Confucius: We do not know life, how can we know death?

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Ji Lu asked about the best way to serve ghosts and spirits. The master said, "You have not yet served humans well, how is it you wonder about ghosts and spirits?" Ji Lu ventured to ask about death. The master said, "We do not yet understand life, how could we understand death?"

  --Confucius (ca 551–479 BC), as quoted in The Analects, 先進 (Xian Jin). 

季路問事鬼神。子曰:「未能事人,焉能事鬼?」敢問死。曰:「未知生,焉知死?」


Mary Frye: Do not stand at my grave and weep

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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 sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

       --Mary Elizabeth Frye (1905-2004). According to Wikipedia, she wrote this poem when a young German-Jewish woman who was staying with her family in Baltimore, Maryland, in the 1930s, when Nazis had taken over Germany, told her how sad she was that when her mother died in Germany, she could not be there to "stand by my mother's grave and shed a tear." The poem has been put to music many times.



Ancient Egyptian: Death is before me today

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Death is before me today:
  like the recovery of a sick man,
  like going forth into a garden after sickness.
Death is before me today:
  like the odor of myrrh,
  like sitting under a sail in a good wind.
Death is before me today:
  like the course of a stream;
  like the return of a man from the war-galley to his house.
Death is before me today:
  like the home that a man longs to see,
  after years spent as a captive.

            --From "Dialogue of a Misanthrope with His Soul" (ca 2000 BC), now called "Dispute between a man and his Ba," from a papyrus of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. Cited in The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology (1962), p. 138, by Joseph Campbell (1904-1987), who slightly changed the original quotation in Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (1912) p. 195, by James Henry Breasted (1865-1935). Breasted himself had translated a German translation of the papyrus by Adolf Erman (1854-1937) in 1896, Gespräch eines Lebensmüden mit seiner Seele (Conversation of a life-weary person with his soul), in the Abhandl. der königl. Preuss. Akad. (Papers of the Royal Prussian Academy) Berlin, 1896. Originally from Lepsius' book Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethopien (Monuments from Egypt and Ethiopia), VI, Taf., 111-112.

A papyrus of the Middle Kingdom in Berlin (P. 3024), first published by Karl Richard Lepsius (1810-1884) in 1859; Lepsius had bought the papyrus in Egypt in 1843. It is now in the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection of the Berlin Museum, no. 3024.


It is one of the oldest documents in the world to speak of a state of mind. This is only a small part of it.


Ron Tranmer: Our family chain is broken

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Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same;
but as God calls us one by one the chain will link again.

              --Ron Tranmer 

The poem is copyrighted. Please see the author's website (name is linked).

 

The author of the poem writes: 

I am the author of the above, "Our Family Chain Is Broken." Here is the full poem: 

We little knew the day that God
was going to call your name.
In life we loved you dearly,
in death we do the same.


It broke our hearts to lose you.
You did not go alone,

For part of us went with you
The day God called you home.


You left us peaceful memories.
Your love is still our guide,
And though we cannot see you
You are always at our side.


Our family chain is broken
and nothing seems the same,
but as God calls us one by one
the chain will link again.

 

 

 

I wrote it for a young woman in our family several years ago. Copies were passed out among the family. I hope it can bring comfort to others who grieve.

--Ron Tranmer