clock menu more-arrow no yes

Remembering the grace and honesty of how Maya Angelou spoke about death

. Maya Angelou on stage during the 33rd Annual American Women In Radio & Television Gracie Allen Awards at the Marriott Marquis on May 28, 2008 in New York City.
. Maya Angelou on stage during the 33rd Annual American Women In Radio & Television Gracie Allen Awards at the Marriott Marquis on May 28, 2008 in New York City.
(Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage

For the past few years, when someone of Maya Angelou's prominence has died, the person we turned to was Maya Angelou. Angelou had a way of crafting words together and turning thoughtful stories of someone's life into something that's relatable, thoughtful, dignified, powerful, and inspirational. Now that she has passed away, it's worth recalling some of her most powerful remembrances.

In 2013, when Nelson Mandela died, she crafted a poem for him on behalf of the American people:

In 2009, she did the same for Michael Jackson, in a poem entitled "We had him."

And in 2006, when Coretta Scott King died, Maya Angelou eulogized her friend, talking about the times they'd call each other "girl."

Sometimes, just having her speak and hearing her voice is powerful enough. Here is Angelou speaking at the funeral for Dorothy Height in 2010:

Angelou actually wrote about death in her book Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now. "When I think of death and of late the idea has come with alarming frequency, I seem at peace with the idea that a day will dawn when I will no longer be among those living in this valley of strange humors," she wrote in 1993.

"I can accept the idea of the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else … I answer the heroic question, 'Death where is thy sting?' with "It is here in my heart and mind and memories."