“My Dead Friends”

Not to be morbid, but when you reach a certain age, the number of dead friends and relatives you have increases, and you find that some of your favorite confidants are no longer available when you need advice. I think about today’s poem sometimes when I seek guidance from my dead parents who listen intently from the photos on my bedroom dresser.

My Dead Friends

I have begun,
when I’m weary and can’t decide an answer to a bewildering question

to ask my dead friends for their opinion
and the answer is often immediate and clear.

Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child
in my middle age?

They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling—whatever leads
to joy, they always answer,

to more life and less worry. I look into the vase where Billy’s ashes were —
it’s green in there, a green vase,

and I ask Billy if I should return the difficult phone call, and he says, yes.
Billy’s already gone through the frightening door,

whatever he says I’ll do.

Marie Howe

I’d like to think that my parents advice would be “whatever leads to joy and less worry,” but, unless they’ve softened in the afterlife, I’m not convinced that’s what I’d hear. I might have to go to the study where my dead grandmothers are framed for that kind of Marie Kondo-like response.

Some questions to consider:

  • Who might you consult (dead or alive) when you need advice?
  • Which dead friend or relative’s advice do you miss most?
  • Do you have a guiding principle, like “whatever leads to joy and less worry,” to help you make tough decisions?


“My Dead Friends” by Marie Howe, from What the Living Do, 1998. Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes.

Photo credit: Steve Boor, 1977. Photo of June, Roger, and John Boor.


  1. I don’t seek advice from those who have passed away, although sometimes they give it to me anyway! Usually when I have a difficult decision to make, I try to spend some time thinking about the different options and then just leave it and move on to something else. I then revisit it the next day after what I call “the back of my brain” has worked on it and usually what I need to do is much clearer at that point. (Now whether or not I follow that clarity is a different story….. Sigh).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t really seek advice from the dead. I do talk to my parents pictures on my bedroom mirror. Mostly I say I hope I don’t disappoint you.

    I used to, not necessarily seek, but get advice from my father. I did not always agree with him, but I was respectful listened.

    I talk everyday to my two sister’s whom I do get advice on things. It’s funny, when we were kids my mother talked everyday to my Aunt. We used to say “what do they talk about for so long?” Now I totally get it.

    I have a very good friend whom I met 17 years ago. He always tells me “if it doesn’t bring you joy don’t do it” and “surround yourself with only people that bring you joy!”and “Go with your gut.”

    I do pray a lot. I know God has given me several answers that I chose to ignore. He probably wants to slap me!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Perhaps Julian of Norwich:  “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Thanks for this.

    Eugene R. Widrick, Minister Emeritus, The First Religious Society in Carlisle, MA   Wallace Stevens:  “The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else.  The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction and that you believe it willingly.  

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thomas Dunkers
      Except for philosophers I don’t seek advice from the dead. I do pay attention to what people say and do and that which I like I try to remember. I remember a lot of people that are now dead and thankful I was Lucky to have met Them. I try to remember to be grateful for my gift of life and it contains both loving times and difficult times.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s