A Letter to My Daughter About Death

I am writing a collection of letters to my daughter of things I hope she’ll learn from a secular childhood. I’m really enjoying this project. Here’s one I wrote about death:


Dear daughter,

I feel like death is a complicated subject when it shouldn’t be. It’s our feelings surrounding death that make things complicated. 

I am scared of death, which is natural, but I’m not worried about where I’m going in the afterlife. I’m scared because there’s so much I want to do in life; will I get to do all of those things? Will I have spent enough time with my loved ones?

I recognize my worries are pretty pointless because when you’re dead you’re not aware of your goals and wants anyway. Death is only sad to those still living.

The belief in souls, heaven, and hell really makes the idea of death murky. I have a simpler explanation. Humans are a part of nature — another speck in the universe — and death is just a part of our life cycle. We return to the earth which we’ve always been a part of. 

It might be a nice thought to think you’ll live on in people’s memories, but the people with those memories eventually die, too. I’ve heard stories of my ancestors but they seem to fade with every passing generation. It’s definitely not the same as knowing them.

Instead of worrying about death, it’s better to concentrate on enjoying yourself now. Your time could be up at any time, so live your life to the fullest. 

My beautiful daughter — I am really enjoying the time I am spending with you right now, and that’s all that really matters.




What do you want to tell your kids about death?


  1. billseymour says

    I can’t answer your specific question because I don’t have any kids to tell anything.

    In general, I don’t want to die because there are still things that I want to do, and I expect that I won’t like the experience of dying; but I don’t worry about the experience of “being dead” because I don’t think that there’ll be any me to have such an experience.

    But there’s still one more reason to not want to die:  because I care about loved ones who might be unhappy at my death. Or at least they say that they would be. 😎 This reason is about others, not about me.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    That if anyone ever tells them that there’s something after it, some possibility of justice, retribution, punishment, salvation, whatever – then that person is to be avoided at all costs, because they’re either dull-witted to the point of uselessness or actively evil. Possibly both.

    That I’m going to die, and that in an already fairly long and happy life the thing I’m happiest about in my life is that I found their mother and made them with her before I died. Or if I’m gone by the time they can understand anything (I’m comfortably into my fifties, whereas my elder one is just two years old and my younger child is currently minus seven days and counting), that they shouldn’t worry about me, or imagine I’m looking down on them from a Good Place, or in the Other Place – I had a great life, and all the little pains and stresses are now over. I’m gone for good but they carry a piece of me as I carried a piece of my father and they’ll pass on piece of themselves.

    That the most important thing to understand about life is that it ends.

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