What does it take to be wise about dying? Since this website is called “Dying with Wisdom,” perhaps we should explore that. It is partly and attitude, partly a matter of facing our fears, and partly a matter of how much we’ve thought about it. Many Buddhist traditions mandate the contemplation of death as a practice so we can be prepared for and accepting of our own death.

Quotes are useful as a starting point for contemplation. I have culled through the big tome of Bartlett’s quotations and tons of lists on the web to bring you some of the most helpful ideas about death, dying, and grief. Thinking about death can keep us on our toes! There is only so much time granted to each of us and ideas like these can help us make the most of life.

They may also help you get through the death of a loved one. You can use them for comfort in the moment, or as a starting point for a eulogy or a contribution to an event that celebrates a life. Many of them remind us that life is more vivid and urgent because it is finite. People have been searching for the path to eternal life since the beginning of time. The first written story we have is the Gilgamesh epic, recorded over 6,000 year ago. The main character searches for a way to join the Gods in living forever. He is given several challenges by the Gods and if he meets them, he is promised eternal life, but he fails each one. How different life would be if we didn’t die! In some ways, it would mean that life was less precious.

  • Death is not a foe, but an inevitable adventure.

               Sir Oliver Lodge

  • Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity


  • He who would teach men to die would, at the same time, teach them to live.


  • Death and love are the two wings that bear a good man to heaven.

   Michael Angelo

  • Each departed friend is a magnet that attracts us to the next world.

  Jean Paul Richter

  • Death is nature’s way of saying ‘Your table is ready.’”

  Robin Williams

  • To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.

   J.K. Rowling

  • Dying is an art, like everything else.

  Sylvia Plath

  • For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one

 Khalil Gibran

  • The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you want to.

   Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

  • Death I our friend, precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural; that is love.

Rainer Marie Rilke

  • Death ends life, not a relationship.

Jack Lemmon

  • Death is a challenge. It tell us not to waste time…It tell us to tell each other right now that we love each other.

   Leo Buscaglia

  • Love is like liquid; when it pours out, it seeps into others’ lives. Love changes form and shape. Love gets into everything. Death doesn’t conquer all; love does. Love wins by lasting through death. Love wins by loving more, loving again, loving without fear.

     Kate O’Neill


Each of these has the power to make life livelier, death less scary, more about love and less about misery. I hope you find them helpful. Each of them can form the basis for an obituary or a speech at a funeral. Pick the one that seems most comforting to you and reflect on it now and then. Being prepared can ease our journey when it comes, help us sit with someone who is dying, and help us cope with loss.