How We Die By Richard Sale




Today, we learn in snatches or in brief bites. We don’t settle down to learn comprehensively.  We can’t concentrate. Our life is one of incessant interruptions. If I look up a news article on the Web, swarms of ads descend to interrupt, and we spend precious time trying to delete them and move on as even as more continue to appear.  The volume of ads are so asphyxiating these days that it isn’t worth the effort to get rid of them, and so I turn them off., annoyed and exasperated.

The chief point is that we cannot sit and think and read or reflect in peace any more. Everything calls to us, tempts us, distracts us, befuddles and annoys us. Our brains are not what they once were, not because of age, but because our culture works differently on them and hinders their further development.

News items are intruders. Their origin is external to our thought. If outside events are always being dumped on our brains, it is hard to take the time to grade them in terms of our general knowledge. We do we really know?  It takes a lot of reflection to answer that.  Only by looking at our own knowledge from all sides, do we get a grasp of the insights that come from experience rather than the knowledge that come from foreign impressions. Schopenhauer once said that real thinking means “comparing truth with truth.”  To me that means deciding which truth had more meaning and priority in my own mental life?

The ability to focus on a subject for a long time without fatigue was one of Napoleon’s mottos.  Who today can do that?  What benefit to we get from blotting out distractions and learning to reason carefully for a long time without getting tired? It becomes harder for us to do everyday.  Topics flock to our brains. The Middle East, President Trump, North Korea. 

Are these things really interesting? If we buckle down and concentrate on them, what will be the reward?  To me, the rewards are always meager. There is a lot of competition when it comes to current affairs. If we fall behind, we suffer a pang of regret – some neighbor knows more about current affairs than I do.   But so what? I want to ponder things that are unique to my own temper and mental capacity. I don’t want to become a replica of my neighbor. There are few worse fates than that. I want to ponder things that are appropriate to my nature and experience. I want to encourage thoughts that have truth and life in them that occur naturally, not from without.

I do not understand why so many people strive so hard to be up to date.  They are always in a race to try and announce headlines before their neighbors.  They rarely study or master the stories the headlines advertize. They evade the labor of memorizing. All they can recapitulate are the headlines. If you ask about the stories, they hesitate then falter out, “I only saw the headlines.”  I am sometimes eager to have them summarize what they’ve read, but there is no there, there as Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, CA.

Let’s face it. Today we are all the junkies of daily news.  “The Daily Fix” phrase is perhaps the most appropriate. It is really shameful if you think about it, but no one does, or if you protest about the meaningless deluge of daily news, you are labeled over-sensitive or nit-picking. Most of us awake to news headlines. There is a hurricane, an accident that kills sailors, a helicopter crashes, a new threat of annihilation from an Asian punk regime. But do we learn anything from these? We are like those toy birds that dip their beaks into a dish of water. They look as if they’re drinking, but they don’t. They are not built to absorb anything.  Their dipping looks like activity, but it is all counterfeit. Unfortunately the breathless topics of today are not of permanent interest nor do they enrich the mind.  They are transitory, destined not to last. They keep us floating on the surface of life, preventing us from diving deep and discovering something new and valuable and priceless.

We see lists of notable books on the Civil War, the downfall of the Soviet Union, the Fall of the Bastille.  We see new books on the French Revolution or the fall of Paris in 1870. We see histories of the Balkans or the Ottoman Empire. We see books about the nature of power, religious or corporate or military. Do we read them, study them?

As we get older, our minds get more introspective. We want to seize the enduring truths that reside in our nature or our close friends. Such things sharpen the mind; help expand the range of our inner insight.

Worthless Opinions


One of the main villains of modern life is opinion. Popular opinion has replaced thought and reflection. Opinions are the product of ignorant hearsay. All of us see or view something and, without considering what it means, we rush to bray our reactions to anyone who can hear it.  But is our reaction valid? Insightful? Useful? Enlightening? Opinions are unstable; they become outmoded, lacking in pertinence or validity and over time, are discarded. An opinion is the prisoner of the moment, a prisoner of the thoughtless and automatic the commonplace.  For every thousand people cry a thing up only a pitiable few cry it down and their voices are drowned out.

