TEDMED: Mortality gives life meaning
October 28th, 2011
05:04 PM ET

TEDMED: Mortality gives life meaning

Humans have a self-preservation instinct, a natural drive to survive. But we also have an awareness that there will come a day when all of those efforts will fail, and we will die.

"Death looms somewhere in the distance," said Dr. John Wynn, medical director for Cancer Psychiatry at the Swedish Cancer Institute of Seattle, Washington. "It pushes us to ask: What am I doing with my time?"

Wynn's talk on what death means for us was one of the last at TEDMED 2011. It forced sobering reflection on mortality at the end of a week of many enthusiastic presentations demonstrating technologies aimed at fighting diseases and thus prolonging life.

"Life is built around avoiding the simple, inevitable truth that you’re going to die," he said.

Children tend to become aware of death around age 7, Wynn said. With luck, their parents will teach them how to be safe and cooperate with others. These are skills they will carry with them throughout their lives, and will help them continue on their own even after their parents pass away.

We have to ask ourselves how and where will we spend our time and our energy, and carefully calculate sacrifices we make, Wynn said.

This isn't entirely a bad thing, he said. Our society thrives because we have found ways to cope with the awareness that we won't live forever: We are driven to be creative, collaborate with others and be masters of our environment. Fear of death can push us to build things, connect with others and create beauty.

"To ignore mortality puts the meaning of our lives in jeopardy," he said.

soundoff (826 Responses)
  1. pressure washing merritt island

    very nice! Ireally like your blog


    June 10, 2021 at 01:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Josh Wun

    After checking out a few of the blog posts on your web page, I honestly appreciate your way of blogging. I added it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my web site too and tell me your opinion.


    June 10, 2021 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. pressure washing around merritt island fl

    Keep this going please, great job!


    June 10, 2021 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. pressure washing near me

    Impressive! Thanks for the post


    June 10, 2021 at 02:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. rv repair


    June 10, 2021 at 02:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. pressure washing near cocoa beach fl

    Thanks for wonderful information I used to be in search of this info for my mission.


    June 10, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. nday11

    Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your articles.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go
    over the same topics? Thanks for your time!

    June 10, 2021 at 03:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ronni Leonardis


    June 10, 2021 at 04:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. pressure washing around cocoa beach

    thanks for sharing!


    June 10, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. pressure washing near cocoa beach fl

    carry on, dont stop


    June 10, 2021 at 04:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. pressure washing services Brevard County

    Impressive! Thanks for the post


    June 10, 2021 at 05:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. payday loan consolidate

    Thank you, I've just been looking for information approximately this topic for a long time and yours is the greatest I have discovered so far. But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you certain concerning the supply?


    June 10, 2021 at 07:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. consolidate pay day loan

    Impressive! Thanks for the post


    June 10, 2021 at 07:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Iliana Cochron

    You made some decent points there. I looked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.


    June 10, 2021 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Aretha Hollis

    Good article. I absolutely appreciate this site. Keep writing!


    June 10, 2021 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. rv repair near me

    I was able to find good information from your content.


    June 10, 2021 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Janise Mckendall

    This web site definitely has all the information I wanted about this subject and didnít know who to ask.

    June 10, 2021 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Tayna Yarborough

    Iím amazed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I came across this in my hunt for something regarding this.


    June 10, 2021 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Jena Yearicks

    I blog often and I seriously thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.


    June 10, 2021 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. rv repair shops near me


    June 10, 2021 at 21:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Hae Ruddy


    June 10, 2021 at 22:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Gaylord Darty

    I absolutely love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím looking to create my very own blog and would love to find out where you got this from or what the theme is named. Many thanks!


    June 10, 2021 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Susana Riblet


    June 10, 2021 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Emelina Sauerhage


    June 11, 2021 at 02:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rv repair service near me


    June 11, 2021 at 06:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Lorena Solonar

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you need to publish more on this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but usually people don't discuss such subjects. To the next! Many thanks!!


    June 11, 2021 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Shay Aicklen

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be helpful to read through content from other authors and use a little something from other sites.

    June 11, 2021 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Cornelius Schoener

    I quite like looking through a post that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

    June 11, 2021 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. stores near me


    June 11, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. paint repair near me

    I couldnít resist commenting. Perfectly written!


    June 11, 2021 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Tires Orange County


    June 11, 2021 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Sprinter Van Dent Repair Shop


    June 11, 2021 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Chassis Repair

    This website really has all the information and facts I needed about this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 11, 2021 at 21:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. situs poker online

    Hi to every one, it's really a fastidious for me to pay a
    visit this web page, it consists of helpful Information.

    June 11, 2021 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Sprinter Fuel Filler Pipe Repair

    Good post. I will be going through many of these issues as well..


    June 11, 2021 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. repair rv slide out


    June 11, 2021 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. raleigh collision repair

    Keep this going please, great job!


    June 12, 2021 at 01:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. after school programs crofton

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.


    June 12, 2021 at 02:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. after school programs gamrbills

    carry on, dont stop


    June 12, 2021 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. rv supplies los angeles

    Good information. Lucky me I came across your site by chance (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!


    June 12, 2021 at 07:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Inspection Near Me

    Greetings, I think your site might be having browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, fantastic site!


    June 12, 2021 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Mercedes Camper Van Repair Shop

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will revisit yet again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    June 12, 2021 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sprinter Vanrooftop A/C Leak Repair

    Your style is unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this web site.


    June 12, 2021 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. bb&t near me


    June 12, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. good food near me


    June 12, 2021 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. subway near me

    I blog often and I genuinely thank you for your content. The article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.


    June 13, 2021 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. pedicure near me


    June 13, 2021 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. computer stores near me

    Can I simply say what a comfort to uncover someone that actually knows what they are discussing on the internet. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people have to check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you're not more popular because you certainly have the gift.


    June 13, 2021 at 02:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. advance auto near me

    Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.


    June 13, 2021 at 02:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. chevy dealer near me

    There is certainly a great deal to learn about this subject. I like all of the points you've made.


    June 13, 2021 at 03:58 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Leave a Reply to State Farm Englewood CO


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.