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The Dash by Linda Ellis

01 November 2021
Flowers in a field

Poetry can often play an important role within the grief process, offering a way to express emotions and deep feelings that at times can be difficult to understand.

Writing poetry allows us to stop and reflect on precious memories and deep emotions while reading poetry can change the way we see things.

Today is World Poetry Day and we wanted to share a beautiful poem by Linda Ellis called 'The Dash'. The poem illustrates the importance of the ‘dash’ that is written between the date of a person’s birth and the date of their passing.

Throughout the poem, Ellis calls the reader to think about how they want to live out all of their years in between those two significant dates.


I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

Linda Ellis

The Centre for Care & Wellbeing offers explores a variety of different approaches to help each person find meaning and purpose again companionship as well as a place to visit, have a coffee, journal and reconnect with others as well as yourself.

Find out more about the Centre for Care & Wellbeing or book into a session.