“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge between them is love – the only survival, the only meaning”
Rogers Govender, dean of Manchester Cathedral, speaking in 2018 on the anniversary of the Ariana Grande concert in which 22 peope were killed.
The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in; their true beauty is revealed only if there light is from within. Elizabeth Kubler Ross
To die will be an awfully big adventure.
JM Barrie, Peter Pan
Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace.
Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost
Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.
End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
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.
I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
“Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them: they can be injured by us, they can be wounded; they know all our penitence, all our aching sense that their place is empty, all the kisses we bestow on the smallest relic of their presence.”
George Elliot‘s book: Adam Bede
Uwais was asked ‘How do you feel?’
He said ‘Like one who has risen in the morning and does not know whether he will be dead in the evening.’
The other man said ‘But this is the situation of all men.’
Uwais said ‘Yes. But how many of them feel it?’
Idries Shah, Thinkers of the East
Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.
William Somerset Maugham
I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen; there will be something solid to stand on OR you will be taught how to fly.
Barbara J Winter
A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist.
I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.
For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.
And because I love this life,
I know I shall love death as well.
Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star;
one of the million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to
disappear into the endless night forever.
To fear death is nothing other than to think oneself wise when one is not.
For it is to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not even turn out to be the greatest blessings of human beings.
And yet people fear it as if they knew for certain it is the greatest evil.
In one of the stars, I shall be living.
In one of them, I shall be laughing.
And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing when you look at the sky at night.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince)
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.
The heart hath its own memory, like the mind. And in it are enshrined the precious keepsakes, into which is wrought the giver’s loving thought.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.
Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.
He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.
Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
Rossiter W. Raymond
If I am to wear this mourning cloak, let it be made of the fabric of love, woven by the fine thread of memory.
Remembering is an act of resurrection, each repetition a vital layer of mourning, in memory of those we are sure to meet again.
In Lieu of Flowers.
When thou art above measure angry, bethink how momentary is man’s life.
There is no such thing as death. In nature nothing dies. From each sad remnant of decay some forms of life arise.
God’s finger touched him, and he slept.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.
There is no cure for death, save to enjoy the interval.
People living deeply have no fear of death.
He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Wisdom of the Sands.
What good can come from meeting death with tears? If a man is sorry for himself, he doubles death.
There was a time when we were not: this gives us no concern – why then should it trouble us that a time will come when we shall cease to be?
Though it is in the power of the weakest arm to take away life, it is not in the strongest to deprive us of death.
Sir Thomas Browne
To die completely, a person must not only forget but be forgotten, and he who is not forgotten is not dead.
Our fear of death is like our fear that summer will be short, but when we have had our fill of fruit, our swelter of heat, we said that we have had our day.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
When we lose someone we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.
I knew a man who once said, “Death smiles at us all; all a man can do is smile back.”
From the movie Gladiator
Spoken by character Maximus, played by Russell Crowe.
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
He who doesn’t fear death dies only once.
Death is a delightful hiding place for weary men.
And they die an equal death – the idler and the man of mighty deeds.
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
Life and death are balanced on the edge of a razor.
When I die I shall be content to vanish into nothingness…. No show, however good, could conceivably be good forever…. I do not believe in immortality, and have no desire for it.
Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.
Henry Van Dyke
Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.
J.D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye.
For what is it to die,
But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind?
While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.
Leonardo Da Vinci
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death.
Leonardo da Vinci
We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one whom we love.
Madame de Stael
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge — myth is more potent than history — dreams are more powerful than facts — hope always triumphs over experience — laughter is the cure for grief — love is stronger than death.
The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.
The goal of all life is death.
Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.
God made death so we’d know when to stop.
Death doesn’t affect the living because it has not happened yet. Death doesn’t concern the dead because they have ceased to exist.
Death is much simpler than birth; it is merely a continuation. Birth is the mystery, not death.
Stewart Edward White
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 alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.
If I had my life to live over again, I would form the habit of nightly composing myself to thoughts of death. I would practice, as it were, the remembrance of death. There is not another practice which so intensifies life. Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise. It should be part of the full expectancy of life.
