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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Curations: When Death Comes

This past week, in the last days of my grandfather's life, I've been thinking more about how we die. Not in the sense of a cause of death that would be listed in official records, but the way we approach death.

Being a pastor, I have been with a number of people as they have died. Some (like my grandfather) being a slow movement over days or even weeks, and others have been quicker. Some have a full awareness of what is happening, and others seem less aware or alert.

Regardless, though, when we are around death, it often spurs a reflection on life...not just a reflection on how we might approach death, but how we want to live. Or, as I've heard it said (and will sometimes say at funerals), "May we live as those prepared to die, and die as those prepared to live again, so that living or dying, we may belong to the Lord."

Or, in the words of Mary Oliver,

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.


"When Death Comes" by Mary Oliver

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox;

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common

as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

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