We suffer from an increasingly lack of sound judgment.  The recent eclipse of Aag. 21 was a good example. . Appalling. It was a craze like the Salem or tulip craze, a classic example of groupthink.  The event was hyped so much it became stupefying, people acting as if they’d been hypnotized. Somehow an eclipse was going to reconcile all the evils of humanity and human nature. It was going to bestow tolerance, charity, forgiveness, and love.  But how cold the movements of the moon on the sun achieve this?

Those things were beyond its power. The idea was fatuous. 

In the end, my wife and I sat in the driveway and we put sun proof glasses on and stared up like owls. The next day did I observe any more love or concern or compassion or charity in people than I did before? Of course not. What would cause such a vast improvement? The eclipse was a fad, a mere craze like Pokémon go. 9994



Isolation plays a large part in retarding study. The pleasure of learning is a noble pleasure, and like all good things, sharing what we learn with others increases its value. We are social creatures, and it is part of our nature to share the excellent.  But most of the time we lack people to share the joy of our discoveries with. We are victims of the addicts of the mental lightweights who confine their reading to New York Times’ bestsellers, people who lack the means to judge the merit of what they’re reading, who lack the talent to articulate its virtues. They lack the standards of taste and the critical spirit required to evaluate them correctly. 

Isolation has killed a lot of thinkers. I remember How Hume’s book on Reelections on Human Nature fell absolutely flat after it was published yet, over time, became a classic.  But popularity can kill as well. We think of how Mozart’s amazing genius wowed and fascinated his audiences and followers and yet his fame resulted in him buried in an unmarked grave for the poor. Crowds are dismayingly fickle. Their interest lacks stamina.

Apparently it is the task of modern culture is to herd all of us on well traveled roads, never taking the road less traveled. Few of us explore and the few who do are not met with enthusiasm or praise or appreciation but by polite indifference mainly because your knowledge is not current or popular.

Popularity is a trap.  It retains a viselike grip on the ignorant. It is sinister because it is addictive. If something is popular and makes money, then it must be successful, and if successful, it must be superior.  No one asks the fans of the popular why they admire as they do. Because they assume that everyone else thinks just as they do and everyone else suffers from the same mediocre qualities of taste and narrowness of mind. 

It is a hard truth that people of more talented intellectual capacity seek out people with similar temperaments and natures. That is the key to all friendship. With the right people, they come alive. They speak freely and honestly, relating facts that stimulate their listeners who then come forward with their own treasured items of memory and knowledge that stimulate and reinforce the conversation. Both sides leave the discussion strengthed and invigorated. Both are eager to hear more, learn more. Both return feeling less isolated from the ephemeral l thing tat matter so much in the world.



The purpose is to learn and share our knowledge for its own sake not because we want to not to become the center of attention. A neighbor’s kid came to visit his parents. He was obsessed with learning about Rubik Cube.  One the night of his arrival, there was a dinner in progress, but no sooner had the guests  entered in the hallway, than this kid was putting on an exhibition, wresting with his cube, blocking the entering hallway, of course earning automatic applause from his audience. A short time later, he then went down to Miami to attend an international competition, and after all his self display his scores were mediocre, resting stolidity in the middle of the pack.  I wondered if his interest was merely a desire to attract cheap applause, or whether he was serious student determined to become an expert, putting in those long hours of concentrated focus to improve his skill.  Of course, my hopes were mislaid.  He moved onto so something else where he would be the center of attention and hog the spotlight.

How We Die

Am reading an excellent book, How We Die? The author, Sherwin Nuland, is a doctor, a surgeon, who is a well educated and deeply cultured man.  He writes with eloquence. His prose is not for the squeamish. He retails very grisly details about how we lose our lives.  Each chapter documents the chief causes of death in America, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, accidents, suicides, “Murder and Serenity”, etc.

One death he documents was that of James McCarty who died of a heart attack. He was a successful construction executive who led a “suicidal” life. He smoked, ate rich food, consumed a lot of red meat, and grew flabby and overweight and never exercised. He arrived at the emergency room at 8 p.m., on a hot and humid Sept. evening. He complained of “a constrictive pressure behind the breastbone” that radiated up into his throat and down his left arm. The pressure had begun after his usual heavy dinner. His face was ashen and sweaty. His heartbeat was irregular but improved after initial treatment.

