A Day in the Life of Old Age
INTERESTING STUFF – 24 October 2020

Quotations on The Time Before Dying

It has been a long time since I posted a list of quotations about age and dying. In fact, it is probably years. But I don't stop collecting them – my god, people have a lot to say about death, at least in short form – so here are a few for your perusal and commentary.

Not too many today because quantity becomes overwhelming and they lose meaning. So just a few. Many wise men and women have left behind worthy ideas about death for us to ponder.

* * *

“It is too bad that dying is the last thing we do, because it could teach us so much about living.” - Robert M. Herhold
(As it seems to be doing for me.)

“For my part, I would like to die fully conscious that I am dying...slow enough to allow death to insinuate itself into my body and fully unfold, so as not to miss the ultimate experience, the passage.” - Marguerite Yourcenar

“...I count as the greatest good fortune to have these few months so full of interest and instruction in the knowledge of my approaching death.” - Alice James

“There is only one solution if old age is not to be a parody of our former life, and that is to go on pursuing ends that give existence meaning – devotion to to individuals, to groups or causes, social, political, intellectual and creative work. - Simone de Bouvoir

“The first part of life is for learning. The second for service, and the last is for oneself. It is a time for discover inner richness and for self-development and spiritual growth. It is also a time of transition and preparation for dying. The closer we come to death, the closer we come to reality and truth.” - Gay Gaer Luce

“Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment.” - Dag Hammarskjold

Are there any short and pithy such quotations you would like to add?


I like the one by Dag Hammarskjold.

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.
A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
― Shannon Alder

I liked best the ones by Marguerite Yourcenar and Alice James.

There is also one (purported to be from Tasunka Witko, Crazy Horse,
a holy man of the Lakota tribe, but attributed to many others), which says,
"Today is a good day to die" .
The reminder keeps me conscious of the cycle and my wish to be as centered as possible in each moment.

Thanks for the quotes; I've saved a few!

When John Quincy Adams was eighty years old, a friend said, “How is John Quincy Adams?”

He replied, “John Quincy Adams himself is very well, thank you; but the house he lives in is sadly dilapidated. It is tottering on its foundations. The walls are badly shattered, and the roof is worn. The building trembles with every wind. And I think that John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it before long. But he himself is very well.”

A poem by Anne Stevenson:

Impossible to imagine
not knowing how to expect.

Impossible to imagine
years of the tall son.

Impossible to imagine,
exactly, exactly.

Tell your friend (in this case you Ronni) that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone. Jiddu Krishnamurti

And therefore we hope to You, Lord our G‑d, that we may speedily behold the splendor of Your might, to banish idolatry from the earth and false G‑ds will be utterly destroyed; to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty. All mankind shall invoke Your Name, to turn to You all the wicked of the earth. Then all the inhabitants of the world will recognize and know that every knee should bend to You, every tongue should swear [by Your Name]. Before You, Lord our G‑d, they will bow and prostrate themselves, and give honor to the glory of Your Name; and they will all take upon themselves the yoke of Your kingdom. May You soon reign over them forever and ever, for kingship is Yours, and to all eternity You will reign in glory, as it is written in Your Torah: The Lord will reign forever and ever. And it is said: The Lord shall be King over the entire earth; on that day the Lord shall be One and His Name One.

7) The Shema and Verses of Unity
At the very last moments, all present, including the person himself (if possible), recite the following passages aloud, and with intense concentration:

translation: Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our G‑d, the Lord is One.

Recite the following verse in an undertone:

translation: Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever. (Say three times.)

Recite the following verse out loud: Shema Israel Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echod. (it actually goes on for a long time, prayers to say as your soul departs, or as Hospice is seeing those signs. Not bad stuff actually, I Googled it, my Dad passed away six years ago, and he wasn't that religious, but was spiritual, may his memory be for a blessing.

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” – Blackfoot wisdom

There are some good quotations written here that I’ll copy. I have a couple, some in French that I’ll translate.

« La vieillesse, c'est l'hiver pour les ignorants, et le temps des moissons pour les sages. » - Proverbe Yiddish / "Old age is winter for the ignorant, and harvest time for the wise."

"Les morts sont des invisibles, mais non des absents." - Victor Hugo / The dead are invisible, but not absent.

La naissance et la mort sont comme des bulles sur l’eau – Ramakrishna/ Birth and death are like bubbles on water.

“As a Buddhist, I view death as a normal process, a reality that I accept will occur as long as I remain in this earthly existence. Knowing that I cannot escape it, I see no point in worrying about it. I tend to think of death as being like changing your clothes when they are old and worn out, rather than as some final end.” Dalai Lama

"Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so" -- John Donne

If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you’re old. - Will Rogers

I remember a story Grace Kelly told in a TV interview after her father, John B. Kelly , died. 

