Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, December 28, 2020

What Is Death? How the pandemic is changing our understanding of mortality.

Estate planningIn the wake of the pandemic, we have been faced with understanding mortality. Of course, we have always been aware that death is natural, but many of us do not internalize that fact. This year, it has been more important to understand and accept our own death, which is tough to conceive. 

The daily death toll and hospitalization has continued to increase with the second wave of coronavirus. This week, the death toll passed 300,000 in the United States.

As a concept, death is very complex. Which brings us to the question: What is Death?

BJ Miller spent some time reflecting on the question and wrote an article on his thoughts. According to BJ, despite how long he pondered the question, he still cannot say what it is.

Miller stated, "If we strip away the poetry and appliqué our culture uses to try to make sense of death — all the sanctity and style we impose on the wild, holy trip of a life that begins, rises and falls apart — we are left with a husk of a body. No pulse, no brain waves, no inspiration, no explanation. Death is defined by what it lacks." 

See BJ Miller, What Is Death? How the pandemic is changing our understanding of mortality., NY Times, December 18, 2020. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  


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