Dying of old age: What’s that mean?

Queen Elizabeth’s death certificate said she died of old age.

After much pomp and circumstance, Queen Elizabeth was laid to rest as the world watched. That she’d been up and dressed and looking fine two days prior to succumbing had some folks confused, but there she was, 48-hours earlier, in her cute little kilt, patten-leather pumps, and cardigan, welcoming new British Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss with a smile and a handshake.

That the Queen shuffled off this mortal coil so soon after welcoming the new PM seemed a bit odd. What did she die of, people wondered. It would be a few weeks later that the British coroner confirmed what carried her off. Right there on the death certificate it said “old age.”

But what’s that mean? According to the article “Natural Causes: What does it mean to die of old age” by Jeff Anderson,  “‘Old age’ is not truly a cause of death in and of itself. To ‘die of old age’ means that someone has died naturally from an ailment associated with aging. The same usually goes for ‘dying of natural causes.’”

No one can argue that Queen Elizabeth wasn’t old. Gosh, she was 96 when she died “peacefully.” (One wonders how doctors know someone died without a struggle. Perhaps she raged against the dying of the light. But that’s for another time.)

If you’re wondering, generally speaking one dies of old age following a long life, say anything over 80 years. But that doesn’t mean said elderly person didn’t have medical issues. Often, when someone is old, they suffer from multiple ailments, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and pneumonia which leaves the exact cause of death hard to pinpoint, so saying someone died of old age or natural causes clears up the problem of trying to identify which illness caused the fatal blow.

Also, perhaps, there’s the idea of protecting one’s privacy.

“The practice of ascribing a death to ‘natural causes’ lives on in the media and popular parlance,” Anderson wrote. “Because we are not doctors, we don’t necessarily need to know the details of a stranger’s last days. “Natural causes” suffices because clinical accuracy about an older person’s death is usually neither necessary nor desirable. In fact, detail beyond “natural causes” would be considered an undignified invasion of the privacy of the deceased and his or her loved ones.”

If I had my druthers, I’d chose death by falling meteor.

Certainly no one could ever accuse the Queen of being undignified. And she was such a private person, I wouldn’t be surprise if, prior to passing on, she issued a royal decree stating that she would die of natural causes.

Whether it’s better to be vague on cause of death or not is up for debate. But maybe, if one has lived a long life, they should be allowed to skip all the medical labels. I for one would love to be able to choose my cause of death. I’m thinking, when I am suitably old and have had enough adventures, that I’d like to meet my end when a big meteor plunges from the sky and hits me directly on the head. I would, hopefully, be vaporized, if only to avoid the subsequent mess.

Yep, death by a falling rock from space would be kind of cool, don’t you think? And, if I were queen, I would decree that my death certificate would say so: Cause of death: crushed by a meteorite.

I wonder if that would be considered natural causes?

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.


Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.


Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books

6 thoughts on “Dying of old age: What’s that mean?

  1. Jeff Leaf says:

    How will you know when you are “suitably old”?
    Will you ever have enough adventures?
    Wouldn’t it be more fun to mess with people by letting them know all of the maladies you’ve been hiding before your demise? Wouldn’t you like to look down (all refs go to Heaven, right?) and hear them say, “She looked so good for having all of those things.”


    • annemontgomeryauthor2013 says:

      I think I’ll know when I’ve reached my adventures limit, Jeff. At that point, I’ll share all my X-rays and MRIs showing off all my broken bits. Then, I’ll fall apart, hopefully just as that meteor is approcahing. 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s