It’s always there, death, but we don’t often speak about it, and when it shows up close to home — affecting family or friends, making us catch our breath as we read the newspaper or watch the evening news — we often don’t have the words we need, for ourselves, for others.
When my grandmother died, a friend of my mom’s gave her a wonderful book, In Lieu of Flowers: Conversations for the Living, by Nancy Cobb. Ms. Cobb is an eloquent writer, and her book is wise, funny, insightful, and comforting, full of poems and quotations from many different authors and thinkers, stories from people she’s interviewed, and her own stories, her own careful and deep thinking about death and dying. I feel lucky to have this book in my life.
I’ve found this book so helpful that I now order five or six copies at a time so that I have them on hand. As either a sign of the age I am, or just the confluence of events in the year that’s passed, I am now preparing the card to go out with my last copy. Life being what it is, and dying twinned with it, I will be ordering more.
A quote from Thomas Moore opens one of her chapters:
I think we would be able to live in this world more peaceably if our spirituality were to come from looking not just into infinity but very closely at the world around us –and appreciating its depth and divinity.
Cobb looks very closely at the world around her, and finds the divinity in it, here and now.