(This is part of an ongoing series of highlights from past Listen to Life newsletters.  Many readers and subscribers were not following when this came out.  Enjoy.)


There have been a number of losses recently, deaths that came as surprises or conclusions to long battles.  Reflecting on these, while considering the new movie, “The Bucket List,” I am quite aware of mortality, which reminds me of how we honor those near to us who have died.  I recall this poem that I wrote for a woman to share with her colleagues about a friend who had passed away.  Today, the poem seems somehow even more real.

Poem for the Dead, Poem for the Living

She asked me for a poem, perhaps some lines

Of beauty to mark the woman-friend’s life of such

Words to celebrate a life gone by

Words to say “we love you this much.”


In praising her friend’s life past in a poem

Would require words like “love” and “service”

Also words “friend” and “colleague” appear

I should pick words that don’t make her nervous


In celebrating the long-friend now past

Requires honoring life lived and loved

It probably mandates gentle reflection

And tributes to our God above


But to honor a woman whose life has past

To recognize the lives she has touched

Is to challenge all who miss her so

And ask “will you do as much?”


Will we all live like our beloved did?

Will we befriend like she did with her heart?

Will we serve those around us every day?

Will we love from the morning’s start?


We honor our friend, our neighbor, our kin

By pausing to reflect and to share

We honor her more with the things we can do

In her image of love, if we dare.


We miss our friend, our hearts ache so

When we no longer hear her laugh and voice

We can’t look back, but can look ahead

We really have little other choice


The choices we have are to live our lives full

To hold and hug and cry

To laugh and serve and love every day

Until it is our turn to rest and die


My friend asked for a poem for a friend

To express thoughts of love and beauty

We honor who has passed and those still alive

If we live genuinely and we live truly

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