33 Stoic Quotes About Death

Delve into Stoicism on death with 33 quotes on death and grief. Grasp emotions, life's inevitability and mastering control with philosopher's quotes about death.


Benjamin Gruber


Stoic philosopher delivering a lecture and stoic quotes on death in a classical forum-like setting
Stoic philosopher delivering a lecture and stoic quotes on death in a classical forum-like setting

Stoics like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus were constantly preaching and writing stoic death quotes. Stoicism on death reminds us how fast things pass and to adopt a fearless approach to death. Easily said, but harder done. Our selection of 33 Stoic quotes on death should help you comprehend this topic further and adopt the mindset of ''the philosophy of death quote''.

Stoics On Death

Stoicism, an ancient philosophy known for its teachings on self-control and resilience, offers a unique lens through which we can view life's most inevitable aspect: death. At GrowthMind365, we're dedicated to uncovering the stoic perspective on this universal experience. Our collection of 33 stoic quotes on death invites you to discover the stoic approach to life's transience.

Stoic Philosophers Quotes on Death: Wisdom from Marcus Aurelius and Beyond

The stoic approach to death is deeply rooted in the teachings of renowned Stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca. These figures have left behind a legacy of quotes that provide insight into facing death with dignity and peace. These are not just words; they are reflections that urge us to accept the impermanence of life.

A Selection of Stoic Death Quotes

Our article features a carefully chosen selection of stoic quotes on death, encapsulating the essence of Stoic philosophy. From the profound meditations of Marcus Aurelius to the insightful teachings of Seneca and Epictetus, each quote is a step towards understanding and accepting death from a stoic viewpoint. These philosopher quotes about death are ideal for both long-time followers of Stoicism and newcomers to this philosophical path.

Stoicism and the Acceptance of Death

Join us at GrowthMind365 as we delve into the depths of Stoic wisdom on death. Let these stoic quotes about loss and grief guide you through life's complexities, fostering a mindset that is resilient, reflective, and acutely aware of the fleeting nature of existence. Stoic death quotes are more than mere words; they are tools to build resilience and find peace in the face of life's ultimate certainty.

33 Stoic Quotes On Death

Stoicism on death will teach you to build resilience and enhance your coping mechanism. Emphasizing the timeless relevance of Stoicism on death, these philosophy death quotes provide not just comfort, but also a framework for facing our own mortality with clarity and fortitude.

Marcus Aurelius On Death Quotes

The longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.Marcus Aurelius

The present moment is the only thing that we can lose. Thinking too much about the future will make us anxious and dwelling on the past will trigger an emotional burden. You can't lose what you don't have. Live fully now!

In short, know this: Human lives are brief and trivial. Yesterday a blob of semen; tomorrow embalming fluid, ash. —Marcus Aurelius

Life is short. That’s all there is to say. Get what you can from the present—thoughtfully, justly.—Marcus Aurelius

Our existence is brief, likening it to the transient states between birth and death. Aurelius then advises us to make the most of the present moment in a thoughtful and just manner, emphasizing the importance of living fully and ethically within the limited time we have. Focus on the present and extract value from it, rather than getting lost in the worries of the past or future.

Not to live as if you had endless years ahead of you. Death overshadows you. While you’re alive and able—be
good.—Marcus Aurelius

Our capacity to understand and engage with the world may diminish before death arrives. It advocates living in the present, with the awareness that life is not endless. The underlying message is to live well and virtuously while we have the ability and opportunity, underlining the importance of making the most of our time and mental faculties while they are available to us.

Don’t look down on death, but welcome it. It too is one of the things required by nature. Like youth and old age. Like growth and maturity. Like a new set of teeth, a beard, the first grey hair. Like sex and pregnancy and childbirth. Like all the other physical changes at each stage of life, our dissolution is no different.—Marcus Aurelius

Accept death as a natural phenomenon, just as we accept other aspects of life and physical development.

So this is how a thoughtful person should await death: not with indifference, not with impatience, not with disdain, but simply viewing it as one of the things that happen to us. Now you anticipate the child’s emergence from its mother’s womb; that’s how you should await the hour when your soul will emerge from its compartment. —Marcus Aurelius

So we need to hurry. Not just because we move daily closer to death but also because our understanding—our grasp of the world—may be gone before we get there. —Marcus Aurelius

A thoughtful approach to death involves neither indifference nor eagerness, but rather a calm acceptance of it as a natural event. Just as birth is a natural and expected transition, so too is death. This viewpoint encourages seeing the departure of the soul from the body as a normal, integral part of the human journey, to be met with a sense of natural expectation rather than fear or contempt.

Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly.—Marcus Aurelius

Imagine that your life has already been lived and what remains is a bonus. This mindset is a prompt to live the remainder of your life more meaningfully and intentionally. By considering oneself as having already experienced life, one can focus on living the rest of their days with purpose and authenticity, making the most of the time that is left.

Bear in mind that everything that exists is already fraying at the edges, and in transition, subject to fragmentation and to rot. Or that everything was born to die.—Marcus Aurelius

On the verge of dying and still weighed down, still turbulent, still convinced external things can harm you, still rude to other people, still not acknowledging the truth: that wisdom is justice. —Marcus Aurelius

Death. The end of sense-perception, of being controlled by our emotions, of mental activity, of enslavement to our bodies. —Marcus Aurelius

Yes, keep on degrading yourself, soul. But soon your chance at dignity will be gone. Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the souls of others.—Marcus Aurelius

Keep in mind how fast things pass by and are gone—those that are now, and those to come. Existence flows past us like a river: the “what” is in constant flux, the “why” has a thousand variations. Nothing is stable, not even what’s right here. The infinity of past and future gapes before us—a chasm whose depths we cannot see.—Marcus Aurelius

But death and life, success and failure, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all these happen to good and bad alike, and they are neither noble nor shameful—and hence neither good nor bad. —Marcus Aurelius

Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment and ask yourself: Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do this anymore?—Marcus Aurelius

This introspective question encourages examining the reasons behind the fear of death and understanding the attachments to aspects of life that make the concept of death daunting.

Forget everything else. Keep hold of this alone and remember it: Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already or is impossible to see. The span we live is small—small as the corner of the earth in which we live it. —Marcus Aurelius

Everything transitory—the knower and the known.—Marcus Aurelius

Even if you’re going to live three thousand more years, or ten times that, remember: you cannot lose another life than the one you’re living now, or live another one than the one you’re losing. The longest amounts to the same as the shortest. The present is the same for everyone; its loss is the same for everyone; and it should be clear that a brief instant is all that is lost. For you can’t lose either the past or the future; how could you lose what you don’t have?—Marcus Aurelius

Regardless of how long one lives, each person only experiences the loss of the current moment, as the past is already gone and the future is yet to come. Everyone's present is the same, and the loss of any moment is equal for all. The key message is the importance of the present moment over the length of life, highlighting that life's value lies in the current experience, not in its duration. This philosophy encourages living in the now, as that's the only time we truly have.

Seneca Death Quotes

Rehearse death.' To say this is to tell a person to rehearse his freedom. A person who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave. —Seneca

You're younger than I am, but what difference does that make? No count is taken of years. Just where death is expecting you is something we cannot know; so, for your part, expect him everywhere. —Seneca

You are scared of death - but how magnificently heedless of it you are while you are dealing with a dish of choice mushrooms! You want to live - but do you know how to live? You are scared of dying - and, tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead? —Seneca

What is death? Either a transition or an end. I am not afraid of coming to an end, this being the same as never having begun, nor of transition, for I shall never be in confinement quite so cramped anywhere else as I am here. —Seneca

My own advice to you - and not only in the present illness but in your whole life as weII - is this: refuse to let the thought of death bother you: nothing is grim when we have escaped that fear. There are three upsetting things about any illness: the fear of dying, the physical suffering and the interruption of our pleasures.—Seneca

Leisure without study is death—a tomb for the living person.” —Seneca

“Nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing. But if death threatens these same people, you will see them praying to their doctors ... you will see them prepared to spend their all to stay alive ... We have to be more careful in preserving what will cease at an unknown point.” —Seneca

People often disregard the value of time, using it carelessly as though it were limitless. Yet, when faced with the prospect of death, these same individuals desperately seek more time, even willing to spend all they have to prolong their lives. Be more mindful and prudent in how we use our time, recognizing its finite nature and the uncertainty of when it will run out.

“Let us, therefore, set out whole-heartedly, leaving aside our many distractions and exert ourselves in this single purpose, before we realize too late the swift and unstoppable flight of time and are left behind. As each day arises, welcome it as the very best day of all, and make it your own possession. We must seize what flees.” —Seneca

Embrace each day as if it were the best and truly own it. The phrase "We must seize what flees" encapsulates the call to actively grasp and make the most of the fleeting nature of time and life.

