November 1, 2015

"What I care most about is learning your reasons for loving life"

Jacques Lusseyran: Blind hero of the French Resistance who survived Buchenwald,

“When you said to me: ‘Tell me the story of your life,’ I was not eager to begin. But when you added, ‘What I care most about is learning your reasons for loving life,’ then I became eager, for that was a real subject.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:13 PM | Permalink

September 11, 2015

"That the laws of the universe should be repealed"

For sorrow there is no remedy provided by nature; it is often occasioned by accidents irreparable, and dwells upon objects that have lost or changed their existence; it requires what it cannot hope, that the laws of the universe should be repealed; that the dead should return, or the past should be recalled.”

That's Dr. Samuel Johnson writing in The Rambler #47 via Anecdotal Evidence

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:09 PM | Permalink

July 13, 2015

Why Nairobi

“That is probably the most alien, jarring thing about working in Africa: life is much cheaper. More to the point, death is very close to you. We're very removed from death here. Someone can die at 89 in their sleep here and it's called a tragedy. In Africa, I find that I'm often exposed to it. That's part of why I wanted to live there.”

James Verini, a freelance writer based out of Nairobi, won the 2015 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing.

Via Brain-Pickings and  Longform podcast

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 AM | Permalink

March 13, 2015

Terry Pratchett on death

As I said, I've never read any books by Terry Pratchett and I wanted to get a sense of his writing, so I went looking for quotes.  Below are some of his quotes on death

Terry Pratchett on Death

It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It's called living.
By the time you've reached your sixties, you do know that one day you will die, and knowing that is at least the beginning of wisdom.
It's not morbid to talk about death. Most people don't worry about death, they worry about a bad death.
We have been so successful in the past century at the art of living longer and staying alive that we have forgotten how to die. Too often we learn the hard way. As soon as the baby boomers pass pensionable age, their lesson will be harsher still.

Death isn't online. If he was, there would be a sudden drop in the death rate. Although it'd be interesting to see if he'd post things like: DON'T YOU THINK I SOUND LIKE JAMES EARL JONES?
You're not going to die, are you sir?' he said.
'Of course I am. Everyone is. That's what being alive is all about.'
Perhaps, if you knew you were going to die, your senses crammed in as much detail as they could while they still had the chance…
I intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod. Oh, and since this is England, I had better add, 'If wet, in the library.'
The ideal death, I think, is what was the ideal Victorian death, you know, with your grandchildren around you, a bit of sobbing. And you say goodbye to your loved ones, making certain that one of them has been left behind to look after the shop.

 Prachett 2012

While he campaigned in favor of assisted suicide, "Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family."

His daughter Rhianna who will carry on writing Discworld books,  announced his death on Twitter.  His character Death always spoke in capital letters.

Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) March 12, 2015

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
— Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) March 12, 2015

The End.
— Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) March 12, 2015
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

February 13, 2014

Abraham Lincoln on grief

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.

Letter to Fanny McCullough (23 December 1862); Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 AM | Permalink

April 22, 2013

Dogs in Heaven

 Dog In Lightbeam-1

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” - Will Rogers

"If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons."
    - James Thurber

"Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe, we are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made."
    -Roger Caras

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:30 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2008

Rules of Thumb

From the very useful rules of thumb


1294.  The less money people have, the more they spend on a funeral.

1222.  After you attend a funeral, expect to go into a cleaning and organizational frenzy when you get home.

Digging a Grave

1414.  The standard size for a human grave is 7'8" long by 3'2" wide by 6' deep, unless there is to be more than one person buried in it. Then add two feet of depth for each body.

1198.  When digging a grave by hand, haul away 17 wheelbarrow loads of dirt and pile the rest by the hole. You will have just the right amount to backfill.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:39 PM | Permalink

April 25, 2007

"Death has replaced sex as a taboo"

Money has replaced sex as a driving force, death has replaced sex as a taboo, and sex has replaced bridge as a social event for mixed foursomes, 

Reginald Perrin

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August 16, 2006

Twain and Darrow

Clarence Darrow
I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.

Mark Twain
I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.

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February 3, 2006

On reading obituarites

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."

