Thanatophobia

5 Aug

A couple of years ago I went through a period of acting a bit strangely.

I’d been in the middle of a third life crisis for a while , and I think in hindsight I was also struggling after becoming a mum the second time round. Little Milk had been testing to say the least – “a big character” some might say. “A frickin lunatic” I’d proffer.  Off the career ladder and looking after pooing/screaming kids 24/7 and I found myself asking “is this it?”. Somewhere in the midst of all that soul searching and quizzing and introspection the subject of my own mortality came up, as if it was the only major milestone left I could think of. Not exactly rational. But I was hooked.

I just couldn’t stop thinking about what it was going to be like when the time came, how it might happen, and when.  I also became unhealthily fixated on obituary sites. Now if you’ve never visited a site like “Gone too soon” (my favourite) let me explain. They’re a chance for people to write memorials to the recently deceased, or to commemorate the anniversary of an old passing, or to mourn the loss of a baby born pre-term.  The title is a clue to the fact that most of the deaths are unexpected, sudden, shocking; due to illness (usually cancer), accidents (fires, car crashes) and a really surprising amount to murder. Many are described in horrific detail and many put to music, most commonly “Every breath I take” by The Police. Needless to say they are heart-wrenching, deeply upsetting and reflect a horrible part of life that you usually try to ignore.  That is, evidently, unless you are me.

For a while it was all I thought about, and it scared the shit out of me.

Thankfully there was some forced intervention this obsession slowed and I got on with living.

In any case, when my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer I was a bit worried to say the least. I expected my fear of death to my dragged up again and to find myself rocking back and forth in a darkened room, curtains billowing and Police on the stereo at full blast.  But I didn’t, and I haven’t.

Actually I’ve been pretty sane. In fact I was thinking today, it doesn’t scare me anymore, the death stuff. I think the thing is, the more you cope with, the less you fear. It’s somehow easier to put it in perspective and be stoical. Now I just find myself thinking – “Either there’ll be nothing and I won’t know any different (in which case, duh, get over it), or I’ll get to see my mum again”.  And that last bit just makes me smile. Wouldn’t that be something.

Thanatophobia “An intense fear of death”.

Next post: Not about death. I PROMISE!

9 Responses to “Thanatophobia”

  1. Julia August 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    Oh my goodness! I didn’t expect to learn all that today & what a word!! You are right that dealing with stuff does give you a more even focus on life!

    Onwards to the next BIG word!

  2. Lucy August 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Great word, and great post – that fear is a place I visited at a similar time in life and nice to know I’m not the only one x

  3. 21st Century Mummy August 6, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    I have a huge fear of death. I have never even been to a funeral, because I can’t face up to the fact it happens. My fear is not there all the time, in fact, right now it has subsided. But at times it’s all I think about.

    Someone told me once it can be because you don’t feel fulfilled in life, so the thought of dying is terrifying. Perhaps, the fact I have moved to Singapore and am fulfilling one of my age-long dreams to live abroad, means I am feeling more fulfilled.

    • marketingtomilk August 6, 2011 at 8:27 am #

      I think you / your friend might be right. I was told something similar – when you don’t see anything else to work towards / look forward to, all you see is a single, straight line to death. Cheery eh?!

  4. Chris Mosler August 6, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    As you know, I have had to deal with this in one of my children and it was bloody hard for a while. He seems to be ‘over it’ now but I am keeping the lines of communication well and truly open. I didn’t know it had such a good word…if it raises its head again I’ll tell him – he likes words. x

  5. mum2babyinsomniac August 6, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    I’m not particularly scared of death but I do think about it quite a lot. My fear is more of people around me dying because then you are left to feel the pain whereas if you die, you don’t know any different (I hope!). It is such a strange thing to know its going to happen but not know when or how. I try not to think about it but some days I can’t help myself x

  6. Caroline B August 7, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    I never even knew about sites like that! I enjoyed reading this, different and made me think how I feel about death. I think I’m content about it, don’t fear it for myself, it’s the girls that I panic about, how would they cope, how can I make sure they know how much I love(d) them! C x.

  7. Mwa (Lost in Translation) August 15, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    I love this post. I have been obsessed with death as well, but you do take it one step further. I love it!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The changing perception of loss | Marketing to Milk - March 15, 2013

    […] like to wander around old graveyards. Not in some macabre way (an unhealthy resurgence of my death-obsession),  I just find them fascinating, thought-provoking and strangely comforting.  To ponder how […]

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