‘Let me pass gently into the light’

All proceeds of new anthology of poems, edited by geriatricians, will go to age-related charities

Let me pass gently into the light, for peaceful rest
at long journey's end.
Let me not struggle painfully through
a drawn out, difficult dying process
like so many before me.

Let me pass gently into the light,
like autumn leaves floating to the ground,
cloud passing behind a mountain,
or loons flying into the suns fading ember,
slipping, silently out of sight.

Let me pass gently into the light,
In my own bed at home,
surrounded by family and fine friends,
sitting around our kitchen table,
taking turns to say goodbye.

Let me pass gently into the light,
to that vast, ineffable from which I came,
to join those who have gone before and
watch the coming generations
enjoy their time in the sun.

Let me pass gently into the light to take back the face I once had
before I was born,
leaving all to wonder where I am,
passed on, only in memory now.

Let me pass gently into the light,
so our children laugh about our time together,
the full days and shared intimacies,
happy that we made the best
of our short lives.

Let me pass gently into the light,
so my children smile when they think of me
and our happy times together
rather than weeping with sadness or regret
for my suffering or loss of dignity.

Let me pass gently into the light,
so I can show others how to die
naturally and peacefully,
and my death or dying does not cast
a shadow over their bright lives.

Let me pass gently into the light,
after I have made the best
of this short visit, and my opportunity to
share the wonder of our lives together,
and leave with no regrets

Let me pass gently, by Willie Molloy

This poem features in Emergence, a new anthology of poems and prose edited by Dr Shane O'Hanlon and Dr Paul Finucane. The anthology is made up of favourite pieces from geriatricians across Ireland, with personal comments to mark the wisdom and resilience of older people in general and during the Covid-19 pandemic. All proceeds will go to age-related charities. See emergenceanthology.com.

"I read Dylan Thomas's poem, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, where he was exhorting his father to hang on to life at all costs and 'rage, rage against the dying of the light'," says Molloy, who is professor of clinical gerontology and rehabilitation at University College Cork.

“He would have been a very difficult family member to deal with when his father was dying. I don’t want to rage or struggle at the end of my life. I want to pass peacefully, on my own terms. I certainly don’t want my children or others to have to make end of life care decisions for me. I sat down one bright, autumn Sunday afternoon and wrote Let Me Pass Gently. This is how I want to pass, in my own bed, pain free, easily and gently.”