Death: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Death

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Universal symbol for death: a human skull
A dead Confederate soldier sprawled out in Petersburg, Virginia, 1865, during the American Civil War

Death is the termination of the biological functions that define a living organism. It refers both to a particular event and to the condition that results thereby. The true nature of the latter has, for millennia, been a central concern of the world's religious traditions and of philosophical enquiry. Belief in some kind of afterlife or rebirth is a central aspect of many religious traditions.

Humans and the vast majority of other animals die in due course from senescence. Remarkable exceptions include the hydra, and the jellyfish turritopsis nutricula, which is thought to possess in effect biological immortality.[1 ]

Intervening phenomena which commonly bring about death earlier include malnutrition, disease, or accidents resulting in terminal physical injury. Predation is a cause of death for many species. Intentional human activity causing death includes suicide, homicide, and war. Roughly 150,000 people die each day across the globe.[2 ] Death in the natural world can also occur as an indirect result of human activity: an increasing cause of species depletion in recent times has been destruction of ecosystems as a consequence of the widening spread of industrial technology.[3]

Physiological death is now seen as less an event than a process: conditions once considered indicative of death are now reversible.[4] Where in the process a dividing line is drawn between life and death depends on factors beyond the presence or absence of vital signs. In general, clinical death is neither necessary nor sufficient for a determination of legal death. A patient with working heart and lungs determined to be brain dead can be pronounced legally dead without clinical death occurring. Precise medical definition of death, in other words, becomes more problematic, paradoxically, as scientific knowledge and technology advance.


Signs and symptoms

Signs of death, or strong indications that a person is no longer alive are:

  • Ceasing respiration
  • The body no longer metabolizes
  • No pulse
  • Pallor mortis, paleness which happens in the 15–120 minutes after the death
  • Livor mortis, a settling of the blood in the lower (dependent) portion of the body
  • Algor mortis, the reduction in body temperature following death. This is generally a steady decline until matching ambient temperature
  • Rigor mortis, the limbs of the corpse become stiff (Latin rigor) and difficult to move or manipulate
  • Decomposition, the reduction into simpler forms of matter, accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor.


Problems of definition

What is death? A flower, a skull and an hour-glass stand in for Life, Death and Time in this 17th Century painting by Philippe de Champaigne

For those who define death as a state following the state of life, one of the challenges in defining death is in distinguishing it from life. Death would seem to refer to either the moment at which life ends, or when the state that follows life begins. However, determining when death has occurred requires drawing precise conceptual boundaries between life and death. This is problematic however because there is little consensus over how to define life. Some have suggested defining life in terms of consciousness. When consciousness ceases, a living organism can be said to have died. One of the notable flaws in this approach is that there are many organisms which are alive but probably not conscious (for example, single-celled organisms). Another problem with this approach is in defining consciousness, which has many different definitions given by modern scientists, psychologists and philosophers. This general problem of defining death applies to the particular challenge of defining death in the context of medicine.

Other definitions for death focus on the character of cessation of something.[5] In this context 'death' describes merely the state where something has ceased, e.g., life. Thus, the definition of 'life' simultaneously defines death.

Historically, attempts to define the exact moment of a human's death have been problematic. Death was once defined as the cessation of heartbeat (cardiac arrest) and of breathing, but the development of CPR and prompt defibrillation have rendered that definition inadequate because breathing and heartbeat can sometimes be restarted. Events which were causally linked to death in the past no longer kill in all circumstances; without a functioning heart or lungs, life can sometimes be sustained with a combination of life support devices, organ transplants and artificial pacemakers.

Today, where a definition of the moment of death is required, doctors and coroners usually turn to "brain death" or "biological death" to define a person as being clinically dead; people are considered dead when the electrical activity in their brain ceases. It is presumed that an end of electrical activity indicates the end of consciousness. However, suspension of consciousness must be permanent, and not transient, as occurs during certain sleep stages, and especially a coma. In the case of sleep, EEGs can easily tell the difference.

However, the category of "brain death" is seen by some scholars to be problematic. For instance, Dr Franklin Miller, senior faculty member at the Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, notes "By the late 1990s, however, the equation of brain death with death of the human being was increasingly challenged by scholars, based on evidence regarding the array of biological functioning displayed by patients correctly diagnosed as having this condition who were maintained on mechanical ventilation for substantial periods of time. These patients maintained the ability to sustain circulation and respiration, control temperature, excrete wastes, heal wounds, fight infections and, most dramatically, to gestate fetuses (in the case of pregnant "brain-dead" women)." [6]

Those people maintaining that only the neo-cortex of the brain is necessary for consciousness sometimes argue that only electrical activity there should be considered when defining death. Eventually it is possible that the criterion for death will be the permanent and irreversible loss of cognitive function, as evidenced by the death of the cerebral cortex. All hope of recovering human thought and personality is then gone given current and foreseeable medical technology. However, at present, in most places the more conservative definition of death — irreversible cessation of electrical activity in the whole brain, as opposed to just in the neo-cortex — has been adopted (for example the Uniform Determination Of Death Act in the United States). In 2005, the Terri Schiavo case brought the question of brain death and artificial sustenance to the front of American politics.

Even by whole-brain criteria, the determination of brain death can be complicated. EEGs can detect spurious electrical impulses, while certain drugs, hypoglycemia, hypoxia, or hypothermia can suppress or even stop brain activity on a temporary basis. Because of this, hospitals have protocols for determining brain death involving EEGs at widely separated intervals under defined conditions.


In the United States, a person is dead by law if a Statement of Death or Death Certificate is approved by a licensed medical practitioner. Various legal consequences follow death, including the removal from the person of what in legal terminology is called personhood.

The possession of brain activities, or ability to resume brain activity, is a necessary condition to legal personhood in the United States. "It appears that once brain death has been determined … no criminal or civil liability will result from disconnecting the life-support devices." (Dority v. Superior Court of San Bernardino County, 193 Cal.Rptr. 288, 291 (1983))


There are many anecdotal references to people being declared dead by physicians and then 'coming back to life', sometimes days later in their own coffin, or when embalming procedures are just about to begin. Owing to significant scientific advancements in the Victorian era, some people in Britain became obsessively worried about living after being declared dead.[7]

In cases of electric shock, CPR for an hour or longer can allow stunned nerves to recover, allowing an apparently dead person to survive. People found unconscious under icy water may survive if their faces are kept continuously cold until they arrive at an emergency room.[8] This "diving response", in which metabolic activity and oxygen requirements are minimal, is something humans share with cetaceans called the mammalian diving reflex.[8]

As medical technologies advance, ideas about when death occurs may have to be re-evaluated in light of the ability to restore a person to vitality after longer periods of apparent death (as happened when CPR and defibrillation showed that cessation of heartbeat is inadequate as a decisive indicator of death). The lack of electrical brain activity may not be enough to consider someone scientifically dead. Therefore, the concept of information theoretical death has been suggested as a better means of defining when true death actually occurs, though the concept has few practical applications outside of the field of cryonics.

There have been some scientific attempts to bring dead organisms back to life, but with limited success.[9] In science fiction scenarios where such technology is readily available, real death is distinguished from reversible death.


The body of Pope John Paul II lying in state in St. Peter's Basilica, 2005

The leading cause of death in developing countries is infectious disease. The leading causes of death in developed countries are atherosclerosis (heart disease and stroke), cancer, and other diseases related to obesity and aging. These conditions cause loss of homeostasis, leading to cardiac arrest, causing loss of oxygen and nutrient supply, causing irreversible deterioration of the brain and other tissues. Of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds — 100,000 per day — die of age-related causes.[2 ] In industrialized nations, the proportion is much higher, reaching 90%.[2 ] With improved medical capability, dying has become a condition to be managed. Home deaths, once normal, are now rare in the developed world.

