Death Café (just once even) and find that you are not alone. Participants have said its easier (initially) to talk amongst strangers than with family and friends.

Death is the silent teacher hiding in plain sight. She helps us discover what matters most.

— Frank Ostaseski


3. Get Organised

These are the basic practical steps of having your affairs in order. Rather than resisting a fear of death, working through these steps can give some sense of order.

  • Update your will. If you don’t have one yet, you can start with setting up a basic on online for $79 at PublicTrust.co.nz

  • Create an ethical will (of your values, experiences and life lessons)

  • Fill out an Advanced Care Plan* and give to yr doctor. It's important to share this document with your partner and kids (and tell them where it is filed)

  • Clean up your mess! Your garage, all your old stuff, and your passwords. Make a commitment to travel lighter.



4. Assume the Positive

Expect the best until proven otherwise. Why assume death is going to be something horrible, painful and frightening? Explore Non Ordinary Death Experiences (NODEs) and read autobiographies of people who have died and come back to tell us what its like:

  • Dying to be Me, by Anita Moorjani,

  • Med School After Menopause, by Dr. Lotte Valentin.

  • After, by Dr Bruce Greyson

  • We Don’t Die Radio podcast, with Sarndra Champlain


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