tree in the shape of a head, with leaves blown off, also retaining the shape of a head

Whether facing one’s own death, or the death of a loved one, many have written wise words about the topic of dying. Here are a few for your reflection.

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Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.

— Abraham Lincoln

Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.

— Abraham Lincoln

Men are never convinced of your reasons, of your sincerity, of the seriousness of your sufferings, except by your death. So long as you are alive, your case is doubtful; you have a right only to their skepticism.

— Albert Camus

There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state to another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.

— Alexandre Dumas

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

— Amelia Burr

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

— Anaïs Nin

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

— Benjamin Franklin

For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

— Bible, Ecclesiastes

He who is not busy being born is busy dying.

— Bob Dylan

The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

— Carl Sagan

Nature is unsentimental. Death is built in.

— Carl Sagan

A brief candle; both ends burning
An endless mile; a bus wheel turning
A friend to share the lonesome times
A handshake and a sip of wine
So say it loud and let it ring
We are all a part of everything
The future, present and the past
Fly on proud bird
You’re free at last.

— Charlie Daniels, written en route to the funeral for his friend, Ronnie Van Zant of the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd

One does not weep for those who die, particularly when they have lived a full life. And I doubt in any case whether the gauge of love and sorrow is in the tears that are shed in the first days of mourning. People who remain with you in your daily life, even though they are no longer physically present, who are frequently in your mind, often mentioned, part of your laughter, part of your joy—they are the people you really miss. They are the people from whom you are never quite separated. You do not need to walk heavily all your life to really miss people.

— Eleanor Roosevelt, April 14, 1953, “My Day.”

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

— Elie Wiesel

Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell.

— Emily Dickinson

My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,
So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

— Emily Dickinson

Bereavement in their death to feel
Whom We have never seen —
A Vital Kinsmanship import
Our Soul and theirs — between —

For Stranger — Strangers do not mourn —
There be Immortal friends
Whom Death see first — ‘tis news of this
That paralyze Ourselves…

Who, vital only to Our Thought —
Such Presence bear away
In dying — ‘tis as if Our Souls
Absconded — suddenly —

— Emily Dickinson

All but Death, can be Adjusted—
Dynasties repaired—
Systems—settled in their Sockets—
Citadels—dissolved— Wastes of Lives—resown with Colors
By Succeeding Springs—
Death—unto itself—Exception—
Is exempt from Change—

— Emily Dickinson

Death is a Dialogue between
The Spirit and the Dust.
‘Dissolve’ says Death—The Spirit ‘Sir
I have another Trust’— Death doubts it—Argues from the Ground—
The Spirit turns away
Just laying off for evidence
An Overcoat of Clay.

— Emily Dickinson

Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.

— Epicurus

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses;
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

— Ernest Dowson

The dead are not dead if we have loved them truly. In our own lives we give them immortality. Let us arise and take up the work they have left unfinished, and preserve the treasures they have won, and round out the circuit of their being to the fullness of an ampler orbit in our own.

— Felix Adler

It is written that the last enemy to be vanquished is death. We should begin early in life to vanquish this enemy by obliterating every trace of the fear of death from our minds. Then can we turn to life and fill the whole horizon of our souls with it, turn with added zest toall the serious tasks which it imposes and to the pure delights which here and there it affords.

— Felix Adler

When the light of the sun shines through a prism it is broken into beautiful colours, and when the prism is shattered, still the light remains. So does the life of life shine resplendent in the forms of our friends, and so, when their forms are broken, still their life remains; and in that life we are united with them; for the life of their life is also our life, and we are one with them by ties indissoluble.

— Felix Adler

Good deeds remain good, no matter whether we know how the world was made or not. Vile deeds are vile, no matter whether we know or do not know what, after death, will be the fate of the doer

— Felix Adler

I think we should look forward to death more than we do. Of course everybody hates to go to bed or miss anything but dying is really the only chance we’ll get to rest.

— Florynce Kennedy

Religion is the human response to being alive and having to die.

— Forrest Church

What I wanted to express very clearly and intensely was that the reason these people had to invent or imagine heroes and gods is pure fear. Fear of life and fear of death.

— Frida Kahlo

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

— Harriet Beecher Stowe

It is not only the living who are killed in war.

— Isaac Asimov
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