At 11:00 p.m., Nuland arrived. McCarty wasn’t pleased to see him. McCarty greeted him with a thin, forced smile. Nuland was 22 years of age at the time and this was one of his first cases.  As Nuland sat down, McCarty suddenly threw his head back and “bellowed a wordless roar that came out of his throat from somewhere deep in his stricken heart.” He hit his balled fists with surprising force up against his chest as his face became swollen and purple.

Nuland explains how he opened up the chest cavity to massage the man’s heart. The heart felt like “an uncoordinated squirming, a jellylike bagful of hyperactive worms.”  The heart was wriggling under his fingers, and he began a series of firm, syncopated compressions.

Then Nuland writes “Suddenly a something stupefying in its horror took place." (Excellent sentence.) McCarty “threw back his head once more, and staring at the ceiling with his glassy, unseeing gaze of open, dead eyes, roared at the distant heavens a hoarse, rasping whoop that sounded as if the hounds of hell were barking.” (Pat described this as McCarty’s “last hurrah.” McCarty, of course, was already dead when this happened.

The book is written in this effective pictorial style.   It spares the reader nothing.

Of course, we all die from lack of oxygen.  We cease breathing and our esophagus muscles can constrict and make us bark as we die or there can be seen great heaving as our lungs fail.  The myths that our nails or hair grow after our death are simply myths. After we die, nothing grows.  The lively energetic spirit that was one our deepest being had fled, leafing a pathetic shell behind that is not pleasant to look at.  The eyes, at first unfocused and glassy, soon become covered ay a gray film that has no expression at all.  The body beings to shrink. We have become mere luggage.  What will survive of us has already been done.  There is nothing else to look forward to.

I learned enough of New Testament Greek to read St. Paul’s letters, which were outstandingly articulate in every way. But when I came to the Resurrection, I became skeptical. It was a lovely wish – to be restored to your parents, your wife, and your friends.  But St. Paul’s belief had its antecedents Zoroaster, the great Persian religious leader, was said to have been torn to pieces by his followers, but rose after three days. I don’t like coincides.  Of course, Jesus appeared to his followers but there was little to record of him after that. Was he resurrected a second time? There is little information.

On Dying.

Aging is a merely Nature’s hint that our time on earth is ending.  It is not a time to panic, but to concentrate and finish. On TV there are fear-mongering with ads like Entresto that pleads for more “tomorrows” or another one offering “a chance to live longer," as elderly people gaze upwards towards God.

 This is despicable.  There should be no fear of dying.  When I think of leaving the world and its beauties, I try to picture a long festive Thanksgiving table full of friends and feasts, everyone full of joy and gladness. But as the end of the festivities approaches, the older guests realize that it now time for us to be generous, and give up their seats so that others may feast and joy and appreciate as we once did.

I have made a stern resolution not to outlive my wits. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease which does nothing but cause suffering to everyone around it. One couple, Phil and Janet, were torn apart by it after their 50th wedding anniversary. Phil was a real estate developer who had led a prosperous life. One afternoon, Janet was on confronted by a furious Phil who accused her of vesting her lover, who happened to be a cousin of Phil’s who had died many years ago.  When Phil finally died, relief swept over the family.  The one thing your family should avoid is to feel relief at your death.

For my part, I refuse to outlive my wits. If I am stricken with it, I hope that can say with Seneca, “I will not relinquish old age if it leaves my better part intact. But if it begins to shake my mind, if it destroys its faculties, one by one, if it leaves me not life but breath, I will depart the putrid or tottering edifice.”

He added: “If I have to suffer without relief, I will depart, not through fear of pain itself but because it prevents all that for which I would live.”

I have made clear in my will that no one should attempt to resuscitate me if I die nor will they be allowed to use artificial means to sustain my life if my wits are gone. I detest last minute cures whose success only causes more suffering. I always admired Averill Harriman, who at the age of 94, called an end to his existence, by refusing food or water until his organs shut down and gave him death.

I feel the same. I know of people who begged for their lives as they were dying. They pleaded and begged and beseeched, yet life left them anyway. I am sorry, bit I scorn death. Too die is as natural as being born. I hope when I die I die full of joy, full of and thoughtful appreciation and deep gratitude for all the splendid friends and experience I was lucky to be part of.  Life was a priceless gift, and it deserves my grateful admiration.