In developing nations, inferior sanitary conditions and lack of access to modern medical technology makes death from infectious diseases more common than in developed countries. One such disease is tuberculosis, a bacterial disease which killed 1.7 million people in 2004.[10] Malaria causes about 400–900 million cases of fever and approximately one to three million deaths annually.[11] AIDS death toll in Africa may reach 90-100 million by 2025.[12][13]

According to Jean Ziegler, who was the United Nations Special reporter on the Right to Food from 2000 to March 2008; mortality due to malnutrition accounted for 58% of the total mortality rate in 2006. Ziegler says worldwide approximately 62 million people died from all causes and of those deaths more than 36 million died of hunger or diseases due to deficiencies in micronutrients."[14]

Tobacco smoking killed 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century and could kill 1 billion people around the world in the 21st century, a WHO Report warned.[15][16]

Many leading developed world causes of death can be postponed by diet and physical activity, but the accelerating incidence of disease with age still imposes limits on human longevity. The evolutionary cause of aging is, at best, only just beginning to be understood. It has been suggested that direct intervention in the aging process may now be the most effective intervention against major causes of death.[17]


Rembrandt turns an autopsy into a masterpiece: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

An autopsy, also known as a postmortem examination or an obduction, is a medical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a human corpse to determine the cause and manner of a person's death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present. It is usually performed by a specialized medical doctor called a pathologist.

Autopsies are either performed for legal or medical purposes. A forensic autopsy is carried out when the cause of death may be a criminal matter, while a clinical or academic autopsy is performed to find the medical cause of death and is used in cases of unknown or uncertain death, or for research purposes. Autopsies can be further classified into cases where external examination suffices, and those where the body is dissected and an internal examination is conducted. Permission from next of kin may be required for internal autopsy in some cases. Once an internal autopsy is complete the body is generally reconstituted by sewing it back together. Autopsy is important in a medical environment and may shed light on mistakes and help improve practices.

A "necropsy" is an older term for a postmortem examination, unregulated, and not always a medical procedure. In modern times the term is more often used in the postmortem examination of the corpses of animals.


Life extension refers to an increase in maximum or average lifespan, especially in humans, by slowing down or reversing the processes of aging. Average lifespan is determined by vulnerability to accidents and age or lifestyle-related afflictions such as cancer, or cardiovascular disease. Extension of average lifespan can be achieved by good diet, exercise and avoidance of hazards such as smoking. Maximum lifespan is determined by the rate of aging for a species inherent in its genes. Currently, the only widely recognized method of extending maximum lifespan is calorie restriction. Theoretically, extension of maximum lifespan can be achieved by reducing the rate of aging damage, by periodic replacement of damaged tissues, or by molecular repair or rejuvenation of deteriorated cells and tissues.

Researchers of life extension are a subclass of biogerontologists known as "biomedical gerontologists". They try to understand the nature of aging and they develop treatments to reverse aging processes or to at least slow them down, for the improvement of health and the maintenance of youthful vigor at every stage of life. Those who take advantage of life extension findings and seek to apply them upon themselves are called "life extensionists" or "longevists". The primary life extension strategy currently is to apply available anti-aging methods in the hope of living long enough to benefit from a complete cure to aging once it is developed, which given the rapidly advancing state of biogenetic and general medical technology, could conceivably occur within the lifetimes of people living today.

Society and culture

Death haunts even the beautiful: an early 20th century artist says, "All is Vanity"

Death is the center of many traditions and organizations, and is a feature of every culture around the world. Much of this revolves around the care of the dead, as well as the afterlife and the disposal of bodies upon the onset of death. The disposal of human corpses does, in general, begin with the last offices before significant time has passed, and ritualistic ceremonies often occur, most commonly interment or cremation. This is not a unified practice, however, as in Tibet for instance the body is given a sky burial and left on a mountain top. Proper preparation for death and techniques and ceremonies for producing the ability to transfer one's spiritual attainments into another body (reincarnation) are subjects of detailed study in Tibet.[18] Mummification or embalming is also prevalent in some cultures, to retard the rate of decay.

Legal aspects of death are also part of many cultures, particularly the settlement of the deceased estate and the issues of inheritance and in some countries, inheritance taxation.

Capital punishment is also a divisive aspect of death in culture. In most places that practice capital punishment today, the death penalty is reserved as punishment for premeditated murder, espionage, treason, or as part of military justice. In some countries, sexual crimes, such as adultery and sodomy, carry the death penalty, as do religious crimes such as apostasy, the formal renunciation of one's religion. In many retentionist countries, drug trafficking is also a capital offense. In China human trafficking and serious cases of corruption are also punished by the death penalty. In militaries around the world courts-martial have imposed death sentences for offenses such as cowardice, desertion, insubordination, and mutiny.[19]

Death in warfare and in suicide attack also have cultural links, and the ideas of dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, mutiny punishable by death, grieving relatives of dead soldiers and death notification are embedded in many cultures. Recently in the western world, with the supposed increase in terrorism following the September 11 attacks, but also further back in time with suicide bombings, kamikaze missions in World War II and suicide missions in a host of other conflicts in history, death for a cause by way of suicide attack, and martyrdom have had significant cultural impacts.

Suicide in general, and particularly euthanasia are also points of cultural debate. Both acts are understood very differently in contrasting cultures. In Japan, for example, ending a life with honor by seppuku was considered a desirable death, whereas according to traditional Christian and Islamic cultures, suicide is viewed as a sin. Death is personified in many cultures, with such symbolic representations as the Grim Reaper, Azrael and Father Time.

In biology

Natural selection

Contemporary evolutionary theory sees death as an important part of the process of natural selection. It is considered that organisms less adapted to their environment are more likely to die having produced fewer offspring, thereby reducing their contribution to the gene pool. Their genes are thus eventually bred out of a population, leading at worst to extinction and, more positively, making possible the process referred to as speciation. Frequency of reproduction plays an equally important role in determining species survival: an organism that dies young but leaves numerous offspring displays, according to Darwinian criteria, much greater fitness than a long-lived organism leaving only one.


Dead as a dodo: the bird that became a byword in English for species extinction [20]

Extinction is the cessation of existence of a species or group of taxa, reducing biodiversity. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of that species (although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point). Because a species' potential range may be very large, determining this moment is difficult, and is usually done retrospectively. This difficulty leads to phenomena such as Lazarus taxa, where a species presumed extinct abruptly "reappears" (typically in the fossil record) after a period of apparent absence. New species arise through the process of speciation, an aspect of evolution. New varieties of organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche — and species become extinct when they are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition. After death the remains of an organism become part of the biogeochemical cycle. Animals may be consumed by a predator or a scavenger. Organic material may then be further decomposed by detritivores, organisms which recycle detritus, returning it to the environment for reuse in the food chain. Examples of detritivores include earthworms, woodlice and dung beetles.

Microorganisms also play a vital role, raising the temperature of the decomposing matter as they break it down into yet simpler molecules. Not all materials need be decomposed fully, however. Coal, a fossil fuel formed over vast tracts of time in swamp ecosystems, is one example.

Evolution of aging

Inquiry into the evolution of aging aims to explain why so many living things and the vast majority of animals weaken and die with age (a notable exception being hydra, which may be biologically immortal). The evolutionary origin of senescence remains one of the fundamental puzzles of biology. Gerontology specializes in the science of human aging processes.

