Dear Feelings Doctor: I am scared of dying. I am even more scared of my beloved husband dying. Both of us are “older” (I am 50 and he is 60), but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life secretly freaking out about this.

— Scared in Santa Barbara

Dear Scared: Thanatophobia, the fear of death, is something that everyone feels in their own way at one time or another. Actually, a little bit of fear does keep us on the safe side, providing it doesn’t occupy our entire day.

If you and your husband have not had checkups lately, perhaps you should do so, then mark that worry off of your list. Your doctor can ease your mind and determine whether it is a symptom or an actual anxiety that you are dealing with.

The challenge is to focus on what you wish your life to be like and express yourself in that direction. When your fears of death and dying come up, simply be a witness to those feelings; do not let those thoughts run your life. Ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of?” “Could I be afraid of living?”

Dear Feelings Doctor: I have a wonderful sister. She is 4 years older than me, and I wish that we could have the type of relationship that we used to. She sits alone in her apartment reading all the time, goes to work, comes home and does the same thing all over again the next day.

I am having my 30th birthday next month and want her to be a part of my celebration. How can I make her enjoy me like I want to enjoy her? Thanks so much.

— Sherry in San Francisco

Dear Sherry: It has been said that you can pick your friends but you cannot pick your family. Whether you believe it or not, if your relationship with your sister is important to you, make an effort to reach out. Invite her to coffee first to open the door again for a new beginning. Focus on rebuilding your relationship, spending time reconnecting. If that goes well, make plans for lunch and continue your discovery of each other in a healthy, new way.

You mentioned that your sister enjoys reading; perhaps the two of you can start your own book club! We cannot force anyone to like us, that is something that will come naturally or not. It is such a sweet gesture. Hopefully she will be touched by your genuine desire to reconnect and extend her hand — and her heart — in your direction.

Sisters are one of the most magical gifts ever given. Blessings to you both.

Dear Feelings Doctor: It feels like a lifetime that I have been living with my girlfriend and not being open with my family about our love. Now that things have changed in our society, please help me with advice on how to share our love with my parents and siblings. Thank you so much.

— April in Santa Barbara

Dear April: To honor who we are in this world in hopes that everyone we love will be accepting of our choices may disappoint us sometimes. Nevertheless, we must be true to what and who we are. In doing so, we must understand that our loved ones and friends also need to be true to who and what they believe in. Sometimes those things take longer than other times to figure out.

One thing remains constant: The safety and happiness of a child is what a parent hopes and dreams of most of all. Here’s to everyone living happily ever after.

Imagine this …

In This House

most of the time
We always forgive
We keep our promises
But above all

Got a question for The Feelings Doctor? Click here to submit a question anonymously.

— Psychotherapist Randi Rabin, M.A., MFTI, answers reader questions in her weekly Noozhawk column, The Feelings Doctor, and can be contacted at She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara and completed her master’s degree in psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute under the guidance of renowned psychologist Stephen Aizenstat, Pacifica’s chancellor and founding president. She has worked as a counselor with a number of local nonprofit organizations and schools. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.