Question and answer details
|Salam, The sudden death of my friend indulged me to the constant fear of death....every time death remains in my mind...my janaza (funeral) is going and I have been put down in grave... I have consulted many doctors but no result...my daily life is very disturbed... I became a patient of severe depression. Kindly give me advice so that I can get rid of such thoughts and live a healthy life...doctors say I have death phobia...and if you have a facility of face-to-face counseling kindly tell me.|
|Dr. Maryam Bachmeier|
|Dr. ‘Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah|
AnswerAnswer of Dr. Maryam Bachmeier:
Wa `alaykum as-salam Brother Umar,
I am happy to see you reach out for help. It is a true tragedy that you have experienced losing your friend. The grief you are experiencing is very normal. And the existential questions that we ask when we lose someone that we feel very close to are very very real.
You may be experiencing what clinicians call an “existential crisis” when something that shatters the way we perceive the world, people and our own place in the world crashes down around us. When these events occur we question who we are, why we are born, what is this world all about. Why do things that seem so wrong happen, if ALLAH is ALL GOOD? And these questions can spin us into a depression.
This also wakes us up to the reality that we will indeed die one day. Each and every one of us will die. This is something you will not escape. The question is what will your mind remember on that day? Will you be terrified because your conscious convicts you of deeds that you’ve done that hurt or wronged other human beings? Or, will your mind be at peace, knowing that you have done your very best as a human being to be kind to others and to please ALLAH.
Our fear of death sometimes comes from knowing that we still have work to do on ourselves, that we have not yet become the kind of human being that we know we should be.
Other times, it is an existential fear that maybe, if we die, there is no after life. We love life so much, we are afraid that if our soul rests, we as human beings will not exist. The way through this dark tunnel is to grow spiritually.
In a way, it is as if you are going to go to another planet, far, far away, that you know nothing about… and you only know earth. But this planet is not a physical place… so it is even stranger. And when we go, we might not be in our physical body… so this is even stranger.
But the more you grow spiritually, and the closer to ALLAH you become, the more you identify with the soul that is created.. the being that you are and that was, indeed created from the Source of ALL BEING… ALLAH.
But it takes time to sense this and feel this as your truth. Time and life will give you this. The more you identify as a spiritual being enjoying a human life in a physical body, the less you will fear death. This is a natural process of development for human being.
Something that you might find interesting (and you can find support for this just by googling the meaning of the word hu) is that in ancient times in the Egyptian language Hu was a name for “G-d”.
G-d was a difficult word with many meanings with a core meaning within it… it was not originally this G-d or that G-d.. but over time people did take these “attributes” and worship separate parts of G-d as if a single attribute or aspect or concept were the whole of ALLAH….. but over time, with original creation stories… it was said that the breath of G-d… Hu was breathed into man… (other versions of this etymology say that the word of G-d created man..breath and word were used interchangeably) thus we have Hu-man.
Interestingly, this is Sanskrit also. The Sanskrit word Hu meant to invoke G-d. The work Human comes from God in man, or the breath/word of God in man in both Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Sanskrit… before G-d was divided into concepts and attributes and parts worshiped instead of the entire BEING of G-d. Later, tribes etc… would fight about this G-d being more powerful than that G-d etc…. and humanity seems to still be struggling with all of this.
But I am telling you this to show you what we are as human beings from beyond what we can ever perceive as the beginning of humanity. Sanskrit and Egyptian Hieroglyphics are as far back as we are currently able to go with language and thus a picture of our original concepts of ALLAH. Egyptian hieroglyphics gave birth to Hebrew, then Aramaic, and then Arabic…translated to Latin to Greek and English.
We are often times confused but we will find our way back to experiencing this truth of being human and of being created by the Source of all Being…ALLAH. Once you begin to feel comfortable with these concepts, you will no longer fear death. You will only fear the consequence of your actions when they are not aligned with the Goodness, and Good will of ALLAH.
Your situation would be better addressed in person with live face to face if at all possible. It would be good to monitor your moods as well and to determine with the help of a professional whether or not you want to take anti-depressant medication for a brief period of time as you process your grief and move through this.
If you are thinking any suicidal thoughts, please call your doctor and let him or her know immediately.
With that said, feel free to write in here and share your grief feelings and your questions about life here with us. We here at Onislam.net are a connected community even though we are internet. You remain anonymous, yet you get a special type of connection with others if you participate in the discussions and write in. You will notice that often the same people engage with interactions and discussions here so you won’t feel so alone. And sometimes, that is the biggest challenge we have to deal with as human beings… that feeling of being alone in the world… especially if we lose someone that we have a deep emotional connection with and that we trusted our heart and soul with. So please, know that you are not alone.
