Benjamin Franklin on Death

Jun 8, 2011 | 4 comments

Wise Words from Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin FranklinFrom Benjamin Franklin, some wise words expressing his view of life and death. He wrote this in a letter to a friend after attending a funeral for a friend.

“We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or in doing good to our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God.

When they become unfit for these purposes and afford us pain instead of pleasure, instead of an aid become an encumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and benevolent, that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that way.

Our friend and we were invited abroad on a party of pleasure, which is to last forever. His chair was ready first and he has gone before us. We could not all conveniently start together; and why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him.”

This reading, and many other poems and words of wisdom, are available in Gail Rubin’s book, Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips. It includes information about the cremation process, suggestions for meaningful places to hold a memorial service, and outlines for short or long services. Buy it today from Amazon (affiliate link).

In addition to being one of the United States’ Founding Fathers, he was a printer, writer, scientist, and a witty, genial man. Learn more about his remarkable life and accomplishments in the Ken Burns PBS series, Benjamin Franklin.

Ken Burns’s two-part, four-hour documentary, Benjamin Franklin, explores the revolutionary life of one of the 18th century’s most consequential and compelling personalities, whose work and words unlocked the mystery of electricity and helped create the United States. Franklin’s 84 years (1706-1790) spanned an epoch of momentous change in science, technology, literature, politics, and government — fields he himself advanced through a lifelong commitment to societal and self-improvement.

A Good Goodbye