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. Google Marketing Jobs

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your web site!


    May 11, 2021 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Video Marketing Pros

    Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely pleased I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!


    May 11, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Internet Marketing Help


    May 11, 2021 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Local Marketing Pros


    May 11, 2021 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Google Marketing Business

    It’s hard to find experienced people about this topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 11, 2021 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. semi shop near me

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Cheers!


    May 11, 2021 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. motorhome repair shop

    Having read this I thought it was really enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    May 11, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. toy hauler upgrades


    May 11, 2021 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. good sam rv insurance phone number

    I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.


    May 11, 2021 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. oc wheel repair


    May 12, 2021 at 00:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Slide Out Near Me

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?


    May 12, 2021 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Generator Riverside

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after going through many of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly delighted I came across it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!


    May 12, 2021 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sprinter Resistor Repair


    May 12, 2021 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. sunroof repair near me

    After going over a number of the articles on your web page, I honestly like your technique of blogging. I book marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my web site too and let me know what you think.


    May 12, 2021 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Technician California

    I love it when folks get together and share views. Great website, stick with it!


    May 12, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sprinter Blower Fan Repair Near Me

    When I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!


    May 12, 2021 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. frame repair shop near me

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the net. I most certainly will highly recommend this web site!


    May 12, 2021 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Awning Near Me


    May 12, 2021 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Remodel California

    It’s hard to come by well-informed people on this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 12, 2021 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. rv repair orange county california

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me just as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, however I genuinely thought you would probably have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.


    May 12, 2021 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. puzzle games

    These are truly wonderful ideas in concerning blogging.
    You have touched some nice points here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    Feel free to visit my web page – puzzle games

    May 12, 2021 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Concrete Lincoln NE

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and
    it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I
    desire to suggest you few interesting things or advice.
    Maybe you could write next articles referring to this
    article. I wish to read more things about it!

    Feel free to visit my web page ... Concrete Lincoln NE

    May 12, 2021 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. tv repair san fernando valley

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Cheers! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 12, 2021 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Shops


    May 13, 2021 at 00:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. watch repair san clemente

    There's certainly a lot to learn about this issue. I love all the points you made.


    May 13, 2021 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. fiberglass company near me


    May 13, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Concrete Contractor Lincoln NE

    I know this site offers quality based posts and other information, is there any
    other web site which gives these stuff in quality?

    Look at my page – Concrete Contractor Lincoln NE

    May 13, 2021 at 02:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. california coach towing orange

    I wanted to thank you for this wonderful read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…


    May 13, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. s4hana training

    I used to be able to find good information from your content.

    May 13, 2021 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. rv air conditioning repair near me

    I love reading a post that can make people think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!


    May 13, 2021 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Sprinter Side Door Repair

    Hello there! I simply wish to offer you a big thumbs up for your great information you have here on this post. I will be returning to your blog for more soon.


    May 13, 2021 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. aftermarket body shop near me

    Hi there! This post could not be written much better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!


    May 13, 2021 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. kenworth shop near me

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after looking at some of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely happy I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!


    May 13, 2021 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. rv alignment


    May 13, 2021 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. horse trailer repair


    May 13, 2021 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Handicap Van Ramp Repair


    May 13, 2021 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Notice

    Hey! Quick question that's ttotally off topic. Do youu know how to make your site
    mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when browsiing from
    mmy iphone 4. I'm trying to findd a template or plugin that might be able to correct this problem.
    If you have any recommendations, please share. With thanks!

    May 13, 2021 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. west hills collision center


    May 13, 2021 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Ford Connect Van Floor Repair


    May 13, 2021 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. rv plumbing repair near me

    Can I just say what a relief to uncover somebody who actually knows what they are talking about on the net. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people must check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you are not more popular since you certainly have the gift.


    May 13, 2021 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. truck body shops near me

    Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Finding the time and actual effort to create a superb article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and don't seem to get anything done.


    May 13, 2021 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Gmc Safari Van Repair

    The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it does not disappoint me just as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, but I genuinely thought you would probably have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.


    May 14, 2021 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. qq338

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew
    of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet
    my newest twitter updates. I've been looking for a plug-in like this for
    quite some time and was hoping maybe you
    would have some experience with something like
    this. Please let me know if you run into anything.
    I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

    May 14, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. cabinet repair orange county


    May 14, 2021 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. yts

    Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological world all is available on web?

    May 14, 2021 at 03:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. camper van restoration


    May 14, 2021 at 04:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Awning California

    Right here is the right web site for anybody who hopes to find out about this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject that's been discussed for ages. Great stuff, just great!


    May 14, 2021 at 07:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Couches Near Me

    bookmarked!!, I really like your blog!


    May 14, 2021 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. tv repair in temecula


    May 14, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. solar paint and body


    May 14, 2021 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Leave a Reply to subway near me


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.