What is a natural death?

What we want?

What we desire?

What we expect?


Types of Death:  consider these four cases.  Which would be a natural death?


  1. an old woman(87) dying in her bed at night while asleep after saying goodbye to all of her children and grandchildren over a period of illness lasting 6 months.
  2. a 17 year old female who dies in a car crash in which she goes head first through a windshield of a car sustaining fatal wounds to her face, skull and brain
  3. a six (6) month old who dies of SIDS Sudden infant Death Syndrome in his crib
  4. a 58 year old male with lung cancer sustained on machinery for over 8 months finally develops pneumonia in a hospital and dies.


Why do we need a definition or a clear understanding of what we mean by a "natural death"?

1. Social and economic considerations: we need to set rational limits to health care and medicine, limits on research and treatments.  We may want to work to prevent unnatural deaths but not the natural deaths.

2. Psychological: we need to have an understanding of what it is reasonable to hope for

3.Moral: we need to know what we owe to others.  What is our duty to others?  To help prevent all deaths? unnatural deaths? natural deaths?

parts of a Definition or elements of a "Natural Death"

  • a. comes after a person has completed the life's work
  • b. comes after a person has discharged the moral responsibilities
  • c. occurs in a manner that offend the sense and sensibilities of the survivors and does not encourage the survivors to despair or rage
  • d. occurs without pain or indignity



  • There is NO right to a Natural Death!
  • The concept has a potential for abuse- hastening death and involuntary killing or mercy killing
  • There should be no research into providing for immortality or unlimited extensions of human life


Is DEATH itself EVIL ?

Moral evil occurs:

  • when human rights are violated
  • when there is a social injustice
  • when obligations are defaulted


So a NATURAL DEATH is NOT a moral evil !



  • when a life ends in a manner that points out the absurdity and irrationality of human existence itself
  • when the manner of death indicates that ther is an uncontrollable power that victimizes helpless human beings
  • when it make it appear that humans are forced to be born and then to die in a world not of their own making or choosing or control

So, a NATURAL DEATH is NOT a Metaphysical Evil!!


Is DEATH necessary?  essential?

YES, the acceptance of death is essential to human beings.  It is close to the essence of human beings.  Humans are finite creatures.  Their bodies decay and die.  humans are the only species aware of this.  It makes human culture in many ways unlike that of other animals.  Humans deny themselves satisfaction of their basic drives for fear of death.  Humans who forget or deny their finiteness begin to act like non human animals in the efforts to satisfy their basic drives.


Is DEATH Desirable?

An unnatural death is NOT desirable.  An "Appropriate Death" is desirable: the type of death you would choose if you had a choice.  A Natural Death is desirable.


ACCEPTANCE OF A NATURAL DEATH is of the ESSENCE OF HUMAN LIFE.  Such an acceptance makes for the humaneness of the species! Humaneness is born out of the realization and acceptance of the finiteness of human existence.


If you know that you have a very long time to live or an infinite time you would not appreciate what you have in the present.  It would diminish the importance and value of current experiences and relationships.  Because humans know they will not have forever they take time to stop and smell the flowers and appreciate the sunsets and their loved ones.


Thinking about death and dying should turn humans toward life and living and towards a better appreciation of what they have in the only time they have for certain: the present.


Make the most of what you have when you have it.  "Yesterday is a spent check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is the only real cash you have spend it wisely!"

Live it up!  You will have no one but yourself to blame if you do not do so.

Make the most of whatever you have left!