Monday, September 17, 2012

And that is dying.

I read these words from a comforting booklet, Gone From My Sight, that hospice provided on the process of dying:
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!"

And that is dying.

~ Henry Van Dyke


  1. Those words actually give me comfort. I expect I'll be referring to them soon. Despite my agnostic tendencies.

  2. Yeah, I meant to include a snippet about how superficial platitudes annoy me more than comfort me (like when people say "they're in a better place now!" because it doesn't do anything about the fact that you still miss them, plain & simple. It is a loss to be grieved. However, I do like the idea that a loved one can be gone but only from sight -- for me, this means living on in my heart and memories and myriad countless other ways.

  3. That's beautiful.

    You know from where I derived comfort about death after I left religion behind? Two movies. Phenomenon and Powder. I still recommend them to friends who have lost loved ones.

  4. Hmm, will have to check that out. I got some odd comfort about death after reading The Lovely Bones even though the subject matter is terrible and fantastical all at the same time. A young girl gets murdered by a serial killer right in the beginning and the rest of the book is about her watching from "above" as her family deals with their grief. The poignancy was displayed in such a graceful way that somehow I was able to get through the book without (as I expected) feeling despondent.