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After a person dies, there is always something like a feeling of stupefaction, so difficult is it to comprehend this unexpected advent of nothingness and to resign oneself to believing it.


Dying is an art.
Like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I have a call.


Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY, To Have and Have Not

For 3 days after death hair and fingernails continue to grow but the phone calls taper off.

JOHNNY CARSON, The Tonight Show

Must not all things at the last be swallowed up in death?

PLATO, Phaedo

The only religious way to think of death is as part and parcel of life; to regard it, with the understanding and the emotions, as the the inviolable condition of life.

THOMAS MANN, The Magic Mountain

He steps upon death that stirs a foot.

THOMAS DEKKER, Blurt, Master Constable

It used to be I thought of death as a man something like Grandfather a friend of his a kind of private and particular friend like we used to think of Grandfather's desk not to touch it not even to talk loud in the room where it was.

WILLIAM FAULKNER, The Sound and the Fury

Death commences too early--almost before you're half acquainted with life--you meet the other.


Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.


Death is stronger than life, it pulls like a wind through the dark, all our cries burlesqued in joyless laughter; and with the garbage of loneliness stuffed down us until our guts burst bleeding green, we go screaming round the world, dying in our rented rooms, nightmare hotels, eternal homes of the transient heart.

TRUMAN CAPOTE, Other Voices, Other Rooms

There is a certain seductiveness about dead things. You can ill treat, alter and recolour what's dead. It won’t complain.

JEANETTE WINTERSON, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Death is the monster we all fear, yet with each day, we walk toward it, and can't help doing so; we can't help but walk toward the one thing we're most trying to avoid.

BILL MAHER, "On Being Over 50," HuffPost, Oct. 3, 2011

I don't necessarily view death as something negative. Death gives meaning to life. Living in fear of death is living in denial. Actually, it's not really living at all, because there is no life without death. It's two sides of the one. You can't pick up one side and say, "I'm just going to use the 'heads' side." No. It doesn't work like that. You have to pick up both sides because nothing is promised to anyone in this world besides death.

50 CENT, From Pieces to Weight

All interest in disease and death is only another expression of interest in life.

THOMAS MANN, The Magic Mountain

Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.

MARY SHELLEY, Frankenstein

Death left its old tragic heaven and became the lyrical core of man: his invisible truth, his visible secret.

MICHEL FOUCAULT, The Birth of the Clinic

All living things were brothers, and all dead things were even more so.

KURT VONNEGUT, The Sirens of Titan

Death is repose, but the thought of death disturbs all repose.

CESARE PAVESE, This Business of Living, Jun. 7, 1938

We might remember ... not to fear death; it is the only way to be cleansed.


Death, a cause of terror to the sinner, is a blessed moment for him who has walked in the right path.

JAMES JOYCE, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

There is no more desire to live past one's time than to die before it.

ISAAC ASIMOV, Foundation's Edge

It is necessary to meditate early, and often, on the art of dying to succeed later in doing it properly just once.

UMBERTO ECO, The Island of the Day Before

There is great reason to hope that death is good; for one of two things -- either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed by the sight of dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man ... even the great king will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if death is like this, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this?

PLATO, The Apology

The power of the dead is that we think they see us all the time. The dead have a presence. Is there a level of energy composed solely of the dead? They are also in the ground, of course, asleep and crumbling. Perhaps we are what they dream.

DON DELILLO, White Noise

A man's dying is more the survivors' affair than his own.

THOMAS MANN, The Magic Mountain

Death will come and it will have your eyes.

CESARE PAVESE, Death Will Come and It Will Have Your Eyes

He had no conscious knowledge of death, but like every animal of the Wild, he possessed the instinct of death. To him it stood as the greatest of hurts. It was the very essence of the unknown; it was the sum of the terrors of the unknown, the one culminating and unthinkable catastrophe that could happen to him, about which he knew nothing and about which he feared everything.


Death doesn't exist. It never did, it never will. But we've drawn so many pictures of it, so many years, trying to pin it down, comprehend it, we've got to thinking of it as an entity, strangely alive and greedy. All it is, however, is a stopped watch, a loss, an end, a darkness. Nothing.

RAY BRADBURY, Something Wicked This Way Comes

When you're Dead ... you stay up all night long.

KELLY LINK, "The Specialist's Hat", Stranger Things Happen

Death is a flock of blackbirds low over muddy streets
in war-torn Sarajevo. Dirt-stained walls yearn
for all that is night. Elegies fall like raw silk.
If there is a way it is here.
Salt and ash.

CHRIS ABANI, Sanctificum

There is nothing frightening about an eternal dreamless sleep. Surely it is better than eternal torment in Hell and eternal boredom in Heaven.


If souls survive death for all eternity, how can the heavens hold them all? Or for that matter, how can the earth hold all the bodies that have been buried in it? The answers are the same. Just as on earth, with the passage of time, decaying and transmogrified corpses make way for the newly dead, so souls released into the heavens, after a season of flight, begin to break up, burn, and be absorbed back into the womb of reason, leaving room for souls just beginning to fly. This is the answer for those who believe that souls survive death.


I cannot tell you if the dead,
Who loved us fondly when on earth,
Walk by our side, sit at our hearth,
By ties of old affection led....
But this I know--in many dreams
They come to us from realms afar,
And leave the golden gates ajar
Through which immortal glory streams.


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