Memento Mori: Remember You Will Die

Andrew Siegel MD    1/7/2023

Sorry to start the new year on a downer note, but a fundamental truth is that our time on this planet is limited and in a relatively short amount of time we will all be gone. The end is headed this way sooner than we think. Fact.

Please refer to the following link: Social Security Actuarial Life Table

The linked actuarial life table enables you to look up your current age and gender and see your life expectancy.  For example, at age 67, I have a projected 16.7 years of life remaining. Leslie, my 66-year-old wife, has a projected 19.9 years remaining.  Jeff, my 39-year-old son has a projected 39.6 years remaining.  My 91-year-old father has a projected 3.8 years remaining. 

Check your numbers.  Actuarial tables do not lie. Reality testing. Fact.  Hard truth.

Many of us, myself included, refrain from thinking about the unpleasant topic of death and dying.  “Refrain” is really too kind of a word — “actively avoid and repress” is more to the point. Some of us have an attitude of unbridled optimism that we will live indefinitely, even though we know that is truly not the case.  

The sad truth of the matter is that not only do we have finite years left on this planet, but also that the final years are often not the best years, and one’s quality of life often becomes compromised by health and aging issues. Life is fragile and if you are fortunate enough to live a long life, your body will inevitably break down. Father Time always wins. Without exception. And the expected fragility of aging can be relatively kind in comparison to the illnesses and disabilities that may strike at any age.

Steve Jobs died on October 5th, 2011.  Not a day goes by when I do not pay silent homage to him for the brilliance of the creation of the iPhone and all the conveniences it affords.  

Matthew Yohe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Steve Jobs has offered many astute insights on the topic of death (and life):

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.  Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma –living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Bottom LineBe well aware of your own mortality as that puts everything in true perspective. Our time on this planet is limited, so “carpe diem”…seize the day, follow your heart and go for it!  And at the same time, nurture your body to stave off health and aging issues for as long as possible.

Wishing you the best of health,

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro AreaInside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community. He is a urologist at New Jersey Urology, one of the largest urology practices in the United States.  He is the co-founder of PelvicRx and Private Gym.  His latest book is Prostate Cancer 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families. 

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Video trailer for Prostate Cancer 20/20

Preview of Prostate Cancer 20/20

Andrew Siegel MD Amazon author page

PROSTATE CANCER 20/20 is now available at Audible, iTunes and Amazon as an audiobook read by the author (just over 6 hours). 

Dr. Siegel’s other books:

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual, and Urinary Health


MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

PROMISCUOUS EATING— Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

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3 Responses to “Memento Mori: Remember You Will Die”

  1. ericzen20 Says:

    A timely post. We are the same age and so your observations are highly relevant. Best wishes for 2023!


  2. Victor De Pauw Says:

    Great, as usual, thank you for these messages. Vic

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