What is Coimetrophobia?

Coimetrophobia is an intense and irrational fear of cemeteries. People suffering from coimetrophobia experience anxiety even at the thought of visiting a cemetery or being near one. This debilitating phobia can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

What are the symptoms of coimetrophobia?

The most common symptoms of coimetrophobia include:

– Extreme anxiety when thinking about cemeteries
– Avoidance of cemeteries and burial grounds
– Inability to visit the grave sites of loved ones
– Panic attacks when near cemeteries that can include trembling, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea
– Distressing thoughts about death and dying
– Sleep disturbances and nightmares about being trapped in a cemetery

What causes coimetrophobia?

There are a few potential causes for developing coimetrophobia:

– Traumatic experience related to cemeteries such as getting lost in a cemetery as a child
– Being forced to visit a cemetery against one’s wishes
– Witnessing an exhumation or other disturbing cemetery-related scene
– General anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder
– Having another phobia such as necrophobia (fear of dead bodies)
– Learned behavior from family members who also feared cemeteries

The underlying cause likely involves the cemetery representing the person’s fears about death and dying. The cemetery triggers an intense sense of dread and vulnerability in the coimetrophobic individual.

Signs and Symptoms

Coimetrophobia has both psychological and physical symptoms. Common signs and symptoms include:

Psychological Symptoms

– Irrational and intense fear of cemeteries
– Avoidance of cemeteries or burial grounds
– Inability to visit graves of loved ones
– Severe anxiety when thinking about or near cemeteries
– Distressing thoughts about death and dying
– Nightmares about being trapped in a cemetery
– Feelings of dread when driving past cemeteries

Physical Symptoms

– Nausea
– Trembling
– Rapid heartbeat
– Shortness of breath
– Dizziness
– Chest pains
– Sweating
– Chills
– Dry mouth

Sufferers may experience a full-blown panic attack when confronted with their fear. Panic attacks involve an abruptonset of intense physical and psychological symptoms that reach a peak within minutes. People often mistake panic attacks for heart attacks because of their similar symptoms.

Risk Factors

While researchers don’t know exactly why some people develop coimetrophobia, the following risk factors have been associated with the phobia:

Traumatic Experience

Exposure to a distressing or traumatic event related to cemeteries may trigger the phobia. This could involve getting lost in a cemetery as a child, witnessing an exhumation, or being forced to visit a cemetery against one’s wishes. The trauma causes the brain to associate cemeteries with danger.


Having a first-degree relative with anxiety disorders or phobias increases a person’s risk. Coimetrophobia likely has a hereditary component.

Overprotective Parents

Being raised by overprotective parents who warn children about the dangers of the world may contribute to an excessive fear of cemeteries manifesting later in life.

Negative Portrayal of Cemeteries

Frequent exposure to frightening cemetery depictions in movies, TV, books, and video games may predispose some people to developing a fear of cemeteries.

Other Mental Health Conditions

Coimetrophobia is more common among people with conditions like anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The phobia may even be a manifestation of an underlying mental health problem.

Identifying and addressing potential risk factors is an important step in preventing and treating coimetrophobia.


While coimetrophobia is challenging to overcome, several treatment options are available that can help sufferers manage their fear and reduce anxiety levels:


The most common and effective treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy focused on changing negative thought patterns. Exposure therapy is a subtype of CBT that gradually exposes the person to cemeteries until their fear abates.


Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications may help reduce coimetrophobia symptoms. However, medication alone is usually inadequate and should be combined with therapy.

Self-help Strategies

When combined with professional treatment, self-help techniques can aid coimetrophobia recovery. Strategies include relaxation practices, facing fears in small steps, and challenging irrational negative thoughts. Joining a support group also provides community and accountability.

With professional help and commitment to the treatment process, even severe cases of coimetrophobia can be successfully managed. Overcoming the phobia restores quality of life and the ability to carry out important activities.

