contemplations on death

This is a collection of essays and poems on death, change, and working with loss. These writings offer contemplations on relating directly with death and grief, the wisdom of being attentive and gentle with fear and uncertainty, and meeting what is present with open curiosity (and without clear answers) when approaching the challenge of living and the mystery of dying.




Living and Dying with Confidence

By Sam Mowe

Anyen Rinpoche and Allison Choying Zangmo talk about how death is an important moment for every human being, no matter what tradition.

Learning to Die

By Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

The only point where one can start to talk about anything, including death, is where one finds oneself. 

Why Not Be Ready?

By Tenzon Palmo, Buddhist nun

Our everyday life is our spiritual life. If we have awareness to be able to use our everyday life as practice, then our lives have meaning. 

As We Lay Dying

By Stephen Jenkinson

Stephen Jenkinson wants to teach us how to die well. It’s a skill he believes we have forgotten in our culture. 

Questions for Me About Dying

By Cory Taylor

The questions, as it turned out, were unsurprising. These were the same questions I’d been asking myself ever since I was diagnosed with cancer, and my answers haven’t changed since.

The Walk of Life, Death and Bereavement

By Zenith Virago

The apparent ease with which Zenith lives her truth is truly inspiring and a testament to just how easy it can be, if only we allow it. And it might take an intimate relationship with death to get us there. 

What Death Should Teach Us About Life and Living

By Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Death is not a counterpoint or contradiction to life, but a profound teacher about the meaning of human existence.

Refuge in Grief

By Megan Devine

A blog and online community and resource that helps people survive some of the hardest experiences of their lives. 



First Morning

By Joy Harjo

We Let Go

By Yahia Lababidi

Lost in the Milky Way

By Linda Hogan


By Wendell Berry

To Death

By Denise Levertov

Are You Well, Mr. Stafford?

By William Stafford


By Naomi Shihab Nye

The Merger

By Judy Chicago

This Present Moment

By Gary Snyder

The Swan

By Rainer Maria Rilke

Learning from Trees 

By Grace Butcher

The Wish to Be Generous 

By Wendell Berry

Song of Myself, VI 

By Walt Whitman

Peaceful Transition

By Tony Hoagland