How To!

How To Face Your Fear of Dying

I’m a comedy writer who can’t stop imagining my own death.

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Episode Notes

Katie is terrified of dying. As the youngest in a big family, she can’t stop thinking about the fact that all her loved ones may die before she does. Katie is a comedy writer who knows how to get laughs, but her obsession with death is real, and getting in the way of living. In this episode of How To!, we bring on Rachel Menzies, a psychologist and researcher at the University of Sydney and author of Tales from the Valley of Death, to share what she’s learned about death anxiety. Exposure therapy is often the most effective way to overcome your fears, but how do you expose yourself to death? Rachel has some unusual ideas to help Katie—and all of us—take control of these intrusive thoughts, starting with lying in a body bag. Focusing deliberately on death, Rachel says, can actually help us appreciate life.

If you liked this episode, check out “How To Not Be Scared.

Are you afraid of something? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Podcast production by Derek John, Rachael Allen, and Rosemary Belson.

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About the Show

What if Dear Abby were an investigative reporter? Each week, David Epstein (bestselling author of Range and The Sports Gene) takes on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, finds the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask but couldn’t. Until now.

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Have you found the advice on our podcast helpful? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might play it on the air.

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