About My Mortality

The topic of our own mortality rarely arises in conversation especially while we are in good health. We expect therefore that many take their unspoken thoughts and fears with them, to their grave.

Humanists accept the world as a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and they discount as false the promises by religions that believers will have ‘everlasting’ life. How then do humanists view their own mortality? Is it something they also postpone till their end-of-life approaches, or is their own mortality a part of their philosophy for living their life? The humanist literature is of little help because there is no top-down guidance for humanists on how to live their lives. We have therefore sought the views of humanists on how their thoughts on their own mortality have affected their approach to life. Our hope was that the views would form a starting point to understanding the impact of the acceptance of mortality on ordinary humanist lives.

We invited humanists to write an essay on their personal thoughts on their own mortality. The only guidance we offered was that the essays should be no more than 300 words, and that the views expressed should be their own, honest opinions.

This collection reveals personal insights into what it means to be a humanist, and indeed, a human. The range of views is wide. Some do admit to pushing to the back of their minds thoughts on their mortality. Others embrace their mortality as a core part of their life. Most write that as a result of acknowledging their mortality, they make a conscious effort to live their life to the full. We hope that these essays will be of comfort to those who see their own hopes and concerns reflected in the views of others expressed here, and will let them know they are not alone. Likewise, all contributors will find comfort in knowing that their own essay may help others, irrespective of their beliefs, in accepting their own mortality. An unexpected benefit has been to some who found that writing the essay led them to confront their unspoken fears of death that, when expressed in words, were diminished. We therefore hope that these essays will help us all, irrespective of our beliefs, to accept our own mortality as a part of life, and to speak about it, as we make the most of our lives.



With thanks to John Turner for instigating and coordinating the project, and to all who have contributed their reflections.