Wide World of Quotes > Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Quotes

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Swiss-born American psychiatrist
(1926-2004)



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We have to ask ourselves whether medicine is to remain a humanitarian and respected profession or a new but depersonalized science in the service of prolonging life rather than diminishing human suffering.
-- On Death and Dying (1969)

There is not much sense in suffering, since drugs can be given for pain, itching, and other discomforts. The belief has long died that suffering here on earth will be rewarded in heaven. Suffering has lost its meaning.
-- On Death and Dying (1969)

Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death.
-- On Death and Dying (1969)

Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.
-- On Death and Dying (1969)

Those who have the strength and the love to sit with a dying patient in the silence that goes beyond words will know that this moment is neither frightening nor painful, but a peaceful cessation of the functioning of the body.
-- On Death and Dying (1969)

Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death.
-- On Death and Dying (1969)

It is difficult to accept death in this society because it is unfamiliar. In spite of the fact that it happens all the time, we never see it.
-- Death: The Final Stage of Growth (1975)

Those who have been immersed in the tragedy of massive death during wartime, and who have faced it squarely, never allowing their senses and feelings to become numbed and indifferent, have emerged from their experiences with growth and humanness greater than that achieved through almost any other means.
-- Death: The Final Stage of Growth (1975)

Dying is something we human beings do continuously, not just at the end of our physical lives on this earth.
-- Death: The Final Stage of Growth (1975)

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
-- Death: The Final Stage of Growth (1975)

It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.
-- Death: The Final Stage of Growth (1975)

The ultimate lesson is learning how to love and be loved unconditionally.
Variant: The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.
-- The Wheel of Life (1997)

How do these geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.
-- The Wheel of Life (1997)

When you learn your lessons, the pain goes away.
-- The Wheel of Life (1997)

I have learned there is no joy without hardship. There is no pleasure without pain. Would we know the comfort of peace without the distress of war?
-- The Wheel of Life (1997)





It is very important that you only do what you love to do. you may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do. Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. and you will not have a pleasant death.
-- The Wheel of Life (1997)

Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is no different from taking off a suit of clothes one no longer needs. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.
-- Life Lessons (2000)

We bring a deeper commitment to our happiness when we fully understand, that our time left is limited and we really need to make it count.
-- Life Lessons (2000)

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
-- Quoted in The Leader's Digest : Timeless Principles for Team and Organization (2003) by Jim Clemmer

As far as service goes, it can take the form of a million things. To do service, you don't have to be a doctor working in the slums for free, or become a social worker. Your position in life and what you do doesn't matter as much as how you do what you do.
-- Quoted in Another Door Opens (2006) by Jeffrey A. Wands

As far as service goes, it can take the form of a million things. To do service, you don’t have to be a doctor working in the slums for free, or become a social worker. Your position in life and what you do doesn’t matter as much as how you do what you do.”
-- Quoted in Teachers in Wisdom (2010)

We make progress in society only if we stop cursing and complaining about its shortcomings and have the courage to do something about them.
-- Quoted in Voyage of Purpose: Spiritual Wisdom from Near-Death Back to Life (2011) by David Bennett and Cindy Griffith-Bennett

We need to teach the next generation of children from day one that they are responsible for their lives. Mankind’s greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices
built from love or from fear.”

There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub.

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.

I say to people who care for people who are dying, if you really love that person and want to help them, be with them when their end comes close. Sit with them – you don’t even have to talk. You don’t have to do anything but really be there with them.

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose, there are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”

And after your death, when most of you for the first time realize what life here is all about, you will begin to see that your life here is almost nothing but the sum total of every choice you have made during every moment of your life. Your thoughts, which you are responsible for, are as real as your deeds. You will begin to realize that every word and every deed affects your life and has also touched thousands of lives.”


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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