Parting Thoughts

Note: This is a fictious poem. It’s empathy poetry
and nothing more. When you think about life, nothing
is more creative than birth and death.


Not sure what I thought dying would be like.
Had some idea from losing Mom, my grandparents,
several aunts and uncles, and some friends.
It’s completely different when it’s you–
when it’s your guts being eaten alive
by the same hideous monster that ate Mom’s.

I never knew how vast a white ceiling could be.
Staring at the one in my room for hours on end
has brought this sense of vastness to mind.
I’m obsessed with this image of total whiteness.
Is this my life epiphany?
Is this what it’s like on the other side?
Why does the ceiling seem so vast and unlimited
when my life feels so small and insignificant?

The pain isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
The drugs keep me from parts of my pain
I don’t want to know.
Because cancer kills you,
you’d think it would hurt more.
Maybe the pain will get worse,
as I get closer to the end.
It’s funny, as long as there’s pain,
I know I am still alive.
I wish I could hold onto my pain forever.
I can’t.

No matter what they do,
I can’t get comfortable…
with the cancer, the fear it ignites, and
not knowing when I take my last breath.
The cancer feels like a foreign object inside me.
It didn’t come from me, and it’s not mine.
When I’m angry,
it feels like a burglar breaking into my house,
stealing my most prized possessions.

The best part about dying is the dreams.
I never thought there would be anything
I’d like about dying.
They’re much more vivid now.
In many ways, more so than my life.
It’s strange, some mornings I wake up,
wanting only to drop back off to sleep
and rejoin my dreams.

When you’re healthy,
you can’t feel your internal organs.
When you’re dying, you know they’re there.
I never thought about my liver, spleen, or pancreas.
When they’re filled with cancer,
you can’t stop thinking about them.

Often I think I want to die a noble death–
one more noble than the life I’ve lived. But
is nobility really significant at a time like this?
Is it supposed to make dying worthwhile?
We never stop wanting life to be
the way we want it to be.
Not even when we’re dying.

The worst part is the waiting.
I never liked waiting for anything.
I hate it, especially now, and
not knowing what waits on the other side.
The waiting gives you plenty of time
to reflect upon your life.
But not in the way I want to.
It’s amazing how feelings of anger, regret, and sadness
haunt everything coming to mind about my life.
Even my happiest times.

You know…
I can’t bear to mention the people in my life–
those I’m about to leave behind.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t.
For me, that’s the hardest part.

Why does life have to feel so unfinished now–
so incomplete,
like a poem you don’t know how to end?

Author: Don Iannone, D.Div.

Biography Photographer, poet, teacher, complementary medicine provider, interfaith minister, and former economic developer. Holds a Doctorate in Divinity, Master of Divinity, Master of Mind-Body Medicine, and Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology. Clinical certifications in Reiki, guided meditation, life purpose coaching, and spiritual counseling.  Author of 12 books, including two new books in the contemporary spirituality field. Learn more here. Contact Information Kosmos Consulting and Research website:  Visual Advantage Photography website: Flickr Photo Page here: Contact Don Iannone by email:

15 thoughts on “Parting Thoughts”

  1. Aurora: Thanks for the kind words, and none of us really knows until it comes our time. Most of us really don’t want to know. It was an experience I needed to imagine. Call it guided imagery therapy if you will.

  2. Andrew: Thanks. I call it empathy poetry. It puts us in the shoes of those suffering deeply. We learn from that type of experience. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. I almost commented a few times here today, but anything I would have said sounded trite. I’ve watched a few people die, and each one looked so very hard, even with all our modern medicine. I can’t begin to imagine what it will be like. This poem sure makes you think.

  4. I was so “into” this one I forgot everything around me. Wow! It’s been so long since something has done that to me. What wonderful writing! I’ve always wondered about death, too. I guess we all have.

  5. Interesting poem Don, it is quite like being the victim … the slayer and the hero all in one.
    Strange the words of the white ceiling. I have seen the white light … It was brighter than bright but one was able to gaze upon it. What seemed sometime and I thought this was my death … and then the whispers said … “Not now” and I returned as quick as blinking the eye.
    If we are to believe that we are eternal beings and that death is re-birth … shedding of one life to prepare for another.
    Thank you for sharing.

  6. Gautami: Thanks for your two comments. I appreciate what you’ve shared. Death is not something we like to think about, but it is unavoidable.

  7. Hi Don
    Your words….
    I can’t bear to mention the people in my life-
    those I’m about to leave behind.
    I’m sorry, but I just can’t.
    For me, that’s the hardest part.

    really struck a chord in me!
    I feel exactly the same way!

    Thank you for your poem Don!
    It says so very much!


  8. Believe it or not. I have seen my own death since I was around 15 years old. It was very frequent for many years but now recurs only when I am stressed out.

    Some say death is just the beginning. I can’t answer that unless I die…

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