Fear of talking about death

Death is an inevitable part of life, yet there is hardly a subject we are more afraid of discussing. I see this fear all the time as a member of the club no one wants to be in.

There are people who have known me for decades, have seen me multiple times since my child died by suicide and have yet to say the first word to me about that loss. That’s despite my having spoken about my son, written nearly 435 posts on this blog telling people that saying nothing is the worst thing of all to say.

I could be resentful. I could be angry. But I choose to understand that the lack of reference to my loss is the result of fear not a personal affront.

Some will often tell me it’s because they are afraid they will say the wrong thing. I don’t think people are as afraid of saying the wrong thing as they are about the subject of death and they use that excuse to avoid the topic all together. They just don’t want to go there.

We think talking about suicide, depression and death will bring us down when in fact, it can do the opposite. Many times I’ve talked with someone about such subjects and felt like a burden was lifted. I felt lighter, more connected and more in tune with that other person. It’s those deep emotions that make us human.

Death conjures up fear of our own mortality, fear of losing children, fear of tears–either mine or theirs. Ironically, it’s lack of conversation about death that allows suicide to thrive. I have become more comfortable with the topic but I still fear it, too. I don’t want my life to end. So I use my fear of death to inspire me to live a better life now.

Talking about death doesn’t make me sad. Because talking has saved lives and that gives my life meaning that makes it worth living.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

9 thoughts on “Fear of talking about death”

  1. Pardon me for being a blog hog, but I had something else to share about this stigma of suicide. My husband, and I went to a Compassionate Friend’s support group, after we lost Curt. We were the only parents whose child died by suicide. At the end of the meeting, one of the facilitators asked us if we considered going to a suicide survivors support group. We never went back.

    1. I went to a suicide survivor support group. It was a good idea Jan. I’m hoping she was not being unwelcoming but trying to be helpful. Because it is a special hurt–more complex. I can’t say it hurts “more” because it’s not possible for it to hurt more. But a suicide loss is like no other. It’s just got more twists and turns like you mentioned above. And don’t worry about “blog hog.” You are not. This is a place to talk and vent. People read comments and they are important for the healing of others. So just think of it as helping others through their grief journey because most likely you’ve said things others have felt. I am sorry you have suffered so much loss.

        1. Glad to have you as part of the “village.”

          We might not like the club but the members are the most passionate, special people I have ever known. I would never have started this blog or heard you and others if it had not happened to me. Thank you for that thoughtful compliment.

  2. I was thinking about this today. Most people can relate to losing parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. But, really WHO can relate to someone who has lost a child. Only another person who has experienced that type of loss. Add suicide to the loss, and it’s even harder for people to relate, or offer any support. The parent is left with guilt, despair, why couldn’t we stop it from happening.

  3. Bingo baby…
    “I don’t think people are as afraid of saying the wrong thing as they are about the subject of death and they use that excuse to avoid the topic all together. They just don’t want to go there.”

    1. PS – I have no fear of death anymore. I don’t dread when my parents die anymore. Nothing could be worse than losing your only child, could it?

      1. I’ve lost both parents, all of my Aunt’s and Uncle’s. Except my 100 year old Aunt Lena, who was married to my Mother’s brother. I’ve lost friends, and cousin’s, but nothing can compare to the loss of out son, Curt. Nothing. I’m not afraid to die, I know the first person l’ll see is Curt. I now know their is life, after earthly death. Sounds crazy, but it’s my truth.

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