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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For now, just think of death as a transformation – a bit more radical than puberty, but nothing to get particularly upset about. It’s just one of the body’s changes. When it happens, it happens. The warrior neither seeks death nor flees from it.

— Dan Millman

From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them, and that is eternity.

— Edvard Munch

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

What is — ‘Paradise’ —
Who live there —
Are they ‘Farmers’ —
Do they ‘hoe’ —
Do they know that this is ‘Amherst’ —
And that I — am coming — too —

Do they wear ‘new shoes’ — in ‘Eden’ —
Is it always pleasant — there —
Won’t they scold us — when we’re homesick —
Or tell God — how cross we are —

You are sure there’s such a person
As ‘a Father’ — in the sky —
So if I get lost — there — ever —
Or do what the Nurse calls ‘die’ —
I shan’t walk the ‘Jasper’ — barefoot —
Ransomed folks — won’t laugh at me —
Maybe — ‘Eden’ a’n’t so lonesome
As New England used to be!

— Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
And Immortality.

We slowly drove — He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility?

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess — in the Ring —
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain —
We passed the Setting Sun —

Or rather — He passed Us —
The Dews drew quivering and chill —
For only Gossamer, my Gown —
My Tippet — only Tulle —

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground —
The Roof was scarcely visible —
The Cornice — in the Ground —

Since then — ‘tis Centuries — and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity —

— 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

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

Get used to believing that death is nothing to us…for all good and bad consists in sense-experience, and death is the privation of sense-experience…hence a correct knowledge of the fact that death is nothing to us makes mortality of life a matter for contentment, not by adding a limitless time but by removing the longing for immortality.

— Epicurus, letter to Menoeceus

Why should I fear death? If I am, then death is not. If Death is, then I am not. Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not? Long time men lay oppressed with slavish fear. Religious tyranny did domineer.

— Epicurus

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

People die from lack of shared empathy and affinity. By establishing social connectedness, we give hope a chance and the other can become heaven.

— Erik Pevernagie

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

Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man. Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.

Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death.

— Eugene V. Debs

Old men’s prayers for death are lying prayers, in which they abuse old age and long extent of life. But when death draws near, not one is willing to die, and age no longer is a burden to them.

— Euripides, Alcestis (438 BCE)

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

Religion is a wizard, a sibyl . . .
She faces the wreck of worlds, and prophesies restoration.
She faces a sky blood-red with sunset colours that deepen into darkness, and prophesies dawn.
She faces death, and prophesies life.

— 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

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

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

The philosophers are less convinced than they claim that death is not an evil. Nothing proves this as clearly as the trouble they take to secure the immortality of their names through the loss of their lives.

— François de La Rochefoucauld

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

Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

If the Earth were not subject to any change I would consider the Earth a big but useless body in universe, paralyzed … superfluous and unnatural. Those who so exalt incorruptibility, unchangeability and the like, are, I think, reduced to saying such things both because of inordinate desire they have to live for a long time and because of the terror they have of death … they do not realize that if men were immortal, they would have never come into the world.

— Galileo Galilei
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