Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961

Dear Dr. Oeri, [Albert Oeri’s wife]

The great tiredness I saw and felt in my friend on my visit to Basel has now run speedily to its end. The dead are surely not to be pitied—they have so infinitely much more before them than we do—but rather the living who are left behind, who must contemplate the fleetingness of existence and suffer parting, sorrow, and loneliness in time.

I know what Albert’s death must mean to you for with him my last living friend has also departed. We are but a remnant of the past, more and more so with each coming year. Our eyes turn away from the future of the human world in which our children, but not ourselves, will live.

Enviable the lot of those who have crossed the threshold, yet my compassion goes out to those who, in the darkness of the world, hemmed in by a narrow horizon and the blindness of ignorance, must follow the river of their days, fulfilling life’s task, only to see their whole existence, which once was the present rimming with power and vitality, crumbling bit by bit and crashing into the abyss.

This spectacle of old age would be unendurable did we not know that our psyche reaches into a region held captive neither by change in time nor by limitation of place. In that form of being our birth is a death and our death a birth. The scales of the whole hand balanced. With heartfelt sympathy,

Yours sincerely, C.G. Jung. [Letter dated December 23, 1950]

Dear Regula, [Albert Oeri’s third daughter]

I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy on the death of your father, with whom I was bound for so long in true friendship. When the vital forces fail, when participating in life is an effort, and the great tiredness settles over everything, death brings the boon of sleep. Once the world has sunk down, there is no desire to see it rise up again.

It is only we, the living, who have lost something, and lament this loss. All things pass away, graves are the milestones of existence. For the young, the death of the parents opens a new chapter of life: They are now the carriers of life and the present, and nothing hangs over them any more except an as yet unfulfilled destiny. May you go towards it with all the courage it needs,

Most cordially, C.G. Jung [ Letter dated December 23, 1950]