Words to Live By…


“I loved it all.”

What a great epitaph.

That is written on the tombstone of Jennifer, wife of Angelo Merendino, who documented their love as Jennifer lived with, and then died from, cancer.

photo by Angelo Merendino
photo by Angelo Merendino

That epitaph got me thinking: what would I want my epitaph be?

The words left to memorialize the dead are a window into how they lived their lives.

If you were to die next week, what words would you want to leave us with? Or how would you want us to remember you?

And more importantly, what are the words you want to live by?

Please share those words in the comments. I'd love to read them.



Angelo has started a foundation for women who need financial assistance while navigating breast cancer. Donate or buy prints to support the cause here. 

16 Responses to “Words to Live By…”

    • Marie

      Recently on a tv show I saw this sign that hangs on a wall in a New Orleans cafe: “We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.” For me this is a reminder to make my life count.

      • Thorn

        Any reminder to make our lives count is a good one! Plus, the reminder to add joy into the mix feels helpful.

  1. Helena Kivela

    So many words, even a speech or more even a novel and between writing and reading the life itself: my bottom in a chair, fingers tapping letters and mind yearning coffee.

  2. Persey

    Something really struck me lately, as I heard a Buddhist monk talk about the Buddha…he said that the reason why the Buddha was enlightened is because he lived in the present. Not in the future or the past like most people do.
    That really helps me be grateful and enjoy every moment as it comes.

  3. ione

    I love the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson “When you were born you were crying and everyone else was smiling. Live your life so at the end, your’e the one who is smiling and everyone else is crying.” xx

  4. Soli

    Oh timing… my own mother passed away on Monday and I am feeling like a new tide is coming in my own life.

    At the moment I think I would like my words to be “always reaching.”

    • Thorn


      I’m getting to this late, but wanted to send you blessings in this time of transition.

  5. MaryAnn Jackman

    “Look to the rainbow.” That just came to me. The rainbow represents so many things — love, pride, forgiveness, beauty, connection with deity — the rainbow is especially meaningful to me as a gay woman. As an artist, I have loved color all my life. I knew I wanted to be an artist when I was 7 years old and my mother gave me my first set of watercolors. Colors have deep meaning for me. There is also the idea that to follow the rainbow is to follow one’s dreams, and I have largely done that. There is also something magical about a rainbow, and magic has been part of my life since birth.

  6. Rose Lunafyre

    Hi Thorn,
    I would like to be remembered by, “I ……. lived my life to the fullest as life is not a dress rehearsal. I’ve experienced sorrow and great joy too and I wouldn’t change a thing:)


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