When Death Comes


One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, wrote this poem that makes me think about the attitude we may bring to the inevitable changes and endings that come along in life.  I wish I could cultivate this open-hearted attitude toward endings. 

We cannot choose how or when we die, but we may be able to choose the attitude with which we give our lives over to God’s divine will.   

When Death Comes

 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 the 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.

2 responses to “When Death Comes

  1. What an interesting concept, I still have yet to grasp how death will be… I think that is why I am so religious, my biggest fear in life is death. I want to know where I am going to spend eternity. Is this it? It can’t be. Everything is too complex for it to come and go…. how intricate is humanity, how delicate is nature. Just look at a baby, look at an egg…. all the work for a short time on earth. No. God has a greater plan for everything.

  2. Nancy Hoxworth

    What a great privilege we’ve been given to be co-creators of Life within our personal, mortal shell! What a great and loving Father Who gives us Life eternal!

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