Death, Dying, Grief and Mourning

            "Death is always the same,
                               but each man dies in his own way."

Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1960


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in Western Literature

An Anthology by  Adrienne Nater

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Death, Dying, Grief, and Mourning

in Western Literature


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Bible: King James, Ecclesiastes, 8 – 12 Solomon, 931 BCE

Translated 1604-1606

 Death Comes to All

Death Comes to All

Then I saw the wicked buried, who

had come and gone from the place of holiness,

and they were forgotten in the city

where they had so done. This also is vanity.

Because the sentence against an evil

Work is not executed speedily, therefore

The heart of the sons of men is fully set in

Them that do evil. Though a sinner does

evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged,

yet I surely know that it will be well

with those who fear God, who fear before Him.

But it will not be well with the

Wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which

are as a shadow, because he does not fear

before God.


Man Knows Not What Will Come After Him (9:1-12)


          For I consider all this in my heart,

so that I could declare it all: that the

righteous and the wise and their works are

in the hands of God. People know neither

love nor hatred by anything they see before

them. All things come alike to all:


          One event happens to the righteous

                   and the wicked;

          To the good, the clean, and the


          To him who sacrifices and him

                   who does not sacrifice.

          As is the good, so is the sinner;

          He who takes an oath as he who

                   fears an oath.


    This is an evil in all that is done under the

sun: that one thing that happens to all. Truly the

hearts of the sons of men are full of evil;

madness is in their hearts while they live,

and after that they go to the dead. But for

him who is joined to all the living there is

hope, for a living dog is better than a dead



          For the living know that they will


          But the dead know nothing,

          And they have no more reward,

          For the memory of this is


          Also their love, their hatred, and

                   their envy have now


          Nevermore will they have a share

          In anything done under the sun.


          Go, eat your bread with joy,

          And drink your wine with a merry


          For God has already accepted your


          Let your garments always be


          And let your head lack no oil.


Death in Life: 12: 1-8


Remember now your Creator in       

          the days of your youth,

Before the difficult days come,

And the years draw near when

          you say.

“I have no pleasure in them”:

While the sun and the light,

The moon and the stars,

Are not darkened,


And clouds do not return after

          the rain;

In the day when the keepers of the

          house tremble,

And strong men bow down;

When the grinders cease because

          they are few,

And those that look through the

          windows grow dim;

When the doors are shut in the


And the sound of grinding is low;

When one rises up at the sound of

          a bird,

And all the daughters of music

          are brought low.

Also they are afraid of height,

And of terrors in the way;

When the almond tree blossoms,

The grasshopper is a burden,

And desire fails.

For man goes to his eternal home,

And the mourners go about the streets.


Remember your Creator before the

                silver cord is loosed,

Or the golden bowl is broken,

Or the pitcher shattered at the


Or the wheel broken at the well.

Then the dust will return to the

earth as it was,

And the spirit will return to God

          Who gave it.


“Vanity of vanities,” says the


“All is vanity.”





Adrienne Nater, 2008

©© 2008 Adrienne Nater. All rights reserved.