The Light of Death

We try not to look too closely. But the day I lost my father, I found the gifts that grief can bring

Howard Gibbs, 1919-2002

The Hogwarts ghosts have a tradition I think worth borrowing. They celebrate their Deathday, a party marking the date they quit this mortal coil. If a child's birthday leans forward--first steps, a bike, a license, the vote--a Deathday looks back at a life well lived and, for the lucky, well ended. It's a lovely spring morning as I write this, just as it was six years ago on the day I said goodbye to my father.

Most of us have a pretty good idea about how we want to die: at home, at peace, quickly, with family, without pain. And at...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!