Perhaps I’m wrong and will be reunited to my lovely wife and friends and children.  But God, they say, is good; He is love.  I am certain that He will forgive me for my mistaken opinions. I wish they would prove true.

What is a worthwhile life? If you aware tat you have gifts above the ordinary, then your ambition must be to use them to create something special and worthwhile. Enduring setbacks and reverses, yet preserving, over time, you life will manifest the fixed determination of an indomitable will to realize your aims. Only then will you feel you took your own authentic path in life. But above all, you just honor our gifts by serving them tirelessly and to the full. You will work all your life like the bee building a honey comb.

As my own death approaches, I feel a fresh courage that is resolved to build and crate until I can’t any longer.

I would appreciate the opinions of others on the site.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to How We Die By Richard Sale

  1. Murali says:

    You are spot on. The biggest problem we face is our own self and the delusion in search of non-existing knowledge out side of us. As you say if we sit comfortably and contemplate our own experiences both good and bad, there will be a greater awakening to the world outside of us. But as we search for knowledge outside of us be it internet or other mediums we are bombarded with irrivelent information such as the pop us ads etc. I have to plead guilty of the later but sometimes I do practice the former!

  2. Linda says:

    I am overwhelmed by this gift of your constant thinking. I agree with you about not wanting to live if my wits are gone, but I fear that it will be impossible for me to tell what that moment might be. I am I guess still afraid of death even though I strive to overcome this feeling. We would all like to die peacefully in our sleep one night but I think this rarely happens.

  3. wisedupearly says:

    Death of education by smartphones is a recent meme worrying educators. The ads, news bites, and apps are crafted specifically to attract attention. They are the end result of marrying Madison Avenue with Silicon Valley and only the most effective/annoying/distracting survive to become the template for the next generation. To my generation computer games seem crazy but incredible amounts of money are spent developing each new game. Man’s ingenuity has been turned against himself as mental addiction takes its place next to chemical addiction.

  4. David E. Solomon says:

    Very nice piece Richard,
    I would be interested in knowing how you feel about Sherwin Nuland’s book when you finish it. My wife and I read it a number of years ago (the exact number of years escapes me – like many other details in my ageing brain). My wife liked the book more than I did, I felt that in the end Dr. Nuland was not nearly strong enough in his approach to what awaits all of us.
    We have both filled out DNRs and DNIs, but unfortunately – at least in New York state, that does not absolutely guarantee that your instructions will be followed. In any case, the only thing that we really fear is a painful end (or an Alzheimer’s end).
    Dignatas in Switzerland has the answer for that, but you must be of sound mind, be able to get yourselves there at the appropriate time and finally, not inconsequentially, you must have be able to afford 15,000 Swiss francs.
    My uncle suffered from Parkinson’s and feared Parkinson’s dementia more than anything else. He took matters into his own hands three days before his eighty-first birthday.
    On the other hand my father made it to eighty-five before he had the misfortune to step off his bulldozer on to a downed power line on his property. He wanted to live for ever and to that end he let doctors do far more to him than either of us would have consented to.
    We miss him dearly, but in some fashion my wife and I both feel that the accident that took him, saved him from many unpleasant days at the hands of the medical profession.
    Again, really nice article.
    PS: Sometime ago you wrote and excellent piece about your mother. When I saw the posting, I was somewhat overwhelmed. Very few people would have been confident enough in their own skins to have posted that article.
    I took a few days to think about a response, because I thought nn one else was likely to respond. In the end, I did not respond because so many other people did so and did it so well.
    My mother was also a perfectly dreadful woman, but at least yours sounded like she had a brain, not mine.

  5. dilbert dogbert says:

    In my early years I marched along the trail knowing that in the mist dimly seen was “The Wall”. Now at 81 “The Wall” is clear, spotlighted in bright sunlight.