See also


  1. ^ Guerin, John C. (2009). Emerging Area of Aging Research: Long-lived Animals with "Negligible Senescence". Retrieved August 21, 2009.  
  2. ^ a b c Aubrey D.N.J, de Grey (2007). "Life Span Extension Research and Public Debate: Societal Considerations" (PDF). Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology 1 (1, Article 5). doi:10.2202/1941-6008.1011. Retrieved March 20, 2009.  
  3. ^ Human Activities Cause of Current Extinction Crisis, accessed 7 April 2009
  4. ^ Crippen, David. "Brain Failure and Brain Death". ACS Surgery Online, Critical Care, April 2005. Archived from the original on 24 June 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-09.  
  5. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  6. ^ FG Miller "Death and organ donation: back to the future" Journal of Medical Ethics 2009;35:616-620
  7. ^ As reflected from at least one article of literature by authors like Edgar Allan Poe, where subjects were buried alive.
  8. ^ a b Limmer, D. et al. (2006). Emergency care (AHA update, Ed. 10e). Prentice Hall.
  9. ^ Blood Swapping Reanimates Dead Dogs
  10. ^ World Health Organization (WHO). Tuberculosis Fact sheet N°104 - Global and regional incidence. March 2006, Retrieved on 6 October 2006.
  11. ^ USAID’s Malaria Programs
  12. ^ Aids could kill 90 million Africans, says UN
  13. ^ AIDS Toll May Reach 100 Million in Africa, Washington Post
  14. ^ Jean Ziegler, L'Empire de la honte, Fayard, 2007 ISBN 978-2-253-12115-2 p.130.
  15. ^ Tobacco Could Kill One Billion By 2100, World Health Organization Report Warns
  16. ^ Tobacco could kill more than 1 billion this century: World Health Organization
  17. ^ SJ Olshanksy et al. (2006). "Longevity dividend: What should we be doing to prepare for the unprecedented aging of humanity?". The Scientist 20: 28–36. Retrieved 2007-03-31.  
  18. ^ Mullin (1999).
  19. ^ "Shot at Dawn, campaign for pardons for British and Commonwealth soldiers executed in World War I". Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign. Retrieved 2006-07-20.  
  20. ^ Diamond, Jared (1999). "Up to the Starting Line". Guns, Germs, and Steel. W. W. Norton. pp. 43–44. ISBN 0-393-31755-2.  

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
Old age
Stages of human development
Succeeded by


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Death is the permanent end of the life of a biological organism. Death may refer to the end of life as either an event or condition. In many cultures and in the arts, death is considered a being or otherwise personified, wherein it is usually capitalized as "Death".



