Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Mortality - Living to have a good death.....

The quote about the certainty in life of 'death and taxes' is attributed to both Daniel Defoe in 1726 and Benjamin Franklin in 1817.  Margaret Mitchell added 'childbirth' to the list in Gone with the Wind in 1936.  Maybe not childbirth, but tax is much on the mind at the moment with this the time when dreaded returns are either late or in train.  And death too seems to be in the air this November with friends and auditors.  
Its so hard to find the right words to give comfort but being in the midst of sadness of both strangers and intimates several condolence poems, thoughts and prayers have been passed on and recycled.  One that has really hit the spot is the wise words attributed to a senior Master at Ampleforth, a Catholic British public school.  When asked what was the ethos of the school's teaching, he answered; "Our job is to prepare our pupils to live life in preparation for a good death." 
It has helped the bereaved of those who lived life well, and to find some purpose for themselves going forward, as has this poem which was left one friend in an envelope by her mother who died of cancer last month. 

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has live
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back 
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left  
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her 
Or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory let it live on 
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back 
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkins

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