Clarence Darrow

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:52 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2006

On reading obituarites

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."

Clarence Darrow

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:48 PM | Permalink

The Wound We Keep Open

"The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal - every other affliction to forget: but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open - this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude."

Washington Irving

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:57 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2005

Like a shooting star

"I'm not going to die, I'm going home like a shooting star"
                                      Sojourner Truth.
Sojourner Truth, originally a Dutch speaking slave in Hurley, NY, was freed by the NY State Anti-Slavery Act in 1827.  Her children born when she was enslaved were taken from her.  Searching for her son Peter first brought her into contact with anti-slavery abolitionists.

She later  supported herself by preaching against slavery and for women's rights throughout the north.  Born Isabelle Van Wagenen, she took the name Sojourner Truth in 1843.  Here she is with President Lincoln.

 Sojourner Truth And Pres Lincoln

Sojourner Truth Memorial, Florence, Ma
Sojourner Trust Institute
The Narrative of Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth reading list for all ages
Her famous "Ain't I A Woman" speech recalled by someone who was there.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:41 PM | Permalink

July 13, 2005

Cormac Country

"Most people don't ever see anyone die.  It used to be if you grew up in a family, you saw everybody die.  They died in their bed at home with everyone gathered around. 

Death is the major issue in the world.  For you, for me, for all of us.  It just is.  To not be able to talk about it is very odd."

From the first interview of Cormac McCarthy in thirteen years by Richard Woodward in the August edition of Vanity Fair (sadly, not online).

McCarthy wrote "All the Pretty Horses winning the National Book Award in 1992 and making his literary reputation.  It's part of the Border Crossing which also includes Cities of the Plain and The Crossing.

It's been a while since I've read All the Pretty Horses but I remember loving it for its language, its setting, the love story, but most of all for the reflections on life, honor and loyalty by the young cowboy John Grady Cole.    I can remember copying out some passages for their sheer beauty and profundity. 

The closest bonds we will ever know are the bonds of grief. 
The deepest community is one of sorrow.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:05 AM | Permalink

Humbled and Elevated

A thought for a beautiful summer afternoon outside.

"When we are mindful of every nuance of our natural world, we finally get the picture:  we are given only one dazzling moment of life here on Earth, and we must stand before that humbled and elevated, subject to every law of our Universe and grateful for our brief, but intrinsic participation in it."

Elizabeth Gilbert in her biography of naturalist Eustace Conway."Last American Man.

From the review in Publishers Weekly.

"By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old he could throw a knife accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree." Such behavior might qualify Eustace as a potential Columbine-style triggerman, but in Gilbert's startling and fascinating account of his life, he becomes a great American countercultural hero. At 17, Conway "headed into the mountains... and dressed in the skins of animals he had hunted and eaten." By his late 30s, Eustace owned "a thousand acres of pristine wilderness" and lived in a teepee in the woods full-time. He is, as Gilbert (Stern Men) implies with her literary and historical references, a cross between Davy Crockett and Henry David Thoreau

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2005

Some Life lessons from Albert Einstein

Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people— first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving...

I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves— this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery— even if mixed with fear— that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man.

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Albert Einstein

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 AM | Permalink

June 19, 2003

Individuals asserting who they are one at a time

I came across wonderful quotes linked to extraordinary photos
at an unexpected place

If every man and woman were to take the meaning of their life and pursue it passionately, they would alter the social landscape overnight. In fact, that's how lasting revolutions are made--not by the raised arm of the masses, not by the military seizure of power, not by the political coup d'etat, but by individuals asserting who they are one at a time.
Richard Bode

Who is not satisfied with himself will grow; who is not sure of his own correctness will learn many things.
Chinese Proverb

It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
J. Wooden

To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or sea-side stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall.
Thomas Huxley

The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.

There appear to be no integrating forces, no unified meaning, no true inner understanding of phenomena in our experience of the world. Experts can explain anything in the objective world to us, yet we understand our own lives less and less. In short, we live in the postmodern world, where everything is possible and almost nothing is certain.
Vaclav Havel

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:12 PM | Permalink