Death is for many of us the gate of hell; but we are inside on the way out, not outside on the way in.
George Bernard Shaw
People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were travelling abroad.
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The carriage held but just ourselves
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die … Life is no frail candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.
George Bernard Shaw
I often think that people we have loved and who have loved us, not only make us more human but they become a part of us. We carry them around all the time, whether we see them or not and, in some ways, we are the sum total of those who have loved us and those we have loved.
He is lucky who, in the full tide of life, has experienced a measure of the active environment that he most desires. In these days of upheaval and violent change, when the basic values of today are the vain and shattered dreams of tomorrow, there is much to be said for a philosophy which aims at living a full life while the opportunity offers. There are few treasures of more lasting worth than the experience of a way of life that is, in itself, wholly satisfying. Such, after all, are the only possessions of which no fate, no cosmic catastrophe, can deprive us; nothing can alter the fact if, for one moment in eternity, we have really lived.
Eric Shipton, mountaineer
We bereaved are not alone; we belong to the biggest company in all the world, the company of those who have known suffering. When it seems that our sorrows are too great to be borne let us think of the great family of the heavy-hearted into which our grieving has given us entrance and, inevitably, we feel about us their arms, their sympathy, their understanding.
I come, my brother, to these sad rites, to perform the last obsequies and speak in vain to your silent ashes; for fate has snatched, even thee, away from me. Alas! My brother, so cruelly torn from me, accept at least these funeral gifts, much beloved with a brother’s tears, which, by ancestral custom, have been laid here as offerings to the dead; and for ever, brother, hail and farewell.
I come, my brother, to these sad rites, to perform my last eulogy to you, and to speak in vain to your silent ashes; for fate has snatched thee away from me. Alas! My brother, so cruelly torn from me, accept these funeral tributes, much beloved with a brother’s tears, which, by ancestral custom, have been laid here as offerings to the dead; and now, my brother, I honour you and say farewell.
Become accustomed to the idea that death is nothing to us. For all good and evil consists in sensation, but death is deprivation of sensation. And therefore a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not because it adds to it an infinite span of time, but because it takes away the craving for immortality. For there is nothing terrible in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living.
Mortal man, you have been a citizen in this great City; what does it matter to you whether for five or fifty years? For what is according to its law is equal for every man. Why is it hard, then, if Nature who brought you in, and no despot or unjust judge, sends you out of the City – as thought the master of the show, who engaged an actor, were to dismiss him from the stage? “But I have not spoken my five acts, only three.” “What you say is true, but in life three acts are the whole play”. For He determines the perfect whole, the cause yesterday of your composition, today of your dissolution; you are the cause of neither. Leave the stage, therefore, and be reconciled, for He also who lets his servant depart is reconciled.
If I can choose between a death of torture and one that is simple and easy, why should I not select the latter? As I choose the ship in which I sail and the house which I inhabit, so will I choose the death by which I leave life.
Seneca (on suicide)
If I had my life to live over, I’d try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier that I have been this trip. I know of very few things I would take seriously. I would be crazier. I would be less hygienic. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers and watch more sunsets. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones. You see, I am one of those people who live sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I have had my moments, and, if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead each day. I have been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it all over again, I would go places and do things and travel lighter than I have. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted earlier in the Spring and stay that way later in the Fall. I would pay hooky more, I wouldn’t make such good grades except by accident. I would ride on more merry-go-rounds. I’d pick more daisies.
Suppose, after all, that death does end all? Next to eternal joy, next to being forever with those we love and those who have loved us – next to that, is to be wrapped in the dreamless drapery of eternal peace. Next to eternal life is eternal sleep. Upon the shadowy shore of death, the sea of troubles casts no waves. Eyes that have been curtained by dark will never know again the burning touch of tears. Lips touched by eternal silence will never speak again the broken words of grief. Hearts of dust do not break. The dead do not weep. Within the tomb, no veiled and weeping sorrow sits, and in the rayless gloom is crouched no shuddering fear. I had rather think of those I have loved and lost as having returned to earth, as having become part of the elemental world; I would rather think of them as gurgling in the stream, floating in the clouds, bursting in light upon the shores of other worlds; I would rather think of them as the last visions of forgotten night, than to have even the faintest fear that their naked souls have been clutched by an orthodox god.
