death 2 - death 3

I believe in the immortality
of the soul because I have
within me immortal longings.

Helen Keller


There is, I know not how, a certain presage, as it were, of a future existence; and this takes the deepest root, and is most discoverable, in the greatest geniuses and most exalted souls.



The idea of full dress is preparation for a battle comes not from a belief that it will add to the fighting ability.  The preparation is for death, in case that should be the result of the conflict.  Every Indian wants to look his or her best when they go to meet the Great Spirit, so the dressing up is done whether an imminent danger is an oncoming battle or a sickness or injury at times of peace.

Wooden Leg (Cheyenne)


Why shed tears that you must die?  For if your past life has been one of enjoyment, and if all your pleasures have not passed through your mind, as through a sieve, and vanished, leaving not a rack behind, why then do you not, like a thankful guest, rise cheerfully from life's feast, and with a quiet mind go take your rest.

Life is going forth; death is returning home.



It is equally pointless to weep because we won't be alive a hundred years from now as that we were not here a hundred years ago.



Master Tanzan, on the day of his death, called upon his assistant
to send a batch of identical postcards.  Each one said simply:
"I am departing this world.  There will be no further messages.  Tanzan."

traditional Zen story


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He is not dead, this friend; not dead,
Gone some few, trifling steps ahead,
And nearer to the end;
So that you, too, once past the bend,
Shall meet again, as face to face, this friend
You fancy dead.

Robert Louis Stevenson


Our creator would never have made
such lovely days and have given us
the deep hearts to enjoy them, above
and beyond all thought, unless
we were meant to be immortal.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

I am not going to die.  I'm
going home like a shooting star.

Sojourner Truth


Winter is on my head but eternal spring is in my heart.  The nearer I approach the end,
the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me.
It is marvelous yet simple.  For half a century I have been writing my thoughts in
prose, verse, history, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode and song--I have tried all;
but I feel that I have not said a thousandth part of what is in me.  When I have gone
down to the grave I can say like many others, "I have finished my day's work," but I
cannot say, "I have finished my life's work"; my day's work will begin the next morning.
The tomb is not a blind alley.  It is an open thoroughfare.  It closes in the twilight but
opens with the dawn.  My work is only beginning; my work is hardly above its foundation.
I would gladly see it mounting forever.  The thirst for the infinite proves infinity.

Victor Hugo


The Reaper
and the Flowers

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There is a Reaper, whose name is Death,
And, with his sickle keen,
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
And the flowers that grow between.

"Shall I have naught that is fair?" saith he;
"Have naught but the bearded grain?
Though the breath of these flowers is
sweet to me,
I will give them all back again."

He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves;
It was for the Lord of Paradise
He bound them in his sheaves.

"My Lord has need of these flowerets gay,"
The Reaper said, and smiled;
"Dear tokens of the earth are they,
Where he was once a child.

"They shall all bloom in fields of light,
Transplanted by my care,
And saints, upon their garments white,
These sacred blossoms wear."

And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
The flowers she most did love;
She knew she should find them all again
In the fields of light above.

Oh, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
The Reaper came that day;
'T was an angel visited the green earth,
And took the flowers away.
If we really believed that those who are gone from us were as truly
alive as ourselves, we could not invest the subject with such awful
depth of gloom as we do.  If we could imbue our children with distinct
faith in immortality, we should never speak of people as dead, but
passed into another world.  We should speak of the body as a cast-off
garment, which the wearer had outgrown; consecrated indeed by the
beloved being that used it for a season, but of no value within itself.

Lydia Maria Child

It was not until after the coming of Christ that time and humans
could breathe freely.  It was not until after him that people began
to live toward the future.  Humans do not die in a ditch like a
dog--but at home in history, while the work toward the conquest
of death is in full swing; they die sharing in this work.

Boris Pasternak


Death stands above me, whispering low
I know not what into my ear;
Of his strange language all I know
Is, there is not a word of fear.

Walter Savage Landor


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People living deeply have no fear of death.

Anais Nin


The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the
feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar
to him or her alone and is therefore absolutely and irretrievably lost.

