10 of Our Favourite Quotes About Death 0

quotes about death

It should come as no surprise that when it comes to a matter as universal and profound as death, there exists an incredible number of wise words written and spoken over the years. We’ve searched through all the resources at our disposal to bring you our ten favourite quotes about death and, although most speak for themselves, we’ve contributed a little background information to put them into context.

 

While some tackle the subject of death from a philosophical angle, others take a more a humorous approach or try to place the event itself into perspective. We hope you enjoy our diverse selection of favourites and that they provoke some thought and reflection.

quotes about death

  1. ‘The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.’ – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero is one of the most famous and well-recognised Roman intellectuals in history. Living from 106 BCE to 43 BCE, he worked as a politician, philosopher, lawyer and orator, becoming one of the principal thinkers of the era. His quote reminds us that we all play a role in keeping the spirit and memory of the dead alive.

 

  1. ‘For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.’ – Khalil Gibran

The connection between life and death is a common topic for those that talk about dying, but not many people have been able to voice the idea as succinctly and beautifully as Lebanese-American artist, Khalil Gibran.

 

  1. ‘If life must not be taken too seriously, then so neither must death.’ – Samuel Butler

The famously iconoclastic and controversial English author, Samuel Butler, took the idea that ‘you can’t take life too seriously’ to its logical conclusion and applied it to death too.

 

  1. ‘Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.’ – Haruki Murakami

We often think of life and death as opposites, but the writer Haruki Murakami prefers to do away with such an illusion and considers them inextricably bound together.

 

  1. ‘I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.’ – Mark Twain

American intellectual Mark Twain liked to remind his readers that waking life is a very short and fleeting moment caught between imperceptibly long stretches of time, in order to place things in perspective.

 

  1. ‘How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind.’ – Carson McCullers

Carson McCullers was an American author who questioned whether or not we do in fact die when we stop breathing by asking if a part of us can live on in others’ memories and approaches to life.

 

  1. ‘To die will be an awfully big adventure.’ – J.M. Barrie

J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, expressed a suitably child-like perspective on death by considering it to be the biggest adventure of all.

writing about death

  1. ‘As soon as one is born, one starts dying.’ – Luigi Pirandello

This famous Italian playwright, poet and novelist tried to frame death by arguing that from the very first moment of life, we are forced on a one way march toward death and get closer with each passing second.

 

  1. ‘It hath been often said, that it is not death, but dying, which is terrible.’ – Henry Fielding

Harry Fielding was an important writer in the 18th Century who made a distinction between the process of dying and the state of death, proposing it was the act, rather than the outcome, that most people were afraid of.

 

  1. ‘Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life.’ – Bertolt Brecht

This well-known German intellectual also spoke about fear, but rather than suggesting that it was the process of dying that we are or ought to be afraid of, he declared the idea of an ‘inadequate life’ much more terrifying, highlighting the need to live in every moment.

Have we missed out a quote or a passage that helped you to overcome a fear of death, or to come to terms with loss? Share with us below!

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Four of Our Favourite Morbid Museums 0

Hunterian Museum

The term ‘morbidly fascinating’ is one that we use often and apply to a great many things – both to people and to phenomena. It’s probably also the most succinct and suitable description available for four of our favourite museums.

 

The Hunterian, the Morbid Anatomy Museum, Bodyworlds and the Museum of Mummies all tackle the issue of death in a different way – whether it’s in terms of preservation techniques, anatomy or artistic representation – and are some of the most interesting and perhaps controversial museums in the world.

 

While many of the exhibitions may not be to everyone’s taste, they provide us with an opportunity to face death and to recognise the fact of human mortality in a visceral and unflinching manner, while often teaching us a great deal about the human body, societal attitudes towards death and our own ability to talk about the issue. Here we take a look at what makes each of the four museums worthy of a visit.

 

Hunterian – London, UK

Often referred to as ‘the weirdest museum in London’, The Hunterian is based in the Royal College of Surgeons near Holborn and contains a fascinating array of anatomical specimens. Centred around John Hunter’s large collection of skeletons, skulls, organs and diseased body parts, over the years the museum has expanded its collection to include surgical instruments and anatomy tables. It has developed a large and loyal following, most of whom appreciate the free entry and weird and wonderful exhibitions always on offer.

Hunterian Museum

While it has its origins in the government purchase of the famous scientist and surgeon’s specimens in 1799, the Hunterian has made a number of important acquisitions over its lifetime, most notably in its odontological department and with Richard Owen’s natural history collections. It is home to the skeleton of the famous ‘Irish giant’ and the historically important Evelyn tables and the museum has committed to the development and renovation of the building in which it is housed.

 

In May 2017, the Hunterian closed for a three year period in order to perform necessary repairs and modernisation works. It is scheduled to reopen in 2020.

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Morbid Anatomy Museum – Brooklyn, USA

Located in Brooklyn, New York, the Morbid Anatomy Museum was the brainchild of Joanna Ebenstein and Tracy Hurley Martin, two individuals who discovered they shared a passion for the macabre and morbid and decided to act on it.