Epictetus, Diogenes and Rufus Quotes On Death

Reflect that the chief source of all evils to Man, and of baseness and cowardice, is not death, but the fear of death. Against this fear then, I pray you, harden yourself; to this let all your reasonings, your exercises, your reading tend. Then shall you know that thus alone are men set free. —Epictetus

The greatest cause of human suffering, moral weakness, and fearfulness is not death itself, but the fear of death. It advises that one should focus on overcoming this fear through reasoning, practice, and education. By doing so, individuals can attain true liberation. The underlying message is that the anticipation or dread of death often limits and controls people more than death itself, and overcoming this fear is key to living a fuller, braver life.

When asked whether death is an evil, he said, ‘How can it be an evil, if we are not even aware of it when it arrives? Diogenes

Death cannot be considered evil because it is a state of which we are unaware. Since we do not experience consciousness in death, we cannot perceive it as bad or harmful. This viewpoint challenges common fears and negative associations with death, proposing instead a neutral or even indifferent stance towards it.

Let death and exile and every other thing which appears dreadful be daily before your eyes; but most of all death: and you will never think of anything mean nor will you desire anything extravagantly.—Epictetus

By regularly contemplating death, one can attain a sense of freedom. The idea is that understanding and accepting death lessens the grip of fear and the constraints it imposes on life. Constant awareness of mortality, including death and other perceived fears, cultivates a mindset free from trivial concerns and excessive desires. In essence, embracing the inevitability of death can lead to a more focused, meaningful, and liberated approach to life.

Not death or pain is to be feared, but the fear of death or pain. Well said the poet therefore:—Death has no terror; only a Death of shame!—Epictetus

One of his friends advised him that, now that he was growing old, he should relax a little on account of his age; he replied that this was the same as though, when someone was running in a foot-race and approaching the finishing- line, he were to advise him to slacken his pace, when he ought to be advising quite the opposite, that he should strain to the utmost.—Diogenes

Personal growth and effort shouldn't cease due to aging. It uses the metaphor of a runner in a race being advised to slow down as they near the finish line. The counterargument is that this is precisely the time to exert the most effort. This analogy applies to personal development, suggesting that as one grows older, rather than relaxing efforts, one should instead be more diligent in striving for improvement and achievement. It challenges the notion that there's a point in life where striving for betterment is no longer necessary or effective. One should adopt a Kaizen mind with constant learning and improvement.

Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinions about the things: for example, death is nothing terrible, for if it were, it would have seemed so to Socrates; for the opinion about death, that it is terrible, is the terrible thing. When then we are impeded or disturbed or grieved, let us never blame others, but ourselves, that is, our opinions. It is the act of an ill-instructed man to blame others for his own bad condition; it is the act of one who has begun to be instructed, to lay the blame on himself; and of one whose instruction is completed, either to blame another, nor himself. —Epictetus

It is not events themselves that disturb people, but their opinions and perceptions of these events. Using death as an example, it suggests that death is not inherently terrible; rather, it is the belief that it is terrible that causes fear and distress. The text advises taking personal responsibility for our reactions, shifting blame from external circumstances to our own perceptions. It portrays the journey of personal development as moving from blaming others, to recognizing one's own role in their reactions, and ultimately reaching a state where blame is not cast on either others or oneself.

“Since every man dies, it is better to die with distinction than to live long.” —Gaius Musonius Rufus

Selected Biography

Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. Edited and translated by Stephen White, Cambridge University Press 2020

Marcus Aurelius. Meditations. A New Translation, with an Introduction, by Gregory Hays, The Modern Library 2002

Discourses of Epictetus. Translated by George Long, New York D. Appleton and Company, 1904

Seneca. Letters from a Stoic. London: Penguin Group, 2004.

Seneca. Moral Letters to Lucilius, Volume 1. Aegitas.

Diogenes the Cynic. Sayings and Anectodes. Oxford University Press, Robin Hard, 2012

Pigliucci, Massimo. How to Be a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living. London: Rider, 2017.

Salzgeber, Jonas. The Little Book of Stoicism. 2019

Holiday, Ryan., and Stephen Hanselmann. The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living. New York: Portfolio, 2016.

Have a look at our selection of the best five books on Stoicism.

Related Stories