Artur Schopenhauer

If some persons died, and others did not die,
death would indeed be a terrible affliction.

Jean de la Bruyere

Life does not cease to be funny when
people die any more than it ceases 
to be serious when people laugh.

George Bernard Shaw


So proud she was to die
It made us all ashamed
That what we cherished, so unknown
To her desire seemed.

So satisfied to go
Where none of us should be,
Immediately, that anguish stooped
Almost to jealousy.

Emily Dickinson

Science says: "We must live," and seeks the means
of prolonging, increasing, facilitating and amplifying life,
of making it tolerable and acceptable; wisdom says:
"We must die," and seeks how to make us die well.

Miguel de Unamuno

We find by losing.  We hold fast by letting go.  We become something new
by ceasing to be something old.  This seems to be close to the heart of that
mystery.  I know no more now than I ever did about the far side of death
as the last letting-go of all, but now I know that I do not need to know,
and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing.
God knows.  That is all that matters.

Frederick Buechner


Death is simply a shedding of the physical body,
like the butterfly coming out of a cocoon. . . .
It's like putting away your winter coat when spring comes.

Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross


Death is by no means separate from life. . . . We all interact with death
every day, tasting it as we might a wine, feeling its keen edge even in
trifling losses and disappointments, holding it by the hand,
as a dancer might a partner, in every separation.

Eugene Kennedy

We treat death as a tragedy, as an ending of the good times.  But what
if we could think of it as it really is in nature, a process of physical change,
an inevitable transformation, something you cannot alter and so must
accept?  Then it's possible to look directly at it instead of turning away
in fear, to examine it instead of shunning it in denial.

Mark Forstater



Do not fear death, but welcome it, since it too comes from nature.  For just as
we are young and grow old, and flourish and reach maturity, have teeth and
a beard and grey hairs, conceive, become pregnant, and bring forth new life,
and all the other natural processes that follow the seasons of our existence,
so also do we have death.
   A thoughtful person will never take death lightly, impatiently, or scornfully,
but will wait for it as one of life's natural processes.

Marcus Aurelius


Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has
not come, and when death has come, we are not.



That day, which you fear as being the end of all things,
is the birthday of your eternity.


death 2 - death 3

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

Emily Dickinson


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Death is not the enemy of life, but its friend, for it is the knowledge
that our years are limited which makes them so precious. It is the truth
that time is but lent to us which makes us, at our best, look upon our
years as a trust handed into our temporary keeping.

Joshua Loth Liebman

We are born for a higher destiny than that of earth; there is a realm where
the rainbow never fades, where the stars will be spread before us like islands
that slumber on the ocean, and where the beings that pass before us
like shadows will stay in our presence forever.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton


The moment comes when the great nurse, death, takes a human, the child,
by the hand and quietly says, "It is time to go home.  Night is coming.  It is
your bedtime, child of earth.  Come; you're tired.  Lie down at last in the
quiet nursery of nature and sleep.  Sleep well.  The day is gone. 
Stars shine in the canopy of eternity."

Joshua Liebman

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there.  I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on the ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled light.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there.  I did not die.

Stephen Cummins

We enjoy some gratification when our good friends die; for though their
death leaves us in sorrow, we have the consolatory assurance that they
are beyond the ills by which in this life even the best of people
are broken down or corrupted.



When death comes, it respects neither age nor merit.  It sweeps from
this earthly existence the sick and the strong, the rich and the poor,
and should teach us to be prepared for death.

Andrew Jackson

Death is the final stage of growth in this life.  There is no total death.
Only the body dies.  The self or the spirit, or whatever you may wish
to label it, is eternal.  You may interpret this in
any way that makes you comfortable.

Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross

An awareness of death enables us to live each day each moment--filled
with appreciation for the  unique opportunity we have to create something
of our time on earth.  I believe that in order to enjoy true happiness, we
should live each moment as if it were our last.  Today will never return.
We may speak of the past or of the future, but the only reality we have is
that of this present instant.  And confronting the reality of death actually
enables us to bring unlimited creativity, courage and joy
into each instant of our lives.

Daisaku Ikeda
Buddhism Day by Day




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