  • Men fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.
  • To me the honour is sufficient of belonging to the universe — such a great universe, and so grand a scheme of things. Not even Death can rob me of that honour. For nothing can alter the fact that I have lived; I have been I, if for ever so short a time. And when I am dead, the matter which composes my body is indestructible—and eternal, so that come what may to my 'Soul,' my dust will always be going on, each separate atom of me playing its separate part — I shall still have some sort of a finger in the pie. When I am dead, you can boil me, burn me, drown me, scatter me — but you cannot destroy me: my little atoms would merely deride such heavy vengeance. Death can do no more than kill you.
    • W. N. P. Barbellion (Bruce Frederick Cummings), The Journal of a Disappointed Man, Chatto & Windus, 1920.
  • We all labour against our own cure; for death is the cure of all disease.
  • What argufies pride and ambition?
    Soon or late death will take us in tow:
    Each bullet has got its commission,
    And when our time's come we must go.
  • Verse, Fame and beauty are intense indeed,
    But Death intenser – Death is life's high mead.
  • Death opens unknown doors. It is most grand to die.
  • Death hath a thousand doors to let out life:
    I shall find one.
  • Death did not come to my mother
    Like an old friend.
    She was a mother, and she must
    Conceive him.
    Up and down the bed she fought crying
    Help me, but death
    Was a slow child
    • Josephine Miles, "Conception" (1974) st. 1–2; Collected Poems, University of Illinois Press, 1983
  • Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death where is thy sting, O Grave where is thy victory?
  • Death is one of two things. Either it is annihilation, and the dead have no consciousness of anything; or, as we are told, it is really a change: a migration of the soul from this place to another.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • One may live as a conqueror, a king, or a magistrate; but he must die as a man.
  • My friend, there will come one day to you a Messenger, whom you cannot treat with contempt. He will say, "Come with me;" and all your pleas of business cares and earthly loves will be of no avail. When his cold hand touches yours, the key of the counting-room will drop forever, and he will lead you away from all your investments, your speculations, your bank-notes and real estate, and with him you will pass into eternity, up to the bar of God. You will not be too busy to die.
  • O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised; thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of men, and covered them all over with these two narrow words, "Hie jacet."
  • What a power has Death to awe and hush the voices of this earth! How mute we stand when that presence confronts us, and we look upon the silence he has wrought in a human life! We can only gaze, and bow our heads, and creep with our broken, stammering utterances under the shelter of some great word which God has spoken, and in which we see through the history of human sorrow the outstretching and overshadowing of the eternal arms.
    • Walton W. Battershall, p. 174.
  • Look forward a little further to the period when all the noise and tumult and business of this world shall have closed forever.
    • John Gregory Pike, p. 174.
  • We shall be in the midst of some great work, when the tools shall drop from our relaxing fingers, and we shall work no more; we shall be planning some mighty project — house, business, society, book — when in one shattering moment all our thoughts shall perish. Life shall seem strong in us when we shall find that it is done. Oh, how happy they to whom all that remains is immortality; happy you who have that confidence in the Saviour, that, although nature start at the sudden midnight cry, "The Bridegroom cometh!" faith shall answer, the moment that we remember who He is, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"
    • James Hamilton, p. 175.
  • However dreary we may have felt life to be here, yet when that hour comes — the winding up of all things, the last grand rush of darkness on our spirits, the hour of that awful sudden wrench from all we have ever known or loved, the long farewell to sun, moon, stars, and light — brother man, I ask you this day, and I ask myself humbly and fearfully, "What will then be finished? When it is finished, what will it be? Will it be the butterfly existence of pleasure, the mere life of science, a life of uninterrupted sin and self-gratification, or will it be, 'Father, I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do?'"
  • How shocking must thy summons be, O Death!
    To him that is at ease in his possessions!
    Who, counting on long years of pleasure here,
    Is quite unfurnished for the world to come.
    In that dread moment, how the frantic soul
    Raves round the walls of her clay tenement;
    Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help;
    But shrieks in vain. —
    • Hugh Blair, p. 175.
  • When we come to die, we shall be alone. From all our worldly possessions we shall be about to part. Worldly friends — the friends drawn to us by our position, our wealth, or our social qualities, — will leave us as we enter the dark valley. From those bound to us by stronger ties — our kindred, our loved ones, children, brothers, sisters, and from those not less dear to us who have been made our friends because they and we are the friends of the same Saviour, — from them also we must part. Yet not all will leave us. There is One who "sticketh closer than a brother" — One who having loved His own which are in the world loves them to the end.
  • When I lived, I provided for every thing but death; now I must die, and am unprepared.
    • Caesar Borgia, p. 176.
  • Reflect on death as in Jesus Christ, not as without Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ it is dreadful, it is alarming, it is the terror of nature. In Jesus Christ it is fair and lovely, it is good and holy, it is the joy of saints.
  • To the Christian, these shades are the golden haze which heaven's light makes, when it meets the earth, and mingles with its shadows.
  • So fades a summer cloud away;
    So sinks the gale when storms are o'er;
    So gently shuts the eye of day;
    So dies a wave along the shore.
  • Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death! —
  • Soon for me the light of day
    Shall forever pass away;
    Then from sin and sorrow free,
    Take me, Lord, to dwell with Thee.
    • William Croswell Doane, p. 177.
  • All life is surrounded by a great circumference of death; but to the believer in Jesus, beyond this surrounding death is a boundless sphere of life. He has only to die once to be done with death forever.
    • James Hamilton, p. 177.
  • Yes, death, — the hourly possibility of it, — death is the sublimity of life.
  • Death is a stage in human progress, to be passed as we would pass from childhood to youth, or from youth to manhood, and with the same consciousness of an everlasting nature.
  • Thus star by star declines
    Till all are passed away,
    As morning high and higher shines
    To pure and perfect day:
    Nor sink those stars in empty night;
    They hide themselves in heaven's pure light.
  • Life's race well run,
    Life's work well done,
    Life's crown well won,
    Now comes rest.
    • Epitaph of President Garfield, p. 177.
  • "God giveth His beloved sleep;" and in that peaceful sleep, realities, not dreams, come round their quiet rest, and fill their conscious spirits and their happy hearts with blessedness and fellowship. In His own time He will make the eternal morning dawn, and the hand that kept them in their slumbers shall touch them into waking, and shall clothe them when they arise according to the body of His own glory; and they, looking into His face, and flashing back its love, its light, its beauty, shall each break forth into singing as the rising light of that unsetting day touches their transfigured and immortal heads, in the triumphant thanksgiving, "I am satisfied, for I awake in Thy likeness."
  • When our earthly day is closing,
    And the night grows still and deep,
    Let us, in Thine arms reposing,
    Feel Thy power to save and keep.
    Blessed Jesus,
    Give Thine own beloved sleep.
  • What is our death but a night's sleep? For as through sleep all weariness and faintness pass away and cease, and the powers of the spirit come back again, so that in the morning we arise fresh and strong and joyous; so at the Last Day we shall rise again as if we had only slept a night, and shall be fresh and strong.
  • Death, to a good man is but passing through a dark entry, out of one little dusky room of his Father's house into another that is fair and large, lightsome and glorious, and divinely entertaining.
    • Adam Clarke, p. 178.
  • Mysterious Night! When our first parent knew
    Thee from report Divine, and heard thy name,
    Did he not tremble for this lovely frame,
    This glorious canopy of light and blue?
    Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,
    Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame,
    Hesperus, with the host of heaven came;
    And lo! creation widened in man's view.
    Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed
    Within thy beams, O sun? or who could find,
    While fly and leaf and insect stood revealed,
    That to such countless orbs thou mad'st us blind?
    Why do we then shun death with anxious strife?
    If light can thus deceive, wherefore not life?
    • Joseph Blanco White, p. 179.
  • And when no longer we can see Thee, may we reach out our hands, and find Thee leading us through death to immortality and glory.
  • "Paid the debt of nature." No; it is not paying a debt; it is rather like bringing a note to the bank to obtain solid gold for it. In this case you bring this cumbrous body which is nothing worth, and which you could not wish to retain long; you lay it down, and receive for it from the eternal treasures — liberty, victory, knowledge, rapture.
    • John Foster, p. 179.
  • When darkness gathers over all.
    And the last tottering pillars fall,
    Take the poor dust Thy mercy warms.
    And mould it into heavenly forms.
  • Death is the waiting-room where we robe ourselves for immortality.
  • Death is like thunder in two particulars; we are alarmed at the sound of it; and it is formidable only from that which preceded it.
  • If life has not made youby God's grace, through faith, holy — think you, will death, without faith do it? The cold waters of that narrow stream are no purifying bath in which you may wash and be clean. No! no! as you go down into them, you will come up from them.
  • This character wherewith we sink into the grave at death is the very character wherewith we shall reappear at the resurrection.
    • Thomas Chalmers, p. 180.
  • He that always waits upon God is ready whenever He calls. Neglect not to set your accounts even; he is a happy man who to lives as that death at all times may find him at leisure to die.
    • Owen Feltham, p. 180.
  • Death cannot come To him untimely who is fit to die; The less of this cold world, the more of heaven; The briefer life, the earlier immortality.
  • No man who is fit to live need tear to die. Poor, timorous, faithless souls that we are! How we shall smile at our vain alarms when the worst has happened! To us here, death is the most terrible thing we know. But when we have tasted its reality, it will mean to us birth, deliverance, a new creation of ourselves. It will be what health is to the sick man. It will be what home is to the exile. It will be what the loved one given - back is to the bereaved. As we draw near to it, a solemn gladness should fill our hearts. It is God's great morning lighting up the sky. Our fears are the terror of children in the night. The night with its terrors, its darkness, its feverish dreams, is passing away; and when we awake, it will be into the sunlight of God.
    • George S. Merriam, p. 181.
  • Tarry with me, O my Saviour!
    Lay my head upon Thy breast,
    Till the morning; then awake me —
    Morning of eternal rest.
    • Caroline S. Smith, p. 181.
  • O that we may all be living in such a state of preparedness, that, when summoned to depart, we may ascend the summit whence faith looks forth on all that Jesus hath suffered and done, and exclaiming, " We have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord," lie down with Moses on Pisgah, to awake with Moses in paradise.
  • Seek such union to the Son of God, as, leaving no present death within, shall make the second death impossible, and shall leave in all your future only that shadow of death which men call dissolution, and which the gospel calls sleeping in Jesus.
    • James Hamilton, p. 181.
  • Love masters agony; the soul that seemed
    Forsaken feels her present God again
    And in her Father's arms
    Contented dies away.
    • John Keblle, p. 182.
  • Every day His servants are dying modestly and peacefully — not a word of victory on their lips; but Christ's deep triumph in their hearts — watching the slow progress of their own decay, and yet so far emancipated from personal anxiety that they are still able to think and plan for others, not knowing that they are doing any great thing. They die, and the world hears nothing of them; and yet theirs was the completest victory. They came to the battle field, the field to which they had been looking forward all their lives, and the enemy was not to be found. There was no foe to fight with.
  • "Come and see how a Christian can die," said the dying sage to his pupil; how would it do to say, "Come and see how an infidel can die?" How would it have done for Voltaire to say this, who, in his panic at the prospect of eternity, offered his physician half his fortune for six weeks more of life?
    • James Hamilton, p. 182.
  • Dying visions of angels and Christ and God and heaven are confined to credibly good men. Why do not bad men have such visions? They die of all sorts of diseases; they have nervous temperaments; they even have creeds and hopes about the future which they cling to with very great tenacity; why do not they rejoice in some such glorious illusions when they go out of the world?
    • Enoch Fitch Burr, p. 182.
  • And now, with busy, but noiseless process, the Comforter is giving the last finish to the sanctifying work, and making the heir of glory meet for home, till, at a signal given, the portal opens, and even the numb body feels the burst of blessedness as the rigid features smile and say, "I see Jesus," then leave tne vision pictured on the pale but placid brow.
    • James Hamilton, p. 183.
  • How well he fell asleep!
    Like some proud river, widening toward the sea;
    Calmly and grandly, silently and deep,
    Life joined eternity.
  • O Earth, so full of dreary noises!
    O men, with wailing in your voices!
    O delved gold, the waller's heap!
    O strife, O curse, that o'er it fall!
    God makes a silence through you all,
    And "giveth His beloved, sleep."
    • Mrs. Browning, p. 183.
  • Earth has one angel less, and heaven one more since yesterday. Already, kneeling at the throne, she has received her welcome, and is resting on the bosom of her Saviour.
  • Beloved in the Lord, if you only will lay hold of the Saviour's strength, and cast yourself entirely on His kind arms, with His dying grace He will do wonders for you in the dying hour. A great trembling may come upon you when you think of going down to tread the verge of Jordan: "for ye have not passed this way heretofore." But Jesus has; and you shall see His footprints on the shore. He will be your guide unto death, and through death.
    • Alexander Dickson, p. 183.
  • Dead is she? No; rather let us call ourselves dead, who tire so soon in the service of the Master whom she has gone to serve forever.
    • W. S. Smart, p. 184.
  • So we fall asleep in Jesus. We have played long enough at the games of life, and at last we feel the approach of death. We are tired out, and we lay our heads back on the bosom of Christ, and quietly fall asleep.
    • H. W. Beecher, p. 184.
  • I do not know why a man should be either regretful or afraid, as he watches the hungry sea eating away this "bank and shoal of time" upon which he stands, even though the tide has all but reached his feet — if he knows that God's strong hand will be stretched forth to him at the moment when the sand dissolves from under him, and will draw him out of many waters, and place him high above the floods on the stable land where there is "no more sea."
  • When you take the wires of the cage apart, you do not hurt the bird, but help it. You let it out of its prison. How do vou know that death does not help me when it takes the wires of my cage down? — that it does not release me, and put me into some better place, and better condition of life?
    • Bishop Randolph S. Foster, p. 184.
  • The most heaven-like spots I have ever visited, have been certain rooms in which Christ's disciples were awaiting the summons of death. So far from being a "house of mourning," I have often found such a house to be a vestibule of glory.
  • The world recedes; it disappears!
    Heaven opens on my eyes!
  • I am not in the least surprised that your impression of death becomes more lively, in proportion as age and infirmity bring it nearer. God makes use of this rough trial to undeceive us in respect to our courage, to make us feel our weakness, and to keep us in all humility in His hands.
  • When at last the angels come to convey your departing spirit to Abraham's bosom, depend upon it, however dazzling in their newness they may be to you, you will find that your history is no novelty, and you yourself no stranger to them.
    • James Hamilton, p. 185.
  • And when, in the evening of life, the golden clouds rest sweetly and invitingly upon the golden mountains, and the light of heaven streams down through the gathering mists of death, I wish you a peaceful and abundant entrance into that world of blessedness, where the great riddle of life will be unfolded to you in the quick consciousness of a soul redeemed and purified.
  • Dear brethren, our ship is sailing fast. We shall soon hear the rasping of the shallows, and the commotion overhead which bespeaks the port in view. When it comes to that, how will you feel? Are you a stranger, or a convict, or are you going home?
    Brethren, we are all sailing home; and by and by, when we are not thinking of it, some shadowy thing (men call it death), at midnight, will pass by, and will call us by name, and will say, "I have a message for you from home; God wants you; heaven waits for you."
  • Do we not all, in this very hour, recall a death-bed scene in which some loved one has passed away? And, as we bring to mind the solemn reflections of that hour, are we not ready to hear and to heed the voice with which a dying wife once addressed him who stood sobbing by her side: "My dear husband, live for one thing, and only one thing; Just one thing, — the glory of God, the glory of God!"
    • E. P. Tenney, p. 186.