An individual human existence should be like a river – small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and – in the end – without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. The man or woman who, in old age, can see his or her life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things they care for will continue.
However far back you go in your memory, it is always in some external active manifestation of yourself that you come across your identity – in the work of your hands, in your family, in other people….. this is what you are. This is what your consciousness has breathed and lived on, and enjoyed throughout your life….. your immortality, your life in others. And what now? What does it matter to you if, later on, it is called to your memory? This will be you – the real you – that enters the future and becomes part of it.
We should not speak of our love in the past tense. Love is a thing that does not fade in a faithful heart. It does not go into the past unless we betray our love. We must keep our love alive in a new situation, but as actively and creatively and more so, more often, than when the person was with us. Our love cannot be dead because a person has died. If that is true, our life must be a continuation of theirs, with all its significance. We must reflect on all that was beauty and nobility in that person and make sure those around us and our surroundings do not lose anything through the death. This applies to all families and friends, as well as the immediate bereaved, so that the seed that has fallen into the earth may give a hundred fold harvest in the hearts and lives of others.
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Death can cast us down for more than the necessary period of mourning. It can blight our days….. and yet it can enrich us. We can live for those who have gone. We can pack into our lives that extra time the dead have given us. For they have given us time: the expanded moment that comes when we realise that, for us, the blood still moves; the world is still there to be explored and made over; that, for now, this minute, this hour, this day, we are free of pain and hunger; that though we still mourn in the deepest part of our being, death has liberated us, has made us see the transitory nature of everything; and life, being transitory, is thus infinitely more precious; commanding more attention than ever we gave it when we went on our way, still unthinking children, before death opened our minds, sharpened our eyes; and set us free …
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Life is the gathering of waves to a head; at death they break into a million fragments. Each one of these fragments, however, is absorbed at once into the sea of life and helps to form a later generation, which comes rolling on, until it too breaks.
The death of each of us is in the order of things: it follows life as surely as night follows day. We can take the Tree of Life as a symbol. The human race is the trunk and the branches of the tree, and individual men and women are the leaves, which appear one season, flourish for a summer, and then die. One day we will all be torn off by a storm or simply decay and fall and become part of the earth about its roots. While we live we are conscious of the tree’s flowing sap and steadfast strength. Deep down in our consciousness is the consciousness of a collective life, a life of which we are all part and to which we all make minute but unique contributions. When we die and fall the tree remains, nourished to some degree by our manifestation of life. Millions of leaves have preceded us and millions will follow us, but the tree itself grows and endures.
Those who live nobly, even if in their day they live obscurely, need not fear that they have lived in vain. Something radiates from their lives, some light that shows the way to their family, friends and neighbours, perhaps to long future ages.
In the presence of death, we must continue to sing the song of life. We must be able to accept death and go from its presence better able to bear our burdens and to lighten the load of others. Out of our sorrows should come understanding. Through our sorrows, we join with all those before us who have had to suffer and all of those who will yet have to do so. Let us not be gripped by the fear of death. If another day be added to our lives, let us joyfully receive it, but let us not anxiously depend on our tomorrows. Though we grieve the deaths of our loved ones, we accept them and hold on to our memories as precious gifts. Let us make the best of our loved ones while they are with us, and let us not bury our love with death.
Roman philosopher Seneca
Let us be contented with what has happened to us and thankful for all we have been spared. Let us accept the natural order in which we move. Let us reconcile ourselves to the mysterious rhythm of our destinies such as they must be in this world of space and time. Let us treasure our joys but not bewail our sorrows. The glory of light cannot exist without its shadows. Life is a whole and good and ill must be accepted together. The journey has been enjoyable and well worth making – once.
