Preoccupation with Death and Dying

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I have an ongoing preoccupation with death. Actually, I'm not sure preoccupation is the right word. I don't deliberately sit and think about it all the time, but nearly everything leaves me thinking about it. This isn't new, and I suspect it's a big reason I've been so depressed the last...well, however long it's been.

I'm 60. I do think it got worse as I got older. It's always been there, though, in one form or another. Always, since I can remember.

So what happens is: I will think about starting something new, and the immediate thought is, "There's no point. I'm old and I'll die soon." Or I'm brushing my teeth, and I wonder what of the stuff in my bathroom will get pitched when I die and what can be used by someone. Or I go shopping and don't buy something I want because it will just be one more thing for my brother to get rid of when I die.

This is paralyzing. I don't know how to stop thinking that is this pervasive. It's like a cloud or mist that is with me wherever I go.

This isn't about *wanting* to die. I honestly don't. I think it's more about being afraid, not of dying, but of being gone.

It's another thing that is always in my thoughts. About how people were here, alive, and then they leave this empty space when they die. And that none of it *really* matters.

Anybody else struggle with this? I really need some ideas for curbing the intense anxiety that accompanies all of this.
 

LuckiLee

MyPTSD Pro
My guy thinks and talks about it a lot. He used to talk about how he was going to burn in h e double hockey sticks for eternity and now he talks about how beautiful Heaven is going to be. I take it as a win.

Every few months he harps on and on about his life insurance policies. Where they are , who gets what, what's been added...

I do know thoughts about a shortened life is very common with ptsd. He never thought he'd see tomorrow let alone next year.

He's actually up north celebrating his 55th birthday with his twin brother this weekend. Huge accomplishment.

He's also planning a future. Looking forward to retirement. Making plans. He started a bucket list!!! J!! J started a bucket list. 😃

It doesn't happen overnight. But it happens. He sees a future and I couldn't ask for anything more.

No advice. Just wanted you to know it does get better.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
personally, i believe preoccupation with death is an all-natural part of our survival instinct. awareness of our own mortality is the very mechanism by which we are able to avoid more dangers than we are even consciously aware of. embracing the awareness of my own mortality gives me the option of reframing the it-doesn't-matter apathy to something along the line of, "this could be my last opportunity. carpe diem."

"if i knew that tomorrow the world would end, still i would plant my apple tree." ~martin luther
 

intothelight

Sponsor
@whiteraven Just going to share some of my own experience and thoughts, but please take what is helpful and ignore what is not. In January of 2012, I fell down the stairs and woke up in the ER with a doc telling me I had cancer. Upon testing I found I had a cancer that I had never heard of and the crazy thing is, it has no cure and at the time the long term survival rate statistics sucked. Yup, it set me back and what compounded it was my own guilt of trying to take my own life not even two years prior. Struggled for a couple of years as I treated aggressively and spent time planning on how to "get everything in order for my husband and my children".

Ultimately, I went into remission and death was not my focus, nor my future demise, but that I was still alive and decided that I would really start living my life to the fullest. This past spring I came out of remission and am actively treating the cancer again. Only this time, it isn't defining my life other than the many doctors appointments, some of the cancer and drug side effects, but it is a treatment and I am living with the goal of getting better. Also, I've had to change up some of my schedule, plans and what I can and cannot do at this point in time, but I am busy living each day and making future plans.
,
I'm 61 and definitely not ready to focus on the end, but focusing on the day, week, month, year and the next five years. I have goals, plans and am enjoying being me. Focus on what you enjoy and do it. Watch a sunrise/sunset, buy a bird feeder, try a new recipe, try a new coffee creamer or tea, take an animal at the shelter for a walk or some small thing that will brighten your day, but do it every day. When the thoughts invade, mindfulness is really a good tool, as are I Love Lucy episodes.

Your not alone in this and there are days I find myself living under the shadow of a fear of death, but I give it the middle finger salute and roll on.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
No advice. Just wanted you to know it does get better.
Thank you! I appreciate your saying this because I feel sometimes like it is all-encompassing, but I do recognize I have short periods that are ok.
Focus on what you enjoy and do it. Watch a sunrise/sunset, buy a bird feeder, try a new recipe, try a new coffee creamer or tea, take an animal at the shelter for a walk or some small thing that will brighten your day, but do it every day. When the thoughts invade, mindfulness is really a good tool, as are I Love Lucy episodes.
Oh, I Love Lucy! Funny, I just ordered a book about this show. Haven't see it in years, but I think I will check it out again!

I do all of these things. I do a LOT of stuff I really like to do. Just bought a new (to me) camera. Have a feeder, volunteer at a shelter. What I find is that if I don't absolutely *cram* my day with these sorts of things, I'm back to death and dying. That ends up feeling very much like being in high school, where I did and did and did in order to avoid home and all the shit going on there.

I trained extensively in mindfulness and generally have found it really helpful. I think the issue I have here is the thoughts are predictable but unexpected, if that makes sense. I definitely will start trying to at least see if I can reduce their lingering.
Your not alone in this and there are days I find myself living under the shadow of a fear of death, but I give it the middle finger salute and roll on.
Thanks for sharing your story, @intothelight. I guess even given everything we endure, we are still here and still able to move forward.
 

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
I'm 62, and just realized I could die any day from my illnesses. I was shook up at first, but now I think it is a normal phase of aging. I had cancer, then a year later I had a lung cancer scare and I decided I would live each day as I wanted to, not to the fullest since I do have a lot of medical issues. Don't we all. Anyway, I have been clearing out the junk so my son doesn't have to do it when I die, but I'm not dwelling on dying. My mom is 83, had a stroke last year and she has deteriorated so much in the last year. It keeps my mind on death, but I redirect myself if I can.
 

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
I think I'm so worried about my mom dying that I have shifted some personal worries to her. I also don't want to dwell on dying so I'll keep an eye on this thread to see if anyone else has some suggestions.
 

Renly

Confident
I can relate…often I long for death to just come already so I don’t have to deal with life (I’d rather just hang out with Jesus than deal with life’s BS 😂). I am not suicidal (typically when things are tough, I struggle with suicidal ideation), but there’s just this longing for the peace that I believe will come with being dead.

I also struggle with thoughts of certain people around me dying and leaving me behind. When this panic is triggered, it’s often over the top and unbearable. It takes a while for the panic to subside.
I will think about starting something new, and the immediate thought is, "There's no point. I'm old and I'll die soon." Or I'm brushing my teeth, and I wonder what of the stuff in my bathroom will get pitched when I die and what can be used by someone. Or I go shopping and don't buy something I want because it will just be one more thing for my brother to get rid of when I die.
That being said, I often don’t care about the good things in life that I would miss out on. @whiteraven I feel like this is a little similar to what you said above.

When my thoughts are like this, it’s probably because I’m numb it depressed and joy and happiness feel far away and as though they may never return. Although I know that’s not the case…feelings are temporary. I TRY to remind myself of very small things others have done for me that have impacted me (like someone noticing me and saying hello and it made an impactful difference in my life). Things we do, sometimes the smallest seemingly insignificant things, impact others and that may give us a little hope to keep on.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
think I'm so worried about my mom dying that I have shifted some personal worries to her.
Oh, this is something I am terrified of. She is almost 87, and when she is gone, I will pretty much have no one close. So very scary.
I also struggle with thoughts of certain people around me dying and leaving me behind. When this panic is triggered, it’s often over the top and unbearable.
Yes. I completely relate to this. I'm sorry you also have to deal with it.
 
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