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Mourning the frozen: considering the relational implications of cryonics
  1. Robin Hillenbrink,
  2. Christopher Simon Wareham
  1. Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Robin Hillenbrink, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University, Utrecht 3508 TC, The Netherlands; robinhillenbrink{at}


Cryonics is the preservation of legally dead human bodies at the temperature of liquid nitrogen in the hope that future technologies will be able to revive them. In philosophical debates surrounding this practice, arguments often focus on prudential implications of cryopreservation, or moral arguments on a societal level. In this paper, we claim that this debate is incomplete, since it does not take into account a significant relational concern about cryonics. Specifically, we argue that attention should be paid to the potential implications of cryopreservation for the mourning processes of surviving loved ones. Cryopreservation increases the likelihood of disruption of the practical and mental tasks involved in a successful mourning process, which can negatively impact survivors of the cryopreserved patient. To illustrate my argument, we will draw on a case study from the 2019 documentary Hope Frozen. We aim to introduce this concern, in order to gain a more complete view on the potential implications of cryopreservation.

  • Death
  • Ethics- Medical
  • Family
  • Mental Health
  • Ethics

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  • Contributors CW has contributed to this manuscript as second author by providing the abstract and substantially critiquing and editing drafts of this paper. RH is the guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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