Living with death - quotes and anecdotes

  • Even at our birth, death does but stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh.
  • People aren't afraid of being dead, they're afraid of getting dead.
  • It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other.
  • If being a kid is about learning how to live, then being a grown-up is about learning how to die.
  • It is nobody's fault. The great circle of life has begun, but you see, not all of us arrive together in the end...She'll [Little Foot's mother] always be with you as long as you remember the things she taught you. In a way, you'll never be apart because you are still a part of each other.
  • Every blade in the field,
    Every leaf in the forest,
    Lays down its life in its season,
    As beautifully as it was taken up.
  • In this world, one day death is going to take the life from everything that you love. So while you're able, love what you have. Takes the death from your life.
    • Mercy Ealing to Joe Carpenter, from Dean Koontz, Sole Survivor (2000 film)
  • For certain is death for the born
    And certain is birth for the dead;
    Therefore over the inevitable
    Thou shouldst not grieve.
  • Death is utterly acceptable to consciousness and life. There has been endless times of numberless deaths, but neither consciousness nor life has ceased to arise. The felt quality and cycle to death has not modified the fragility of flowers, even the flowers within the human body.
  • I am a good Christian, properly baptized and I will die... a good Christian.
  • No shit, there's worse ways to be dead than dying.
    • Chuck Palahniuk, from Rant
  • Death is a tragic event, but stopping the flow of traffic is always seen as the greater crime.
    • Chuck Palahniuk, from Rant
  • Death is so preoccupied with life, that is has no time for anything else.
    • Mikhail Turovsky (b. 1933), Russian-American artist and aphorist. Itch of Wisdom (Cicuta Press, 1986)
  • Chicó - John! John! Died! Oh my God, poor died of John Cricket! So yellow, and so shameless to die like that! What do I do in the world without John? John! John! There is no way, John Cricket died. Ended the smartest Cricket in the world. He completed his sentence and met with the only irredeemable evil, what is the mark of our strange destiny on earth, that fact without explanation that matches everything that is alive in one flock of guilty, because all that is alive dies. What can I do now? Only your funeral and pray for his soul.

Coming to terms with death

  • We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.
    • Richard Dawkins, 'Unweaving The Rainbow'
    • Dawkins has stated on many occasions that this passage will be read at his funeral.
  • Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.
  • Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all - the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.
  • Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.
  • Death is for the living and not for the dead.
  • When we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.
  • On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down.
  • I like the dead – they're so uncritical.
  • Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
  • He's not afraid of dying. He's just afraid that his soul won't make it to God.
    • Starbuck, speaking of Leoben, Battlestar Galactica
  • The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
  • Ultimately, we're all dead men. Sadly we cannot choose how. But, we can decide how we meet that end in order that we are remembered as men.
  • We do not mourn the loss of those who die fufilling their destinies
  • To die would be an awfully big adventure.
  • Death is the one thing that connects us all. It reminds us that what's really important is who we've touched, how much we've given. It makes us realize that we have to be good to one another.
  • Death, then, being the way and condition of life, we cannot love to live if we cannot bear to die.
  • Fear Death? – to feel the fog in my throat,
    The mist in my face.
  • Having a child changes every aspect of your life - for the better, of course. The sacrifices are large, but what you get in return is even bigger than the sacrifices you make. I feel, in a sense, ready to die because you are living on in your child. Not literally, not ready to die - but you know, that sort of feeling in a profound way.
  • Everybody dies. You can't stop it, you can't ran away from it..
    • Big Boss, from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
  • I have often thought upon death, and I find it the least of all evils.
  • Sudden death leaves an impression on one.
  • I have no terror of Death. It is the coming of Death that terrifies me.
  • A long illness seems to be placed between life and death, in order to make death a comfort both to those who die and to those who remain.
    • Jean de La Bruyere (1645–1696)