Morbid Anatomy Museum

While the idea was first realised as a blog and then a library, it finally became a fully-fledged museum space in 2014, complete with lecture space, café and shop. Dedicated to the strange and surreal, the museum houses a collection of death related curiosities and exhibits ranging from Victorian taxidermy and preserved insects to antique medical contraptions.

The Morbid Anatomy Museum hosts regular death cafes. For more about death cafes, check out our piece.

 

Bodyworlds – Berlin, Germany

Though going to visit a museum exhibition curated by someone commonly referred to as ‘Dr. Death’ may not seem like everyone’s idea of a great day out, the Body Worlds permanent exhibition in Berlin’s Menschen Museum has attracted an incredible number of visitors over the last few years.

 

The museum has attracted its fair share of controversy (it faced a court battle over the legality of its displays in 2014), but it has also become one of the most famous anatomical exhibitions ever, bringing enthusiasts to Berlin from all over the world.

 

Consisting of 20 human bodies, each posed in a different position and performing various activities and tasks, Body Worlds is famous for the way each of these models has been skinned and preserved, revealing all of the internal detail we never get to see, from the capillary structure to the musculature. While not for the faint-hearted, Body Worlds provides us with a fascinating glimpse inside the human body, both in life and death.

 

Museum of Mummies – Guanajuato, Mexico

With over 100 mummified bodies on permanent display, the Museum of Mummies in Guanajuato, Mexico, is often labelled the most morbid museum in the world. While some minor embalming techniques were used to prepare the bodies, it’s actually the climate of the region that causes most of the mummification process, meaning the museum doesn’t have to go far to find its exhibits. In fact, nearly all of the mummies on display have been disinterred from the cemetery next to the museum and include a diverse array of individuals, including infants, Inquisition victims and criminals.

Museum of Mummies

Death Euphemisms: Why do we have so many? 0

death euphemisms

English is known for being a rich language that boasts an incredibly large vocabulary and contains countless synonyms. It’s also true that, over the years, we’ve developed a greater number of euphemisms for certain subject matters, topics or individual words. A euphemism is typically used to avoid offending or upsetting someone, or to avoid talking directly about an uncomfortable topic. A euphemism is then a milder version of the intended word, ‘downsizing’ meaning ‘cuts,’ or ‘let go’ meaning ‘fired.’

 

Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon is the fascinating range of words and phrases the English language employs euphemistically for death and dying. Here we take a look at a few examples and contexts in which we use death euphemisms, and also discuss why people are always searching for new and glossier ways to talk about death.

 death euphemisms

In Formal Language

There are an incredible number of euphemisms for death that are used in formal situations, like at a funeral, in obituaries, polite conversation and among strangers. These can include passed away, deceased, departed, sleeping, slipped away, resting in peace, at rest, lost one’s life and taken one’s last breath. These turns of phrase allow us to avoid confronting the act of dying directly and are usually employed when we’re talking to someone who may have been affected by the death, or to a stranger.

 

In Colloquial Language

When it comes to informal language and slang in particular, there’s a huge variety of terms to choose from. Whether they’re used to soften the impact of a death, such as being six feet under, pegging out, meeting one’s maker, going to a better place and giving up the ghost, or to take a more direct approach, such as being curtains, taking a dirt nap or kicking the bucket, slang is responsible for a great number of euphemistic synonyms.

 

In Journalistic Language

As journalists are forced to write about death and dying on a regular basis, they’ve developed a number of euphemisms to help them talk about the issue. Some, like KIA (Killed In Action), are acronyms and technical terms employed by important organisations. Others are simply more formal or literary ways of conveying the information that someone has died. For instance, journalists may talk about a bereavement, an untimely demise, a personal loss or, simply, an end.

 

In Black Humour

Just as some people want to avoid tackling the issue of death and prefer to use euphemisms to skirt around the subject, others prefer to employ euphemisms in a humorous way and often use black humour to refer to death in a direct manner. Good examples of this type of euphemism might include being food for worms, pushing up daisies, popping one’s clogs or coming to a sticky end.

 

Different ways of dying

Finally, there are a variety of synonyms for death that are only used in certain contexts, situations or types of deaths. For instance, if someone is murdered, they may be sleeping with the fishes or wearing concrete shoes. If the person drowned, they may have gone to a watery grave. Similarly, if someone commits suicide they could have topped themselves, taken their own life or ended it all.

 

Why so many?

Although there’s no single answer to the question of why we have so many words and phrases for death and the process of dying, a number of factors may have contributed to their development. Perhaps most simply, the verb to die is useful but completely without nuance – it doesn’t provide us with any information apart from the fact that someone is no longer living.

 

Many of the euphemisms listed above provide us with a little more detail about what may have occurred or the relationship between the speaker and the deceased. It’s also worth noting that culturally we still have issues with talking about death openly and honestly – a fact that may go a long way to explaining why we’ve created so many new terms for the process. Finally, the idea that death makes us uncomfortable personally, and that we don’t like to talk about it for selfish reasons, could be a powerful factor driving our desire to speak e