  6. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Having watched my father pass away in recent months, after several years confined to a wheelchair and in the care of gifted, compassionate immigrants, I sincerely appreciate this post.
    In those last weeks, the most help that I could offer was to play him any opera, musical, jazz, or orchestral piece that he requested — all via a quick search on my iTunes account. In the last hours, when he could no longer speak, Indian Chakra music (also via iTunes) helped his breathing and was a balm beyond what words could ever express.
    What he taught me is that it is not how we die — in his case, stoic, uncomplaining, loved, and treasured — but how we live, that matters.
    His life, like so many of his generation, was shaped by several years spent in the US Army between 1943 – 45, much of it in the South Pacific, then Japan. The catastrophic destruction that he witnessed, which he did not share with me until he was well into his 80s, shaped the way that he lived his life, and sharpened his priorities, his beliefs, his politics, his ethics, and his capacity for friendship. Also, his capacity for making a decision, then sticking to it.
    He once told me that after watching ‘so many bodies stacked up like cordwood’ in the cleanup of Yokohoma after it had been firebombed, he promised himself that he would never, ever remain in any job if he was miserable after 72 hours. He kept that promise to himself, and helped countless others also try to find meaningful work, be productive, and laugh through job losses, down cycles, and lawsuits.
    In other words, his military experiences in WWII seemed to liberate him in a sense to live his life as fully as he possibly could, and he always felt grateful to have had a solid education, a superb local library, and — much later — The Internet to help him reconnect with friends strewn across the country.
    Today, he would be called ‘resilient’.
    Many of the traits that helped him be successful in a long career were sharpened in the US Army, and he felt that ‘kids today’ would have enormous benefits from some kind of national service. That generation knew how to pull together. Whether today’s kids can figure it out remains to be seen.

  7. EvanHP says:

    I’m in my 40’s. I had a heart attack (MI) 3 years ago and a stroke 2 weeks ago. The MI felt like 1000-lbs of compressed air was shot into my lungs. When I had the stroke I was typing a report at my desk around 7 pm. My wife was still at work. My right arm went completely numb and the right side of my face felt partially numb. I was rushed to the ER at a local hospital outside Boston. No major long-term effects. In both cases (MI and stroke) I was a bit freaked out because I was conscious and knew that what was happening was grave. In both cases my overwhelming thought (fear) was that I was about to enter eternity and I wondered if I had lead a good enough life to avoid eternal isolation from God. During the stroke they were ready to use a very aggressive treatment called TPA, which, the ER doctor told me, could result in bleeding in the brain and fatality. I was frightened of death for the first time in my life. Because it was real. I asked my wife if we might need to call a priest. She said I would be ok. The decision to not go forward with TPA was made by a brother and sister-in-law (one a Harvard Med cardiologist and the other a professor of medicine) who talked with the ER doctor by phone as this was going down (I’m sure a first for him).
    Anyway, crazy stuff. I will be changing my lifestyle in many ways– body, mind, and spirt. I’m practicing my faith more diligently and plan to go to confession at least once per month and say the rosary daily. A view these events as a wake up call for my health and a severe mercy for my eternal soul.

  8. TonyL says:

    Thanks Richard for a beautiful and thought provoking essay, as always.

  9. Bill H says:

    I was undergoing some sort of medical test and the technician noticed I was reading a book, one of the Patrick O’Brian series which includes Master and Commander which was such a good movie. I told him I was reading the series for what I thought was the sixth time and he was stunned. He could not believe that anyone would read a book twice, let alone a series of twenty books six times. I think Richard Sale understands why I’m reading it yet again.

  10. raven says:

    I think my guru has it
    “To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But, then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love, to be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy, therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness – I hope you’re getting this down.”

  11. Eric Newhill says:

    Nice article, Richard.
    I volunteer at a hospice home in my community. It’s a nice place and people in the community can spend their final days there, for free, well taken care of, with their families and friends, in a clean, peaceful, respectful environment. The goal of the home is provide as much dignity in death as possible. I’ve seem a lot of people go through the dying process and have been there at the final moment for some of them.
    You’d be surprised at how many residents pass their last week and day and even moment with some banal game show blaring away on the television. You might be surprised at how few conversations there are about spiritual matters, how few reflections on what was learned during life, how few conversations regarding great adventures, joys, loves, sorrows.
    For most, death comes painlessly. There is a sigh and, perhaps, a brief rattle and then the resident is gone. Quite uneventful. Quite mundane.
    Most people (68%) have an IQ that is within 1 standard deviation of average. These people are mediocre; functional, but mediocre. Of the remaining 32% we have 16% on the far left side of the bell curve. These people are truly stupid. That leaves only 16% (16 out of every hundred people you meet) that have some spark of intelligence above mediocrity. Of those, only 2% are truly bright.
    This, I think, is the root of the problems you discuss. Most people simply do not have the ability to do more than absorb and rote repeat the shallow informational garbage that is tossed at them. Their stunted intellectual capacities don’t permit them to gain satisfaction from deep meditations. Rather, they prefer the gross pleasures of food, drink, slapstick and gossip.

