Dancing With Fear: How To Live When Facing Death.

Tanya Unkovich Grief Expert image. Transformational Life Coach

Many people stop living as soon as they hear a terminal diagnosis. By dancing with fear, you can make the most of the time you have left.


It stops us from living. It keeps us from being our true, authentic selves and can be so overwhelming it physically traps us in place. 

Even worse, when facing a terminal diagnosis, it can shorten our lives long before we’ve actually passed on.

Apprehension about the dying process begins as soon as the first signs of illness arise. Even before a terminal diagnosis is confirmed, fear can trigger the mind to spin out-of-control. Thoughts such as:

What if this is the end? 

What if death will be painful? 

What if my family suffers and I won’t be here to protect them? 

What if God isn’t there when I need Him most?

This fear can exert tremendous force over us. We’ve been told our whole lives to trust our intuition, but fear destroys it and immobilizes us. 

How To Move Forward:

Making Fear Your Friend

In the first days after a terminal diagnosis, making fear your friend can feel impossible. Facing our own mortality is a traumatic shock that affects mind, body, and soul. It’s all-consuming.

That’s why it’s okay if you don’t know what to do with your fear right now. 

Whether you’re entering this last stage of life, or you’re supporting a loved one through the process, fear will change. It’ll manifest differently for everyone, shifting as you progress through this experience. Sometimes, it’ll be a rollercoaster that changes day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.

For some, it’ll show up as anger. For others, it’ll be depression, denial, or irritation. There are countless ways that fear presents itself. What’s important is knowing how to cope with it so it doesn’t dominate this final chapter of life.

How To Dance With Fear 

It can be extremely difficult to sit with fear on your own, especially if you’ve never faced adversity or explored inner-work. It took me, a transformational specialist and Tony Robbins’ first coach in New Zealand, many years to do it myself. 

That’s why it’s vital to treat yourself with self-love and care during this time. Fear is one of the most primitive— and therefore powerful— emotions we feel. Having an expectation that you’ll overcome it quickly can actually make the fear worse. It can rob this final journey of the joy, calm and peace you and your family deserve.

In my personal experience with my husband, Phil, who passed away after a 5-month battle with cancer, and my work with people at the end stage of life, I’ve discovered that dancing with fear is easier with someone by your side.

Finding Comfort In The Face Of Fear

Having a trusted confidante is more than just support. When I work with clients who are terminally ill, I hold space for them so the fear can’t interfere. 

I become an intermediary between you and everyone else in your life, so fear can’t steal the precious time you have left with your loved ones. Helping you accept the truth of your reality, I sit with you through the uncertainty and discomfort which eventually transitions into serenity and peace. 

My best friend played this role in my life and was instrumental in helping me through the loss of my husband. She held me as the horror left my body in an audible roar. Unwilling to express these rare, terrible emotions in front of Phil, this experience, and many more like them, helped me let the terror go. Dancing with the fear, I was able to be fully present for Phil, holding him as he took his last peaceful breaths.

If you have someone with you who understands this process and can hold you THROUGH it, your journey will be so much more joyful. I’m honored to be part of this process when I hold this space for my clients. 

Then, once you can sit with the fear on your own (which you will), you’ll discover the mysteries it promises to teach. 

Getting To A Place Of Acceptance

Like grief, fear is often experienced as a cycle. It first crashes over us and threatens to drown out everything else in our lives. But, if we’re able to face it, sit with it, and dance with it, we can hold our head above water and bask in the sun’s warmth.

Fear loses its power. We begin to recognize the form it takes, and allow it to share its wisdom before letting it go. When you reach this place, fear no longer controls your life— regardless if you have years to live or only a few minutes left. 

You become fully present as you dance with fear every day, every hour, every moment.

The Decision To Dance 

No matter where you are in your final journey, you have more time left. Why not choose laughter over fear? Joy over Dread? 

Why not live every day on your own terms until you take that last breath?

That’s the decision in front of you right now.

Will you let fear determine how you die? Or will you tango with it so you can live without regrets with the time you have left?

Whatever you decide, I would be privileged to hold you through the tsunami of fear and help you get to a place where you dance with the heartbreak and make the most of your time on this Earth.

If you would like to watch my video on this topic click here.