Beyond Absence



This inspiring volume on the mystery and meaning of death, features more than 300 poems, reflections, and meditations from many cultures, both ancient and modern. This anthology is useful for composing eulogies, readings at memorial services and funerals and writing sympathy and condolence cards. Selections also offer comfort to the bereaved and personal reflection during mourning and recovery.

"A thoughtful and inspiring collection of poems, quotations and readings about death and grieving." Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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Beyond Absence

A Treasury of Poems, Quotations, and Readings on Death and Remembrance


Dear Reader,

Death, inevitable and necessary, breaks our hearts. Through language, we give shape to this heartbreak. The words on these pages, about death and its meaning, are drawn from poets and playwrights, from philosophers and theologians, from clergy and many others for whom death is a familiar presence. The goal of this collection is to offer inspiring and comforting readings that can be woven into a funeral or memorial service, added to a letter of condolence, printed on an order of service, or simply read in privacy. These passages may stimulate your own words should you need to address particular circumstances surrounding dying, grief, or remembrance. You may use this collection as an extended meditation on death’s place in the scheme of every human life, including your own.

In my twenty-seven years of ministry, I have found that the right words can make all the difference in comforting those who are grieving the loss of loved ones or confronting the prospect of their own imminent death. I chose these selections with an eye toward the insights of bereavement counseling, which respects the complex and conflicted reality death has on the dying and the ripple effects death has on survivors. Throughout the ages, human beings have been understandably ambivalent about death, perhaps never more so than now. In many parts of the world, we sequester those who are elderly or ill. No longer is the body washed at home or laid out in the living room for viewing. We have handed hand over the physical details of death to specialists. When death comes, we may be repulsed, fearful, or simply unprepared.

This project humbled me with its gravity and scope. It involves nothing less than the meaning of the human condition. Time and again I was moved by the voice and insight—the measured meaning—of what I read. I felt the empathic embrace of humanity, a great compassion. May it be so for you as well.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Edward Searl



• Skinner House Books
• paperback
• 232 pp.
• Dimensions: 5 x 7
• Publication Date: October 2005
• ISBN 1-55896-492-4
• Price: $15.00

Publications by
Ed Searl

Anthologies: Rites of Passage
A Treasury of Poems, Quotations, and Readings to Celebrate Birth
A Treasury of Poems, Quotations, and Readings on Growing Up
A Treasury of Poems, Quotations, and Readings to Celebrate Love and Marriage
A Treasury of Poems, Quotations, and Readings on Death and Remembrance
Anthology: The Animal Kingdom
A Treasury of Poems, Quotations, and Readings to Celebrate the Animal Kingdom
Funerals and Memorial Services
A Guide to Modern Funeral and Memorial Services
Home Altars
A Guide to Creating Sacred Spaces in Your Home
Poetic Reflections
52 Meditations Follow Nature and Self Through the Satisfying Cycle of Four Seasons.