Coping Strategies for Living with Coimetrophobia

Though difficult, it is possible to cope with coimetrophobia for those unable or unwilling to undergo treatment right away. Here are some effective coping strategies:


While avoiding feared situations provides temporary relief, it reinforces the phobia in the long-term. Still, sufferers can try avoiding cemeteries and burial grounds when possible.

Comfort Items

Bringing along objects that induce feelings of comfort and safety can help reduce anxiety. Comfort items might include a family photo, book, stuffed animal, or inspirational item.


Distracting oneself by listening to music, calling a friend, counting backwards, or engaging in mental puzzles helps get through cemetery visits.

Breathing Exercises

Techniques like deep breathing, counting breaths, and paced breathing help counter hyperventilation and provide calm.

Positive Self-talk

Repeating encouraging phrases like “I can handle this” and “I am safe” can empower sufferers to push through intense fear.

Having a Support Person

Having a trusted friend or family member accompany sufferers to cemeteries can provide comfort and courage.

While not curative, these coping strategies enable sufferers to manage their phobia and reclaim some normalcy. Seeking treatment, however, remains critical for overcoming coimetrophobia.

How Common Is Coimetrophobia?

Coimetrophobia is not as well studied as other phobias. Limited data exists on its prevalence in the general population. According to current estimates:

– Affects roughly 7-12% of people
– Slightly more common in women than men
– Typical age of onset is late childhood to early adolescence
– Most prevalent in teens and young adults

These statistics indicate coimetrophobia is relatively uncommon. Within clinical settings, it is overshadowed by more widespread phobias like arachnophobia (fear of spiders) or social phobia.

However, these numbers likely underestimate the true rate for several reasons:

– Sufferers commonly hide their phobia out of shame or embarrassment
– Milder cases never get diagnosed or treated
– Confusion with other death-related phobia diagnoses

Further research is needed for more precise prevalence estimates of this lesser-known phobia. But it clearly impairs thousands or even millions of lives to some degree.

Famous Cases of Coimetrophobia

Though not a well-known phobia, coimetrophobia has affected a handful of historical figures:

J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter author has admitted to suffering from coimetrophobia since childhood. She revealed that graveyards still terrify her as an adult.

Alexander Pushkin

The legendary Russian poet avoided cemeteries due to an intense dislike of them. He forbade his family from burying him on monastery grounds.

John Gay

The English dramatist and poet responsible for The Beggar’s Opera was so phobic of graveyards that he refused to attend his close friend’s burial.

Louis XIV

The famous French monarch despised cemeteries and was rarely able to attend funerals as a result.

While few in number, these cases demonstrate that even famous figures struggled with this phobia. Their stories help reduce stigma and show that coimetrophobia can happen to anyone.

Myths and Facts About Coimetrophobia

Many myths and misconceptions surround coimetrophobia. Knowing the facts help dispel stigma and misunderstanding.

Myth: It’s just normal to fear cemeteries

Fact: While some unease in cemeteries is common, a true phobia causes extreme distress and life impairment

Myth: Coimetrophobia is the same as necrophobia

Fact: Necrophobia is a fear of dead bodies, while coimetrophobia focuses on the cemetery setting specifically

Myth: Coimetrophobia is untreatable

Fact: Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven highly effective in treating this phobia

Myth: Sufferers are strange or weak-minded

Fact: Coimetrophobia can happen to anyone and does not reflect on personal character

Myth: Sufferers should just get over it

Fact: Coimetrophobia is a legitimate anxiety disorder that requires compassionate treatment

Understanding the realities of this condition fosters empathy for sufferers. Support and treatment helps them overcome coimetrophobia and reclaim their lives.


Coimetrophobia, though not well-known, can severely impair a person’s life. The extreme fear of cemeteries may stem from trauma or genetic predisposition. Treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, and self-help strategies have proven effective. While quite challenging to conquer, coimetrophobia is a treatable condition. With professional help and commitment to the recovery process, sufferers can finally be free of this debilitating phobia. Overcoming coimetrophobia restores their quality of life, allowing them to visit loved one’s graves and regain a sense of normalcy.

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