  • The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
  • A samurai once asked Zen Master Hakuin where he would go after he died. Hakuin answered "How am I supposed to know?"
    "How do you know? You're a Zen master!" exclaimed the samurai.
    "Yes, but not a dead one", Hakuin answered
  • Withdrawn into the peace of this desert, along with some books, few but wise, I live in conversation with the deceased, and listen to the dead with my eyes.
    • Quevedo, From the Tower
  • Here. Astride the top of nothingness, I suddenly receive the call of death. Who, in passing, tells me that it's nothing. Nothing more than the absence of noth¬ingness. Nothing more than the absence of the word itself. Nothing more, and simply nothingness.
  • Death carries off a man who is gathering flowers and whose mind is distracted, as a flood carries off a sleeping village.
    • Dhammapada, Verse 47; F. Max Müller, translator
  • Death, the most dreaded of evils, is therefore of no concern to us; for while we exist death is not present, and when death is present we no longer exist.
  • Despite the solace of hypocritical religiosity and its seductive promise of an after-life of heavenly bliss, most of us will do anything to thwart the inevitable victory of biological death.
  • Pale Death with impartial tread beats at the poor man's cottage door and at the palaces of kings.
  • Hob Gadling: Death's a capricious thing, innit?
    Morpheus: Yes. Yes, she is.
    • Discussing Morpheus' sister, the personification of Death
    • Sandman #13: "Men of Good Fortune"
  • I find myself wondering about humanity. Their attitude to my sister's gift is so strange. Why do they fear the sunless lands? It is as natural to die as it is to be born. But they fear her. Dread her. Feebly they attempt to placate her. They do not love her.
    • Dream about Death, in SANDMAN #8: "The Sound of Her Wings"
  • Anyway: I'm not blessed or merciful. I'm just me. I've got a job to do and I do it. Listen: even as we're talking, I'm there for old and young, innocent and guilty, those who die together and those who die alone. I'm in cars and boats and planes, in hospitals and forests and abattoirs. For some folks death is a release and for others death is an abomination, a terrible thing. But in the end, I'm there for all of them.
    • Death, in SANDMAN #20: "Façade"
  • When the first living thing existed, I was there, waiting. When the last living thing dies, my job is finished. I'll put the chairs on tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.'
    • Death, in SANDMAN #20: "Façade"
  • Rainie, mythologies take longer to die than people believe. They linger on in a kind of dream country that affects all of you.
    • Death, in SANDMAN #20: "Façade"
  • Who am I? Just a friend. Sometimes. Maybe. Sorry I couldn't help any. Be seeing you...
    • Death, in SANDMAN #20: "Façade"
  • Must not all things at the last be swallowed up in death?
  • We look at death from the selfish side, like, "That guy died. Oh, it's so sad." Why is it sad? He's away from all of this bad stuff that's here on Earth. I mean, at the worst, he's just somewhere quiet, no nothing. At best, he's an angel... or he's a spirit somewhere. What is so bad about that?
  • When a tiger dies, it leaves its skin behind. When a person dies, he leaves his name behind.
  • When I die, I would like to go peacefully, in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.
  • When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.
  • We may have days, we may have hours. But sooner or later, we all push up flowers...
  • Death be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
    For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
    Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
    From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
    Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
    And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
    Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
    Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
    And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
    And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
    And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
    One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
  • Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so as long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.
  • It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Death and relationships

  • You think the dead we love ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?
  • The first day after a death, the new absence
    Is always the same; we should be careful
    Of each other, we should be kind
    While there is still time.

Death and the meaning of life

  • Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife. The first question was, 'Did you bring joy?' The second was, 'Did you find joy?'
  • Death and death alone gives meaning to life and this meaning is entirely negative.
  • When one considers just what a man is,
    Happy it be that short his span is.
  • I said to Life, I would hear Death speak. And Life raised her voice a little higher and said, You hear him now.
  • If man were immortal, do you realise what his meat bills would be?
  • Never the spirit was born, the spirit shall cease to be never. Never was time it was not, end and beginning are dreams.
  • Our souls are prisoners of the terror of death, and the day is beautiful.
    • Paulo Coelho, "Chapter 1" (in English). Quinta Montanha (The Fifth Mountain). translated by Clifford E. Landers (1st edition ed.). New York: HarperFlamingo. 1998. ISBN 0060175443.  
  • The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
  • To be, or not to be, —that is the question:—
    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them? —To die, —to sleep,—
    No more; and by a sleep to say we end
    The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to, —'tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, —to sleep;—
    To sleep! perchance to dream: —ay, there's the rub;
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause: there's the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life;
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
    The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
    The insolence of office, and the spurns
    That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear,
    To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after death,—
    The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
    No traveller returns,—puzzles the will,
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know naught of?
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
    And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
    With this regard, their currents turn awry,
    And lose the name of action.


  • Everyone will come to my funeral to make sure that I stay dead.
  • The dead, if not separated from the living, bring madness upon them.
  • It nice it happen to you. Like you come to the island and had a holiday. Sun didn't burn you red-red, just brown. You sleep and no mosquito eat you. But the truth is, it bound to happen if you stay long enough. So take that nice picture you got in your head home with you, but don't be fooled. We lonely here mostly too. If we lucky, maybe, we got some nice pictures to take with us.
  • My uncle is a southern planter. He's an undertaker in Alabama.
  • A Live Human Body and a Deceased Human body have the same Number of Particles.Structurally there's no Diffrence
  • Men only think of their past right before their death, as if they were searching frantically for proof that they were alive.
  • Death is everything.
  • Nothing will be left of me. I die utterly as unknown as if I had never been born. Nothingness receive your prey.


  • Since you are having a near-death experience, I am logically, by extension, having a near-Vimes experience. Don't worry about me, I've brought a book.
  • If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.
  • If your parents never had children, chances are ... neither will you.
  • Always look on the Bright side of Death.Just before You draw Your Terminal Breath
  • Sometimes when I feel like killing someone, I do a little trick to calm myself down. I'll go over to the person's house and ring the doorbell. When the person comes to the door, I'm gone, but you know what I've left on the porch? A jack-o-lantern with a knife stuck in the side of its head with a note that says 'You.' After that I usually feel a lot better, and no harm done.
  • Dying can't be that bad of a thing; I mean, everybody's doing it.
  • I can't believe that I'm going to meet my end at the hands of converging red dots.
  • I intend to live forever. So far, so good!
  • Death comes for us all, Oroku Saki, but something much worse comes for you. For when you die, it will be without honour.
  • At the end of your life, you're lucky if you die.
  • I don't believe in an afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.
  • It is impossible to experience one's death objectively and still carry a tune.
  • Those who welcome death have only tried it from the ears up.
  • To me, funerals are like bad movies. They last too long, they're overacted, and the ending is predictable.
  • Why does Death cross the road? To get to you!
  • If I could drop dead right now, I'd be the happiest man alive!
  • Dead people make the best patients. You can do whatever tests you want on them and they never complain. Oh, and you can yell at them without getting in trouble.

See also

External links

Death Quotes at

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up death in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

This resource deals with Medical Ethics.

Death and Futility Outline Fall 2009

Death and Futility Cases Fall 2009

Audio of Lecture on Death Fall 2009

Brain Death Test AAN detailed report on how to determine brain death in a patient. This raises the question: If you perform the test on yourself and satisfy all of the conditions, are you dead or not?

Locked in Syndrome A man in Belgium is believed to be in PVS, but is really in Locked in Syndrome

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Death may refer to:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DEATH, the permanent cessation of the vital functions in the bodies of animals and plants, the end of life or act of dying. The word is the English representative of the substantive common to Teutonic languages, as "dead" is of the adjective, and "die" of the verb; the ultimate origin is the pre-Teutonic verbal stem dau-; cf. Ger Tod, Dutch dood, Swed. and Dan. dod. For the scientific aspects of the processes involved in life and its cessation see Biology, Physiology, Pathology, and allied articles; and for the consideration of the prolongation of life see Longevity. Here it is only necessary to deal with the more primitive views of death and with certain legal aspects.


