This article examines death’s symbolic role vis-à-vis life in cross-cultural perspective. It surveys various ways of suppressing, nuancing, or minimising death’s effects and different ways of assuming its non-impasse through a cross-disciplinary lens that combines ethnographic inquiry, philosophical conceptualisation, and a secular, religious studies approach to the sacred. Zoroastrian and pre-Rabbinic Jewish views on the resurrection of the body, Gnostic and Neo-Gnostic takes on the immortality of the soul, and ancient-Greek, Hindu, and medieval Peripatetic claims about the continuity of life beyond death are thus brought into discussion and confronted with the Epicurean dismissal of death’s relevance for us. Additionally, drawing on Heraclitus’s frag. DK B62 and Robert Gardner’s fieldwork among the Dani of Papua New Guinea, I argue that assuming death as life’s sacred and non-negotiable limit need not entail resignation before it, be it untroubled or despaired. For while life outlives us, life itself would be nothing determinate if our finitude were not to contain it, which shows that death is life’s final condition of possibility; and when humans do not lose sight of their mortality, they tend to reaffirm their aliveness so as to stress life’s sacredness before death’s terrible presence, which proves that death is not only life’s limit, but also life’s antagonist. I conclude by making the point that differences as to the exact nature of death’s role in life affect our understanding of what life is: momentary joy, boundless renewal, or tragic gift.