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.
It is not only the living who are killed in war.
Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.
Reclamation is hard work. Finding the value in your group’s characteristics means always having to confront the darkness in those characteristics. For example, it is acceptable, and productive, to think of America as a great nation. It has many great characteristics, from the freedom it grants its citizens to the cultural contributions it has fostered and rewarded. But by unearthing America’s good qualities, you will also find its destructive qualities. The way it has interfered internationally and created death and misery for countless citizens of other nations, its history of genocide and slavery, and so on. It is possible to know America’s destructive power and still think it is a great nation. But some prefer not to look at all, so as to avoid the cognitive dissonance.
You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.
In the face of impermanence and death, it takes courage to love the things of this world and to believe that praising them is our noblest calling.
A useless life is an early death.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard among the guns below.
Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.
I guess I just process death differently than some folks. Realizing you’re not going to see that person again is always the most difficult part about it. But that feeling settles, and then you are glad you had that person in your life, and then the happiness and the sadness get all swirled up inside you. And then you’re this great, awful candy bar, walking around in a pair of shoes.
Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life, and every setting sun be to you as its close. Then let every one of these short lives leave its sure record of some kindly thing done for others — some goodly strength or knowledge gained for yourselves.
For, truly, the man who does not know when to die, does not know how to live.
Great men do not play stage tricks with the doctrines of life and death: only little men do that.
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Whenever I prepare for a journey I prepare as though for death. Should I never return, all is in order.
Love is the only thing we can carry with us when we go, and it makes the end so easy.
I got well by talking. Death could not get a word in edgewise, grew discouraged, and traveled on.
If this is dying, I don’t think much of it.
I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
When you’re dead, you’re dead. That’s it.
Look, I really don’t want to wax philosophical, but I will say that if you’re alive, you got to flap your arms and legs, you got to jump around a lot, you got to make a lot of noise, because life is the very opposite of death. And therefore, as I see it, if you’re quiet, you’re not living. You’ve got to be noisy, or at least your thoughts should be noisy and colorful and lively.
Death ends a life, not a relationship.
I am thinking of beauty again, how some things are hunted because we have deemed them beautiful. If, relative to the history of our planet, an individual life is so short, a blink, as they say, then to be gorgeous, even from the day you’re born to the day you die, is to be gorgeous only briefly.
There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate—the genetic and neural fate—of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.
Paradoxical thinking requires that we embrace a view of the world in which opposites are joined, so that we can see the world clearly and see it whole…The result is a world more complex and confusing than the one made simple by either-or thought – but that simplicity is merely the dullness of death. When we think together we reclaim the life force in the world, in our students, in ourselves.
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace–but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! [March 23, 1775]
We ought to live each day as though
it were our last day here below.
But if I did, alas, I know
it would have killed me long ago.
In the world to come, I shall not be asked, “Why were you not Moses?” I shall be asked, “Why were you not Zusya?”
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow. I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
We pass and leave you lying. No need for rhetoric, for funeral music, for melancholy bugle-calls. No need for tears now, no need for regret. We took our risk with you; you died and we live. We take your noble gift, salute for the last time those lines of pitiable crosses, those solitary mounds, those unknown graves, and turn to live our lives out as we may. Which of us were fortunate — who can tell? For you there is silence and cold twilight drooping in awful desolation over those motionless lands. For us sunlight and the sound of women’s voices, song and hope and laughter, despair, gaiety, love — life. Lost terrible silent comrades, we, who might have died, salute you.
Spirituality exists wherever we struggle with the issue of how our lives fit into the greater cosmic scheme of things. This is true even when our questions never give way to specific answers or give rise to specific practices such as prayer or meditation. We encounter spiritual issues every time we wonder where the universe comes from, why we are here, or what happens when we die. We also become spiritual when we become moved by values such as beauty, love, or creativity that seem to reveal a meaning or power beyond our visible world. An idea or practice is ‘spiritual’ when it reveals our personal desire to establish a felt-relationship with the deepest meanings or powers governing life.