Words of Inspiration: Laughing at Death

Select quotes that provide a lighthearted look at death and dying

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Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote: "Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh." In that spirit, here you will find a select collection of quotes that provide a lighthearted look at death and dying.

Note: The following entries are arranged alphabetically by last name and, in some cases, multiple quotes appear beneath an individual's name.

Woody Allen, American actor and filmmaker
Death is a wonderful way of cutting down on your expenses.

I don't believe in an afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.

It's not that I'm afraid to die; I just don't want to be there when it happens.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve it through not dying.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?

On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily as lying down.

Isaac Asimov, Russian-born American author and professor
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.

George Axelrod, American playwright
I don't mind dying; the trouble is you feel so bloody stiff the next day.

John Barrymore, American actor
The good die young -- because they see it's no use living if you've got to be good.

Ambrose Bierce, American author and journalist
Death is not the end.

There remains the litigation over the estate.

George Carlin, American actor and author
Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time.

I'm always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I'm listening to it.

If no one knows when a person is going to die, how can we say he died prematurely?

Johnny Carson, American television personality
For days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off.

Bill Cosby, American comedian and actor
I want to die before my wife, and the reason is this: If it is true that when you die, your soul goes up to judgment, I don't want my wife up there ahead of me to tell them things.

Clarence Darrow, American lawyer
I never wanted to see anybody die, but there are a few obituary notices I have read with pleasure.

James Duffecy, Australian evangelist
A dead atheist is someone who's all dressed up with no place to go.

Garrison Keillor, American radio personality and author
They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad that I'm going to miss mine by just a few days.

Jay Leno, American comedian and television personality
According to the L.A. Times, Attorney General John Ashcroft wants to take "a harder stance" on the death penalty. What's a harder stance on the death penalty? We're already killing the guy.

How do you take a harder stance on the death penalty? What, are you going to tickle him first? Give him itching powder? Put a thumbtack on the electric chair?

Bob Monkhouse, English comedian and actor
I want to die like my father, peacefully in his sleep, not screaming and terrified, like his passengers.

Wil Shriner, American comedian and actor
Everything is drive-through. In California, they even have a burial service called "Jump-In-The-Box."

Mark Twain, American author
I refused to attend his funeral, but I wrote a very nice letter explaining that I approved of it.

Most people can't bear to sit in church for an hour on Sundays. How are they supposed to live somewhere very similar to it for eternity?

Oscar Wilde, Irish author, playwright and poet
To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

Stephen Wright, American comedian
I wish my first spoken word was "Quote" so I could make my last word "Unquote."

I intend to live forever. So far, so good.

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