Sir Winston Churchill (from ‘Thoughts and Adventures’)
Wheresoever your life shall end, it is then complete. The value of life is not in its duration, but rather in its use. Some have lived long, even if it were only for a short while. So make the most of your life while you still have it. Whether you have lived enough depends on yourself, not on the number of your years. Leave this world as you entered here. The same passage which you first made from death to life, without fuss and without fear, take it again from life to death. Your death is in the order of things: it belongs to the life of the world.
I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.
We are one people, one community and the death of one is the concern of all. In the face of death man can achieve grandeur, but if he turns his back on death he remains a child, clinging to a land of make believe. For death is not the ending of the pattern of life’s unwinding but a necessary interruption. Through the painful work of grieving we rediscover the past and weave it afresh into a new reality. Our aim cannot be to cancel out the past, to try to forget, but to ensure that the strength and meaning which gave beauty to the old pattern is remembered and re-interpreted in the pattern now emerging. Every man must die but the world is permanently changed by each man’s existence…
Colin Murray Parkes
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….and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights. All is divine harmony.
When loved ones die, you have to live on their behalf. See things as though with their eyes. Remember how they used to say things, and use those words oneself. Be thankful that you can do things that they cannot, and also feel the sadness of it.
Louis de Berniéres (from ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’)
In my view death is simply one of the many kinds of tragedy that human beings encounter, yet unique because it is inevitable and universal. So let us not attempt to mask the tragic aspects of death, but not be preoccupied with it, nor allow it, on account of heart-ache and crisis it causes, to overshadow the other phases of human life. Let us look death in the face with honesty, with dignity and with calmness, recognising that some unhappiness is inherent in human experience, but that together we have the resources to come to terms with this fact.
So when death comes for me I shall meet it with a cheerful mind. Since no harm comes to the elements when they continuously change from one to the other, why should I be afraid about the change and dissolution of my own elements? For this is the way of Nature and nothing is evil which comes from Nature.
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, margarita in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ~ WOO HOO what a ride!”
Some people are bound to die young. By dying young a person stays young for ever in people’s memories. If they burn brightly before they die, their light shines for all time.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Tread gently on anyone who looks at you sideways. Have lots of long lie-ins. Wear sturdy socks, learn to grow out of medium underwear and, if you must lie about your age, do it in the other direction: tell people you’re ninety-seven and they’ll think you look great. Try to catch a trout and experience the glorious feeling of letting it go and seeing it swimming away. Never eat food that comes in a bucket. If you don’t know how to meditate at least try to spend some time every day just sitting. Boo joggers. Don’t work out, work in. Play the banjo. Sleep with somebody you like. Eat plenty of Liquorice Allsorts. Try to live in a place you like. Marry somebody you like. Try to do a job you like. Never turn down an opportunity to shout, ‘**** them all!’ at the top of your voice. Avoid bigots of all descriptions. Let your own bed become to you what the Pole Star was to sailors of old…look forward to it. Don’t wear tight underwear on aeroplanes. Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares? He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes. Clean your teeth and keep the company of people who will tell you when there’s spinach on them. Avoid people who say they know the answer. Keep the company of people who are trying to understand the question. Don’t pat animals with sneaky eyes. Send Hieronymus Bosch prints to elderly relatives for Christmas. Avoid giving LSD to guide dogs. Don’t be talked into wearing a uniform. Salute nobody. Never run with scissors or other pointy objects. Campaign against blue Smarties. Above all, go to Glasgow at least once in your life and have a roll and square sliced sausage and a cup of tea. When you feel the tea coursing over your spice-singed tongue, you’ll know what I mean when I say: ‘It’s good to be alive!’
Our Parents cast long shadows over our lives. When we grow up we imagine that we can walk into the sun, free of them. We don’t realize until it’s too late that we have no choice in the matter, they’re always ahead of us. We carry them within us all our lives, in the shape of our faces, the way we walk, the sound of our voice, our skin, our hair, our hands, our heart. We try much our lives to separate ourselves from them and only when they are dead do we find we are indivisible. We grow to expect that our parents, like the weather, will always be with us. Then they go, leaving a mark like a handprint on glass or a soft kiss on a rainy day, and with their deaths we are no longer children.
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.