The concept of Memento Mori: a reminder of mortality and its influence on life

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In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often forget an inevitable reality – death. The Latin phrase ‘Memento Mori,’ which translates to “remember that you will die,” serves as a stark reminder of this truth. While it may sound morbid to some, this concept has been a philosophical cornerstone for centuries, influencing how we perceive life and the choices we make.

Unraveling Memento Mori

The concept of Memento Mori has a rich history dating back to ancient Roman times. It was believed that during a triumphant general’s parade, a servant would whisper “Memento Mori” in his ear as a reminder of his mortality, ensuring he didn’t let success cloud his judgment or humility.

In the Middle Ages, Memento Mori became a popular theme in art and literature. It served as a reminder of the transient nature of earthly pleasures and achievements, encouraging individuals to focus on their spiritual well-being.

Memento Mori and Stoicism

In more recent times, Memento Mori is closely associated with Stoic philosophy. Stoics like Marcus Aurelius and Seneca often reflected upon death, viewing it not as something to fear, but as an inevitable part of life. They believed that acknowledging our mortality could lead us to live more fulfilling lives, making every moment count.

Memento Mori’s Impact on Life

So, how does Memento Mori influence the way we live? Here are three ways:

  1. Promotes Mindfulness: Memento Mori encourages us to live in the present, savour every moment, and avoid taking life for granted. It pushes us to be more mindful of our actions, decisions, and relationships, fostering a deeper appreciation for life.
  2. Fosters Resilience: By acknowledging the inevitability of death, we develop resilience in the face of adversity. It helps put our problems into perspective, reminding us that our time is limited and should not be wasted on trivial matters.
  3. Encourages Purposeful Living: Memento Mori serves as a call to action, urging us to pursue our passions, chase our dreams, and live a life true to ourselves. It reminds us that our time is finite, motivating us to leave a positive and lasting impact on the world.


While Memento Mori might initially appear as a grim reminder of our mortality, it is ultimately a tool for inspiring a life of purpose, mindfulness, and resilience. By keeping this concept at the forefront of our minds, we can navigate life with a deeper appreciation and understanding, making the most of each moment we are given. After all, to quote Steve Jobs, “remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”