To the savage, death from natural causes is inexplicable. At all times and in all lands, if he reflects upon death at all, he fails to understand it as a natural phenomenon;. nor in its presence is he awed or curious. Man in a primitive state has for his dead an almost animal indifference. The researches of archaeologists prove that Quaternary Man cared little what became of his fellow-creature's body. And this lack of interest is found to-day as a general characteristic of savages. The Goajiros of Venezuela bury their dead, they confess, simply to get rid of them. The Galibis of Guiana, when asked the meaning of their curious funeral ceremony, which consists in dancing on the grave, replied that they did it to stamp down the earth. Fuegians, Bushmen, Veddahs, show the same lack of concern and interest in the memory of the dead. Even the Eskimos, conspicuous as they are for their intelligence and sociability, save themselves the trouble of caring for their sick and old by walling them up and leaving them to die in a lonely hut; the Chukches stone or strangle them to death; some Indian tribes give them over to tigers, and the Battas of Sumatra eat them. This indifference is not dictated by any realization that death means annihilation of the personality. The savage conception of a future state is one that involves no real break in the continuity of life as he leads it. If a man dies without being wounded he is considered to be the victim of the sorcerers and the evil spirits with which they consort. Throughout Africa the death of anyone is ascribed to the magicians of some hostile tribe or to the malicious act of a neighbour. A culprit is easily discovered either by an appeal to a local diviner or in torturing some one into confession. In Australia it is the same. Mr Andrew Lang says that "whenever a native dies, no matter how evident it may be that death has been the result of natural causes, it is at once set down that the defunct was bewitched." The Bechuanas and all Kaffir tribes believe that death, even at an advanced age, if not from hunger or violence, is due to witchcraft, and blood is required to expiate or avenge it. Similar beliefs are found among the Papuans, and among the Indians of both Americas. The history of witchcraft in Europe and its attendant horrors, so vividly painted in Lecky's Rise of Rationalism, are but echoes of this universal refusal of savage man to accept death as the natural end of life. Even to-day the ignorant peasantry of many European countries, Russia, Galicia and elsewhere, believe that all disease is the work of demons, and that medicinal herbs owe their curative properties to their being the materialized forms of benevolent spirits.

This animistic tendency is a marked characteristic of primitive Man in every land. The savage explains the processes of inanimate nature by assuming that living beings or spirits, possessed of capacities similar to his own, are within the inanimate object. The growth of a tree, the spark struck from a flint, the devastating floods of a river, mean to him the natural actions of beings within the tree, stone or water. And thus too he explains to himself the phenomena of human life, believing that each man has within him a mannikin or animal which dictates his actions in life. This miniature man is the savage's conception of the soul; sleep and trance being regarded as the temporary, death as the permanent, absence of the soul. Each individual is thus deemed to have a dual existence. This "subliminal" self (in modern terminology) has many forms. The Hurons thought that it possessed head, body, arms and legs, in fact that it was an exact miniature of a man. The Nootkas of British Columbia regard it as a tiny man, living in the crown of the head. So long as it stands erect, its possessor is well, but if it falls from its position the misfortunes of ill-health and madness at once assail him. The ancient Egyptian believed in the soul or "double." The inhabitants of Nias, an island to the west of Sumatra, have the strange belief that to everyone before birth is given the choice of a long and heavy or short and light soul (a parallel belief may be found in early Greek philosophy), and his choice determines the length of life. Sometimes the soul is conceived as a bird. The Bororos of Brazil fancy that in that shape the soul of a sleeper passes out of the body during night-time, returning to him at his awakening. The Bella Coola Indians say the soul is a bird enclosed in an egg and lives in the nape of the neck. If the shell bursts and the soul flies away, the man must die. If however the bird flies away, egg and all, then he faints or loses his reason. A popular superstition in Bohemia assumes that the soul in the shape of a white bird leaves the body by way of the mouth. Among the Battas of Sumatra rice or grain is sprinkled on the head of a man who returns from a dangerous enterprise, and in the latter case the grains are called padiruma tondi, " means to make the soul (tondi) stay at home." In Java the new-born babe is placed in a hen-coop, and the mother makes a clucking noise, as if she were a hen, to attract the child's soul. It is regarded by many savage peoples as highly dangerous to arouse a sleeper suddenly, as his soul may not have time to return. Still more dangerous is it to move a sleeper, for the soul on its return might not be able to find the body. Flies and butterflies are forms which the souls are believed by some races to take, and the Esthonians of the island of Oesel think that the gusts of wind which whirl tornado-like through the roads are the souls of old women seeking what they can find.

But more widespread perhaps than any belief, from its simplicity doubtless, is the idea that the body's shadow or reflexion is the soul. The Basutos think that crocodiles can devour the shadow of a man cast on the surface of water. In many parts of the world sorcerers are credited with supernatural powers over a man by an attack on his shadow. The sick man is considered to have lost his shadow or a part of it. Dante refers to the shadowless spectre of Virgil, and the folklore of many European countries affords examples of the prevalence of the superstition that a man must be as careful of his shadow as of his body. In the same way the reflexion-soul is thought to be subject to a malice of enemies or attacks of beasts and has been the cause of superstitions which in one form or another exist to-day. From the Fijian and Andaman islander who exhibits abject terror at seeing himself in a glass or in water, to the English or European peasant who covers up the mirrors or turns them to the wall, upon a death occurring, lest an inmate of the house should see his own face and have his own speedy demise thus prognosticated, the idea holds its ground. It was probably the origin of the story of Narcissus, and there is scarcely a race which is free from the haunting dread. Lastly the soul is pictured as being a man's breath (anima), and this again has come down to us in literature, evidenced by the fact that the word "breath" has become a synonym for life itself. The "last breath" has meant more than a mere metaphor. It expresses the savage belief that there departs from the dying in the final expiration a something tangible, capable of separate existence - the soul. Among the Romans custom imposed a sacred duty on the nearest relative, usually the heir, to inhale the "last breath" of the dying. Moreover the classics bear evidence to the sanctity with which sentiment surrounded the last kiss; Cicero, in his speech against Verres, saying "iliatres ab extremo complexu liberum exclusae: quae nihil aliud orabant nisi ut filiorum extremum spiritism ore excipere sibi liceret." Virgil, too, refers in the Aeneid, iv. 684, to the custom, which survives to-day as a ceremonial practice among many savage and semi-civilized people.

From the inability of the savage in all ages and in all lands to comprehend death as a natural phenomenon, there results a tendency to personify death, and myths are invented to account for its origin. Sometimes it is a "taboo" which has been broken and gives Death power over man. In New Zealand Maui, the divine hero of Polynesia, was not properly baptized. In Australia a woman was told not to go near a tree where a bat lived: she infringed the prohibition, the bat fluttered out, and death resulted. The Ningphoos were dismissed from Paradise and became mortal because one of them bathed in water which had been "tabooed" (Dalton, p. 13). Other versions of the Death-myth in Polynesia relate that Maui stole a march on Night as she slept, and would have passed right through her to destroy her, but a little bird which sings at sunset woke her, she destroyed Maui, and men lost immortality. In India Yama, the god of Death, is assumed, like Maui, to have been the first to "spy out the path to the other world." In the Solomon Islands (Jour. Anth. Inst., February 188r) "Koevari was the author of death, by resuming her cast-off skin." The same story is told in the Banks Islands. The Greek myth (Hesiod, Works and Days, 90) alleged that mortals lived "without ill diseases that give death to men" till the cover was lifted from the box of Pandora. This personification of Death has had as a consequence the introduction into the folklore of many lands of stories, often humorous, of the tricks played on the Enemy of Mankind. Thus Sisyphus fettered Death, keeping him prisoner till rescued by Ares; in Venetian folklore Beppo ties him up in a bag for eighteen months; while in Sicily an innkeeper corks him up in a bottle, and a monk keeps him in his pouch for forty years. The German parallel is Gambling Hansel, who kept Death up a tree for seven years. Such examples might be multiplied unendingly, but enough has been said to show that the attitude of civilized man towards the sphinx-riddle of his end has been in part dictated and is even still influenced by the savage belief that to die is unnatural.