  12. gaikokumaniakku says:

    “Are these things really interesting? If we buckle down and concentrate on them, what will be the reward? To me, the rewards are always meager. There is a lot of competition when it comes to current affairs. If we fall behind, we suffer a pang of regret – some neighbor knows more about current affairs than I do. But so what? I want to ponder things that are unique to my own temper and mental capacity.”
    Dear sir, thank you for your essay. You are very right in your principles. One should meditate and think deeply. One should not be distracted by passing fads and foolish fancies. I am a foolish fellow. I fritter my time away on distractions. I know that I should say “no” to exciting projects and focus on just one useful enterprise, but in general I fail.
    One thing that I do focus on is putting together aggregated news of police misconduct, government corruption, and conspiracy theories. Up through 2016, I thought it was just another foolish habit. I had perhaps two dozen readers every day – I got no money for keeping them abreast of the headlines.
    And then, in 2016, John Podesta was accused of human trafficking. If the allegations – known as Pizzagate – are even close to true, then the entire USA government will be shaken when the truth comes out. I reported on Pizzagate when it was news, just like I report on every other report of government misconduct. And instead of two dozen visitors, I got thousands. For just one day, or just one month, there were thousands of people who wanted to read the allegations, and I played a very small role in delivering the truth that had been exposed by much braver and abler men. I hope the corruption will be exposed, and then everyone will wake up, and my blogging efforts will be obsolete. I would very much like to feel that I can ignore the news in good conscience.

  13. David E. Solomon says:

    Sorry Eric but I don’t buy your assumptions at all.
    I think if you were to look carefully and without bias, you will find that the mediocrity you have perceived is almost entirely the result of a very poor national (at least in the USA) public education system.

  14. Oilman2 says:

    I think much of what is “modern life” is soul stifling. There are many ways to sidestep or repudiate the crassness and incivility of the world today, but for me, it has been to exit the metropolitan life. Going to my farm, where there is no cell service, no big highways and people still ride their horses down the roadways – I feel a palpable release and relief just driving into the area.
    My recommendation is simply to limit your drinking. Nobody gets drunk every day except alcoholics, who have a sickness. My sense of things on the internet and in smartfone-land is similar – it’s like a drunk who needs to drink. If you have a little, it is fine, although you don’t always need it. If you have a lot, then you are like a drunk – because knowing things does not mean you can affect them, and worrying over things you cannot affect is a recipe for many ills.
    The craziness of the world will recede in the future – so much of what is considered ‘normal’ now is not so, when viewed from the lens of history. Things go in cycles, and the current world is the most technologically complex one in known history – and thus it has more innate vulnerabilities than any other previous human existence. Simplification will come, and is likely on its way in our children’s or grandchildren’s times here on Earth.
    Concurrently, my focus has been on building the farm so that my children and possibly their own, have a place to go that is not the city, that is simpler, that is closer to the Earth and provides them with things impalpable. This has and is a great source of happiness in this life for me.
    I haven’t subscribed to the Judeo-Christian faith since I was originally indoctrinated in my early teens via catechism. I never grokked a God that delivers binary choice – this world would be anathema to that type of being. I believe reliving the wheel of life a far more likely and positive possibility for souls. Polishing ones soul in repeated attempts has an appeal much greater than burning in hell eternally or playing a harp among identically blissful angels – the binaries offered by many religions are not reflective of what humanity is, IMHO. I guess in the next years I will discover what the truth of things is, and take comfort in my offspring moving through time beyond my own.
    The key to things, as has been taught throughout time, is to do things in moderation – and the internet and smartphones are no exception. However, the addictive appeal of instant everything is apparent to us here commenting, and is to be understood and moderated. In that vein, I want to thank the Colonel for giving us the opportunity to enjoy this little nook of cyberspace – thank you!
    And for this essay – thank you. I surely needed to be written, as it is something we all should acknowledge. Death is something natural, normal and inevitable. Easing the burden of loss to your loved ones is an important responsibility as we pass through the veil.

