Death and Grieving

“We all owe God a death.”

“The word ‘care’ finds its roots in the Gothic ‘Kara’ which means lament. The basic meaning of care is: to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out. I am very much struck by this background of the word care because we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless, of the have’s toward the have not’s. And, in fact, we feel quite uncomfortable with an invitation to enter into someone’s pain before doing something about it…The friend who cares makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really matters. In fact, it matters more than pain, illness, or even death…Therefore, to care means first of all to be present to each other.”
-Henri Nouwen

“Only under the threat and pressure of death does it make sense to do what we can and should, right now. That is, to make proper use of the moment’s offer of a meaning to fulfill—be it a deed to do, or work to create, anything to enjoy, or a period of inescapable suffering to go through with courage and dignity…Live as if you were living for the second time—and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now. Once an individual really puts himself into this imagined situation, he will instantaneously become conscious of the full gravity of the responsibility that every person bears throughout every moment of his life—the responsibility for what he will make of the next hour, for how he will shape the next day…facing the transitoriness of human existence—how is it possible to say yes to life in spite of death.”
-Victor Frankl

“Life breaks all of us but some of us are stronger in the broken places.”

“If you can begin to see death as an invisible, but friendly, companion on your life’s journey gently reminding you not to wait until tomorrow to do what you mean to do- then you can learn to live your life rather than simply passing through it.”

-Erich Lindemann

“It is the denial of death that is partially responsible for people living empty, purposeless lives; for when you live as if you’ll live forever, it becomes too easy to postpone the things you know that you must do.  You live your life in preparation for tomorrow or in remembrance of yesterday, and meanwhile, each today is lost.”

-Elizabeth Kubler Ross

“The secret life is to ‘die before you die’ – and find that there is no death.”
-Eckhart Tolle

“He must seek his life in a spirit of indifference to it; he must seek his life like water and yet drink death like wine.”

“Throughout the whole of life one must continue to live, and what will amaze you even more, throughout life one must learn to die.”

“But I hope you will find a little consolation from the universality of this experience. Death comes to every individual. There is an amazing democracy about death. It is not aristocracy for some of the people, but a democracy for all of the people. Kings die and beggars die; rich men die and poor men die; old people die and young people die. This is affirmation that death is not the end. Death is not a period that ends the great sentence of life, but a coma that punctuates it to more lofty significance. Death is not a blind alley that leads the human race into a state of nothingness, but an open door which leads man into life eternal. Let this daring faith, this great invincible surmise be your sustaining power during these trying days.”

-Martin Luther King 1963 eulogy for four girls killed in                                                      Birmingham, AL

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.


“Suffering is attachment to the impermanent.”

-Tao Te Ching

“That which does not kill us, only makes us stronger.”


“When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

-Kahlil Gibran

“I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

-Woody Allen

“Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there, I do not sleep,

I am the thousand winds that blow

I am the diamond glints on snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

When you waken in the morning’s hush,

I am swift, uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there, I did not die.”

-Indian Proverb

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life; it goes on.”

-Robert Frost

“He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.”

-Persian proverb

A Totally Unscientific Theory

Friends are dying

These are friends I work with

And joke with

And cry with

They are social workers, child advocates

We should change

The name

How about social soldier?

These soldiers who did

Everything right.

They lived their personal

Lives eating right. Not smoking.

Paying attention to those around them.

Then out of nowhere

In their 40’s and 50’s

Struck down by cancer.

I can only conclude

Based on my totally

Unscientific theory

That the cause of death

Was not cancer

Social work, social soldier work.

Serene and gallant on the

Outside, slowly bleeding

To death on the inside.

Seeping into their cells

Daily on an I.V. drip

Of rape, assault, abuse and neglect

Mainlining the dope of

Suffering children, angry children

Lost children, fallen children

Huffing the fumes of anger

At the system, at parents

At themselves for the fault

Of not being able to

Save the children

Save the world

Seeking out the narcotized

Children under bridges

Befouled by their silent screams

These foot soldiers and captains

Marching into the night

To save the children

Devoured on the inside

Knowing their heroism

Goes unrewarded, even denied.

For each child saved

Thousands bought and sold

For each child brought back

From the edge, thousands

Battered and torn, yet

They continue to march

One foot in front of the other

One more family torn apart

By violence

In their names, in their

Memory, we continue

The struggle.

Snorting and shooting

The narcotic of children’s sorrow

We march on.

-Arnie Green, Shared at the 1998 Rose Otte Awards Luncheon

Personal Identity

There are men too gentle to live among wolves

Who prey upon them with IBM eyes

And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.

There are men too gentle for a savage world

Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween

And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves

Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws

And murder them for a merchant’s profit and gain

There are men too gentle for a corporate world

Who dream instead of candied apples and ferris wheels

And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves

Who devour them with eager appetite and search

For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry.

There are men too gentle for an accountant’s world

Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass

And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.


There are men too gentle to live among wolves

Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove.

Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant’s world,

Unless they have a gentle one to love.”

-From “There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves”

“I know we often lose, and that the death or destruction of another is infinitely more real and unbearable than one’s own. I think I know how many times one has to start again, and how often one feels that one cannot start again. And yet, on pain of death, one can never remain where one is…It is a mighty heritage, it is the human heritage, and it is all there is to trust…This is why one must say Yes to life and embrace it wherever it is found—and it is found in terrible places; nevertheless, there it is; and if the father can say, ‘Yes Lord,’ the child can learn that most difficult of words, Amen.”

-James Baldwin, Nothing Personal

The Principles of Florence Nightingale

The first principle: the world is run by those who show up—be where the action is.

The second principle: you get more done by working with others than just yourself.

The third principle: count what counts.

The fourth principle: you don’t have to be seen to be heard.

The fifth principle: plan to get dirty.

The sixth principle: when there is darkness, light the way.

The last principle: “Answer humanity’s call.”

“The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside us while we live.”

-Norman Cousins

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Cell: 503-381-2649

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