I am the father of a, just, four year old little girl. Several months ago she started to have what appeared to be night terrors. (I also had night terrors as a child) At that time I did not share my beliefs with my wife, but I was fairly certain that the terror was not just simple night terrors, it was the profound "black hole", as I have referred to it since I was a child. My daughter, like myself when I was 8 or 9 years old, is having extreem anxiety as a result of her fear of death. She expresses this very clearly now, as in, "I don't want to die", and "I am afraid of dying". There has not been, at least to my knowledge, any experience she has had that would have caused this; though I have been reading that there may be some leftover memories of her birth, and the fact the the ambilical cord was wrapped around her neck, (I am not so sure I believe this notion). That being said, she is and has always been a very healthy and happy kid.
Besides the fact that I understand how frightning her experience is, having suffered for many years from this fear, seeing the absolute terror in her eyes is devistating for me. Many years ago I was able to get this fear under control; though to be honest, I am not that sure how I did it. I will admit that from time to time, it rears its ugly head, though when that happens I do not suffer the way I did in years past, and I am able to shake it off in a few minutes.
Sadly, I saw the same fear in my mother most of her life,maybe this is why she did not want to help me with my fears; and at the end of her life, I did what I could to help ease her anxiety as her life was ending.
As you can understand from what I have written, this is something that runs in my family; going back even further, my mother's mother also had a profound fear of dying.
My only concern now however, and as I am sure you can imagine, is the well being of my daughter. I talk to her, and hold her. I explain that there is something very special waiting for us after this life and that when she dies someday many years from now, and that I will be there waiting for her when she wakes up in our next life. At four this must be very difficult to comprehend.
On a side note, I have a very strong belief that my mother's soul is now in my daughter. No I have never shared this with her, nor would I until she is much older, though she speaks often of when I was a child and she was my mother. She also speaks about my mom in the first person from time to time. This has become less so as she has gotten older, though both my wife and I have been shocked by my daughter's ability to identify articles and photos related to my mother without any coaching from us.
Interestingly, these revelations of my daughter, has helped me to believe in more of the metaphysical, and that maybe our lives have meaning beyond this world.
Sorry, I veered off there for a moment.
So what I am asking is, is there a better way to handle this situation over another? Are there things my wife and I can do to ease her pain in those bad moments? If you are a parent and your child has had these issues, what worked and what didn't? Is there a book or particular therapy? The fact that she is only 4 is very disconcerting to me; my fear hit at 8 or 9, and it hit like a bus, but 4?
My parents were unable to deal with me and my issues with death; and though I understand that there was no bad intent on their behalf, I am and will be exactly the opposite for my daughter, and engage her on any and every front that might help her with this. As I wrote, she is a happy and healthy kid in every respect, I just want to help keep this demon at bay long enough for her to gain enough of her own faculties, in order to manage her fears like the rest of us. I also have to believe that there may be a way, if my wife and I handle this correctly, that this will be something that she grows out of in a healthy manner; I hope I am not kidding myself.
As I write this I am also trying to explain my history and the concept of existentialistic angst (Dread) to my wife; as she is someone that has never experienced this. I wonder if it is possible for someone that has never fealt this to actually understand???
Anyway, your comments, suggetions and/or anything else of value is greatly appreciated.
At the age of 4 night terrors are common, but the child never remembers them. They are normally caused by a lack of sleep. If she is having nightmares that make her think she may die then you need to address what has happened to make her have these. But this obcession over dying in a child will show up after the death of a family member, friend, relative, pet, etc, but at four, a child has difficulty comprehending death in any aspect. Because you were never treated for your anxiety and fear it may be in some way your daughter has picked up on this. It's not uncommon for the same obcession to run in families, and because yours was never addressed you still suffer from it. I think you and your daughter do suffer from anxiety and both need to be evaluated by a psychiatrist and get into therapy. When we have this anxiety we can become fixated on one particular thing in our lives, and this just feeds our fears which fuels the anxiety. It's so sad that a 4 year old has to be dealing with this fear. In my opinion, I would never tell your daughter that you feel your mothers soul lives in her. She is already off to a bad start with anxiety which if treated right now may save her from a lifetime of anxiety and this fear of dying. But I see no reason to ever tell her that you feel your mother's soul lives in her, you can say she is a lot like her grandmother, and point out all the wonderful traits she has that her grandmother had, but I wouldn't say any more than that. You I'm sure, find this belief to be comforting, but for her it may not be. You obviously love your daughter very much, and the best thing you can do for BOTH of you is to get a diagnosis and get into therapy. You need to get over this fear just as much as your daughter, or you will feed off of each other's fear as well. Your wife cannot understand this severe anxiety, and what it's doing to you and your daughter. I feel until you've lived it, it's a very difficult thing even for the sufferer to understand. I also feel like you want to believe that something more than anxiety is going on here, but in my opinion it's anxiety and it needs to be addressed ASAP. You will need to be totally honest with your doctor and therapist about all you believe so you can finally get this resolved so you can live without fear and to save your precious daughter from enduring this for the res of her life. She's young enough that intervention will help her, but it will take more time with yourself, so be patient. Take care.
My husband has a strong fear of death. Obviously, not as strong as the fear you or your daughter is experiencing. I come from the opposite end of the spectrum - I not only don't fear death, I look forward to it. Because of that, I cannot even begin to imagine the deep terror the two of you feel. What I do know, from dealing with my husband's fear, is that it doesn't ever seem to get resolved. It can be ignored, but never disappears. He envies my acceptance of death and so I've tried to help him with the usual methods... "you won't die for a long time", "death brings us to a better place/freedom/etc." None of it helps. In fact, it seems to make it worse for him. His best way to cope with it is to ignore and avoid. He hates others' birthdays because it reminds him that they are closer to dying, which in turn makes him closer. He hates hospitals - for obvious reasons. Even trying to point out what is wonderful with the life that surrounds him now (and avoiding discussing death at all) doesn't help. Maybe associating the things she sees during her night terrors with something positive would help? A young mind is easily manipulated, and while I abhor manipulation, perhaps in this case, it would be best. Maybe seeking counseling for her would help. I wish you both the best of luck to gain peace of mind and soul.
i'm 15 year old and im afraid od dying aswell my fear keeps me from sleeping sometimes at night and its a fear that will never go away but i try to forget about it think of somthing ells like now im want to be a police officer so i can help people and do somthing with my life live it to the fullest and if i'm gonna die id rather want it to be saving someone. But if you have any idea's on how to over come it please do tell me.
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