  15. Richard Sale,
    Thanks for another great piece and thanks to all for some terrific responses. As for the question of death and how to face it, I offer the example of my father. He still lives up in Freyeburg, Maine at the ripe old age of 86. He lost his youngest daughter at 20 and his wife at 60 just as he retired from Pratt & Whitney Aircraft as a tool and die maker. He didn’t finish high school choosing to lie about his age and join the Marines, although he later took engineering courses at Yale on the company’s dime. He found love again and just lost her. Her ashes sit on the bookcase awaiting his before they are both scattered at his favorite fishing spot.
    My youngest brother visited this Summer and we talked about his resiliency and his unbelievably optimistic outlook on life. He always finds something to enjoy and laugh at. He damned near killed himself taking care of his last love before she passed. He didn’t eat right, lost a lot of weight and injured his back. He’s getting his health back now still doing his gardening and lawn work. A decade ago he came down with some kind of blood cancer. I’m convinced his attitude allowed him to beat this cancer. He was upbeat, never stopped and never displayed the slightest fear of death. He always told us he had a great life up to this point. Anything after this is just gravy.
    He’s a Lithuanian Catholic, but not particularly devout. He maintains vestiges of the faith of our ancestors. He believes in the spirits of our familial ancestors and the spirits who share this world with us. He knows he will join them and remain among us, his living family. On the continuum from the Bishop of Rome and the spirits of the forest, I’m closer to the Bishop than my father. However, I’m still on that continuum and can see and feel those spirits around me. I think the closeness and familiarity of those spirits offers us comfort and strength to face the trials of life and death.

  16. Eric Newhill says:

    The spirits are real.
    Death is merely a transition and the first phase of that transition is hardly noticeably different than the life we are living now. No bonds of love (or, unfortunately, of hate) are broken by death. Great enlightenment is possible, but it comes on slowly and only for those who are ready to accept it. Cultivating one’s mind in this dimension is the key to being ready to advance in the next.
    I have solid evidence of this and am willing to take any lie detector test that anyone wants to administer.

  17. ked says:

    You have a long way yet to go Mr. Sale, and I hope for many more observations to share. And I’ll be sharing this one with friends… close friends who will give me a bit of grief for its seriousness… and thank me later for its depth and meaning. I thank you now.

  18. richard sale says:

    thank you so much.

  19. richard sale says:

    I am.
    I don’t think that love means you have o suffer, In any love there In any passion or love, there are incertainties and imcompatabilities but love helps us gain insight into those, and helps us overcome then and the result to create harmony and not only about your lover, but about yourself.
    I agree but the greatest curse is to have a love that is incapable of loving.
    Thank you,
    Thank you,

  20. richard sale says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

  21. richard sale says:

    Many die knowing nothing worth knowing. their wealth and comfort blinds them. They are vastly careless people.

  22. richard sale says:

    thank you.

  23. richard sale says:

    This a thoughtful, superbly written piece, and I will treasure
    It took work to write. I thank you for it.

  24. richard sale says:

    I am deeply honored. Thank you

  25. richard sale says:

    That is sincere and beautifully written. I hope when I died, my children will honor and remember me. That is the only immortality I desire.
    You hit on important points I had not thought of.
    thank you.

  26. richard sale says:

    That’s very kind. I wish the same for you.

  27. richard sale says:

    Thank you very much.

  28. richard sale says:

    Well you are right todo that, and I admire you.

  29. richard sale says:

    Thank you.

  30. richard sale says:

    Thank you very much.

  31. richard sale says:

    absolutely true.

  32. richard sale says:

    Thank you, sir.

  33. richard sale says:

    I felt a real pang when you said I hadn’t replied to my piece about my mother. I was discourteous, and I apologize.
    Unfortunately, my mother was miraculously dense.
    I wish you well.

  34. David E. Solomon says:

    My mother was not just dense, she was incredibly stupid.
    But life goes on and we are who we are.
    I really do like to read your articles.

Comments are closed.