She said the big family was all gathered in his hospital room looking sad and pitiful when he spoke up so all could hear him.  "What are you all looking so glum about, for when I think about what adventure may be coming next for me, I can hardly wait.  Now lighten up !!"  He was 71.  I am not Catholic like he was, yet his words have stayed with me over 60 years,

I like a hopeful attitude about almost anything...even Will Roger's "trouble" . 

Picking up on the Jewish tradition cited by Martha K. Backer...I see no magic on reciting verses but great comfort in the words sung each Friday night. "Lord give me the courage to make my life a blessing." And when one dies, it is said of her "She made her life a blessing." You, Ronni, have had the ourage to make your life a blessing -- to all of us, in every column.
Much love, Ann

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
― Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds

As a new widow, whose husband died last month after a long terrible decline from Alzheimer's, I do not fear my own death because it will not be like his. I have taken more precautions than Ronnie did in moving to Oregon, although I too live in a state with a similar end of life law. But I would probably never qualify under that law, so without official doctor's prescriptions, I have amassed enough to exit on my own terms when the time seems right to me. That would definitely include any diagnosis of ALZ, a wretched way to half live before dying as a semi-corpse, being 'cleaned and turned.' I will be careful about my exist because of our son.

What I dislike and even fear is dragging myself alone through the next decade or more, as my family is very long-lived, with no history of cancer or other diseases, only of raging mental illnesses in four out of seven children. The three of us support the other four to keep them off the streets, gradually bankrupting ourselves. But they are still there, well into their seventies, some too paranoid even to get on government programs because they think they will be persecuted or whatever.

“ To be a living being is not the ultimate state; there is something beyond, much more wonderful, which is neither being nor non-being, neither living nor not-living. It is a state of pure awareness, beyond the limitations of space and time. Once the illusion that the body-mind is oneself is abandoned, death loses its terror, it becomes a part of living.”

-Nisargadatta Maharaj

The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have.
-- Søren Kierkegaard

An autumn night - don't think your life didn't matter.
-- Matsuo Basho

You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.
-- Chuck Palahniuk

Life has only this to offer: itself and death.
-- R. Erica Doyle

I believe we need to be reminded how temporary this life is and to live as fully as possible. To that end, I have a wonderful app on my iPhone (also available for Android) called: WeCroak. The app provides 5 random quotes daily which remind us to reflect on death. In turn, this reminds me to think about how I am living my life each day while aware that an end will come.

Great quotes here!! And now for something completely different:

"I'm not afraid of dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens." - Woody Allen


-- Why should I worry about death? It won't happen in my lifetime!

--Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

In Xenophon.Cyrus the Elder on bis deathbed says these words"My dear dear sons,you must not imagine that when I have left you I shall be nowhere or nothing.Just think:in all the years that I have been with you,you have never seen my soul,yet you knew from my actions that it existed in this body of mine.Well,then,be assured it will continue to exist,even if you cannot see nothing of me at all.
You have good Karma which will accompany you,

A wonderful photographer and calligraphy artist, created cards that I bought some of for whomever survives me to send out to announce my death. The photo is of storm clouds. The quote: "You will hear thunder and remember me, and think: she wanted storms." - Anna Akhmatova

Thank you for those you, posted, Ronni, and to each of you for adding so many marvelous quotes.

Many worthwhile quotes, several of which I am familiar with. I particularly love the Nisargadatta Maharaj quote, courtesy of “A reader”.
Great topic, Ronni!

I'm with Kate G. (and in this case Woody Allen, for whom I have no additional admiration): "I'm not afraid of dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens." I hope to exit quietly and without fanfare by Nature or my own hand. I'd prefer that it not be as a result of COVID-19 unless I am appropriately sedated.

I look these mask-less "freedumb" types at tRump rallies on TV, especially in states currently experiencing COVID surges. I really wonder if they've thought through the possibility that they or someone they love could die a solitary death in an understaffed, overwhelmed ICU. That certainly doesn't appeal to me! Unlike the Lt. Gov. of Texas, I'm not yet willing to sacrifice my life for the stock market.

Love the quote about thunder and storms. Would love to have a card like that to leave for my son.

Death plucks my ear and whispers, "Live! I am coming."

For an irreverent and actually funny take on the topic, Listen to Waylon Jennings "You're Still Gonna Die". There's a Youtube of it out there.

Enjoy life, it has an expiration date - Zayn Malik

You probably won't see this, Ronni, but thank you so much for these words, all of them.

Some will be copied into my journal.

Love to you, and all your readers.

Death and childbirth are both like water skiing: once you get up you have to get down again.
- Linda Storoz (me!)

How about wonderful Mary Oliver?
I Ask Percy How I Should Live My LIfe-
Love, love, love says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart
Then, trust......

The comments to this entry are closed.