Registration. - The registration of burials in England goes back to the time of Thomas Cromwell, who in 1538 instituted the keeping of parish registers. Statutory measures were taken from time to time to ensure the preservation of registers of burials, but it was not until 1836 (the Births and Deaths Registration Act) that the registration of deaths became a national concern. Other acts dealing with death registration were subsequently passed, and the whole law for England consolidated by the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1874. By that act, the registration of every death and the cause of the death is compulsory. When a person dies in a house information of the death and the particulars required to be registered must be given within five days of the death to the registrar to the best of the person's knowledge and belief by one of the following persons: - (I) The nearest relative of the deceased present at the death, or in attendance during the last illness of the deceased. If they fail, then (2) some other relative of the deceased in the same subdistrict (registrar's) as the deceased. In default of relatives, (3) some person present at the death, or the occupier of the house in which, to his knowledge, the death took place. If all the above fail, (4) some inmate of the house, or the person causing the body of the deceased to be buried. The person giving the information must sign the register. Similarly, also, information must be given concerning death where the deceased dies not in a house.

Where written notice of the death, accompanied by a medical certificate of the cause of death, is sent to the registrar, information must nevertheless be given and the register signed within fourteen days after the death by the person giving the notice or some other person as required by the act. Failure to give information of death, or to comply with the registrar's requisitions, entails a penalty not exceeding forty shillings, and making false statements or certificates, or forging or falsifying them, is punishable either summarily within six months, or on indictment within three years of the offence. Before burial takes place the clergyman or other person conducting the funeral or religious service must have the registrar's certificate that the death of the deceased person has been duly registered, or else a coroner's order or warrant. Failing the certificate, the clergyman cannot refuse to bury, but he must forthwith give notice in writing to the registrar. Failure to do so within seven days involves a penalty not exceeding ten pounds. Children must not be registered as still-born without a medical certificate or a signed declaration from some one who would have been required, if the child had been born alive, to give information concerning the birth, that the child was still-born and that no medical man was present at the birth, or a coroner's order. The registration of deaths at sea is regulated by the act of 1874 together with the Merchant Shipping Act 1894. See further Birth and Burial And Burial Acts. Registers of death are, in law, evidence of the fact of death, and the entry, or a certified copy of it, will be sufficient evidence without a certificate of burial, although it is desirable that it should also be produced.

Presumption of Death

The fact of death may, in English law, be proved not only by direct but by presumptive evidence. When a person disappears, so that no direct proof of his whereabouts or death is obtainable, death may be presumed at the expiration of seven years from the period when the person was last heard of. It is always, however, a matter of fact for the jury, and the onus of proving the death lies on the party who asserts it. In Scotland, by the Presumption of Life (Scotland) Act 1891, the presumption is statutory. In those cases where people disappear under circumstances which create a strong probability of death, the court may, for the purpose of probate or administration, presume the death before the lapse of seven years. The question of survivorship, where two or more persons are shown to have perished by the same catastrophe, as in cases of shipwreck, has been much discussed. It was at one time thought that there might be a presumption of survivorship in favour of the younger as against the older, of the male as against the female, &c. But it is now clear that there is no such presumption Alston, 1892, P. 142). This is also the rule in most states of the American Union. The doctrine of survivorship originated in the Roman Law, which had recourse to certain artificial presumptions, where the particular circumstances connected with deaths were unknown. Some of the systems founded on the civil law, as the French code, have adopted certain rules of survivorship.

Civil Death is an expression used, in law, in contradistinction to natural death. Formerly, a man was said to be dead in law (I) when he entered a monastery and became professed in religion; (2) when he abjured the realm; (3) when he was attainted of treason or felony. Since the suppression of the monasteries there has been no legal establishment for professed persons in. England, and the first distinction has therefore disappeared, though for long after the original reason had ceased to make it necessary grants of life estates were usually made for the terms of a man's natural life. The act abolishing sanctuaries (1623) did away with civil death by abjuration; and the Forfeiture Act 1870, that on attainder for treason or felony.

For the tax levied on the estate of deceased persons, and sometimes called "death duty," see Succession Duty.

For the statistics of the death-rate of the United Kingdom as compared with that of the various European countries see UNITED KINGDOM. See also the articles Annuity; Capital Punishment; Cremation; Insurance; Medical, Jurisprudence, &C.

<< Silas Deane

Death-warning >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also death





Proper noun




  1. The personification of death



  • Anagrams of adeht
  • hated

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

may be simply defined as the termination of life. It is represented under a variety of aspects in Scripture:

  1. "The dust shall return to the earth as it was" (Eccl 12:7).
  2. "Thou takest away their breath, they die" (Ps 10429).
  3. It is the dissolution of "our earthly house of this tabernacle" (2Cor 5:1); the "putting off this tabernacle" (2 Pet 1:13, 14).
  4. Being "unclothed" (2Cor 5:3, 4).
  5. "Falling on sleep" (Ps 765; Jer 51:39; Acts 13:36; 2 Pet 3:9.
  6. "I go whence I shall not return" (Job 10:21); "Make me to know mine end" (Ps 394); "to depart" (Phil 1:23).

The grave is represented as "the gates of death" (Job 38:17; Ps 913; 107:18). The gloomy silence of the grave is spoken of under the figure of the "shadow of death" (Jer 2:6).

Death is the effect of sin (Heb 2:14), and not a "debt of nature." It is but once (9:27), universal (Gen 3:19), necessary (Lk 2:28-30). Jesus has by his own death taken away its sting for all his followers (1Cor 15:55-57).

There is a spiritual death in trespasses and sins, i.e., the death of the soul under the power of sin (Rom 8:6; Eph 2:1, 3; Col 2:13).

The "second death" (Rev 2:11) is the everlasting perdition of the wicked (Rev 21:8), and "second" in respect to natural or temporal death.

THE DEATH OF CHRIST is the procuring cause incidentally of all the blessings men enjoy on earth. But specially it is the procuring cause of the actual salvation of all his people, together with all the means that lead thereto. It does not make their salvation merely possible, but certain (Mt 18:11; Rom 5:10; 2Cor 5:21; Gal 1:4; 3:13; Eph 1:7; 2:16; Rom 8:32-35).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Simple English

Die redirects here, for the game-playing objects, see dice. For the death metal band, see Death (band).
[[File:|thumb|upright|The human skull is often used as a symbol for death]]

Death is the end of life in an organism. Death can happen in many ways. About 150,000 people die every day around the world.[1] About two thirds of these people die because of reasons related with age.[1]

Living things which have died are normally described as being dead. Human death is very carefully tracked in case of a killing or something (like a disease) that may continue to kill other humans. Death is usually followed by rituals like the funeral, which have been developed by a religion or the state. When people talk about things or events that lead to the death of a plant or animal, those things or events are usually described as being deadly, or fatal. In the case of diseases, they are described as terminal. There are many slang terms for dying. A few examples are, "to pass away", "to go to a better place", "to buy the farm" (generally used in the military), and "to kick the bucket."

In ordinary life, death is when the heart stops beating and the lungs stop breathing for more than several minutes. There are special times in which people recover even though the heart has stopped for 30 minutes, such as near-drowning in very cold water. If machines are used to help the heart and lungs work, then the moment of death is more difficult to know.

For a long time, many people have been afraid of death and a lot of people have wondered about what may happen to people after they die. This is one of the largest questions of philosophy and religion.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Aubrey D.N.J, de Grey (2007). "Life Span Extension Research and Public Debate: Societal Considerations" (PDF). Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology 1 (1, Article 5). doi:10.2202/1941-6008.1011. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address