Never Departed Monday, May 23 2022 

A beloved uncle of mine passed away this month. Uncle Walt was 81 years-old and suffered from a couple of health problems for decades. We would love to have had him longer, but his death was not completely unexpected. Therefore, his memorial was celebratory and honored him with some tears and lots of stories and laughter.

When someone suffers from illness, it’s not unusual to look at their death as a relief. We find a bit of comfort in knowing our loved one is no longer in pain, and for those who believe in heaven, that they are in a better, happier, and easier place from that point through eternity.

Yet even these expected deaths prompt deep pondering about our relationship with the deceased. We reminisce the good times. We also take note of our own passing in the unforeseen near or far future. It’s a wakeup call, a reminder, that no one lives forever. At some point, we too will cross to the other side. And no one knows when that time will come.

When I dream, I encounter friends and family who are both living and dead. These people typically are moving around in the same dream. I see some of them so often, I don’t miss them in this life as much. I’m comforted by their presence in my dreams and also my own death. It helps me to believe in the continuity of life, in one form or another.

Following is a free verse poem I wrote about my experience with such dreams.


Never Departed

Moving back and forth

between the living and the dead

friends and family,

past and present.

They’re all with me at the table

communicating when awake

and in my dreams,

sharing signs, words, and visions.

The ability to be together,


in this life and the next,

is comforting.


Photo: Hibiscus, Colon, MI, 8/2/21

*Take a look at my books: Grieving with Mary and Inspired Caregiving.

Expiration Dates Tuesday, Mar 4 2014 


She said he expired last week. An acquaintance told me of her friend who recently died, and she used the term “expired.”

I don’t like that word in reference to death. I don’t believe it’s true. Milk expires. Juice expires. But I don’t think we do. Our bodies may no longer be alive, but I believe the spirit lives on indefinitely.

The belief in eternal existence comes with a hefty accountability factor, especially for Catholics. When we cross over from this life to the next, standing before the Lord to review our life will be like a visit with Santa a thousand times over. Our eternity rests on the assessment of how we used our time here. The rewards for good behavior are tremendous and unending; however our bad behavior can result in lumps of coal to fuel an eternal fire.

I’m not sure how I would act if I thought this life was all I had or there would be no price to pay for bad behavior without reconciliation. Maybe I still would try to do my best every day, just because.

I know some of you really do think that our complete existence ends with this lifetime. If you are one who believes this to be so, I’d love to hear from you. I respectfully would like to know how that feels and how that affects your daily decisions.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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