And though the “why” of it all will remain a mystery for awhile, know that ALLAH is ALL KNOWING and ALL GOOD… and that there is a good reason for your friend to explore the next dominion and leave you here to move forward without him. Life will show you as it unfolds and the understanding will grow inside your heart as you move through time. Your soul does already have the answers, for ALLAH puts this inside His creation, but through the developmental process of growing up from babies to adults, we forget how to hear our soul… the very being that we truly are…that is eternal and one with ALLAH knows… but your soul lives and your friend’s soul lives and your soul will whisper to you this truth about life and eternity and even the Heart of ALLAH… but this will take time… grief will turn to purification will turn to understanding will turn to new life and this is how we unfold.
You have just begun and your foot is stepping upon the first patch of grass on the trail of your own long journey toward “home”… for our real home is not on this Earth. But it is the journey that we travel while on this Earth that teaches us and refines us, and makes us worthy to live in Paradise… when it is our time. Not before. Not after. And with this understanding, the “why” of it all won’t bother you so much. And with this understanding, your heart will not ache so much. And with this understanding, you can reach out to others who have also lost a friend, but are left behind to complete their own journey for the sake of ALLAH. For that is the secret that we all know… that everything we do, consciously or unconsciously is for the sake of ALLAH. Those of us who become conscious can experience a joy that one cannot put words to because it is not of this Earth… it is “Celestial”.
Please do not give up faith or hope and please, please continue to reach out. I am so happy that you came to Onislam.net to connect. And remember, ALLAH is with you each step of the way. Write in again soon.
I pray this is helpful to you.
Answer of Dr. `Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah:
Wa `alaikum as-salam Umar,
Thank you for writing us. Unfortunately, we are an online counseling service only and do not have a counseling facility. Other counselors on this site might have such services, however, so you can ask Ms. Layla, the site coordinator as to who has such services.
As for your question about death, it is very sad to hear about your friend, however, as Muslims, we should not fear death. Given what we have been taught, we should be more afraid of life than death! What I mean is that if we are living our lives as Muslims with fear and love of Allah there is nothing to fear in death. However, if we are living lives not in line with Allah's commands and pleasure, then it is life and what we are doing/not doing with it that should be feared as we are not making the most of the time Allah is giving us here. Either way, in the end, death is just a doorway to the next phase of existence. And once we die we will meet Allah. That is why our fear should not be for death but for Allah. We should be conscious of meeting Him at every moment. By doing so, it should motivate us to strive harder for His sake and to follow His commands.
Remember the hadith: From ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit (radi Allahu anhu), from the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) who said: “Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah will love to meet him, and whoever hates to meet Allah, Allah will hate to meet him.” ‘Aa’ishah (radi Allahu anha) or one of his wives said: “But we all dislike the idea of death.” He said, “It is not what you are thinking. When death approaches the believer and he is given the news of Allah’s pleasure and honour, nothing will be more dear to him than what lies ahead of him, so he will love to meet Allah and Allah will love to meet him. But when death approaches the disbeliever and he is given the news of Allah’s wrath and punishment, nothing will be more disliked by him than that what lies ahead of him, so he will hate to meet Allah and Allah will hate to meet him.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
For the believer, who has lived his life in sincere fear and love of Allah, death should be a welcome friend for it will be the doorway to the blissful and eternal life of paradise. For the disbeliever, however, the opposite. So, again, it is not death that should be feared but Allah that should be feared and our lives here and now. Furthermore, our time of death has already been prescribed for us. There is nothing that we can do to change it so why worry about it? It will come to everyone - every single human being will taste death. It is the most natural part of life there is as it is a guaranteed experience for all of us. But as Muslims we have been shown how to use death to our advantage, to use it as a motivator and reminder of how we should be living our lives. Thus, it can be a useful and powerful friend to help us reform ourselves.
Actually, your consciousness of death is something that was highly encouraged by the Prophet SAW. He himself mentioned that he is reminded of death 70 times per day. It is a sobering reminder about the finite nature of this present life and that this life is only temporary. That is healthy. However, if that constant remembrance causes us to be sad and depressed, then either we don't trust in Allah's promise to the believers about what death brings, or we are fearful of our own selves and how we are living our lives. Thus, we should use this fear of death to motivate us to live better and strive to please Allah. In addition, we should not be afraid to live full lives including getting married, having families, earning a living and the like. The Prophet SAW, who knew these matters better than anyone, encouraged us to do such. Thus, we should follow his example and teachings.
Please feel free to write us again with any follow up questions.
For further guidance, please try the following links:
About the Counselors:
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a published researcher, former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant to her Spiritual community in the areas of mental health, clinical disorders, cultural, family and relationship issues, and more.
Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.